Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Hard Goodbye

It was unquestionably one of those "What were you upto moments?". Like "what were you doing when Kennedy was assassinated?" or "What were you doing when Obama was elected the President of the United States?".

Recently the question was: What were you doing when Michael Jackson was pronounced dead?

Most of us were probably snuggled warmly in our quilts with the air conditioner turned on, waking up to the tragic news in the morning as we flipped to either CNN or Times Now- whatever be your poison.
I,on the other hand,adhering to my strict sleep-at-four-up-at-noon policy, was watching the news unravel on CNN. I was on a community forum when the news started trickling in. I Ctrl-t'ed Firefox to Google News, but got no details. So I put the PC on standby and shifted to the old telly and flipped onto BBC. They already pronounced Jackson dead and even put a ticker reading "Michael Jackson 1958-2009". The British waste no time and don't mince words. CNN however weren't so eager to jump the gun. They were awaiting for official word from the coroner in the UCLA before putting word out on the website.Around an hour later, Michael Jackson,The King Of Pop was officially pronounced dead. It was around 4 am IST. I was left a bit stunned. The Man behind the Moon walk, Dangerous, Billie Jean And Thriller was gone. The great works outlasted their creator. I fished out my Dangerous CD which was gathering dust in the closet. I listened to Dangerous and I drowned out the noise of the TV. Michael was screaming in my ear: The girl I could not trust. The girl was bad. The girl was dangerous.

Then the media frenzy took over. It was two days of non-stop coverage on every news channel that gave a shit(That excludes NDTV and the other Indian News Channels. Bollywood actress having an affair would be headline material here.)Repeated news stories of people around the world crying and consoling one another, candle light vigils, stuffed animals outside his home. The scale of the world's reaction to his passing was truly staggering and felt bordering on exaggerated.

Of course, then came the lip service. Every super star, music artist and significant other literally tripped over themselves,desperately trying to heap praise on Michael,hoping to earn some brownie points.If I had a nickel for every time somebody said "He was the greatest artist ever"...

Something about Death just rips at the heartstrings. And I'm being sarcastic here. Nobody cared for MJ when he was alive. Every show from Family Guy to Southpark and every Magazine took repeated shots at his lifestyle,ridiculed his appearance and labeled him a danger to children everywhere. Then he dies and boom, the whole world forgets its Prozac prescription and switches to mass hysteria mode. CNN actually went to Iraq and asked how MJ's death affected the local folk( a man on the street never even heard of Michael, quoting whimsically that he was just another human being and that Death awaits everyone at the end of the road) . Time magazine made a commemorative issue in his honor: the last issue being for 9/11. VH1 went the whole weekend playing all his tracks. CNN did a two day coverage. A star studded memorial. Torrent sites with his discography. Amazon's top ten list are all MJ albums.

His death emphasizes clearly that people cannot appreciate someone when they are alive. However when Death reaps their Soul, the world is suddenly aware that they are deprived of that talent. Sadly I count myself amongst those masses. I never could appreciate his music that much. The sheer number of pelvic thrusts,ad libs and the vocal hiccups turned me off. But as I was listening to Dangerous that early morning, I did not feel sadness.

I felt ashamed.


Vyaas said...

I share the sentiment.
I love your writing.
I'm glad you took over.

vigneshjvn said...

You forgot to add all the continued coverage about his ghost coming and that his death could have been faked. More news broken => more people watch => more trp => more money (central dogma of News channels across the globe, Vignesh, 2009). I was never a great fan of MJ, and he means no more to me now. But yes, dying almost always immortalizes people.
Beautiful post, love your writing.