Friday, June 26, 2009

Me No Compute

It's nice to see I'm not the only one mystified at all the Michael Jackson hype, that there are many at least some others shaking their heads over the whole debacle.

Because me no compute.

One of the commenters at Lex's states that as a child of the 80s, he can understand some of what’s going on "because Jacko WAS music when [he] grew up. He was also the King during the formative years of many of those who are in charge in the world of media (it’s a relatively young crowd if you think about it). So to them, an idol has passed."

Which reminded me of the comments of one of the DJs on our local radio station this morning; she was quite upset about his death and made a comment to the effect that the only thing that might compete was Elvis' death except he was only someone she and her friends listened to growing up, not someone they were "into" like Jackson.

I was 17 years old when Thriller was released in 1982. So yeah, I guess you could say Michael Jackson was the "in" thing when I was growing up. I can't tell you how many times I watched that video or danced to that song back then. Hell, as a teenager I witnessed the birth of both MTV and Michael Jackson, the superstar. And to think my own kids think they're so cool.

And yet still I shake my head. Me no compute.

Lady Di was only four years older than me. Meaning that I was 16 when she married Prince Charles. I suppose that makes us contemporaries for lack of a better word. And what teenager girl couldn't help but be awed by that fairy tale wedding ceremony?

Yet I recall shaking my head in disbelief when she was killed in 1997. As just one example, I was amazed how my husband of all people, he who has really no interest in anything celebrity, seemed stuck on such a *momentous* event as her death. I didn't get it. And still don't.

Not that her whole life wasn't an interesting story, from her fairy tale marriage to her charity work to her divorce to the conspiracy theories around her death. But. The way it went on. And on. And on. Sorry, I just don't get it. Me no compute.

I was 12 years old and traveling through the US with my Mom, brother, aunt, uncle and little cousin when Elvis died. How well I remember that day. We had stopped for the night at a hotel in Phoenix on our way to the Grand Canyon when the news of his death came on the radio. Of course, it was BIG news. And sad news.

But I was stunned at my aunt's reaction. Basically, she lost it. There's simply no better way to describe it. She cried non-stop all that afternoon and night and into the next day. It may have been probably was a lot longer than that but that's all I can say with absolute certainly so many years later. I mean you honestly would have thought her husband or her 3 year old son (whom she ignored through her tears) had died ...

Me no compute.

No, I simply do not get our fascination with celebrity. How and why people make them larger than life in their own lives. Or how it is that some find people like Michael Jackson "more real than reality", although I agree it's an apt enough description.

On average, one person dies every second as a result of hunger. That's 4000 people every hour. 100 000 people each day. 36 million people each year.

And if that's not compelling enough for you, one child dies every 5 seconds as a result of hunger. That's 700 children every hour. 16 ,000 children each day. 6 million children each year.

How can that compare to the death of any single celebrity, no matter who they are?

Between February, 2002 and April, 2009, 120 Canadian soldiers have given their lives in Afghanistan. Fighting for you and I. How can that compare to the death of any single celebrity?

Obviously, I could go on. And on.

Yes, I recognize that these celebrities had people in their lives who truly loved them. Who will mourn their passing. And of course, that's something I can relate to. Of course, I am saddened for those people. In the abstract.

But the way the rest of us carry on?

Nope. Me no compute. Not one little bit. Frankly I think we're all most of us are simply nuts.

And none of this even touches who or what MJ himself really was. Imagine if I were to actually go there...


Isabelle said...

Here’s what I think … MJ was a victim of his own pain and shame. I think the same could be said of Elvis and Diana. The reason so many people can identify with these celebrities is because they empathize with that pain and shame. There is a sense that these celebrities are “like” us and, oddly enough, it’s because they suffer. I’m sure you do “compute” but aren’t about to participate in over-the-top public displays of emotion because one of them has died … me neither … and for the all the reasons you’ve enumerated.

Pogue said...

I'm not beyond recognizing the grief the passing of MJ brings to family and friends, but his passing has less meaning to me than that of Neda Agha Soltan. I'm not really sure why that is.