Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The Jacksons Knwo How to Throw a Funeral

Michael Jackson's funeral was a slickly produced event, with music and video, dancing and singing, and moving tributes. Brooke Shields talked of being a friend, Magic Johnson talked of being a fan, and Paris Jackson broke everyone's heart. It was for all intents and purposes an Black church service, and that should have been expected. I lost count of the numbers of preachers who spoke, but Sharpton was one, and Sharpton as always brought the house down.

It was also an exercise in myth making, and there it was truly revealing, because it failed. It fell short. Watching it I came to realize that nothing they could do could capture how great, how talented, how important Michale Jackson was. Did MJ make it so Barak Obama could be elected? Maybe no more than Jackie Robinson, but Robinson and maybe Ali are the only people before Jackson who could compare to his impact on race in America, and because Michael could write about it and sing about it and not just play his way into people's lives and hearts, I'd say his influence was possibly greater. Of his music there is no question: Thriller is the number one selling album of all time, and he is the most popular entertainer of all time, and that alone entitles him tot he title "greatest." But what I learned from his memorial service is that no tribute can do justice to how big he was, how important, how great. And I wasn't particularly a fan. I just recognize that he truly was the King of Pop.

You can't build a myth around that. It is already there, and your attempt will fall short.


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