I Left My Heart in the 80s

poppiesAs you probably know, Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett have both died today.  They were both iconic in their days in their own ways, and, apparently, the whole country is mourning.  I say this with minimal snark because death is sobering.  However, I question the reaction of everyday people to these deaths, especially to Jackson’s.  I’m listening to Keith’s show right now, and he’s doing a piece on Jackson.  Keith had a woman on who gave a hagiography to Jackson, talking about how celebrities deserve all the adulation because they bring together multiple generations.

To that I say, what the fuck ever.  Look . Michael Jackson was a talented singer/dancer who had a shitty childhood that resulted in him being a fucked-up adult.  I wasn’t particularly fond of his music, but I could at least recognize that he was amazingly talented.  However, why does that make him worthy of the throngs of fans who burst out onto the streets today in angst and anguish?  I’m not even talking about the pedophilia accusations.  Just, as a person, why is he so mourned?  I felt the same way when Princess Di  died.  I just didn’t get all the hoopla.  I mean, I understand that they are the symbols of something bigger.  I understand that people invest emotion into their celebrities.  I just don’t know why.  I mean, I will be very sad when, knock on wood, Alan Rickman dies.  I probably will shed a tear or two, but then I will move on because as much as he plays a huge part of my fantasy life, he is not a part of my real life.

Just to be even weirder, I visit TheCatSite.com every day.  I mainly like to look at the pictures of other people’s cats.  Well, there was one set of black long-haired babies that really caught my eye.  I followed their posts, and the name I suggested (Pax) even got used for one of the kittens.  He died today.  His human posted about it, and I was crying.  I felt more emotion for little Pax dying than I did for the King of Pop.  Why?  Because Pax was more real to me (and not because I named him).  If, again, knock on wood, one of my online friends died, I would be shattered.  Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett dying?  Not so much.  I mourn the passing of an era and the fact that I’m getting goddamn old.  I hope that Michael Jackson has found the peace that so eluded him during his life.  I hope that Farrah Fawcett is resting in peace as well.  Beyond that?  I don’t feel much of anything.  And that makes me feel like a jerk.

Ok.  Last post on Sanford unless something drastically changes.  Turns out, wife kicked him out of the house because he was still carrying on with mistress.  He booked a ten-day flight to Argentina, and then cut it short when it turned out he was in deep shit.  Then, he said he was alone when confronted by a reporter at the airport.  He also said he’s going to reimburse the state for his trip, which means he used state funds to go.  What am I getting at?  I’m getting at that no matter how sincere he was in his presser yesterday (and I think he was as sincere as he could get), it’s clear that had he not been caught, he would have kept going on as he did.

You know what’s weird to me?  Ok, not weird, but telling.  All the male pundits and bloggers that I have read, with the exception of TBogg and Steve Benen, have given Sanford kudos for being truthful and a stand-up guy about what he did.  John Cole even posts a piece from a guy scolding the rest of us for self-indulgence in our glee at piling on Governor Sanford.  Over at Talking Points Memo, Dave Kurtz quotes one of the readers who thought that Sanford talked about both the women in his life with respect or something like that.  On the other hand, the vast majority of female commenters were much more harsh on Sanford.  They said that he was basically having his cake and eating it, too.  Several pointed out that Sanford only had to go up there and resign, but instead, he was the one who went on this rambling discourse about his inner turmoil.  One said, “I’m not your therapist, Sanford.”  His wife found out about the affair five months ago, and he was still seeing the mistress up until this last time.  Honestly, I don’t think he intended to break it off, but he had to if he wanted to at least attempt to save his political career.

It’s been fascinating to see the men stand up for Sanford.  I think some of them identify with him to some extent, and some are probably secretly envious that he had a hot Latina on the side.  One woman noted, “She (the mistress) looks like a younger version of his wife.  Why do men do that?”

It’s bothersome to me that the fact that Sanford seemed sincere in his apology has morphed into, “He’s repentant, so shut up now!”  “He was a mensch!”  “He owned up to it!”  Yes, because he was fucking caught.  Look, I still have some sympathy for the man, Mark Sanford, because he’s caught in the strictures that he himself espoused.  However, he still was trying to play it both ways.  I can grant that he loved his girlfriend.  I am not so cynical as to think she’s just a piece of ass on the side.  By the way, I am more curious as to what she saw in him, but that’s a whole different issue.  However, he bragged to her that he had been on the short list of VP choices for McCain.  He is probably not going to resign.  He loves his girlfriend, but I think he loves his political life even more.  It’s purely speculative on my part, of course.

Oh, and for all the men who are saying that Sanford is such a stand-up guy for being sincere, really?  Is that how low the bar is for politicians now?  I also wonder if these same men would be as sanguine if it were a woman pol who cheated.  I mean, I shudder to think what some of them would write if, say, Nancy Pelosi was caught canoodling in Jamaica with a Latino Lothario.  I somehow doubt they would be as sanguine, no matter how much she apologized sincerely.  Anyway, no matter how sincere Sanford is, he did a shitty thing.  That should not be forgotten.  He left his state in the lurch, and while some people think that’s not a big thing, I do.  If he’s such a man, such a mensch, he would say, “I did a shitty thing.  I was reckless, and I hurt the state of South Carolina.  Therefore, I am resigning.”   Somehow, I don’t think it’s going to happen.

One last thing.  He’s a grown man.  No matter how much in love he is with his girlfriend, he still has his responsibilities.  Those who are so quick to let it go don’t seem to understand the latter part.  He fucked up.  Now, he needs to make it right.  Come on, Governor, be a real man and resign.

22 Responses to I Left My Heart in the 80s

  1. snee, welcome to my blog! You’re whabs’ friend, right? You made me laugh, guiltily. Damn you!

  2. No matter how much in love he is with his girlfriend, he still has his responsibilities.

    And overlooked, I think, is that he left his wife *and children* for the other women. Not cool.

    I certainly wouldn’t go so far as to say that after Sanford’s apology, all is forgiven. He should have resigned for leaving his job with no notice and no backup, and be thankful he has the opportunity to quit instead of being escorted to the door the way any other employee in America would be if they pulled the same stunt. My sole point with his apology was that it seemed, at least, sincere and not the “I’m sorry if anyone was offended by my actions” baloney one so often hears in public apologies.

    What tempers my feelings about Jackson’s death is not so much the freak show his adult life became, but, strangely, the very fact that he was so talented. Thriller is an amazing album, and I can understand having been intimidated at the idea of having to follow up such a hit at still a relatively young age, but Jackson never did anything nearly so notable again, and of course eventually stopped recording and performing entirely. Which is certainly his prerogative — having even such a talent as his doesn’t oblige him to perform for our amusement — but it does seem kind of a waste. I can’t help but compare him to Springsteen, who also had a mega-hit album in the ’80s but has followed up by doing the kind of music he wants to do; if it’s a hit, fine, if not, also fine. I guess that’s the sad thing about Jackson: Springsteen clearly loves performing, but despite his talent, his experiences must have led Jackson to hate it.

    I feel much more affected by Fawcette’s death, because she, by all accounts, faced her terminal cancer bravely.

    I’m sorry for the loss of the cat.

  3. hehehe, Hi snee.
    For me Minna, most music..and that is what I relate Michael to, reminds me of people. I can not hear Michael Jackson without thinking of my brother David who passed away from AIDS in the late 80’s. When David first got sick, it was still being called ARC so that tells you the kind of illness he lived with if you know your HIV history. (If you don’t, try reading “And the Band Played On” by Randy Shilts.)
    This morning when I woke up and sat down to hit my pages and watch news, I was surprised that I sat crying over someone I lost so long ago. I shouldn’t be, because I miss him often. Haircuts have been a trauma for the last 19-20 years, because he was my hairdresser.
    Farrah’s Story is one that is touching and sad. I admire her fight and I admire her documentary that was recently released. I posted it a few weeks ago on my page because I found it so moving and I also wanted to hear HER words as I have seen so much written about her while standing in line for the grocery store checkout.
    As for the latest politician to get busted…once your glass house gets a few cracks, it’s just structurally unsound. ANY engineer will tell you that.
    Happy Friday!

  4. I actually wish Farrah was getting more recognition. One of my blogs on the roll, don’t remember which one, pointed out that at the time she made Burning Bed, she was a hugely popular, all-American icon. It was a risky, controversial role, one that she did not have to take. And that role really advanced our society’s discussions about domestic abuse.

    So rarely do famous celebrities risk anything to do something helpful to society. They’ll tack their name onto causes, they’ll throw some money at a problem, but those are easy things to do, and mostly double as self-serving PR anyhow.

    It was a really big deal when Burning Bed came out. Even at a young age, I noticed that there were a lot of discussions about it. And I am sure there are women and men out there who owe their lives to our increase awareness of domestic abuse.

    RIP, Farrah.

    Having said that, I agree 100% with you. Our national obsession with fame and celebrity is self destructive and it also serves to build up and destroy the people we run through the celebrity mill. Michael Jackson is one example, Britney Spears is another. The way we use these people is horrific, their exorbitant compensation for this being far from enough to make up for the damage these obsessions cause.

  5. Greg, Sanford’s apology was sincere. I just mourn the fact that this in and of itself is unusual. We have gotten so used to spin and deflection from pols, we’re actually struck by the realness of Sanford’s response.

    As for Jackson, it always seemed to me that he had a love/hate relationship with performing. He loved doing it, but he hated doing it in the public eye.

    I don’t know much about Fawcett as she was before my time.

  6. whabs, I’m sorry to hear about your brother. I actually think you’ve touched on what celebs mean to us. They remind us of certain people and certain times. They evoke memories within us, so in that way, they are keepers of our youth. I have not seen the Fawcett documentary as I don’t have cable. I will have to check it out.

  7. gex, that was Hilzoy who reminded us that Fawcett took such a controversial role (at that time) which could have damaged her career. It is sad that her death is being less recognized. I think it’s because Jackson’s was so sudden and strange, it completely overshadowed Fawcett’s.

    I agree that we consume our celebs, grind them up, and then spit them out. We have a love/hate relationship with them. We put them on pedestals and adore them. We follow them and want to know every detail of their lives. Then, when we’re bored with them, we chuck them aside. Or, if they do something we perceive as intolerable, we tear them apart. We are not very kind to our gods (as a society).

  8. The Burning Bed impacted my life a lot. I could relate to it. Even though I hadn’t met Jack, as in Ass yet, I was already on my path of DV.
    Minna, we also demand physical perfection of our eye candy, then we spend a lot of time tearing the icon down when they show they are only human and have DUH moments (Is this chicken of the sea chicken, or tuna?) Just like the rest of us have at one time or another.

  9. I agree that it’s sad Fawcett’s death is overshadowed by Jackson’s, but I’m comforted by the belief that she doesn’t care.

    I don’t know if I’ve ever been obsessed by a celebrity to that degree, although I used to collect autographs, which certainly shows a degree of fandom. I had a rule, though, that if I couldn’t express one bit of the celebrity’s work I admired, I wouldn’t ask, because it just wouldn’t mean much.

    It’s much worse with performers. I have loved everything I’ve ever read by Neil Gaiman, but apart from what I’ve read on his blog or author blurbs, I know next to nothing about the man. Yet that fact has no impact on my appreciation of his work.

    Then again, though I have also admired Jeffrey Jones’ work (Ferris Beuller, Ed Wood, Amadeus, I admit I can’t see those films without being reminded of his sex offenses involving minors.

    Although media obsession can still get extreme, as with Jackson, I think things are better than they once were. Reading Hollywood Babylon was shocking in how many careers were destroyed by scandal. The book celebrates Mary Astor’s affair with playwright George Kaufmann simply for the fact that her career flourished despite the revelations.

    sillywhabbit, I don’t know you very well, but I hope the DV is all behind you now. No one deserves that.

  10. I admit to being overwhelmed by a celebrity. I get the same way Minna gets over Alan Rickman, over kd lang. I unlike Minna, can say my obsession kissed me at a concert. Right on the smacker too.

    It still takes my breath away.

  11. Oh and Gregory…I hit the road in 1996 and it took me a good three years to finally make a clean break. The time since then has been more of a recovery effort.
    I’d have to say it is pretty far behind me but like most things traumatic, it can be well behind you and still impact you.
    I am happy to report though that for the most part, I have recovered from the “love” I once received, and thank God no one will EVER “love me” like that again.

  12. Mostly agree with you on Sanford — he hasn’t behaved honorably in this situation on any level. Maybe he will in the future, but I haven’t seen a good sign of it yet.

    As for Jacko, I think what the real sorrow is about for a celebrity like him (or like Princess Di) is for lost innocence. When Diana died, people remembered the fairy tale wedding and how the virgin became a Princess (and one-time future Queen). People wanted that fantasy back — not the divorce or the revelations about Charles and Camilla.

    Similarly, with Jackson, people wanted the feeling of awe and amazement they had when they first heard him (with the Jackson 5, singing songs from “Thriller,” or moonwalking). That feeling of pure amazement at talent is rare and most people want it back — not the sham marriages, dangling babies from balconies, paying off kids who accused him of sexual abuse, the mutilating effects of too much surgery, and the constant soap opera of his financial life.

  13. The way the republicans are acting, I think they will treat him as though he were honorable because he didn’t lie about it when busted. Well, what about the lies that led up to it. Personally, I think they are collectively heaving a sigh of homophobic relief that he wasn’t caught in a bathroom or with a man so somehow he can retain his dignity.

  14. I admit to being overwhelmed by a celebrity. I get the same way Minna gets over Alan Rickman, over kd lang. I unlike Minna, can say my obsession kissed me at a concert. Right on the smacker too.

    I’m jealous! I only had Pete Buck drip sweat on me in the front row of an REM concert. (Actually, back in those days, Buck, Mills and Berry would come out and chat to any fans who hung around long enough, so I’ve actually spoken with him as well.)

    Oh, and I once carried Ned Beatty’s luggage.

    I’m very sorry for the pain you’ve experienced, sillywhabbit, and wish you only the good kinds of love in the future.

  15. Greg, I dunno. Celebrity obsession is pretty peak now, and with the intertoobs, it’s MUCH easier to stalk celebrities. (Hi, Alan! Don’t worry, I still will not stalk you). In addition, they have no privacy. I think, perhaps, that we are not as strident about celebrities as in the past as to how they must act, but we are pretty exacting when we think they’ve crossed the line–whatever that line is.

    whabs, yeah, sure, rub it in. I think I would freak if k d lang kissed me ANYWHERE, let alone on the lips. And if it were Alan Rickman????? My mind boggles.

    Oh, and as to your chicken of the sea comment, no, I’ve never said anything THAT stupid. Let’s face it, she isn’t that bright. However, I will take your overall point that if anything we like more than liking a celebrity, it’s watching a celebrity fall.

    Alex, I don’t think I would ever associate Michael Jackson with innocence, but I get what you are saying. As for Princess Di, I never cared about the fairytale wedding, so the loss of it didn’t mean anything to me at all. I’m a cynical bastard like that, though.

    whabs, the only thing about Sanford is that by many accounts, most of the Republicans in SC don’t care for him, so they will take him down. If they liked him at all, they would gird their loins, so to speak, and circle the wagons.

    Greg, um, who is Pete Buck? Ah. Lesser-known member of REM. And now, you have to tell the Ned Beatty story!

  16. Celebrity obsession is pretty peak now, and with the intertoobs, it’s MUCH easier to stalk celebrities. … I think, perhaps, that we are not as strident about celebrities as in the past as to how they must act, but we are pretty exacting when we think they’ve crossed the line–whatever that line is.

    You’re right; my perspective is skewed because I don’t watch TV and don’t pay attention the celebrity tabloids at the checkout counter. And even then I’ve about Brittany Spears’ travails, Lindsey Lohan’s fights with her inamorata and the Jackson Baby incident. (I digress, but I would much prefer to hear that Lohan has gotten her act together and is making movies; I’ve seen her work and think she has real talent. I don’t like seeing her woes at all.)

    Lesser known? I’m outraged! (No, not really, of course.) But IMO Buck is the coolest member by far — even Mike Mills, who’s pretty damn cool too, didn’t have his own independently produced comic book made about him (at least as far as I know).

    Not really much story to tell — my crappy college job was working as a bellhop in a big hotel in Louisville, Kentucky. That in itself was quite an education, of course, and the big event of the year was naturally the Derby. One year Mr. Beatty’s flunky summoned me and told me I’d be carrying him his bags, tipped me in advance and told me not to bother him. As I rode up in the elevator with him and his two suitcases, I told him I admired his work in so many movies, and he laid a fiver on my when I dropped him off at his room. I never saw him after that, but he was pretty cool.

  17. Ultimately I think celebrity worship ties in to our innate need for/fascination with gossip. Social scientists believe gossip is just kind of a necessary byproduct of living as social creatures. Social information is important and gives power, so we are wired to be drawn to it in varying degrees. Our modern entertainment industry pushes those buttons for profit, while giving us the kind of gossip that is actually harmful to our participation in society. Oh well.

  18. I am tired of the way the teevee has capitalized on these celebrities’ deaths. Michael Jackson’s death is somewhat merciful, in my mind. His life was such an awful train-wreck, in spite of his talent. Farrah’s death is sadder personally, because I’ve seen the suffering of terminal cancer up close. But, I can understand your sadness for the kitten’s death.

    I always believed that mourning a dead celebrity was pathetic. But then Jhon Balance (COIL, Psychic TV) died of a fall from his balcony, and I found myself crying suddenly at intervals for the next two days. Not only did the loss of Jhon’s creativity and talent sadden me, I mourned for his partner in music and life, Peter Christpherson. I mourned for the loss of a human that advocated through his life for freedom of the mind, body & spirit.

    I don’t think many celebrities will invoke that response. But I’m not above that kind of response.

  19. Greg, the only so-called celeb I have met is…can’t remember his name, but he played for a local band called The Wallets. I had a cello recital, and his grandfather was one of the other cellists. That was pretty cool.

    gex, I’ve read the same studies, too. I think we (society) take it to the extremes in an excuse not to interact with the actual people in our lives. I am not above celeb gossip if it’s about someone I like (Alan Rickman, cough cough), but I also don’t think they are in my inner circle of friends or anything like that.

    Choolie, I don’t think I am above it, per se. Like I said, when Alan Rickman dies, I am sure I will shed more than a tear or two. Or, if Margaret Cho were to meet her untimely demise, I would be devastated. For me, there are certain people who represent something to me. With Margaret, it’s how she’s so unabashedly her. She doesn’t apologize for any aspect of herself (at least not in public), and she has some pretty brass ovaries.