Ed. Note: I started this last night.
So, I met two really cool women tonight who generously allowed me the use of their pool (thanks, gex), and permitted me to love up their gorgeous Alaskan Eskimo. In addition, their beautiful and elderly Siamese deigned to grant me the privilege of caressing him a few times. Then, we had great food at the Pardon My French Cafe. Sated and happy, I drove home and promptly crashed on the papasan. gex and her girlfriend, Allie (no, not her real name) were so right. Bobbling in the pool under the hot sun REALLY takes it out of you.
Anyway, I got up around one, futzed around on the intertoobs, and fired up Keith Olbermann. To my consternation, the first three stories were about Michael Jackson’s death and the suspicious circumstances surrounding it. They had on Deepak Chopra, who is, apparently, a good friend of Michael Jackson’s. He had some interesting insight, I guess, but WTF? Now, I know Keith isn’t hard news per se. I know he leans towards pop culture as well as towards sports. I can see him doing a brief segment, but three? Aw, hell no. Not to mention, on the way to gex’s, on NPR, they were going around the country interviewing fans from around the world–who then would sing (badly) a snippet of a MJ song. Note, people who cannot sing should not do so on the national radio machine.
Just fucking stop it, people. No, really, stop. I mean it. Can I be honest with you? I don’t give a shit how MJ died. I don’t give a shit if he was Oxycontined up to his eyeballs every day of his life. I don’t care that the mother of his babies was turkey-bastered with someone else’s sperm (a British rumor, presumed to be false) or with his, and that she was essentially a womb for hire. And yet, I now know all this even though I have made no attempts to find out any of this shit on my own.
Ed. Note: From here on out, it’s today.
I remember the same thing happening when Princess Di died, however many years ago that was. My mom was obsessed with the death. She would watch all the coverage, and she would get mad if I wanted to turn it off. Now, this s going to sound cold, but I didn’t give a damn that she died. Oh, I felt sorry for her and her family, but I didn’t get the hoopla at all. I mean, I could understand, to a certain extent, the Brits who were so passionate about it because she was one of their own, but the Americans who gnashed their teeth and wailed? Did not compute at all. I mean, I gave her props for working tirelessly for charities after her separation from Prince Charles, but I was disturbed by the amount of attention her death received around the world. I remember that Mother Teresa died a few days later, and she didn’t receive a tenth the attention that the death of Princess Di got. On one level, I get it. Princess Di, like Michael Jackson, died unexpectedly. Mother Teresa, like Farah Fawcett, died in a manner that wasn’t surprising. Still, Mother Teresa did so much good in her lifetime. I always thought it was a shame that her death was treated as a footnote to Princess Di’s death.
On the last thread I wrote, I Left My Heart in the 80s, an interesting discussion developed in the comments concerning our society’s obsession with celebrities. There have been studies that show our interest in celebrities is a good thing, as gex pointed out. However, I would posit that any good we get in connecting over cultural tidbits is more than wiped out by the fact that we are fucking insane when it comes to our celebrities. “Did Brad Pitt cheat with Angelina Jolie WHILE he was married to Jennifer Aniston?” “Well, I read that Jen didn’t want children, and Brad was desperate to start a family.” “Angelina loves kids. Did you see the way Jennifer just whined about the whole thing?” “Yes, if she wanted to keep Brad, she should have had the children.”
I didn’t give a fuck about JenBrAngelina, and I still don’t. What’s creepy to me is how people talk about celebs by first name as if they (the hoi polloi) know them (the elite). It smacks of desperation to me, as if the commoners want some of the magic to rub off onto them. Like I have said, I am not above having an interest in a celebrity. For regular readers of my blog, you know that Alan Rickman is, well, a favorite of mine. So is Margaret Cho. So is Wanda Sykes. If Margaret, knock on wood, was to meet an untimely demise, I would be devastated. She was the first Asian American female stand-up comic I’d seen, and she was fierce. In addition, she’s loud, crass, ballsy, plump and full-figured, and she talks some serious smack. In other words, she’s who I want to be when I grow up. I identify with her, and she seems like someone I could actually hang out with in real life–maybe mess around with, too. She’s hot. So, because I identify with her, I would feel like I’ve lost something if she were to die (before I do).
On the other hand, someone like Angelina Jolie or Jennifer Aniston dying wouldn’t affect me in the least. I can’t relate to them at all, so I wouldn’t feel as if I’ve lost something with their passing. Hm. That sounds narcisstic of me, but I can’t help it. Since they are not actual people in my life, they can’t contribute to my life in a tangible way. Therefore, for their death to have any meaning to me, they have to strike a chord in me, and they don’t.
Back to MJ for a minute. I heard Spike Lee talking about Jackson on NPR, and he was saying something like, “Let’s remember him for how talented he was. Let’s remember him for his hard work and dedication. Let’s remember him as a great father.” Um, ok. But, who can forget the crumbling face? Who can forget the dangling baby? Who can forget the pedophilia accusations and the settlement out of court? Who can forget him buying the copyright to The Beatles’ songs, and then selling them to companies to use in their commercials?
I hate the way we have to pretend that someone is a saint the minute he dies. Look at Reagan. They dragged his poor corpse from state to state on a cross-country “Look at the Dead Ex-President” Tour. Some stupid-ass Republicans wanted to put his head on Mount Rushmore (don’t get me started on Mount Rushmore), and now, he is Saint Ronnie who can do no wrong.
Fuck that shit. When I die, I want someone to say something like this: “You know what? She was a goddamn pain in the ass. She was always bitching about something, but it was because she cared so passionately about injustice. She was self-absorbed and caring at the same time. She talked a lot of shit, but she knew quite a bit, too. She was funny, sarcastic, hot-tempered, thin-skinned, and charismatic all at the same time. She was lazy as hell about some things and driven about others. She spent much of her life screwed up in the head, but she saw the light at the end of the tunnel, once she could see the tunnel for what it was. She was full of fear, but also courageous. She did brave things. She did stupid things. She had a hard time loving. She loved too hard when she did love. She spoiled her cats rotten. She gave her niece a role model that was a bit different than the rest. In short, she was a real human being with good points and with bad points. That’s what made Minna, Minna. And her tattoos. And her long hair. And her propensity for saying fuck. We will miss her.”