Michael Jackson Memorial Coverage Went Too Far

The wall-to-wall coverage earlier this week of The Gloved One’s memorial on major network TV, small network TV, local news channels, radio news channels, and everything else in between, was a bit much. I kept thinking, ‘Am I watching the passing of the President of the United States or what?’

Of course, I agree that Jackson is one of the greatest entertainers in the world and indeed a great humanitarian in terms of donating to charities, but I simply was not comfortable as I listened to the various song tributes and speeches lauding this man as if he was a great civil rights leader, and an all-around great human being.

Let’s be honest, when Rev. Al Sharpton got on stage saying that Jackson contributed to everything from having black music played on music television, to being partly responsible for Barack Obama being elected the first black President of the United States, I cringed. And, when Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee (D-Texas), showed up with a resolution honoring Jackson for his charitable acts, his music and for being a world humanitarian, I nearly fell out of my seat. The resolution has since been tabled by the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. However, Jackson Lee will continue to fight on. At this writing, only one other person, Rep. Diane Watson (D-CA), co-sponsored the resolution.

Correct me if I am wrong, but I don’t recall Jackson being someone who spoke out about racial injustice or demanding civil rights for African Americans in some major way. In fact, it can be argued that Jackson lightened his skin and changed his nose to erase his blackness. Sure, he did songs and projects that brought people together, such as “We Are The World,” but he was definitely no Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. –  as some of the memorial speakers would have you believe.

Now, what about his other weird behavior? While he was never convicted of child molestation, it still puzzles me about that $20 million settlement paid out to shut up the earliest alleged child molestation abuse claim. That’s a heck of a lot money if one didn’t do anything wrong! And, what about the wearing of the mask and the same clothes (red shirt and black pants) all the time? How about his alleged addiction to prescription pills (which may be the cause of his death)? The list goes on and on.

I’m not saying that I believe all of the stories about Michael Jackson, but from what I have observed on the outside, some of Jackson’s actions should be questioned and scrutinized. Should Jackson have been recognized in the media in a special way? Of course.  But, I still say it was over-the-top.

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3 Responses to Michael Jackson Memorial Coverage Went Too Far

  1. Desi,

    I agree with you 100%. Your essay perfectly expresses hos “MIchael Mania” has blurred out reality in the days since the King of Pop died.

    Michael Jackson’s significance beyond music has been exaggerated to ridiculous proportions. His most ardent fans want to squash any discussion of Jackson’s considerable (and possibly criminal) flaws and elevate him to a status that he does not deserve. Sharpton has been pitiful these last few weeks; from defending Joe Jackson’s disgraceful plugging of his record label at the BET Awards to inflating Michael’s importance to breaking down racial barriers in entertainment. And what about that ridiculous statement that Sharpton made to Jackson’s kids: “Wasn’t nothing strange about your daddy! It was strange what he had to deal with!”

  2. Note to Rev. Al Sharpton,

    Two factual points on which you need to be corrected:

    Michael Jackson did not single-handedly integrate MTV. Throughout much of the ’80s, he was about the ONLY black artist on the then-rock/pop-heavy network. That isn’t integration, that’s tokenism.

    “We Are the World” came AFTER Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas” which was the first all-star African-famine relief record and which was the inspiration for the Live Aid concerts.

  3. Johanna Fontenot says:

    Desi,
    Your latest blog on Michael is right-on. It so easy to get caught-up in the hoopla and the media’s influence that is becomes real difficult to distinguish fact from fiction. Thanks for sharing another point of view. And I agree that Michael should not be recognized as a civil rights leader or even a promoter of black folks, but instead he should be remembered as one of of the best entertainers of all time.

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