The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Michael Jackson RIP - Weirdness Overdose

I was not a fan. Before this week you could have tortured me and I still couldn't have named a single Michael Jackson song. OK, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration. Maybe deep in the recesses of my slowly deteriorating mind a few cells might have retained a song title heard in passing back in the eighties. Maybe a few water boardings would have brought it to the surface.

But all that has changed. Since Michael Jackson died earlier this week, he has forced his way into my consciousness in an unprecedented way. The media -- every outlet imaginable -- has inundated us with all things Jacksonian: the squeaky, girlish voice; the moon walk across the stage; the odd proclivity to grab his crotch while singing; the personal and family life so bizarre it is likely unmatched among our so-called celebrities; his apparent morphing from youthful African American to adult, well, something's all been very strange. For the first hour or two, the non-stop coverage was mildly fascinating. But after several days of this almost indecent exposure to the weirdness that was Michael Jackson, I think it's time to leave the poor man alone and let him rest is peace.

I suppose its a generational thing, but we seem to have raised celebrity worship to a whole new level. I can clearly recall that February morning in 1959 when I heard that Buddy Holly has been killed in a plane crash in Iowa. My friends and I were teenagers and enthusiastic fans. We enjoyed his music and were truly saddened that he had died so tragically at such a young age. But even in our youth we realized that death comes to everyone, and it comes in all guises. Buddy Holly's death came as a surprise; after all it was an accident. But we got over it fairly quickly and waiting for the bus the next morning were complaining once again about the sad state of the NY Rangers.

But Michael Jackson's death, although no accident, seems to have caught the media totally by surprise. And that's what surprises me. Did they really believe this man would long survive his self-destructive lifestyle? Remind you of someone else? One cannot easily ignore the similarities between Jackson's life and death and that of Elvis Presley. One was the "King of Pop" and the other the "King of Rock n Roll." Both rose to the top of their profession but lived progressively destructive lifestyles that ultimately took their lives. Sad. A kind of death by celebrity.

Let's hope that Michael Jackson's fans don't let their adulation blind them to the lesson his life and death offer. And pray that a merciful God may welcome Michael and all who have died this week into His Kingdom.

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