Wrenching from the Weird

Have you noticed? It’s been two weeks now and the rest of the world, wars and all, has apparently come to a screeching halt, or perhaps ceased to exist, because the only news we’ve gotten is News of the Weird. With no disrespect intended or negative connotation implied, and regardless of what anyone thinks or thought of Michael Jackson, the guy cultivated eccentric to the point of weird–and was definitely not just your average rock star.

What’s even more weird, is the attention he’s been given since his untimely departure from this life. I mean, two weeks of incessant news coverage–of what?? At best are the retrospectives on his life, at worst are the ghoulish re-hashings of poor Michael’s last minutes, and the unending speculation about how it all happened, and then more obsessing about his left-behind assets, debts, and children, all the more ‘interesting’ now that he’s not here to oversee them.

But over and above all that, is the ultimate in weird…and that’s us–all of us who have supported this usurping of our news sources so that the only news entity on earth (could be only a slight exaggeration here) that wasn’t broadcasting Michael’s memorial service live was NPR. Thank heavens for NPR. CNN succumbed completely, not unexpectedly. Is this what CNN was supposed to be about? It became a worldwide news fixture with its live coverage of the Gulf War, and whether or not we consider that to have been worthy of the coverage it got, it still was a fairly significant world event with thought-to-be potential cataclysmic effects, or so it seemed at the time. Is Michael Jackson’s memorial service on a level with that?

While it seems like what must have been the majority of souls in this country were fixated on the star studded goings-on inside the Staples Center in LA, the American President Barack Obama–does that name ring a bell?–was in Moscow negotiating so that we have less of a chance of being blown up in a nuclear holocaust. Is anyone aware of this? That’s what concerns me–where are our priorities?

What all of this total obsessive attention to Michael Jackson–with a passing glance at Sarah Palin’s latest antic–says, is not so much about Michael or Sarah, but everything about us and our culture and what we value most. In a word, entertainment.

Perhaps this is about the culture of the world, given Michael’s reported even greater popularity in other countries, although I doubt other countries have suspended all other news to cover and scrutinize every coming and going from Michael’s mother’s house over the past two weeks.

And here’s another weirdness. For all of Michael’s success and popularity, most agree that his gig had been up here in the US for some time–which is why he was staging his planned comeback out of the US. And yet, from the reaction of the masses, including the media blitz that has likely perpetuated that, you would think we’d experienced the equivalent of the Wizard of Oz being ripped from the midst of the munchkins.

More weirdness: Michael could never have staged as big a comeback in life as the one that he has in death, so there was no way he could ever have enjoyed any of this colossal outpouring of adoration while still on the earthly plane. It would never have happened, to this degree anyway, had he continued to live. I only hope he is enjoying it from where he is now.

Can we wrench ourselves away from this obsession with weirdness? Or are we what’s really weird? There’s no wrenching away from ourselves.

It’s interesting. At his memorial service, Michael Jackson was proclaimed to the “the greatest entertainer that ever lived”…as if that were the highest honor and achievement any earthly being could ever hope to attain. And perhaps for many, it is. Interesting, again, as a commentary on us. It’s also just weird.

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