Image from GroupieBlog
Some celebrity deaths you anticipate. Ed McMahon, for example, was elderly and had been quite ill for some time. Farrah Fawcett, who also died today, had been terminally ill with cancer, so was also not a surprise. But, Michael Jackson? We're used to bizarre behavior, and out-of-left-field news items, but death at age 50? It's hard to digest.
In the hours since, I have been surprised some more. I heard a snippet of The Mark Levin Show on the radio (something I do not advise), and heard a rather dismissive air of the story. Later, I heard the local Las Vegas conservative talk radio show, The Casey Hendrickson Show with Heather Kydd. This was far worse. The show airs on KXNT, the local sponsor of the Sean Hannity "Freedom" Concerts. Kydd was something of a fan, and was uncharacteristically reserved. Hendrickson was not. He was unbelievably crass, expressing "happiness" that Jackson had died. This dovetailed with a few of the posts you might read on right-wing web site FreeRepublic, though tailered for radio.
The source of this nastiness is of course the allegations of pedophilia that will loom over any discussion of Jackson. It is worth noting that Jackson was acquitted of those charges. "Paid off" or not, no accuser ever proved his case. Having known a little of the background of the story, from the inside as it were, I personally don't believe the stories had merit. Regardless, expressing elation at someone's death--especially given the freshness of the news--is beyond crass.
The reaction of the rest of the news media frankly surprised me as well. I've mostly watched MSNBC, where Keith Olbermann has been handling the anchoring duties. It has been wall-to-wall Jackson, without commercials. I flipped to CNN and FOX "News," and found them covering it as well. If nothing else, it is a testament to Jackson's celebrity that more than a decade after having any fresh music, that it would garner such coverage.
I'll close by saying that I enjoyed--and will continue to enjoy--Michael Jackson's music. I'll concede that he was likely a troubled soul, and that he took "eccentric" to a whole 'nother level. If there is any truth to the more salacious allegations, I would of course find that awful. But since no truth has ever been proved, I will not judge him for it. And if it wasn't true? What a horrible thing that it hung over the last decades of his life. RIP, Michael.