The entertainment world seemed to come to a screeching stop last week as news that Farrah Fawcet, Michael Jackson and Billy Mays died in unrelated incidents.
Loss is always difficult and grief on a national scale somehow seems comforting, but I couldn’t help but get my feathers ruffled when I heard one grieving fan compare the loss of Michael Jackson to JFK.
I will first admit that I believe Jackson revolutionized the genre of music videos from merely a display ad to a narrative art form. However, as the grieving fan muttered, “This is just like when JFK died - I will always remember where I was when I heard Michael was dead and the world just isn’t the same,” I wanted reach through the phone and scream that the loss of the acting president of the United States was nothing like the loss of an entertainer.
I wasn’t around yet when JFK was killed, but I remember exactly where I was (in my truck in the Montana’s parking lot in Stephenville) and what I was doing (just finishing dinner with my then-high school boyfriend), when I heard Princess Diana was dead.
I remember exactly what I was doing (working at a call center in Belton, training a new employee) when news of 9/11 began to trickle in over the loud speakers.
I seriously doubt I will remember or care that I was sitting on my couch at home when Access Hollywood said Jackson was found dead in his “posh” apartment.
You might think I just don’t get it - that I have no concept of who Jackson is or what he had done with the industry. But I am a child of the 80s and I remember dancing to “Thriller,” singing along to “Bad” and desperately trying to moonwalk with “Billie Jean.” Jackson’s poster was right there on my wall next to Donnie from New Kids on the Block and Kirk Cameron. But the death of an entertainer, to me, is not on the same field as the death of an international figurehead.
What was it about Jackson that pulled some people in and repelled others? There’s no doubt about it, there’s no middle ground - you either love him or0 you don’t.
For me, it was the ever increasingly bizarre and down right eerie behavior. Perhaps he really was a victim of growing up in the spotlight. But something about his antics just sent me over the deep end.
He was in and out of legal trouble from the first official allegation of child sexual abuse in 1993 to an actual trial in 2005. Although never convicted, you just don’t agree to pay someone $22 million for a misunderstanding.
Most of all, it was the Neverland Ranch - the fantasy filled, multi-million dollar playland where Jackson lived and admitted to entertaining and sharing his bed with children.
Let’s see - a man with a troubled childhood, who his own sister accused of being a pedophile, living in an amusement park named for a fairy tale character who can’t grow up and is constantly hunted by pirates, inviting children over for slumber parties. As a mother - that does not sit right.
I recognize the mark Jackson will leave behind on the music world. However, I refuse to allow death to transform Wacko Jacko into Saint Michael. You will pardon me if I hold my tears and my memories for non-suspected child predators.
Whitney White-Ashley is a staff writer at the Glen Rose Reporter. She can be reached by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.