Not Cease from Exploration

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Getting It Wrong

I know, I promised that I would only have one Michael Jackson comment, and I've tried keep to that, I swear. But I do hope that some of the news outlets decide to get this story RIGHT.

What do I mean by RIGHT?

Well first, certainly do talk about Jackson's life, etc. The fact is that he has been influential in popular culture over the past thirty or so years. There are things to celebrate here, even if you are like me and don't particularly care for his style of music (the last MJ song I liked was "Ben", the one about the killer rat).

Second, do talk about how this man died. Americans LOVE to rubber neck whenever we see an accident, we always look at road kill, we are entertained whenever someone seemingly important drops so mightily.

Finally though, to get this RIGHT, we need to take a serious look at the uniquely American Culture that creates this freak-show. Some of the elements of this culture include -
  • Worship of the Celebrity - Forget doctors and nurses that save people's lives, many Americans instead worship some young man or woman who can sing (or rap). Clearly, we have our priorities majorly messed up. Some actually believe that a celebrity is somehow worthy of more...whatever more is (be it money, adulation, etc.)...than those of us who live common lives. They aren't. The true worth of a person far too complex to be measured by a media popularity contest under the guise of "celebrity".
  • Worship of the Dollar - Michael Jackson, more so than most, personified the notion that having money is this kind of "game". Clearly, he was incredibly disconnected between the effort required to earn money, and the effort required to spend money. Apparently while he was not working all these years and instead being sued by the families of little boys, he was still living like a prince. His attitude about money is almost akin to that of what you see in a teenage girl who does not work: they just expect to have it.
  • Worship of Self - Michael Jackson, apparently, was obsessed with altering his appearance to look less African-American and look more like, well, something else. Look, I write this as an overweight, tall, gawky middle-aged white guy with a bad back, a receding hairline, eyes that are always flying off in different directions and a nose that is both too large and which is slightly bent to the left. In other words, I know about physical imperfection. Yet I've managed to survive all these years with the knowledge that "hey, I may not look like George Clooney, but I can tolerate what I see in the mirror"). Michael Jackson, a guy who wrote a song called "Man In The Mirror" apparently could not stand what he saw in the mirror. His apparent disgust for what he saw, and then his unmitigated worship of self took him to physical-altering places that created something of a monster at the end.
Yes, Michael Jackson has taught us an invaluable lesson: talent, fame & wealth don't equal happiness; in fact, when it came to Michael Jackson, those things just magnified problems he probably had for a long time.

Here's to celebrating all of us who are imperfect but yet still manage to live our lives, smile every once in a while, sing a song or two and try to do the right thing. We may not be a "celebrity" like Michael Jackson, but I can virtually guarantee that, for the most part, we will be happier.

I'll end this with the lyrics to a song that I think clearly GETS IT.


ROCKSTAR (by Nickleback)

I'm through with standing in line
to the clubs I'll never get in
It's like the bottom of the ninth
and I'm never gonna win
This life hasn't turned out
quite the way I want it to be

(tell me what you want)

I want a brand new house
on an episode of Cribs
And a bathroom I can play baseball in
And a king size tub big enough
for ten plus me

(yeah, so what you need)

I'll need a, a credit card that's got no limit
And a big black jet with a bedroom in it
Gonna join the mile high club
At thirty-seven thousand feet

(Been there done that)

I want a new tour bus full of old guitars
My own star on Hollywood Boulevard
Somewhere between cher and
James Dean is fine for me

(So how you gonna do it?)

I'm gonna trade this life for fortune and fame
I'd even cut my hair and change my name

[CHORUS]
'Cause we all just wanna be big rockstars
Livin' in hilltop houses driving fifteen cars
The girls come easy and the drugs come cheap
We'll all stay skinny cause we just won't eat
And we'll hang out in the coolest bars
In the VIP with the movie stars
Every good gold digger's
Gonna wind up there
Every Playboy bunny
with her bleach blonde hair
and well..
Hey hey I wanna be a rockstar
Hey hey I wanna be a rockstar

I wanna be great like Elvis without the tassels
Hire eight body guards that love to beat up assholes
Sign a couple autographs
So I can eat my meals for free

(I'll have the quesadilla... ha ha)

I'm gonna dress my ass
with the latest fashion
Get a front door key to the Playboy mansion
Gonna date a centerfold that loves to
blow my money for me

(So how you gonna do it?)

I'm gonna trade this life
For fortune and fame
I'd even cut my hair
And change my name

'Cause we all just wanna be big rockstars
Livin' in hilltop houses driving fifteen cars
The girls come easy and the drugs come cheap
We'll all stay skinny cause we just won't eat
And we'll hang out in the coolest bars
In the VIP with the movie stars
Every good gold digger's
Gonna wind up there
Every Playboy bunny
with her bleach blonde hair
And we'll hide out in the private rooms
With the latest dictionary
in today's who's who
We'll get you anything
with that evil smile
Everybody's got a
drug dealer on speed dial
well..
Hey hey I wanna be a rockstar

I'm gonna sing those songs
that offend the censors
Gonna pop my pills
from a Pez dispenser
Get washed-up singers writing all my songs
Lip sync 'em every night so I don't get 'em wrong

Well we all just wanna be big rockstars
Livin' in hilltop houses driving fifteen cars
The girls come easy and the drugs come cheap
We'll all stay skinny cause we just won't eat
And we'll hang out in the coolest bars
In the VIP with the movie stars
Every good gold digger's
Gonna wind up there
Every Playboy bunny
with her bleach blonde hair
And we'll hide out in the private rooms
With the latest dictionary
in today's who's who
We'll get you anything
with that evil smile
Everybody's got a
drug dealer on speed dial well..
Hey hey I wanna be a rockstar
Hey hey I wanna be a rockstar

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