As aggrieved as many people are for the loss of Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, and Billy Mays, one can understand how the outpouring of sadness and sympathy can turn into a national near-obsession. That being said, one must also find the brake pedal for the intrusion into a celebrity’s private life, especially for the sake of the family. This level of feeding frenzy is reminiscent of vultures on a carcass.
As the national media has covered the death of Michael Jackson, every one of the channels has discussed his will, the custody of his children, the relationship he had with his father, and even the paternity and maternity of his children.
Has his family not one iota of permission to grieve over the loss of their son/brother/father in peace? Is it not enough that we have used Mr. Jackson as fodder for our discussions about his unusual behavior, questionable actions, and ever-changing appearance for the past forty years?
The man is dead. Dead. There is no more Michael Jackson in the assemblage of six billion people on the planet. Certainly his music lives on, as does his family; however, can we simply allow his passing to be handled respectfully and lovingly?
We are culture vultures. We scavange on every morsel of information as though it were our last meal. We tear apart every facet of a celebrity’s private life as though we had a right to it because we spent a few dollars on their albums. We are shameless as a people when it comes to our celebrities.
When President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was Commander-in-chief, not one newspaper ever showed a photograph of him in his wheelchair. Not one outlet discussed his polio. Certainly, no one discussed in the newspaper or on the newsreel about the infidelities within his marriage. It was understood that President Roosevelt deserved his privacy and that this level of exposure would be detrimental to our society and standing in the world of the day.
We haven’t one ounce of that sense left. We’re like the fools who shoot guns in the air because we have them and we want to show our power. We don’t give a damn about where the bullets land.
Enough already. Enough!
The news media is making the news, not reporting the news. They have not got a clue as to what is appropriate any more. Between our government and our media, we are a shell of our previous selves.
What a tragic statement about who we’ve become – a bunch of Jerry Springer guest-wannabes who shout at the top of their lungs to make their point and battle on subjects they know nothing about.
Isn’t it time we go back to our trailer parks, have a cool one, do some honest self-reflection about who we’ve become and how we got here rather than dissecting the lives of people we’ve never, ever met?
In the last few days, we have lost three distinctly different personalities. I was watching CNN and there was a blog entry read that talked about Ed McMahon and his distinguished service as a colonel in the military. This person referenced Farrah Fawcett’s valiant struggle against cancer and her work against domestic violence. The individual then referred to Michael Jackson’s criminal trials for child molestation and his drug use.
It breaks my heart that at this point in our history, we are still looking at others with such a jaded eye. The truth is Ed McMahon was in debt up to his eyes. Farrah Fawcett began her career as simply a pretty face. Michael Jackson was worked far beyond any reasonable level by his own parents during his entire childhood.
The point is that every single person on this great big planet has a story and that story is a complete one. It has really beautiful parts to it and it has hideously ugly parts to it, as well. Such is the nature of life. For those who feel that they have not been touched by severe tragedy or extreme joy, allow me to express my deepest sympathy to you because it is most likely because you have chosen to live a life of fear, keeping yourself safe from every possible danger or sadness. That’s not living. That’s existing.
Without risk, there is no glory. (I wish I could find who said that first). Of course, I’m not talking about fame when I use the word, “glory.” I’m talking about that feeling of basking in one’s ultimate success. Without scars, there is no character. Without pain, there is no healing. Without horror, there is no joy. Life, as we know it, is full of polarity. It’s the nature of the beast.
Ed McMahon defended our country as a valiant and honorable soldier. Farrah Fawcett struggled against misogyny and violence, bringing at least one wonderful movie to light in that effort. Michael Jackson changed the face of pop music from the time he was ten years old. Each of these actions has value and will find longevity.
Their agonies are not ones we will ever understand because we have not walked in their shoes. So, what they offered us personally was joy, creativity, and abundance. I suggest we simply say, “Thank you, Ed. Thank you, Farrah. Thank you, Michael.”
There have only been two celebrity deaths that affected me so personally that I wept. One was when George Burns died. I respected his power and his humor and I felt he represented
the best of comedy and sophistication in the art form. The second was Katherine Hepburn. Again, she was a pinnacle of class, sophistication, directness and artistry. Their passing was deeply moving to me because with them went a level of talent that we will rarely see again.