The poignancy of entertainer extraordinaire, Michael Jackson’s death, the resignation of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, and the family scandal of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, while extremely different events, remind me of the humanity that must be recognized about our celebrities.
As we peer through the glass of our televisions and computer screens onto the countenance of one luminary after another, we tend to forget that they are whole human beings, as flawed, gifted and sometimes confused as any of us in the mundane world of suburbia.
Each of these individuals are parents. Their children are so deeply affected by the events surrounding their famous father or mother, that we cannot fully assess what that impact is, yet. The challenge is, of course, that none of these people, particularly Mr. Jackson, will be able to do much about it by the time the issues fully fulmigate.
There have been several articles written in this blog about the need for compassion at a variety of levels. There seems to be a bit developing in some arenas; however, we are still focused on consuming every scrap of information thrown to us, like hogs scurrying for their slop.
Is it possible for us to step back, even for a moment, and call out to ourselves for restraint and compassion? I certainly hope so, if not for ourselves and the energetic quality of our spirit, but for our children. They are learning how to be from whom they see us choosing to be.
Remember, my friends, that behind each face lies a mind that holds sweet and bitter memories just like ours.
Behind each toned or surgically altered chest, beats a fragile, insistent heart that loves and is made sad in the same way ours are.
Under their feet lies the dirt of thousands of miles they have trodden on their paths, exactly in the same way we find the dust on our sandals, as well.
In the same way that 50 is the new 30, and gay is the new Black, compassion could be the new vision.
I wonder if it will catch on?
It is grizzly to conceptualize, let alone view, a photo of someone at or immediately after their death.
When I saw the photo of Michael Jackson in his final moments on the front of a couple of magazine covers, I was simply mortified!
Shame on those editors who decided it was a good idea. They just lost a little of their souls in that moment. Sadly, it only cost them $5.95 per issue.
No matter how public a figure, the family should not have to have photos like that plastered all over places like supermarkets and liquor stores for public consumption and I, for one, condemn those who opted to publish those photos, especially on the front cover.
While I understand that publications have the right of free speech, I always learned that one’s rights ended at another person’s nose. These filthy rags should be sued, and sued well, for their horrific invasion into the Jackson family’s tragedy and grief.
I shall never again purchase any magazine that held those images.
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.