Tuesday, July 7, 2009

They Can't Help It (the further dissing of Michael Jackson)

"...[F]or the last, I don't know how long now, this lowlife Michael Jackson, his name, his face and picture is all over the newspapers, television, radio. It's all we hear about, is Michael Jackson.

And let's knock out the psycho-babble. This guy was a pervert, he was a child molester, he was a pedophile, and to be giving this much coverage to him day in and day out, what does that say about us as a country?"

That's what Congressman Peter King (R-NY) had to say about the media coverage surrounding the recently deceased Michael Jackson. And he has every right to say it, of course. But I guess Rep. King fails to grasp the fact that Jackson was an iconic and influential artist with a following in the dozens of millions, as well as a philanthropist. And this is what fueled--at least initially, before the media went into custody overdrive regarding his children--all this press. I'm going to assume that he didn't feel the coverage was excessive when Elvis Presley passed away. Or that he had anything to say about the negative aspects of Presley's life.

Rep. King, Fox Noise commentator Bill O'Reilly and many other right-wing hypocritical blowhards have chosen to blatantly minimize in extreme, if not downright deny, any artistic merits by the late Jackson; boiling him down to some two-bit song-and-dance man, which is highly disrespectful at best. (They also cannot comprehend why black people in such large numbers were so loyal to him. On his TV show, O'Reilly went as far as implying that Jackson's latter day skin tone and that of his children should be a reason for African-American folks to have left his side. I don't know what qualifies O'Reilly as an expert in African-American identity politics, but I sure as hell am not knowledgeable on the subject, so I will refrain from opining on it.)

I literally don't know if Jackson actually molested those kids or not; but we can all agree that someone with naive, at best, and incredibly inappropriate behavior regarding children not his own, at worst--and filthy rich--was bound to be a target for accusations of that nature. And, lest we forget, he was acquitted the second time. Unfortunately, now he's not around to defend himself anymore.

That's not going to stop anyone willing to spotlight even more the lurid aspects of his life. Fine. But the outpouring of grief from fans who have lost a musical hero should not be trampled on. Period. I wasn't a fan, per se, but enjoyed quite of a few cuts from both MJ solo and with his brothers. But more importantly, I recognize his stature as an artist which, in the wake of his passing, led me to look back on his landmark 1979 album Off the Wall.

Sadly, I won't deny that I would've felt apprehension in letting him be alone in a room with a child of my blood line, but that doesn't mean I'm going to reduce his contributions to the world of music to some simplistic minstrelsy. And neither should anyone else. Which is why King needs to apologize.