Saturday, January 29, 2005

#143 - Celebrities Can Be Very Trying

Michael King (Rambling's Journal) opines that Michael Jackson needs to be given a long-term vacation at the nearest pedophilia rest home. One with bars that prevents dangling small children out of windows.

Celebrity trials have always presented a problem for me. Once upon a time I confess to being fascinated by the spectacle. Any time a headliner ended up in court, especially for more heinous crimes, I was just as sucked in as the media wanted me to be.

Until OJ, that is.

Dave Barry once stated that he expected the OJ trial industry to keep him busy for at least a year following the trial. If you took OJ out of the formula and substituted the word "celebrity," you'd have a lifetime supply of article fodder.

On one level I can understand the hype. Public figures have celebrity because they've done something at some point in their lives to make them famous. Movies, sports, politics. All have their iconic figures, and the public (assisted ably by the MSM) are constantly aware of their activities.

The OJ trial was the first one I paid much attention to, if only because it pointed out a few glaring inconsistencies in our woeful need for "hero" worship. Understand: I'm not saying hero worship is bad, so long as you're picking true heros to emulate. Unfortunately, most of the people branded as heros by their adoring fans are not so much worthy of worship as they are needful of serious counselling or intervention. Most of them are downright weird.

In OJ's case it was the idea that a man (a black man, to be honest) who had been a tremendous athlete, and had subsequently made a successful media life for himself could be somehow capable of such a heinous crime. We began to see how a life of celebrity began to unravel by stages. A man who had begun to buy into his own legend, a trophy wife, petty jealousies that escalated into violence. It was, and remains, a sad statement. Today the man lives in a fishbowl, hounded by a scandal-hungry public (assisted, again quite ably, by the MSM).

Michael Jackson is even more fascinating. Here was a man who, as a kid, had tremendous talent. There was no doubt the kid could sing. Then, mysteriously, he somehow missed that part of puberty where the voice changes. For years after most of us suffered through come-and-go Exorcist/PeeWee Herman voices, MJ still sounded like a twelve year old. As his music and celebrity continued to evolve, we watched him literally become a caricature of himself. His nose became pointy. His skin took on a bleached hue. His public antics and eccentricities were well documented. Then there was Neverland.

Rumors of sexual ambiguity and tales of children having "sleep overs." Young boys. Questions.

I had long since tuned it out.

The media-choreographed circus that was the OJ trial had finally cured me of my obsession with celebrity of any kind. As I watched his multi-million dollar legal defense team spin and conjure for the world to see, I became disgusted with the whole thing. With OJ. With his "dream team." With the drooling, fawning public who spurred the whole thing on.

Want to know the truth? I could care less whether Jackson is guilty of this crime. Let the justice system work its process quietly and efficiently. Close those doors and let the witnesses testify. Let the jury make their decision without becoming fodder for every media legal "expert" who doesn't have a real job in this country. Then let Jackson take the consequences of his actions. Let his empire crumble around him. He's had the spotlight long enough... probably far longer than he ever really deserved.

At the end of the day it will boil down to the same arguments. If he's convicted, it will be decried as character assassination. Jackson Senior is already playing the racism card. If he's acquitted, it will be seen as another celebrity "buying" his freedom.

Either way, it will make little difference in my own life. Except for not having to see his mutated image splashed in front of me every day. That, I can live with.

No comments: