Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Weekend at Michael's

Yesterday's memorial for Michael Jackson was "more tasteful, moving and apt than the week and a half's media circus that led up to it," writes James Poniewozik for TIME.

That probably goes without saying, although I found it tiring by the time the 2½–hour broadcast concluded. As the program wound down, I had to wonder, who is being eulogized? Is it Gandhi? Mother Teresa? John Paul II?

No, the "King of Pop."

It was hard — indeed, it is still hard — to separate Jackson from his legal woes and "questionable choices," as Berry Gordy put it, no matter how many gold and platinum records he had.

Or how many stars sang and danced at Los Angeles' Staples Center.

But, ultimately, it was, as Poniewozik put it, "a goodbye to a son, brother and father, as we were reminded when Jackson's family took the stage at the end of the event. His daughter, Paris — previously shielded, like all his kids, from the media — had the tremulous last words: 'I just wanted to say I love him so much.' "

There will be more Michael Jackson news in the future — when a final resting place is determined, when the toxicology reports assess the cause of his death, when the inevitable issues surrounding his estate come up. There is no need to prop him up like the corpse in "Weekend at Bernie's," rigged to wave a gloved hand at the tug of a string.

For now, let's leave his family — and his fans — alone to come to terms with their grief. And let him take his place among the other cultural icons who died too young.

And it would be nice if the media would resume coverage of the many matters that still affect those who are living. There is no need to recite them here. We all know what they are.

Suffice to say there are many lives hanging in the balance today.

And, to borrow a line from one of Jackson's songs, it don't matter if they're black or white.

What matters is that they are human beings, facing a crisis.