Soooo. You’ve heard the news. Michael Jackson is dead. Brought to the hospital under not-quite-clear circumstances, something about a maybe heart attack and a deep coma. Regardless of the circumstances, the media is all aflutter.
On the one hand, the neurotic in me is thinking “Why is everybody dying this week??? What’s going on???”
On the other hand, the sheer instantaneous nature of the announcement is a clear example of our changing times and manners of communication. My first inkling of the news was in fact not from the news, but from a coworkers changed MSN status. Nowadays CNN no longer has breaking information but is in fact trying to keep up with the likes of Perez. There’s good and bad to this. While it’s nice to know that the media machine is now open to more opinions than that of the right wing money based corporately driven illuminati, it also means that it’s open to all manner of others, credible or not. Not just to left wing extremism (which does exist, and can be just as dangerous when we like the think that we’re correct just because “we’re not them” – although I don’t hear any left wing Nancy Graces losing their mile-high shit over social injustice), but to anyone with a computing device and $30 a month worth of internet. Anybody can say anything and be taken seriously – how many times do we have to be reminded that Wikipedia is not a citable source?
Not to digress from the issue at hand. I just couldn’t help but get a little boggled at how fast the alternate-media world moves. Clearly I’m a part of it, with my itty bitty corner of the blogosphere. But never in a million years do I consider the possibility that someone reads my opinion and takes it as flat out truth. So while I’m all for free speech and the idea that more information is always better than restricted information, sometimes it worries me. When the bottom falls out of the legitimacy of our media sources (or when you realize that there hasn’t been much legitimacy all along – if you haven’t seen Wag the Dog, go do it now), are we all going to start believing everything Google says?
Because here’s the thing: I don’t believe it.
It all seems a little too crazy. It could be that the quickly adultifying kid in me is outright floored by the sudden removal of a cultural icon. Because love him or hate him – and I do a little of both – you can’t deny his massive presence. It’s difficult when you reach the age where you start to realize that you have “your” music and all this crap kids listen to will never be as good as what you listen to. Or when you realize that this is only going to continue – people I knew of and followed and listened to will drop out of existence, and my eventual children will have no idea what significance it has. I can’t say it’s so much an existential crisis as an unpleasant reality check, but I’m not a fan thus far.
Or it could be that in these modern times with the advent of nano-second communication and hyped up media flurry, it would be all too easy to just disappear. One little tweet can rocket a myth through cyberspace with enough impact to shut down Google and Wiki. And while one could argue back and forth about MJ’s status in our popular culture, from regarded musical icon to tabloid freakshow, one certainly can’t deny his measure of bizarreness. Of all those recently departed, MJ would have more reason than any to make a grandiose departure from public life.
So maybe I’m just in denial. Or maybe I’m just tired of believing everything the internet says. Or maybe I’m a little freaked out at the undeniably bizarre coincidence of so many characters finding their ultimate end in such a short period of time. Either way, I’m still expecting years and years of ‘recently discovered’ singles to start filling the shelves. Burrito appearances shouldn’t be too far behind.
“Hello, Operator? Get me Tupac. Yes, Tupac. You see, Michael is on his way over to chill with him for a bit, and I just wanted to give him a heads up. Don’t lie to me. I know you have the number.”