The Autistic Journalist

Using words to explain the mind

Posts Tagged ‘Michael Jackson

A few thoughts on MJ’s memorial

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Never did I expect a blog on Michael Jackson would attract any kind of attention to the site. I guess I should have expected the opposite given his nickname: “The King of Pop.”

I missed the live broadcast of the memorial because of errands, but since we’re talking about a “king,” I figured coverage would appear on YouTube and other online sites shortly after the ceremony. A collection of highlights were sorted here.

As far as big-time memorials go, this didn’t deviate from the norm. The only sense of negativity publicly stated about the memorial came from Bill O’Reilly today, but his show (along with pundits on FOX News and other networks) is basically nothing more than a paid blogger stating opinions and facts to fit those views. Screwed up as Michael may have been (his father probably won’t win any best dad awards either), you’d never have guessed it inside the Staples Center. Al Sharpton addressed those issues, but didn’t get into them too much. The theme of the memorial reflected ideas I expressed in my last blog, that so many careers for fellow African-Americans were launched or inspired by the success of Michael and the support he got when he started his solo career. For those who choose to focus on Jackson’s mishaps, he had to do something right for his daughter, Paris, to tearfully say goodbye at the end of the memorial. No one’s perfect, but I don’t think there’s a better compliment than that.

Ultimately, they could have hosted the memorial at Lucas Oil Stadium, Ford Field, or any other enclosed stadium larger than the Staples Center and there still wouldn’t have been enough tickets for fans. Not even the Bird’s Nest in China.

Emotions were intense, but after watching the highlights, I’d want my memorial to be a celebration. I don’t expect any keg parties, but I’ve worked on many SPNN broadcasts and covered many stories for class that were so dry, I could sleep the whole time and not miss a thing. I don’t want to add myself to that category. I want to have laughs, tears, and stories that may give someone something to pass on and make the world more intelligent. In this case, Jackson’s memorial suggests that despite his punch line attraction later on, he was as human as any one of us. For his family and his large fan base, their love for him transcended his gaffes.

Yes, even autistic people are capable of expressing analysis and emotional response to the things around us.

Written by TheSportsBrain

July 8, 2009 at 2:45 pm

Michael Jackson…”You Are Not Alone.”

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MJ_CVR_RWe may have only shared the same first name, but I was fortunate enough to play catch-up with a musician who my parents were fond of. The closest I got to the phenomenon was after its peak; VH1 would air his movie Moonwalker regularly. It was unfortunate to see Michael Jackson unable to handle the pressures of fame and self-destruct, but before the freefall, he was a revolutionary, a man who opened many doors for musicians to come.

Need proof? Sales of Jackson’s hits skyrocketed after news of his death broke. His songs are currently dominating the iTunes top 100, a plateau he never cracked while he was still around (then again, iTunes wasn’t around in his prime). Radio stations and music TV stations have honored Jackson throughout the day. My peers on Facebook have found many ways to honor his accomplishments in the music industry. No one was unaware of his scandals, but The Beatles and Elvis Presley weren’t perfect either, and they continue to permeate through future generations. Going off the old adage, you don’t speak ill of the dead.

From a journalist’s point of view, I’ll be curious to see how coverage plays out in the coming days. His death came shortly after Ed McMahon, the iconic sidekick of Johnny Carson, and Farrah Fawcett, whose bathing suit poster and career on Charlie’s Angels made her a huge sensation in the ’70s. Not much has been said of those two, which may lead you to argue that they were left behind. On the surface, that would be the case. However, the way a reporter would see this, McMahon and Fawcett were publicized before with their age and/or health problems. Jackson’s death was a complete surprise; no one saw it coming.

I’ve read a few tribute articles on Jackson, including his impact on his hometown of Gary, Indiana and celebrities who tweeted and/or spoke with reporters about him. If you’re curious, he was the first African-American to be featured on MTV after a few strings were pulled to get videos from his Thriller album featured. MTV, hesitant to feature black musicians out of concern that they wouldn’t fit with a white demographic, took off as a result. While MTV has morphed since then, the station may not have existed the way it does now had it not been for him. Just think, there could have been no The Real World, no Laguna Beach, no episode of The Hills. You might want to give him your thanks.

As I mentioned earlier, other musicians were quick to recognize the things he did, and a few consider Jackson an inspiration for their own careers in music. No one cared about his ethnic background, fans showed their support because he did things that no other musician did at the time. Who knows how the music industry would be different had Michael not been a part of it.

While I would certainly tell my kids or other people to avoid the mistakes he made as they proved costly to his career, I’d also tell them that just like Michael, they have the capability to be trendsetters, to achieve what was once impossible. Some believe I’m doing the same for the autism community. While I certainly haven’t experienced A-list status and my fan base is quite short, perhaps Michael and I do have some parallels despite our perpendicular paths.

Judging by the response, it’s safe to say Jackson is not alone in death, and we’ll rock with him until our time comes.

Written by TheSportsBrain

June 26, 2009 at 6:15 pm