I'm already tired of the coverage. The second full day after Michael Jackson's sudden and surprising death, and it is still a half-page headline on cnn.com. Today's "big news?" His body has been moved to the mortuary. Really? I mean, I understand the mourning period, and he was an amazingly talented man...but the media is keeping the coverage alive simply for ratings, that much is by now clear.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
And yet here I am, writing one of what I'm sure are countless blog posts regarding his passing. But mine is not to review his greatest hits or greatest dance moves or to lament the untimely loss of such a great entertainer. No, I'm interested in the reactions other people had to his death--and the differences I saw in race among those reactions.
*Disclaimer: this is in no way a scientific survey, but instead just a commentary on what I noticed on my Facebook (800+ "friends") and Twitter (following 1800+) streams.
See, if there was a news posting or Tweet that wasn't about MJ, it was in the extreme minority. Everybody was talking about it. Most were the standard: RIP MJ, etc. Basically just acknowledging it. There were those in shock, who wondered if it were really true. There were those who seemed to go into deep mourning, with messages of lament and loss of a childhood icon, a hero gone. And there were those who flat out said they felt no sorrow, who made (in my opinion) tasteless jokes, who were proud to say they were happy he was gone. The difference between those last two groups--those in lament and those in ambivilance or joy? Race.
Those who seemed to mourn the most, to enter into reflection on MJ's influence on our culture, and to appreciate what he had contributed to the world, were mostly people of color. Those who made jokes about naked children, who celebrated the "death of a pedophile," who proclaimed no sadness at the loss, were white.
I'm not sure why this surprised me, but it did. Now, I'll be the first to acknowledge that MJ had his issues. The first thing I prayed for after learning of his death was that he'd found peace and freedom from his demons. But there is also no denying what a genius--and I don't use that word lightly--he was, not only in music and dance, but marketing, publicity, and fashion (hello, one glove?).
And I'm not sure why there's such a disparity. Of course I expected a mix of reactions, given his controversial life, but to have negative reactions be on such a clear racial lines...?
Then again, perhaps it's not that only white people viewed him that negatively, but that people of color, and especially those in the black community, felt they would be lambasted if they reacted that way to such an icon.
I don't have answers, just observations. If anyone can provide insight or noticed the same, please share!
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