It’s said it takes a village to raise, educate, give meaning to a child; it also takes a village to do the same thing to raise, educate, give meaning to an idiot. The village idiot was Michael Jackson. I remember the young man when he was a part of the Jackson 5 and even went to see his act when it came to my local concert venue back in the late 60s. It was good music at the time, but it was just that, music, without the Michael Jackson persona and I could take it or leave it.
Somewhere along the time continuum that changed so that it became all about Michael Jackson, “it” being entertainment and music, and he took on a god-like dimension he didn’t deserve, was not prepared for and which doomed him to this inevitable conclusion. Along the way, from that late 60’s concert to 40 years later, the public imbued Jackson with powers and qualities he didn’t possess, so like most every one else who preceded him, he did what was necessary to live up to the standards of an idolizing public, even if that sealed his doom. Why we wanted him to come to this conclusion in order to satisfy our desire for celebrity worship is beyond me, but it was our attitude that killed him just as much as the alleged pain killers he took to perform in order to meet our expectations.
It is the sign of the times that the public is much more interested in celebrity than in substance. In the case of music, groups are destroyed by solo careers where a stand out member of a famous group decides to leave it and go solo for reasons of personal gratification and material enrichment. The result is that person becomes the focal point of our idolatry and thrives or dies by it according to how well grounded they may be. Michael wasn’t well grounded. Weren’t the signs there very early on? Changing his physical appearance so drastically, behavior that was suspect at best, predatory or criminal at worse? Yet we still have people eulogizing him today as their soul mate and dearest companion.
A day or two before Jackson’s death, Farrah Fawcett died with the same adulation from a sycophantic nation and swooning press, suffering from a disease whose cause and treatment deserve far more attention than what Farrah got. The public’s obsession with personality is what drives those personalities to superhuman acts of inhuman imperfection. Jackson couldn’t look any better than he was created, but in his attempts to perfect himself he became hideous and subhuman. Still we cheered. Why? The record moguls knew what was wrong with Jackson and yet he was promoted as a pop “icon” and still we cheered. And now he’s dead.
Quite frankly the solution is this: when aberrant behavior is clearly demonstrated it should not be the cause for overwhelming adulation on the part of an informed public. We should demand more from people who govern, entertain and inform us; if we don’t we get wars of aggression, disinformation or lies and people who die a premature death because we both cheered and looked the other way. They are our village idiots and we deserve one another.