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The most important person in the history of the world ever!

Michael Jackson

“Did you hear about Michael Jackson?” my aunt Donna asked me. I mumbled, “Yeah,” because properly attaching my beautiful, blue bike to the bicycle rack on her car seemed more important than the death of a pop star. Michael Jackson was already dead, after all, but if I didn’t figure out these straps and plastic doohickeys, my dear sweet Bluebell might die too, underneath the wheels of an SUV not leaving enough following distance. (Three seconds, people! Remember that when you’re renewing your license.)

Little did I know that THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD EVER had just died!!!

Yes, not even Ronald Reagan’s passing garnered as much publicity and attention as the death of Michael Jackson, and it certainly didn’t spur a tribute concert at the Staples Center, complete with elephants. I just wrote a big long paragraph acknowledging all of his accomplishments as a way to fend off any nasty comments from his fans, but then I deleted it because I just don’t care. I know the guy was famous and influential and talented and eccentric, and I know if you were a fan you’d be really sad now and that’s perfectly ok, but WHAT THE BEJEEBUZ, people?! Could we just shut up about him already?

I turn on Good Morning America and they’re talking about his kids. I pull up MSNBC in my web browser and they’re writing about his will. I turn on the nightly news and there’s paparazzi footage of his ex-wife. I listen to my podcasts (that have NOTHING to do with music) and they’re playing his songs between breaks. I listen to NPR on the way home and they’re talking about his tribute concert. When I go to the bathroom, I half expect to see Bubbles the chimp using the cat’s litter box because Michael Jackson has infiltrated every media channel in my life and I just want it to stop. STOP THE MADNESS, PLEASE!!!

As a way to fully purge the man from my life, let me share my one and only Michael Jackson anecdote. In fourth grade, we had one hour a week assigned to visit the computer lab. We’d all line up in a row to march down the hallway to play Oregon Trail and Number Munchers and Odell Lake or program the turtle in LOGO to spell bad words. Our teacher issued everyone folders to keep our worksheets in. She had gotten them free somehow since teachers never have enough money for supplies. I didn’t know who the guy on the folder was at the time, nor did I care, but I really wish I had a photo of the 20 members of my 4th grade class walking down the hall in a single file line holding identical Michael Jackson “Thriller” folders. Needless to say, the pedophilia charges had not yet surfaced at that point, otherwise I bet we would have had to buy our own folders.

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75 Comments

Olivia • July 7, 2009 at 9:45 am

Oh, I loved Oregon Trail! And yeah, Michael Jackson: good music, great dancer, weird personal life, but enough already. Would Nelson Mandela garner this much press upon his death? Sadly, I think not.

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Ro • July 7, 2009 at 10:19 am

Amen sister!!! by the way, did everyone have the same childhood as me? at least the same computer games…

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Donna • July 7, 2009 at 10:20 am

I so agree with you – sad? yes – but earth shattering news that needs to be broadcast 24/7 on every channel (here in Canada too)? no. Enough already.

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Helen • July 7, 2009 at 10:30 am

Amen and amen again.

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Shary • July 7, 2009 at 10:50 am

I agree with you 100%… However, you just contributed to the madness :)

It’s like the octomom, everyone hated her but still wanted to see her. In the end she still got her own tv show.

I think I had that folder.

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MissM • July 7, 2009 at 10:53 am

It’s really so hard for me to explain the impact that Jackson had on not only my life, but the lives of us as African Americans. He (among other black performers) opened A LOT of doors for us. He was our original crossover artist– I don’t know how many of us were surprised to see him work with Eddie Van Halen and SLash from GNR but he took Pop to new levels, R&B to new levels. He is THE MOST philanthropic being on the planet— no one has donated more to charity than Michael Jackson.

He’s an Icon to me. He’s a part of black culture, part of my history. As one of my friends says, “There’s a hole in the 80′s where Michael Jackson used to be.” And I daresay that IF Mandela went before Jackson, he’d be there to show his respects.

It’s cool that you think it’s too much and overblown and enough already– I got to a point where I had to turn on some cartoons, last night or I was going to lose t– but… I just can’t get enough of seeing his LEGACY celebrated and being grateful for his presence in music and in the World. I think all his fans need is a little time to remember, and to say goodbye.

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Jill • July 7, 2009 at 10:57 am

Thankyou thankyou thankyou! Finally someone who puts my thoughts in print! I’m so tired of how much attention he is getting – it’s really getting on my nerves.

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Dana • July 7, 2009 at 10:58 am

So tired of this maddnes. Stupid. Next will be ” Michael Sightings “. Like what happened after Elvis died.

Move on people

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anon • July 7, 2009 at 11:11 am

Thank you so much, that needed to be said!!!

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Merry • July 7, 2009 at 11:29 am

I thought I was the most importantest person in the history of the world… sniff another illusion shattered…

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Jennifer • July 7, 2009 at 11:31 am

Oh, Oregon Trail. How I miss thee.

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town mouse • July 7, 2009 at 12:47 pm

Oh man. You should have been in the UK when Di died…

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rebecca • July 7, 2009 at 12:48 pm

1. Have they buried Farrah? I haven’t heard a word about her since…Michael died!

2. If all these people who are storming the Staples Center are such huge MJ supporters, where have they been lately, before he died, after the scandals?

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Kimberly • July 7, 2009 at 12:48 pm

You beautifully said what I’ve been thinking for a week now. Maybe it’ll die down after the memorial today. We can hope, at least…

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anji • July 7, 2009 at 1:07 pm

Now, Paul Simon? If he were to die (and he won’t, because he’s going to be here forever and ever) THAT will make me bawl like a big baby.

He’s kept a mainly clean image and persona, and he’s influential…. more than MJ I think. He’s got his hands into almost every type of music and then some…

Just my two cents :)

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Lainey • July 7, 2009 at 1:11 pm

Bah, it all makes me sick. This is the same man who admitted to sleeping in the same bed with children. Innocent? Bullshit. Any old average Joe with those kinds of accusations levelled against him would not get this kind of sendoff, but apparently, it’s different if you’re famous. How To Get Away With Whatever the Hell You Want In One Easy Step.

*sigh*, now that I’ll probably get flamed, let me just say this:

I, like Merry, was also under the illusion that I was the most important person in the world. I too am devastated to have that illusion shattered. *sniffle*

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Dee • July 7, 2009 at 1:19 pm

Just for balance:

I love that MJ is going out like this, with all the fanfare etc.

Celebrities do get more attention than others (right or wrong), and this larger-than-life MJ coverage equals the larger than life kind of celeb he was.

And I’m at work right now, live-streaming the memorial on CNN.com! :)

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Benita • July 7, 2009 at 1:23 pm

I clicked in here to say “Amen, Sister!” but I see I’ve been beaten to the punch – many times over. One of my co-workers is watching the memorial service live via the web and it’s all I can do not to pound my head against the wall.

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Suzie • July 7, 2009 at 1:34 pm

Try living in LA during all of this! I can’t drive anywhere without hitting a road block. I also can’t listen to the traffic report because they just keep talking about the funeral procession. Ugh…I enjoyed his music and even learned the Thriller moves but I’m over it too.

This is why I love your blog! I’m always nodding my head and like Benita, saying “Amen, Sister!”

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maxie • July 7, 2009 at 1:36 pm

Just be glad you don’t live in L.A. Not only is it impossible to get around, those of us who live here are paying for extra LAPD overtime/holiday/whatever pay for this!!

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Quix • July 7, 2009 at 1:44 pm

I concur – I mean, yes, it’s sad he died but seriously, I’m sick of hearing about it. It’s funny that Farrah and Ed got so little fan faire and MJ and Billy Mays for god sake got so much. I’ll be glad once we can go back to normal celeb scandal news that I can ignore instead. :)

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JEM • July 7, 2009 at 1:50 pm

Oregon Trail Kicks Ass!

I am writing this as I am listening to my co-workers talking about mj at this very moment….just like that have EVERY SINGLE DAY since he died. The media keeps talking about it because people like my co-workers are just eating it up.

So over it too.

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Dee • July 7, 2009 at 2:04 pm

Because we are a celebrity obsessed society. Nobody cares about the important things, MSN/Good Morning America/etc. would rather you focus on the stupidity of celebrity lives than on what’s really going on right now in our country and unfortunately for our society a ton of people would rather focus on the stupidity of celebrity status than on what actually affects their lives.

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Leslie • July 7, 2009 at 2:06 pm

Hi Jennette,

About 2 weeks ago I found your blog, and have been slowly, methodically and thoroughly reading the archives from day one. (I’m always early to everything, except to your great story!) After the first day of reading I ordered your book on Amazon, which is now sitting seductively on my nightstand waiting for me to get through the archives. It is tempting me to drop all other reading material (inc. the archives) but I am holding out. In fact, I’m not even letting myself read your current daily stuff on the blog until I work my way to the present.

I’ve done a lot of f-ing off at work reading the blog for the last 2+ weeks…if admin. only knew I’d likely be drop kicked to China or something. BUT —– what I want to tell you is that today I just (5 minutes ago) read your account of the mini-marathon, and I honestly sat here with goose bumps on the arms and tears in the eyes as I read! Amazing, inspiring and awesome!! I walked (waddled) a half-marathon in Atlanta in March 2008 and it was a great experience and accomplishment to finish it, but at 220 pounds, the pictures of me crossing the finish line left me wanting LESS, of myself. As it’s been for many of my 55 years…

I recently began a real lifestyle program, and with days of signing up for it, I found your blog, and I absolutely believe a Higher Source lined it all up. You’ve helped me tremendously already with so many issues, and I thank you and expect to be a frequent commenter in the future, if I ever get through these archives!!! Thank you so much, and sorry for being so long winded…the goosebumps and tears dredged up a lot of stuff.

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Rachel • July 7, 2009 at 2:42 pm

Oh my goodness. I used to play Oregon Trail too. I always killed all my characters though because I never had enough food for them or I couldn’t hunt for them. It was very sad.

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Peggy • July 7, 2009 at 2:52 pm

Yahoo! Sorry to be so jazzed about someone commenting (thank you, Jennette!) about the over-saturation of all things Michael Jackson. BUT, give it a rest! He wasn’t God. Good grief! We didn’t lament the murder of John Lennon this much and he was a pioneer of music long before Michael Jackson was. Heck, Lennon’s music (the rights to which Jackson purchased) helped to off-set Jackson’s overspending.

So I propose that we all go about with our daily lives, improving on them as we go, and consider that everyone contributes. Michael Jackson is gone. We have sufficiently mourned his passing. Now let’s move on–without any more tributes!

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Just_Kelly • July 7, 2009 at 3:01 pm

Child Molester.

Time to move on media… seriously.

I’m much sadder about Billy Mays.

PS- Did you know he completely abandoned Bubbles? Didn’t even give the rescue where he lives any money for his care. Bastard.

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Trenches of Mommyhood • July 7, 2009 at 3:09 pm

I’m sooo over MJ too.

And I used to love Oregon Trail! And what about Lemonade Stand?!

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Sara • July 7, 2009 at 3:14 pm

I was a ka-ray-zee MJ fan back in the day. I had an entire wall full of posters, I was glued to the TV set the year he promised to take off his sunglasses at the Grammys, and when his hair caught fire during the filming of his Pepsi Commerical I actually wept with worry. He was a huge part of my formative years, and I will never forget or regret that.

This does not diminish the fact that, in his later years, the man went the kind of crazy that is reserved for those of seemingly unlimited means who are surrounded by people who never tell them no. They stood by and watched as he gradually turned himself into a pokemon via plastic surgery, the indulged his every whim, and his descent into absolute madness got so difficult to watch that I could barely look at his deformed and mutilated face when it appeared on my television screen.

His talent and his impact on the world cannot be denied. But the person he had become was not someone I admired, and therefore I can’t bring myself to mourn his passing with the gravitas I surely might have if I had continued to respect him as a human being.

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Kasey • July 7, 2009 at 3:18 pm

I totally agree with this! I think Wacko Jacko stole Farrah’s thunder hardcore…and I am NOT happy about this. Can we please return to regularly scheduled programming? GEEZ. PS I lovedddd Oregon Trail. :)

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Calidaho • July 7, 2009 at 3:29 pm

Uhm, when I was in fourth grade, we didn’t have a computer lab. I am so old. Although, when I was in fourth grade, I bought my first record (cassette, actually) and it was Michael Jackson’s Thriller. I loved him when I was a child but that is about as sentimental as I get about him.

If you think the coverage of the MJ mania is annoying, try living in LA! I dropped my husband off at work downtown yesterday. As I took my usual route to get on the freeway to my office, I was stopped because people were going to Dodger Stadium to pick up their tickets! They shut down a major street ALL DAY!! Three major freeways were shut down during drive time this morning!

I just hope the mess around the Staples Center is gone by tonight…we are going to Spamalot at the music center which is dangerously close to the insanity!

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Jocelyn • July 7, 2009 at 4:32 pm

If you’re old enough to have played Oregon Trail at school, surely you remember the insane news coverage when Princess Diana died?? Lady didn’t even do anything but look pretty and marry a prince and she was on the news 24/7 for weeks.

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Sarah • July 7, 2009 at 4:42 pm

THANK YOU!!

I’m not watching it. However, I turn to my trusty cnn.com and i see headlines mentioning a gold casket. The man’s finances are a shamples, the entire economy blows and he is being burried in a Gold Casket? really? REALLY??

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Sarah • July 7, 2009 at 4:43 pm

@Sarah -

Oh yeah.. I meant to say, while I did love some Oregon Trail, I’m loving that someone else remembers number munchers. That game was so ‘fun’, says the engineer.

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adrienne • July 7, 2009 at 5:09 pm

AMEN!

(Preach it, sister!)

Oregon Trail and Lemonade Stand are awesome.

One of my heroes, Millard Fuller (founder of Habitat) died in February. His efforts have housed over 1.5 million people and will continue long after his death. His passing was barely noted. The contrast is heartbreaking.

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boots • July 7, 2009 at 5:56 pm

Thank you for posting that particular picture! At lunch today, a friend of mine said she used to have the poster of MJ “in that yellow and white outfit.” And I must have looked confused, cause she said, “You KNOW, that yellow and white outfit…? With the vest…?” And I couldn’t figure out what the f she meant.

But then I saw your post and went, “Oh, THAT yellow and white outift.”

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debby • July 7, 2009 at 5:57 pm

Luck me. I decided to go TV-less when the big changeover came, and I only listen to radio on the days I go to work (2 since he died.) Don’t check news sources on the computer. So I’ve missed all the hooha.

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p. potter • July 7, 2009 at 6:18 pm

Hmm…well, does it really surprise any of us that MJ’s death is getting so much attention?

The coverage is over the top, sure. But that was Michael Jackson for ya. And seriously, it’s be a WEEK. A week! For someone who contributed so much to popular culture (no comment on his personal life) for decades, I think the least we can do it sit quietly while the world pays their respects. Their respects to his contributions, if not the way he chose to live his life.

I find that people always have something to complain about; if it’s not about how much coverage something’s getting in the news, it’s about how much coverage it should be getting, but isn’t. The beauty is that we all have the freedom, choice, and myriad options to turn the channel, change the station, and avoid the web if we really can’t take it anymore.

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Sue • July 7, 2009 at 6:44 pm

Totally agree.

This is what happens when there are way too many “news” outlets. They need to constantly generate something, anything to cover and talk about ad nauseam.

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PastaQueen • July 7, 2009 at 8:18 pm

@Trenches of Mommyhood – Oh, man, Lemonade Stand was the paradigm for so many real life situations, like selling autographed copies of books.

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PastaQueen • July 7, 2009 at 8:20 pm

@Sara – Well said.

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Butterfly • July 7, 2009 at 8:34 pm

I just wrote a post about the same exact thing, because I am so annoyed by all this media coverage of Michael Jackson’s death. People were making fun of him up until the minute he died – like by calling him “Wacko Jacko”, for instance – and now that he’s died, he is suddenly a saint? It’s so ridiculous. There’s other news in the world, real news. One of our soldiers was just kidnapped. Sarah Palin resigned her post. There’s a freaking war going on right now. People in Darfur are being killed horribly. But our media coverage says that apparently who cares?

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FormerReader • July 7, 2009 at 10:12 pm

Say what you will, you can not deny what Michael Jackson did for the world. He has given more to worldwide charities than any other peformer (as stated by the Guiness Book of World Records). And what he has done for African Americans in our country is immeasurable.

I will now delete your blog from my favorites.

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Jean • July 7, 2009 at 10:15 pm

Is his estate going to pay for the OT for all the police for today? Sacramento has been handing out IOUs to the state workers…I wonder if Safeway accepts those?

Thanks for saying what a lot of us are thinking.

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s • July 7, 2009 at 11:03 pm

love love LOVED oregon trail. and i think of us politics in terms of simcity. games of my youth have changed me forever.

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Kate • July 8, 2009 at 12:35 am

I agree… The man may have been a pop icon, but what humanitarian benefit did he have on the world?

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Me • July 8, 2009 at 12:41 am

Michael Jackson wasn’t just a celebrity, he wasn’t just a musician, or a dancer, or a singer. He was a force of nature, a cultural icon. If you are comfortable with the idea that Elvis led the youth in his generation and the Beatles in theirs, its only natural to say that Michael Jackson was the leader of his generation’s youth. Hell, he was the leader of MY generation’s youth.

We’re not just mourning the loss of a performer, an entertainer, we’re mourning the loss of something that most of us had in common regardless of age or race. Part of that mourning is celebrating the amazing work he left us. Part of that mourning is being together again, all of us, in one place, or different places, sharing our grief and sharing our joy.

As for the judging – MJ is facing the only judge that matters.

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Rebecca Hoover • July 8, 2009 at 1:01 am

@FormerReader – I’m sure PQ is crying into her pilllow.

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Rebecca Hoover • July 8, 2009 at 1:05 am

@Rebecca Hoover – And….what the crap did he really do for African Americans except to deny his own identity? Sheesh. And the media coverage has been insane, I liked his music too but pulease.

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PurpleGirl • July 8, 2009 at 5:56 am

I hated Oregon Trail because I never beat it–it always seemed so random if you made it or if your wagon wheel broke or you ran out of supplies or something!

But I freaking LOVED Number Munchers. :)

Michael Jackson …. eh. It is weird that somebody I’ve known of my whole life is dead, but that’s about the extent of it.

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alisha • July 8, 2009 at 9:12 am

There was an article on Yahoo about a week after he did that said something like “65% of People Feel That There is Too Much Michael Jackson Coverage in the Media”.We had a field day with that on Facebook.

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Donna • July 8, 2009 at 11:06 am

I agree that the adulation has been over the top, but it always is for performers and sports stars. Honestly – no matter how philanthropic, epic, or whatever superlative you wish to overuse, these is JUST ENTERTAINMENT. This guy wasn’t a nurse, or doctor, or an engineer or scientist, a minister, a missionary, or a social worker. Sure, he was talented and successful, but I think people who idolize entertainment over REAL contributions to humanity and society diminish us all. Besides, his fame pretty much ruined this poor guy’s life, from what I can see – and probably damaged his kids’ lives too. My solution to the over-the-top coverage? – it hasn’t bothered me one bit. I haven’t watched 10 seconds of it because I have just turned it off. Thank goodness I don’t live in LA because there is no escape around there.

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Meg • July 8, 2009 at 11:45 am

Totally agreed. He was a good singer, it was sad when he died, but I honestly don’t want to hear any more about it. I don’t care who gets his kids, or who gets the ranch.

There are more important things to talk about on the news already!

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Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah • July 8, 2009 at 1:53 pm

I may have said this before, but I think I love you.

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nazilam • July 8, 2009 at 2:46 pm

Well said.

as usual.

I am not too happy about his daughter’s exposure either.

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Amy • July 8, 2009 at 3:48 pm

@PurpleGirl – And how many times did we all die of dysentery?

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Heather • July 8, 2009 at 3:53 pm

you said it girl. When my beloved NPR started covering it live, I thought I would lose it.

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Daisy • July 8, 2009 at 3:59 pm

I agree on the overexposure, but funnily enough I just read in the Daily Mail that an estimated 1 billion people turned into the coverage of the memorial yesterday. That’s about a sixth of the world population! Apparently we can’t get enough.

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Anna • July 8, 2009 at 5:37 pm

And real news is getting displaced. Remember Iran? Oh, wait, no one cares anymore because Michael Jackson died. Never mind that protesters are still getting killed over there.

Thanks, seriously!

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Michelle • July 8, 2009 at 8:04 pm

Amen Sister!!

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John • July 8, 2009 at 9:48 pm

I’m not a sports fan but everytime I turn on the TV or radio, there it is. I understand that a lot of people enjoy sports, and it’s “what the people want”, so I just turn it off or turn the channel, pure and simple. So if those of you who don’t like MJ can’t handle the coverage, just turn it off. But please stop judging someone about whom you know very little, except that he was unjustly accused a few years back, and that he was (in addition to being very eccentric) a very loving and giving individual with talent that was shared with millions.

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Adrienne • July 8, 2009 at 10:31 pm

The timing of the MJ-related meltdown was interesting. After the memorial, the media frenzy was destined to wane.

Of course, Neither Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, Billy Mays nor Steve McNair’s life should be more significant than anyone else’s. Really, should McNair have been paid millions of dollars for tossing a ball while the proverbial teacher gets paid next to nothing?

And for the folks that said real news was being ignored. That’s nothing new. Pick a country (The Congo et al) and you’ll find some long-suffering folks…

@Sara. Yes, well said.

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Me • July 8, 2009 at 10:46 pm

@John – Amen to you!

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bobbie • July 9, 2009 at 8:25 am

love that folder story. that’s classic.

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Olivia • July 9, 2009 at 10:52 am

@Rebecca Hoover – This is what I keep wondering. All the talk about what he meant to African Americans, and yet he changed his image to that of a caucasion and married two white women.

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Lisa • July 9, 2009 at 12:18 pm

I have to agree that the endless coverage has been a bit much. He was a great entertainer but his personal life seemed like such mess and because of his fame he was “allowed” to do many things the rest of could never have. I am sorry but you do not name a child Blanket!! A bit of a circus to watch but some heartfelt words were said at the memorial service. Good bye Michael and I wish the best for your children.

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Johanna • July 9, 2009 at 4:04 pm

@John – I kind of agree with this. I was never any kind of a huge Michael Jackson fan, but I just don’t like people who tell others to “get over it”, whatever the issue happens to be.

Get over yourself, I feel like saying!

And regarding him being an entertainer rather than Mother Theresa… Who cares?! People are loved for different reasons and I don’t really understand why that’s a problem!

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Kyle • July 9, 2009 at 9:18 pm

I am a HUGE fan. I can do the moonwalk. Quite well, in fact.

I was terribly sad to hear that he died. And my playlist right now is 100% MJ songs. However, strange as it may seem, being as I work for a celeb gossip blog, I haven’t noticed too much coverage. In part because I live in Chile, I’m sure it’s worse in the U.S., in part because the celeb blog I work for isn’t really covering the story, in part because I never watch TV and in biggest part because I only have like two hours a day to use the internet and most of that time is spent working.

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Nurse Line • July 11, 2009 at 4:08 pm

We miss the great man true…he has left behind a world of music to be discovered and enjoyed.

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Monica • July 12, 2009 at 4:51 pm

@Jean – Is LA going to pay MJ’s estate royalty fees for the ridiculous amount of business that was brought in by fans coming to pay tribute? The LA Times posted that hotel and restaurant revenues has been through the roof with tourism (hotels booking at an unseasonal 80-90%) capacity since the announcement of his death.

Takes money to make money, baby.

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Angie • July 13, 2009 at 10:36 pm

You had me at chimp. I love your writing!

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Dana • July 20, 2009 at 11:02 am

Oh, it’s just the usual weirdo parade with him. I have to admit I looked at the wreck, but he’d been so secretive for so long that I was a bit curious as to how things would turn out.

Now, I liked his music when I was a kid. And I’m feeling a twinge of that mid-thirties sadness-nostalgia that must afflict all those in my current age group when relatives and favorite celebrities start dropping like flies. I have one grandparent left, my dad has maybe ten years to go at the rate he’s not taking care of himself, and contrary to the illusion perpetuated by permanent video recordings of various actors and musicians, the people who entertain us aren’t staying young either.

Bleh. I want twenty-one back.

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Dana • July 20, 2009 at 11:04 am

@Lisa – Actually, he didn’t name his youngest “Blanket”–it’s just a nickname because of that infamous incident where he dangled the little guy over a balcony. He did, however, name the boy Prince Michael II, which you also do not name a kid. O_O

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Dana • July 20, 2009 at 11:09 am

@Adrienne – I don’t like the discrepancy either (although I am strongly biased in favor of homeschooling–we’d be here all day if I ranted about the state of public schools, and money will NOT solve it all), but let’s keep in mind that a teacher’s pay depends on what the state decides to pay him or her, while a football player’s pay depends on how many tickets his franchise sells for his games. If he also picks up some endorsement contracts, that’s extra money, but that’s all strictly “free market,” not dependent on a state or union contract.

Teachers have a far more limited clientele than football players do, and don’t have the time to pick up endorsements. It’s a completely different work/pay system.

That said, I have purposely avoided stories about McNair, anticipating a lot of venom unleashed in the comments at the woman who killed him, because men kill their girlfriends and wives every single day and nobody calls *them* to account about it other than via the obvious legal consequences (if they don’t commit suicide too). *That* is a discrepancy that bothers me–that a man and a woman can commit the exact same crime but the woman is then considered evil while the guy is just considered sick.

What a world…

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Dana • July 20, 2009 at 11:15 am

@Donna – I think what’s going on here is twofold and it’s less about entertainment than I originally thought.

1. Michael Jackson is visible. A lot of people are familiar with him. Being able to see him in videos and TV interviews gives us the comfortable illusion that we know him–we’re a very visual species and we tend to believe what we see.

Police, firefighters, etc. do not usually have the same exposure. Once in a while they get it for extraordinary circumstances, like the NYPD and FDNY (I think? not sure about that acronym) after 9/11. But that’s very unusual.

2. Therefore, because on some unconscious level we feel like we know the celebrity, we want to know what is going on with that person, just like we want to know what’s going on with family and friends.

You could produce the same result with everyday professionals, I think. If COPS had the same cops on the show all the time, for instance, or if there were a reality show about teachers, we’d feel like we “knew” them too.

I know not everyone is affected to the same degree and some people can shed the feeling of “knowing” a stranger, and these are the ones bemused by the phenomenon, but I don’t think it’s going to go away any time soon.

The problem is more the exploitation of this by the media rather than the tendency itself. We’re a social animal, no getting away from it. We’d be just as nosy about our families and friends if we had time to hang out with them that wasn’t constantly taken up by work and other obligations. Those of us who live rural lives already have at least some of that time, so rural people are nosier and gossip more, about their neighbors and friends and family as well as celebs. :)

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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JenFul now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

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