Wednesday, July 08, 2009

All Michael Jackson News, all the time

Michael Jackson died.

I'll admit that I was a little surprised when I read the June 25, 2009 story on the King of Pop's death. What I found even more ironic is was how the mainstream news started out with their big morning news story about Charlie's Angel Farrah Fawcett's death from cancer, but then suddenly dropped Farrah's death for what would become the incessant coverage of EVERYTHING MICHAEL! For the past two weeks, the mainstream news media has been playing All Michael News, all the time. Here's the ambulance that transported Michael to the hospital. Here's the helicopter transporting Michael's body to the morgue--Look! There's Michael's body being transported from the morgue to the funeral home! If watching Michael Jackson's body being transported from one place to another was bad enough, with news pundits filling the video time of Jackson's body being transported with bloated commentary, then there was the Michael Jackson special tributes, the old pop star interviews, and the new, exclusive interviews with brother Jermain, the stories revolving around Michael's prescription drug use, the financial problems, the legal questions of who gets custody of Michael's children. It was endless. Of course, then there was the public funeral for Michael Jackson--a media moment that The New York Times called "a star-studded live concert infused with all the pageantry, sorrow and ghoulish curiosity that attends the untimely demise of a beloved, troubled superstar."

I just avoided watching the TV news for the past two weeks, trying to stay away from the All Michael Jackson News, all the time.

I'm sorry to hear that Michael Jackson died. I'm sorry for what his family has to endure, and that his children will no longer be with their father. I'll admit that Jackson was a musical genius, and possibly a troubled child trapped in a man's body. But watching the incessant media coverage of Michael Jackson was part exasperating, and part disgusting. This was not news--this was ghoulish entertainment pre-packaged as news, for big corporate media profit. Michael Jackson's death was milked by the corporate media for two weeks of advertising profit. Consider this NY Times story, where more than 31 million viewers watched Michael Jackson's memorial yesterday:

More than 31.1 million viewers tuned in to watch the memorial service held on Tuesday for Michael Jackson, according to numbers released on Wednesday by the Nielsen Company. The broadcast of the Staples Center event, at which the Jackson family and an ensemble of performers and political figures paid their respects to the King of Pop, was carried live from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern time on 18 television networks: ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, Telefutura, Telemundo, Univision, CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, Headline News, BET, E!, MTV, VH1, VH1 Classic, TV Guide Network and TV ONE.

By historical standards, the Jackson memorial was among the most watched funeral services of a notable personality in recent years. According to data provided by Nielsen, the funeral for Pope John Paul II in 2005 was watched by more than 8.8 million people, and the funeral of President Gerald R. Ford in 2007 drew more than 15 million viewers. In 2004, the funeral of President Ronald Reagan was watched by 20.8 million people and his burial drew 35 million viewers. The funeral of Princess Diana was watched by more than 33.2 million people in 1997.

You can bet that a lot of viewers were also watching all the Michael Jackson tributes, which were quickly put on by the news networks in the aftermath of the pop singer's death. And with that many viewers watching the All Michael Jackson News, all the time, all those viewer ratings translate to big advertising dollars that the corporate media could charge.

Of course, the All Michael Jackson News is not yet finished. Because now we've got the post-Michael Jackson RIP analysis currently taking place. It appears that nobody knows where Michael Jackson will be buried:

LOS ANGELES -- Now that the memorial is over, the question remains, 'What will happen to Michael Jackson's body?"

It was rumored the body would be buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Hollywood Hills.

But police and cemetery officials say Jackson's body would not be returning to the cemetery where the family held a private service Tuesday morning.

Jackson's death certificate lists Forest Lawn as the responsible mortuary because the body was embalmed there.


Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter said Jackson's brain, or at least part of it, was still being held by investigators and would be returned to the family for internment once neuropathology tests were completed.

It's not uncommon for the coroner to hold onto a brain or samples from it. Winter said families sometimes delay burying a loved one until after the brain has been returned, but he had received no word from the Jackson family about their plans.

"The last I heard, they are not burying the body yet," Winter said.

All I can think of is put Michael Jackson in the ground, and let him rest in peace. And maybe we can move away from the All Michael Jackson News, all the time.

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