26 Jun 2009

Michael Jackson: Eccentricity is not a crime

So Jacko's gone, and the eulogies begin. The media that has for so long fed off the 'king of pop' and his tumultuous life are now trying to milk one more story out of Michael Jackson. The BBC was quick to shift into tabloid mode, interviewing anyone that has ever caught a whiff of Michael Jackson or even saw his reflection in a water puddle. Even Gordon Brown, ever eager to shelter in other people's glow, has come up with one of his pathetic statements lamenting the loss of the mega-star that was Michael Jackson. Shameful stuff, it's time to leave the man along and let his family deal with what is after all a private tragedy.

There is one important lesson to be drawn our of Michael's bizarre life: eccentricity is not a crime. The media, shallow, populist and superficial, doggedly hounded Michael Jackson throughout his life, but sank to miserable lows when the allegations of abuse against him became public. In the most despicable example of trial by media, journalists used Michael's eccentricity to prove his guilt time after time, but they were ultimately defeated by the decision of a jury of his peers to clear him the last time around. God bless America and the right to trial by jury, not by a media that has forgotten a long time ago what the pursuit of truth means.

Michael Jackson took eccentricity to new levels, and he was certainly conscious of public attention. Yet, there is a difference between being eccentric and breaking the law. Michael's eccentricity was gloriously audacious, he treated his body as a moldable entity shunning decaying flesh for the sake of plastic longevity. That is part of his appeal, with each re-invention a new Michael emerged, the ultimate fulfillment of the desires of a ravenous fan-base. Bare in mind that Michael Jackson managed to survive decades in the music business, whereas many of his contemporaries dropped off the scene a long time ago. He did not live long enough to have yet another come back, but no doubt it would have been equally amazing for his fans.

Michael's eccentricity was part of his appeal, and the media savagely turned that against him but the public stood by him. Now as the fake tears and the insincere eulogies start, let us remember that the most important thing to take out of Michael's life is that eccentricity is not a crime.

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Karl reMarks is a blog about Middle East politics and culture with a healthy dose of satire.

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