Michael Mania

The King of Pop is dead. That is a strange thing to say. And yet, it’s stranger still for me to think of him as fifty years old. As Christina put it, “He is forever in his mid-twenties to me.” I first heard about it yesterday, catching an NPR headline on my iGoogle homepage. Then came the subsequent media storm.

I am continually confounded by the news and fan frenzy following the death of a superstar. And Michael Jackson certainly makes for a sensational frenzy.

Wow,” Michael Harris of New York City says, “It’s like when Kennedy was assassinated. I will always remember being in Times Square when Michael Jackson died.” And Harris, who’s 36 (so clearly remembers what it was like when Kennedy was assassinated), isn’t even close to being the most hyperbolic in his comments.

I think that’s what bewilders me most—this absurd sense of loss people feel when something like this happens. As reported by TMZ.com, people inside the hospital were screaming “You’ve got to save him! You’ve got to save him!” And I’m left asking, “Why?” Why are you sobbing? I don’t understand. And that’s not to say that I’m laughing maniacally at the news or that I don’t feel a little sad myself. Before now, there had never been a moment in my life when Michael Jackson wasn’t a huge star. I feel like we did lose something. I just don’t know what it was.

He was certainly a charitable person, getting in the Guinness Book of World Records for “Most Charities Supported by a Single Pop Star.” And there is a healthy dose of tragedy mixed in—what with his fifty sold-out shows in England (and possible pop-sensation-comeback) coming up. But I can’t seem to tap into this sense of overwhelming despair that some people feel. But perhaps I’m not expressing my grief in the proper way. Maybe I would feel a little more if I joined celebrities on Twitter:

“NO OMG,” tweets Lindsay Lohan, her bereavement clearly expressed by the capital letters, “… sending my love and prayers out to Michael and his family … i feel sick..”

Miley Cyrus, too: “michael jackson was my inspiration. love and blessings” – so distraught she couldn’t even manage capital letters.

Even Arnold Schwarzenegger got on the Tweet-wagon: “We lost a great entertainer and a pop icon. My thoughts and prayers go out to Michael Jackson’s family, friends and fans.”

Really? This is the forum on which you choose to express your condolences? Twitter—the funereal equivalent to a high school yearbook signature? “MJ – This school year rocked! Have a great summer. Sux that ur dead! Hugs and Kisses!”

Sigh . . . I’m death-spiralling into bitterness. . . . It’s just so bizarre to read all this, and it’s coming from every news site on the web. Did these people give a shit about Michael two days ago? How many of these news sites fed his isolation and neuroses by hounding him all his life? And how many now will continue feeding on his corpse.

Like the Belmont Club, who wasted no time in seizing a chance to decry the horrors of plastic surgery.

What happened? What does the death of Michael Jackson mean? That’s what I wanna know. What did we lose? We’re keeping Thriller. All his moves—we got those too. His body will decay, but can Michael Jackson die? Well, he’ll have a few more weeks, at least. People will continue ogling the last desperate pictures and videos. And we still have the autopsy reports to look forward to.

Of all the times to go, ay, Farrah?