In the wake of the tragic loss of Michael Jackson, the playa has spoken with many industry professionals, insiders, artists and extended family members about the sometimes confusing circumstances surrounding his death. I have also done quite a bit of reading, and while sampling the views of many authors, I had the privilege of reading a compelling Facebook note written by music marketing vet David Belgrave. As a result, I was forced to convince him to add his wisdom to the playa’s blog, and he graciously consented. David has quarterbacked campaigns for Nas, LL Cool J, Method Man and Maxwell, and he’s not pleased with the way the media has been remembering The King.
It feels like things have calmed down a lot in the last several days. Just a little over a week ago, so many of us were at the height of our grief as we watched the Michael Jackson Memorial. In the days leading up to the service nobody knew what to expect. We each had our own idea of what the service should be, who should speak, what songs should be performed… but no one was certain and the constant media speculation just made it worse.
I’m happy to say that for my circle of friends the memorial service did what all memorials should do. It comforted us and provided an outlet for our grief. In the endless media cacophony of medical experts, legal experts and “breaking news” it was at last a place & time where we could come TOGETHER and express our loss and sorrow.
I watched it with a great many of my friends as we all plugged into the CNN feed on Facebook. I found much needed comfort and emotional satisfaction both, in the words of remembrance as well as each performance. This service managed to achieve what the hundreds of hours of news coverage prior or since had failed to… to make Michael human again.
THE KING IN PEACE
What I found disturbing was the media’s commentary & coverage of… THE MEDIA’S COMMENTARY & COVERAGE… specifically criticism the volume of coverage. Really?? That’s like dogs complaining that dogs bark too much. This is who they are and this is what they do.
“When you see 100 satellite trucks parked around it’s hard to feel reverent.”
– Marc Istook of TV Guide
Really, Marc?? Did you feel that way about the coverage of Princess Diana’s funeral? Perhaps you felt this way during the funeral coverage for Pope John Paul II?
We have all watched many global broadcasts of world events. I don’t recall ever hearing anything sounding like Mr. Istook’s observation before. What I have heard are all the networks marveling at their power to bring minute-to-minute coverage from every angle into every television or computer around the world. Watch our live coverage! Click over to our cable partner for continuing coverage! Log onto our website! Follow us on Twitter! Sign-up for our email alerts! That’s traditional media hype for sure but they haven’t been on point with this story from the start. I subscribe to TMZ, and they HAVE been scooping the media giants from the start of this MJ story.
As I type this Matt Lauer just reported the MJ investigation is turning into a homicide investigation and cited TMZ as The Today Show’s sole source. Welcome to the new media reality of the information age where traditional news institutions are rendered impotent by the power of the Internet and the empowerment of the user! Maybe they’re trying to “over-compensate” with all those big satellite trucks. Hmmmmm…
“The problem with Tuesday’s Michael Jackson memorial service as a TV show is that too often it felt like a TV show.”
-David Hinckley of NY Daily News
The arrogance displayed by Hinckley’s statement infuriates me because everything the Jackson Family did INSIDE the Staples Center felt like a moving memorial (even if you feel Usher shouldn’t have touched the casket). Everything that the media set up OUTSIDE the Staples Center… THAT felt like a circus. It was a carnival of correspondents; a parade of panelists. They must have had lions, elephants, clowns and a big-top in those satellite trucks as well. In fact, one person I spoke to who attended the service described the exterior of the Staples Center as a “surreal carnival atmosphere.” In contrast he described the mood inside the venue as solemn and respectful. Four other people who attended all agreed about the tenor of the proceedings inside the venue.
Then there’s MSNBC’s Donny Douche… pardon me, Donnie Deutsch. He said “People who are crying in the streets that don’t know him [MJ], they need to maybe get a little bit of a life.” Seriously, Donny? When Elvis died I saw thousands of people gathered outside of Graceland and along the funeral route in Memphis. All of them upset, most of them crying and some of them even dressed like Elvis… Did THEY actually know Elvis? Maybe these were all the people that Elvis bought Cadillacs for during his life (you know how he liked to bless people with Cadillacs) No? I didn’t think so either.
FOR DONNY, DAVID AND THE REST OF ‘EM
The night John Lennon was murdered I saw thousands of mourners gathered on Central Park West outside The Dakota. They were carrying signs and holding candles as they sang “Imagine” and “Give Peace A Chance” through a river of tears. Did THEY know John?? Maybe these were all people who attended John & Yoko’s 1969 “bed-in” where “Give Peace A Chance” was recorded and are on the actual record! No? I didn’t think so either.
I don’t recall anybody saying that these mourners in Memphis, NYC or all over the world should get a life. It’s not just that I disagree with Mr. Deutsch, it’s that what he said doesn’t even make sense. People react to things and then show emotions accordingly. That’s how we’re built. People cried when President Obama was elected, or when the Red Sox finally won the World Series again, or when somebody on Oprah is sharing a tragic story. We don’t personally know any of these people but still we are moved. Shit, we cry at movies and those people don’t even EXIST… forget whether we know them or not. I don’t know Tony, Maria, Bernardo or Riff and they do not exist in real life but I surely shed a tear at the end of West Side Story!
GETS ME EVERY TIME
I’ve got THE BIG IDEA for you Donny Deutsch… shut the fuck up! Who ASKED you?? (I’m sure there’s a more eloquent way to put it but that felt right!).
Now I’m not comparing the value of one life to another but let’s consider Anna Nicole Smith. Her final chapter had many of the same plot points as Michael’s… drugs, 911 calls, enablers and child custody battles. Michael may have gone from showbiz to sideshow in later years but Anna Nicole was ALWAYS a sideshow. I didn’t hear cries over her coverage.
This is the same media that covered David & Victoria Beckham’s coming to Los Angeles for two months like it was the Apollo moon landing… in a country that doesn’t give a shit about soccer OR the Spice Girls. The same media that for at least THREE news cycles covered Obama campaign comments of “lipstick on a pig” regarding the Republican’s Pailin strategy as if we all didn’t IMMEDIATELY recognize the phrase as a commonly used expression… like sure, this black man running for President is REALLY calling this white woman a pig in the national media while still trying to court salty Hillary Clinton supporters.
Other than a sitting U.S. President, Queen Elizabeth or Osama Bin Laden I can’t think of anybody on Earth that would get more interest and coverage from suddenly dropping dead of cardiac arrest than Michael Jackson.
The media is ridiculous and has been that way for a while now. We have 24 hour news cycles for which they pick 3 hours worth of news and beat it into pulp. Then they spread that pulp all over the various shows on their channel. Larry King and Anderson Cooper cover the SAME aspects of the MJ case and their shows are back to back repeating three times a day! Anderson Cooper really should change the name of his show from “AC 360” to “MJ 24/7.”
Whoopi Goldberg says, “Michael is the gift that keeps on giving.” That doesn’t just apply to the families, the lawyers, the doctors, Sony Music and hangers-on… IT ALSO APPLIES TO THE MEDIA. They’re pimping Michael just as hard as anybody else. Despite some of media’s comments to the contrary, they KNOW what a huge story MJ’s passing is and especially under these circumstances. They know it and they want to reap the benefits of this intense interest fueled by the grief of LIFELONG fans. Then when we do watch and give them the ratings they crave, they clown us for caring so much about Michael. WTF?!?!
ALL MICHAEL ALL THE TIME
A VOICE OF REASON
In all the coverage I have watched, the collective media seems to give Michael props for only four things… being a child prodigy, giving a historic performance at Motown 25, breaking the color line at MTV and selling record numbers of Thriller. Most of Michael’s other accolades seemed to be given by the GUESTS on all these shows or people on the street being interviewed.
Some media try to camouflage their swipes of the MJ coverage as concern for the general awareness of us citizens. When Elisabeth Hasselbeck of The View put her 2 cents in about the volume of MJ coverage she cited “real” news stories we might have been missing. She spoke of the US military personnel that were killed in Afghanistan the same day Michael died and listed their names. I certainly have NO issue with honoring those who have fought and died for our freedom by saying their names. However, most times when US military personnel die we just get a number, no names. The only time we usually get names of soldiers killed in action is from the local news when the fallen soldier hails from our local area. I guess Elisabeth wanted to go the extra mile on that particular day.
The fact of the matter is that the MJ coverage did not stifle my receiving other news. I heard about the soldiers killed in Afghanistan. I was up to speed on how President Obama’s trip to Russia was going. Thnx for the concern anyway Elisabeth but unlike the mass media I can focus on more than three news stories at a time. However media, if you really are concerned with our well being and awareness I leave you with this thought:
If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at YOURSELVES and make a change. HOO!