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Should Jackson have received so much coverage?

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By The Staff

Many readers will remember The Jackson Five featuring little brother, Michael. He was an exceptional talent and he definitely did entertain many; your writer loved the song about the rat, "Ben."

Anyone who can write a tender, haunting song about a rat is someone special. But why is there this need to lay bare the personal side of his life in conjunction with its quirks?

California, as of this writing, is sending up some botched up signals. We know north is different than south; that San Francisco is the contrapuntal opposite of its sister city in the south; and that never the twain shall meet. But what is happening today is unreal! Please, somebody tell us if there is anyone left out there who makes sense. California announces that it has no money; that it has to print I.O.U.s to keep functioning. Los Angeles, in spite of its dire circumstances thinks nothing of doling out millions policing and cleaning up after Jackson’s funeral celebration at the Staples arena. The media coverage was out of hand. In fact, it was out of hand the moment they realized he was dead. An entire night/week of MJ news with nothing new to report. His biography was interesting and his songs and dances were wonderful to behold, but the pointless no news updates was frustrating to say the least. This is where our people direct their attention? The celebrity thing has gotten so ridiculous and it seems to trump anything meaningful or necessary to report. At last count, over 8,000 ‘lucky’ people won two tickets to attend the memorial. But first, they must answer some convoluted e-mails and pick up their tickets at Dodgers stadium on the other side of town, creating unnecessary additional congestion. Ticket hawkers claimed that tickets were going for more than $10,000 apiece and some say the asking price exceeded $100,000 per ticket, this, at the worst economic period in California’s history. For the enjoyment of some 16,000, it seems that taxpayers must sacrifice. To date, there has been no confirmation that the Jackson family will chip in to defray some of the costs of this extravaganza.

One might ask, what’s wrong with this picture. Was Jackson, after all, a great military hero, a leader of the free world, someone who changed the course of history? Hell, no. But ironically, one did die a week later and barely anyone noticed. If anyone had influence on the course of events in the mid-sixties, it was Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara, who at the time was labeled and excoriated as the architect of the Vietnam War. He was thought to be arrogant, and yet he was smart enough to know that there was no future to that war; but lacked the nerve to confront President Johnson, and so the War dragged on.

In 1995, the retired Vietnamese defense minister met with McNamara and categorically denied that Vietnamese gunboats had attacked American destroyers on Aug.. 4, while admitting to the attack on Aug. 2. A taped conversation of a meeting several weeks after passage of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was released in 2001, revealing that McNamara expressed doubts to Johnson that the attack had even occurred. He was ignored. His death marked the end of an era, much like Jackson’s in an odd way. Some say he was responsible for the deaths of 60,000 Americans, a man torn between his loyalty to his president and his own morality. He was a pivotal figure in the real world. And for that he should be remembered; but certainly to put things into perspective, Michael Jackson wrote no policy nor impacted history, yet his supporters point out how many millions he gave to charity - it’s to be hoped he did - he had many millions to give. And, in this most cruel and selfish of worlds, he did bring joy to millions, so what is the watermark? Is it really Bread and Circuses?

A New York representative asked what Jackson did for him to be so worshipped. He said, rather cruelly, that Jackson was a drug addict, a pervert, and someone who violated the law on more than one occasion. Sounds like most of today’s celebrities and entertainers. Some views are not so polarizing but it must be asked what could we be thinking when people give a pop star adulation and ignore the death of the supposed architect of the Vietnam War. Is that how shallow we’ve become when nobody stands up for all of the recent violations of the Constitution, the torture, the invasion of our privacy? Yet, millions come out, with some willing to pay $100,000 to pay tribute to a celebrity! Have we simply lost our way? Jackson was excellent at what he did and he most surely did entertain - but then so did Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Miles Davis. The problem is that too many of today’s entertainers - the movie stars, music stars and athletes are paid humongous amounts of money and become to think it’s theirs just because they exist. A reworking of Descartes, "Cogito ergo sum;" Je pense, donc je suis; I think, therefore I am; or I am thinking, therefore I exist. Jermaine Jackson sang his brother’s favorite song at the ‘Memorial.’ Wonder if either of them knew who wrote ‘Smile?’

It was Charlie Chaplin, whom has always held the crown of greatest entertainer in the world.

As I was saying . . .

Wendy England Binnie a novelist and op/ed columnist lives in Oak Trace Villas.