New York Post
has run an almost unaccountable number of Wacko Jacko headlines during Michael Jackson’s
peculiar years. But now he’s become the Post’s
“Tragic Star,” complete with commemorative poster.
One of the most mocked, vilified, and calumniated people of our time has, overnight, been transmuted into…a saint.
This isn’t just media death-business sentimentality either. There’s some spontaneous revisionism that’s going on here. It was, it suddenly seems clear, the hard heart of the media, lead by the cruelties of the New York Post
, that condemned him to his marginal existence—exiled in Persian Gulf kingdoms—when, in fact, there was a latent, abiding, adoration for the boy-man.
The Michael Jackson story could be one of the biggest media screw ups of all time: The public didn’t hate him, the public loved him.
This is, perhaps, the triumph of virtuosity. The 4-day non-stop wall of sound
of Michael Jackson—early-, mid-, late-career, blaring from all media—has purged all naysayers. Art wins out over bad publicity.
The rational for the media’s about-face revisionism is clear, not just that the media has been at odds with the audience, but that MJ in death is going to be such an exceptional bonanza.
Shortly, you won’t find anybody who admits to having ever looked at Michael askance—or at least no one who will not have great tolerance for Michael’s difficult period.
And, indeed, perhaps it was difficult, not a story of excess, indulgence, and nuttiness, but of a struggle with great demons and real enemies (including rogue prosecutors and exploitive media). Maybe what we’ve witnessed for the last decade wasn’t madness—it was courage.
Michael Jackson is about to go down in history as one of the great rule breakers and nonconformists. Which, with a little critical interpretation, I guess he was.
Death is good for some people.
A Newser comment from the weekend: “The crap brought against him was only to extort money from him. Kids and adults loved him and he never hurt anyone. Was only kind and sent the right messages through his music and giving. Those of you who speak with ‘evil forked tongue’ should do your research because you obviously know nothing about him.”
He’s being rescued from the media and cynicism.
And perhaps he deserves to be.
More of Newser founder Michael Wolff's articles and commentary can be found at VanityFair.com, where he writes a regular column. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.