Friday, June 26, 2009

Media Assholes: Back the Fuck Off

Knobhill Drive in Sherman Oaks Summer of 1970. I was 12, going to be 13 in November, and was between 7th and 8th grade. The home belonged to my Uncle, my dad’s older brother, who had never married and made a home for their mother,my grandmother, my Bahquine.

Sanctuary. My Bahquine and Uncle Kent were for me those two adults who cared and who cultivated my resilience. My sisters and I grew up spending occasional weekends during the school year and a couple weeks every summer at Bahquine and Uncle Kent’s. The connection I felt with them and that home have stayed with me until this day.

They always put a card table up in the living room during our visits and we would spend hours playing card games and board games, something my parents never did with us. My Bahquine saved old dish soap bottles, pin tins, and cookie cutters and when we were younger we would play in the rose garden making and decorating mud pies. After they dried in the sun, we would take them over to where Bahquine was sitting in the shade, mending or knitting, and she would pretend to nibble our concoctions and tell us how delicious they were.

I was never anxious my world might explode when I stayed on Knobhill.

In the Summer of 1970, I had discovered music and pop radio. My parents were not big music people (or picture taking camera people) and they did not own many record albums. A radio was never on in our house, I’m not sure if we even owned one. But in my Uncle Kent’s bedroom, he had a big leather chair next to a table with an antique radio on it. I had crush on a boy, and probably boys in general that summer, and my favorite song was Michel Jackson’s I’ll Be There.

On weekdays, while my uncle was off working as a special effects cameraman at Universal Studios, I would lounge around in his leather chair by the hours, fidgeting with the radio dial, until I found my favorite song. Then I’d sing along. At the top of my lungs, no holding back. It was such a popular song that summer I could find it no problem at least three or four times an hour.

Those lazy summer days where I morphed from childhood and embraced adolescence are symbolized for me by that song in that house.

Billy Bean, Beat It, and so many of Michael’s songs are more than a stitch in the fabric of my youth. His music is woven through my early years and is connected to some of my best memories.

My husband called me from his work yesterday to tell me about Michael Jackson’s sudden death. He asked me to turn on the news and find out what happened. I watched CNN for an hour and then MSNBC. Neither of these cable news networks spent much time on his early life, on his music successes. It was all about his trials, his financial problems, and his addiction to plastic surgery. Don’t ask me why I did not try watching FOX, if you’ve read me for any amount of time you would know I don’t support the bullhorn for Rupert Murdoch.

Anyways.

I don’t think focusing millions of people on the negative aspects of Michael Jackson’s life is the right way to go, and so I turned off my TV. Michael’s demons were his demons and not mine to judge. I will, however, judge the fuckers who air such crap, and yes, I also judge those who support it.

Michael Jackson Rest in Peace. Thank-you for the joy and memories your music and your talent added to my own life.



Flurrious has the video of The Jackson Five on the Ed Sullivan Show. I might have used it had I not read her post before I wrote my own.

33 comments:

Maureen at IslandRoar said...

You're right, he had many demons. But like you I am finding myself revisiting memories that his music brings to life for me.

Hit 40 said...

I bet Michael would be surprised about the outpouring of love for him.

blueviolet said...

I feel the same way you do. I just really and truly hope that is at peace now. He's given a gift to the world with his talent and that musical legacy will remain forever.

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

Yes, let's show some respect. And appreciation for the good and not digging up and regurgitating the bad.

Michele said...

I spend more time worrying about the children he left behind then I do about Michael himself. His legacy is what it is but his children are the ones that will carry on. I sincerely hope that they have wonderful and loving guardians.

darsden said...

well said and I agree, I miss those summer carefree days sometimes! back before I was jaded with the way the world really is!

only a movie said...

Some of music video stations are doing marathon videos. I turned to that instead of MSNBC.
I used to search the radio dial for songs just like you did when I was a kid...
I think I already posted that when I was 5 I thought the Jackson Five were at the local radio station singing, because I didn't understand the concept of records.
:-) Like this post. I can picture your grandma's house.

Brigit said...

Well, we all know how much the media prefer to focus on the negative, but I must admi last night on TV here in Aus they showed some great footage of very early years all the way through his career. Yes they did include the ugly, all with question marks, when I think about it. At the moment, I just feel for his children.

Creepy said...

I couldn't watch any news yesterday either... I did watch the Thriller video with Graham though... he thought it was scary, but he loved it...

MJ was my first celebrity crush... posters all over my room... I may or may not have kissed them every night before I went to sleep...

True Blue Texan said...

I've already seen/heard two different theories to he how he died. His death will be fodder for conspiracy theorists just like Marilyn Monroe.

Midlife Jobhunter said...

You are right. Let's just play the music and be thankful for his incredible contributions. But I fear the news and magazine covers at the grocery store will haunt us for a long time.

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

Ah... The music video stations. I wish I'd caught Thriller yesterday. I was really hoping to see his old stuff.

Am going to check out MTV and VH1 now.

Kristan said...

I have to admit, a part of me feels bad that Farrah Fawcett is being so overshadowed, as she was a worthwhile woman herself. (Also, the Iranians probably lose some needed attention...)

That said, I completely agree that focusing on the negative aspects of his life in order to sensationalize his death is unnecessary and distasteful. His contributions were significant (and amazing).

Rikki said...

I was really happy to see that NBC this morning focused on how people were dealing with the news of his death and his earlier career - leaving his demons where they belong.

"Thriller" was my favorite, but Boing Boing had a link to a Pepsi commercial that brought tears to my eyes - I wish he could have found that boy that he used to be.
http://www.boingboing.net/2009/06/25/rip-michael-jackson.html#previouspost

Oz Girl said...

I am in total agreement. Focus on the man, the music. His talents were enormous. Never mind what became of his life as he aged. I hate how the media always beats the "negative drum". If it's good, then it's not news. Well, according to the media. I think that's horseshit.

I haven't been watching much of the MJ coverage since yesterday, for that very reason. Already today, all the websites are harping on his "mysterious" death. You know they will be trying to find the negative reason, how he caused his own death.

Whatever. *sigh*

Twenty Four At Heart said...

Isn't that funny. When I watched the news yesterday I felt like they were deifying a celebrity. I think MJ was a musical genius and an amazing performer. Many events in my life were shaped by his music. That being said - he was a human, not a God. And he was very tragically flawed.

Lilly said...

None of us can judge anyone else until we walk in their shoes so I love your approach with your post.

I just went to Perez Hiltons site (on the urging of my daughter) and saw somethng Lisa Marie Presley had written about him. Go take a look - it is so well said and if she did write it, she is extremely articulate. He had more than his demons but you got to wonder how could he have been anything else given he had no childhood whatsoever. RIP indeed.

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smiles4u said...

You tell the story of your childhood memories so well. I am tired of hearing about MJ from the media already...they really have a way of twisting things and sensationizing. It seems to be all that's on tv...ugh. I feel sad for his children and family.

Gaston Studio said...

So well said Pseudo. I'm grateful that in today's society, we have so many hundreds of TV channels that we can choose what to watch and for the most part, when.

Kathy said...

My children have been surprised to see the early Michael Jackson videos. My oldest son said he thought he was a lot like Freddie Mercury (a great compliment) in his life struggles and his inovative music. I think many of us have let the sadness of his later life overshadow his talent.

flurrious said...

This is the problem with having 24-hour news stations; they need to fill the time and think (probably correctly) that nothing brings in the viewers like scandal, even if it's old. I mean, seriously, are we ever going to stop hearing about Anna Nicole Smith?

The broadcast networks are being generally more respectful, at least for the moment. You can see it starting to turn, especially now that details of his death are coming out, but they've mostly focused on his contributions to the music industry and his impact on fans. And as I said on someone else's blog, the outpouring of love for him is really nice to see; for so long he's been treated as a joke. I wouldn't want people to ignore his problems, but there should be space for some love too.

Fragrant Liar said...

I so agree with you. I'm only three years older than he was, and I grew up WITH him. I searched for his music too. All favorites. I can't say enough how his music and dancing have influenced my life. And of his later years, can you imagine having your private life -- and some demons you DIDN'T have as well -- broacast all around the world? Imagine the pressure. I choose to not judge, and after all, what would be the point? He is gone, and he's left a surprisingly large hole in my heart.

Amy said...

I loved him also and will miss him so much.

Smart Mouth Broad said...

My childhood bedroom walls were covered in Michael Jackson and Donny Osmond posters. Michael was one of the most talented individuals this world has ever known. Unfortunately with that level of genius sometimes comes a very tortured soul. RIP, MJ.

Casey said...

I haven't read any of the coverage about his death for this exact reason.

Sprite's Keeper said...

I think I find it more surprising that the very news media outlets that rushed to judge and convict him now claim their love and affection for the very man they wanted to kill publicly. I watched ABC'c coverage last night and remembered the exact same coverage when it originally aired with an air of condemnation was now edited to sympathize for him and his plight.
I'm saddened for his death and the pain that followed him in his life, and I now find that I can't get enough of his earlier work, Off the Wall and Thriller. His music is on my personal soundtrack for a lot of happy times in my life and I will choose to remember him this way. Thanks for the honesty, Pseudo. I couldn't agree more.

Melissa B. said...

With you 100 percent on this. They need to shut up, don't they? I blame cable's talking heads and the need to fill airtime, 24/7.

Beth said...

I'd like to think that Micheal Jackson is able to see/hear/feel the emotions from people who are missing him. And I hope that these feelings help to heal his tortured soul. RIP, Micheal.

Beth said...

BTW - I think there are many, many of us that have Jackson songs in the soundtrack of our lives.

Mama Dawg said...

My heart hurt when I heard the news.

Nubian said...

He was a musical genius and his death is a tragedy. I am amazed that not two weeks ago the media was "slamming" him with regards to his upcoming tour... now the media has placed him on the pedestal... as a non-citizen of America I still find the "freedom of speech" a tad bit confusing ;)

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