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June 25, 2009

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One night while Jackson was asleep, Joseph climbed into his room through the bedroom window. Wearing a fright mask, he entered the room screaming and shouting. Joseph said he wanted to teach his children not to leave the window open when they went to sleep.

Ah yes, the George Bluth Sr. method of parenting.

"She was enough of a star that she didn't need to make The Burning Bed, and the kind of star (all-American sex symbol) who might justifiably have wondered what effect it might have on her career."

I don't intend any disrespect to Ms. Fawcett, but I don't follow this: she had a reputation as a completely lightweight sex symbol star -- very much a "star," best known for her hair, rather than as any kind of actor -- and choosing a Serious Issue Role was obviously chosen to greatly help her career to attempt to get her seen as something resembling a Serious Actor for the first time.

Which it succeeded at doing.

Which is not to take away from her in any way any kudos due at making a choice that was not just good for her, but good for other people, but the idea that her choice could have had a bad effect on her (well, if she turned out to have done a laughable job, it could have, but that's always the risk with any acting job), and the suggestion it was some sort of risk -- "who might justifiably have wondered what effect it might have on her career" -- I'm not following what the possible downside for her was supposed to be? That she wouldn't be taken as a serious actor if she did a bad job? Or what?

If only they had been able to afford adequate healthcare.

Gary: I dunno, I was thinking that maybe a movie large parts of which involved her crying and beaten might get in the way of the future shampoo and makeup commercials which she could surely have made a fortune on. I mean: she had a very specific image, and split lips and black eyes were not part of it. And the world is not exactly swarming with ex-pinup-people who tried something serious and actually succeeded.

But maybe not.

"If only they had been able to afford adequate healthcare."

If only your comments made more sense.

Stay classy, D'd'd'dave.

I am wondering if there is a list of lightweight actors who tried to make the jump to serious and failed, thus killing two careers with one script. Perhaps this is a prime example, though it may be in a category all its own..

I am wondering if there is a list of lightweight actors who tried to make the jump to serious and failed, thus killing two careers with one script.

No, because actors are environmentalists (mostly) and don't want to denude the forests of North America to make that list.

I think the conventions are entirely different for personal blogs than for news blogs or news sites, so please pardon me, this isn't directed at hilzoy. But why in the hell is the whole news world fixated on this Jackson trivia? A washed up pop icon who decades ago managed to share his considerable talent with the world dies. Fine. Why is his death worth pushing Iran, new higher jobless rates, healthcare reform, etc ENTIRELY off the front pages of MSNBC, FoxNews, USA Today, ABC, and CNN? Only HuffPo kept it above the fold, but even there, MJ dominated. I think it is absurd to catapult the story of the death of a pop icon above issues of much more importance.

Am I alone here? Or should I just accept that such trivialities will always catch the microsecond attention-span of the MSM and trump stories that affect the lives of millions in concrete ways?

Dear Hilzoy: I hope you are well.

What particularly struck me in your blog was the abuse Michael Jackson may have suffered from his father, Joseph Jackson. Very sad! Reminded me of the abuse Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart may have suffered from his father, Leopold Mozart.

I say alleged, because a quick google hasn't shown up any accounts the elder Mozart was as abominable to his son as Joseph Jackson apparently was. I really hope Leopold Mozart was not brually abusive.

I use "alleged" and "may" in an effort to be cautious and fair.

Sincerely,

Am I alone here? Or should I just accept that such trivialities will always catch the microsecond attention-span of the MSM and trump stories that affect the lives of millions in concrete ways?

I often have similar thoughts at times like these, but, thinking on it further, though there may still be more attention paid to the frivolous and trivial than there should be, it's probably not as bad as it seems at the moment. Over the long haul, Iran will get more coverage or, at least, a greater proportion of covergage than it seems in the short term after a high-profile celebrity event, than you might think. The media impacts of the likes of Micheal Jackson's death are just very acute. It's only been a few hours, and there's lots of media readily available to pull together in short order on someone like Micheal Jackson with which to produce something aireable.

Yes, but I just spent my commute home listening to the BBC on NPR, and MJ was the entire commute. It is one thing for commercial networks, but honestly what is the point of NPR if you get pop culture hyper focus there, too?

I have no particular interest in either Michael Jackson or Farrah Fawcett, but I recognize that they were iconic figures who meant a lot to a large number of people at some point in their lives. So I have no problem with the media devoting enormous resources to honoring their lives at the time of their passing.

On the other hand, the media really doesn't do half enough to cover actual hard news, including the events in Iran. To the extent that coverage of serious world events and the merits (not the politics of) domestic policy issues is further reduced by the attention paid to Jackson and Fawcett, that's a shame - but the problem should be fixed by increasing coverage given to hard news, not necessarily by ignoring the softer stuff that also matters to people. I don't watch TV, but my understanding is that there wasn't much serious coverage of hard news before they started replacing it with memorials to these two deceased pop icons.

Farrah Fawcett turned me on as a kid, and as an adult!

Michael Jackson made me dance when I was kid and when I became an adult!

Rest In Freakin' Peace, you deserved it!

Farah Fawcett turned me on as a kid, and as an adult!

Michael Jackson made me dance as a kid and as an adult!

Rest In Freakin’ Peace, you guys deserved it!

Yeah, I suppose this MJ thing will fade really fast. But it does grate that MSM outlets can't even juggle two balls at once. It is either MJ or Iran, but not both. I begrudge them more that they dropped the Iran ball (or any other host of important issues) instead of the MJ ball more than I'm upset that they tried to cover MJ.

I used to mix her up with Olivia Newton-John, but Extremities is a really interesting film.

As for Jackson, I think "Thriller" was an amazing album and "Bad" had some pretty good songs as well.

A cynic would of course say that Jackson died too late, i.e. after his positive image got destroyed.
I totally agree that he was cute as a black boy. He essentially turned into a zombie later.
---
Paris Hilton seems not to have suffered from terrible movie performances. I even know people that watched certain movies because she dies in a horrible way in them ;-) [no, that's not a joke].
I just wonder (as do others) why exactly she was not in Snakes on a Plane. Was she too expensive or unable to do a believable self-impersonation (she could have brought her own mini-dog)?

I'm one of those fogies who never saw anything entertaining about Michael Jackson -- well, okay, "ABC" wasn't all that bad. I routinely tuned out anything by or about him, and I didn't watch more than a couple of minutes of last night's exhaustive media coverage. Still, the denial of his humanity represented by what his father did to him is so appalling that I can no longer sneer at anything he did at any point of his life. He was obviously a terribly troubled soul, and I doubt he ever did anything half as awful as what his father visited on him. Let us hope that he has found peace at last.

@Sean Brooks: History records Leopold Mozart as a kind of male stage-mother. He pushed the kid but didn't punish him beyond what was ordinary in his time and place. No one will ever know what Wolfgang might have done -- or not done -- had he not been the Shirley Temple of his era.

As for Farrah, she had a hard task persuading people that there was anything more to her than fluff, but she succeeded, and she turned out to be a woman of great emotional stamina and determination. That's what I'll miss about her.

As to the media attention, I agree that it's a bit too much. I'd rather hear more about them though if it means hearing less about Sanford.

Hi, Bob. Thanks for your comment.

I'm glad Leopold Mozart was not an abuser to his son Wolfgang Amadeus. As for the Shirley Temple analogy, I'm skeptical. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was enough of a genius to not let that that kind of premature exposure to fame and success spoil his talent. I get the impression Mozart's real problem was not being able to live within his means.

Sincerely,

Another problem Mozart had was his loose tongue. It is not the best of policies (especially in Austria) to say that you'd love nothing more than to give your employer a kick in the behind (and using rather vulgar words in formulating that wish). :-)

Hi, Hart. Did you have the period when Mozart was working for the Archbishop of Salzburg in mind? I've read that Wolfgang Amadeus was unhappy about the rules and restrictions he had to accept.

And, yes, a little discretion is usually wise if you want to get along with your boss! (Smiles)

Sincerely,

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