Will He Ever Just Beat It? 

STAR Tannery, Virginia - Is it over? Can I come out now? I mean, I poked my head up last week at this time and was incredulous to the fact that it was still going on. Meanwhile, friends and family have been haranguing me as to whether I was going to address the issue.

I dodged the bullet last week, but it seems that this has still not been laid to rest.

So to speak.

It's the elephant in the living room of every human being trying to maintain a sane point of view about the society in which we live. There is just no way to get around the subject of Michael Jackson's death.

I was honestly going to leave this issue to his fans. To me he was an annoying media nuisance, but to each his own. I figured a week of sappy montages and exaggerations about Jackson's importance to the music world, an afternoon funeral that would afford me the peace and quiet of having Dirtman finally turning off CNN for awhile, and we can move on in the news cycle. I could keep my opinion to myself for that long.

Then suddenly we were into week two and I realized it took less time to allegorically create the world than it did to literally bury Michael Jackson.

And, while I don't like to speak ill of the dead, I'm giving myself a little leeway in that area because I figure there's been so much of the opposite bombarding us, I doubt it will matter much.

I will, though, give Jackson credit for his accomplishments. He wrote a few good songs and recorded a bunch of songs that sounded very much like those few songs (Variations On the Theme of Billie Jean, if you will). He co-wrote another song that he had the good sense to have really good singers perform; singers who could make Row, Row, Row Your Boat sound like Beethoven's Ode to Joy.

He was smart enough to have had the right people advising him to fill his act with enough pyrotechnics, lights, backup dancers and music to complete the illusion that he was the one with all the talent. He was a good performer, a fair dancer and he could moonwalk.

So there you go. That wasn't so bad.

Okay. No. I can't let it go. For God's sake, will you look at what we're holding up as a hero these days: A narcissistic media whore* who spent his millions on things like giant paintings of himself as some sort of savior figure and on replacing his face with that of a 1960s department store mannequin. (I'll leave others to speculate about what else his millions bought.)

I know there is no such thing as a perfect hero anymore. The media won't allow that. But I would think we would at least require of those we choose to honor some progression toward integrity rather than deterioration into insanity - one might add, a chosen deterioration into insanity.

This seems to be the particular argument in favor of cutting such a self-absorbed nutcase some slack: he had a rough childhood that made him feel ugly and insecure.

Sorry, Buddy. You want to see a rough childhood? Try the childhoods of some of the children of the Holocaust on for size. The significant difference here is that by some quirk of fate, these poor souls had to overcome their resultant fears and insecurities without the benefit of millions of dollars and constant ego-stroking. In any case, I know of few people who have had a truly happy childhood because we were all raised by flawed human beings who were also raised by flawed human beings who were raised by ...well, you get the picture.

Humanitarian? Hmmm. Mother Teresa was a humanitarian; Michael Jackson arranged for tax deductions. He put in less time as a humanitarian than a lot of people in my own community and I doubt MSNBC is going to cover their funerals.

The true irony in all this - the ultimate punchline - is that, in the end, the city of Los Angeles is asking for donations to defray the cost of hosting the overblown spectacle that was supposed to be a memorial service, Jackson money being tied up in paying off all his debt.

Don't you just hate it when the taxpayer is asked to foot the bill for these people who buy houses bigger than they can afford?

*Yes, I said "media whore." If you don't want to call attention to yourself, you don't put on bright lipstick, you don't walk around with a surgical mask on your face and you don't dangle your kid off a balcony.

Copyright (c) 2007, SteelWill, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Spot On is a trademark of SteelWill, Inc.

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