Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Impressions of The Michael Jackson Funeral

[Updated to add: Also notably absent from the funeral: Lisa Marie Presley, wife #1, who, as I've belatedly learned, not enough of you realize wrote a blog post on her My Space (barf) page that is reproduced, in part, here by US magazine. Debbie Rowe, wife #2, and surrogate and/or biological mother to two of MJ's children.]

You've seen the clips and coverage by now.

The Jackson brothers all in matching black suits, white shirts, yellow ties, yellow boutonni√®res, and sunglasses seated front row in a dimmed Staples Center before a crowd of twenty thousand. Countless millions more in the viewing audience worldwide across most all major networks. The spotlit gold casket presumably holding the remains, sans brain (as relentlessly reported), of MJ. Magic Johnson talking about Kentucky Fried chicken. Kobe Bryant. Usher laying a hand on, and singing to, the casket. The Reverend Al Sharpton to Michael’s children, “Wuddn’t nuttin’ wrong with yo Daddy.” The children of Martin Luther King, Jr. (or the junior juniors as I’ve come to think of them). Jennifer Hudson, Brooke Shields, Lionel Richie, Queen Latifah, Stevie Wonder, John Mayer, Mariah Carey. Texas Congresswoman Barbara Lee reminding the audience (lest they’d forgotten) one is “innocent until proven guilty”. Smokey Robinson as emcee, who looked freshly nip-tucked for the occasion.
Yet all this pales in comparison to the finale when the Jackson brothers and Janet and La Toya (both sisters clad entirely in black, sunglasses and black hats) took the stage en masse, along with Michael’s children: Prince Michael, Paris, and Blanket. Various Jackson brothers took the microphone and briefly dissolved into cringe-inducing, random remembrances. And then endless uncomfortable moments of silence and fumbling as the Jacksons struggle to lower the microphone to little Paris Jackson’s level so she could choke out a heartbroken,

"I just wanted to say ... ever since I was born, daddy has been the best father ... you could ever imagine. And I just wanted to say I love him…so much.”

(Scripted or spontaneous?)

While Paris’s remarks were a convenient and undeniably heart rending punctuation mark finale to the funeral fiasco, who can forget the lengths to which Michael Jackson went to shield these same children from the press? To protect them from the notoriety, from the freakish fame he himself could never escape? The veils, the masks.

If anyone. Was ever. Going to spin in their casket? This would have been the time. And Michael Jackson would have been the guy.

Notably absent: Liz Taylor who tweeted, “I said I wouldn't go to the Staples Center and I certainly don't want to become a part of it. I love him too much.” Also not in attendance, Diana Ross, who Michael named as a secondary guardian of his children should Kathryn Jackson be unable to fulfill the role. Legendary record producer Quincy Jones. Liza Minelli, presumably a close friend; MJ (along with buddy Liz Taylor) was famously part of the wedding party at what I consider to be (thus far) biggest freak show of the century: Minelli’s ill-fated and ridiculously extravagant NYC wedding to David Guest in 2002.

I am, in exactly equal parts, drawn to and repelled by this story/spectacle and others like it and fear this extravaganza has ushered in a new phenomenon:

The Variety Show Funeral!!!
[Cue up-tempo version of “Taps”]
The Body!….
The Mourners!...
And special guest star…Unexpected Latest Performance Competition Show Winner!!!!

(We’re so doomed.)

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

you know I loved this blog...