One art blog that I highly respect had a week-old post saying that their blog was "proudly Michael Jackson-free: no news, no gossip, no pics, "no interest." My first reaction was "YESSS!" Mainstream media has surely milked this passing while very urgent issues lie like fallen trees in the road (you can't just drive over them).
However...my next reaction to this blog post was, "well, wait a sec..." I sheepishly admit that I've been swept up with fascination over the last week of MJ mania. At first I wasn't quite sure why since I was never a true fan of Michael Jackson - he kind of lost me when the video for "Thriller" came out since I was seven-years-old at the time and afraid of everything. So by no means did I run home to watch live coverage of his memorial tribute. But the act of remembering the guy has brought on a wave so strong of childhood nostalgia that I, like so many others I'm sure, haven't felt a long time. (And, on a personal level, this nostalgia has flooded me with childhood memories of my father, who also died an untimely death that could have been prevented. I mostly feel for the children left behind.)
But the reason I partially take back my emphatic agreement with the art blog's Michael Jackson-free post is because I commute to work through Harlem's 125th Street, passing the Apollo Theater. The feeling of communal mourning and celebration is hard to miss - I can't help but be swept up by the old hits emanating from boom boxes and the spontaneous dance-offs on the sidewalk. I was at first disturbed by the instant capilalization of the spectacle of death, with T-shirts and CD's being sold at every turn of the head, but hey - it's a living.
It's the fact that in their own way, so many people are reacting at once, and I find this is what affects me. And I'm not talking about Mary f*cking Hart feigning mourning on Entertainment Tonight; I'm talking about everyday people that I see in this city - total strangers meeting on the street to celebrate a life, which to me celebrates life in general. I suppose that's also the power of pop culture.
Still, with all this bombardment in the "news", it really is very nice to have a Michael Jackson-free zone.