Jacko and the Media: Turn, Turn, Turn

All right, enough already with the Michael Jackson.

Talk about a polarizing event. What a strange disconnect between the idolaters and the realists.

First we have the Jackson fans who have, apparently, come out of the closet. During his controversial life, Michael supplicants kept relatively quiet, sheepish in their devotion. His Facebook page until recently had a timid 80,000 fans. Now, it has topped 6 million and counting.

All this has been enabled by the media; the same media, BTW, that played up Jacko as wacko. Now, the Matt Lauers question Jackson contacts in hushed tones as if the moonwalker were lying in state in the next room. Talk about hypocrisy. Everyone in the biz is on it. Nancy Grace — who claims to carry the torch for crime victims, especially children — is all over this like seagulls on a garbage scow. Even the Gray Lady is falling all over herself, begging for pictures from memorial-goers (after all, the desperate gal can’t even afford texting for her reporters).

The sheer breath of the coverage has forced realists into the closet. So the weird world of MJ has been turned upside down, with reasonable folk afraid to open their mouths about Jackson’s dark side for fear of being labeled a spoiler, a pop heretic or worse.

For now, it’s left to Republicans, like New York Congressman Peter King, whose scathing comments on video surfaced on YouTube Monday. Meanwhile, today WFAN morning sports jock Craig Carton weighed in with a balanced review. He said he was the biggest Michael Jackson fan, but pointed out “the man’s a pedophile.” A Jackson fan called in to take Carton to task. Turns out she was a grade-school teacher, and she didn’t know what to say when Carton asked her if she’d let her young male students spend an overnight in the King’s Neverland bed.

Together, the immense fan-mania and the intense media coverage have created one of the greatest collective denials in human history.

Soon the din will settle down to the point where reasonable voices can emerge. And make no mistake, the now hush-toned media will turn on Jackson yet again in the coming months as they dig for a 60th-day story angle. Can’t you hear the Today Show promos of August asking us to question the ‘man in mirror’ once again: “Coming next: Michael Jackson, the reigning King of Pop, but was he a pedophile?”
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Boyle-ing point

I get the Susan Boyle thing. It is, after all, a great story: never-been-kissed spinster from working-class Scottish town — from another era really — turns the tables of fortune on its ass before millions on British — now YouTube — TV. I mean, even Disney couldn’t make this stuff up. It’s Cinderella on steroids. It’s Pygmalion on pills. And the media barons have their content fix for the week.

But, despite it’s heartwarming feature – and the woman really appears to be the salt of the earth – the whole win-a-career-in-the-music-biz-overnight deal is quite irksome – annoying, actually– to music-industry veterans.

It comes down to callused hands. What do I mean? Well, in the heartland there’s a swift and certain vetting of suspected interlopers: “show us your hands, son.” Real farmers and ranchers bear the branding of their trade. “American Idol”s don’t.

Don’t get me wrong. “Idol” has actually uncovered some legit talent. Carrie Underwood, for example, is one of the best singers of her generation and is one of my faves.

Yet season after season, it’s irksome to the true laborers in the union of the real American performing artist to see folks believe that merely dreaming about stardom in their bedrooms is what forming a music career is all about, when union members are out there season after season pounding the pavement, the record label corridors, the club stages and the social media byways. The latter is called dues, man. And that’s the way the real music biz works.

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