Michael Jackson: The Price of Fame
What killed the King of Pop? Was it the culmination of his debilitating health, the strain of trying to get into physical shape for a world tour or did the constant pressure of being labeled the musical icon of the 20th century while at the same time defending his soul against the ravages of a media starved for any shred of demonic leanings of pedophilia?
The last 24 hours has proven to be a boon for the tabloid media constantly on the search for the latest scandal. As legend goes, celebrities die in threes and over the last week we’ve seen a few of the entertainment industry’s biggest stars slip into the mortal coil.
Ed McMahon was the consummate second banana and comic foil for TV lands greatest talk show host Johnny Carson. Their banter and friendship was legendary with a kind of chemistry and connection never seen again on television. Ed’s health and financial problems were well played out in both the legitimate and tabloid media which could only have contributed to his final demise. Imagine going through a the demolition of a home riddled with life threatening mold, botched surgery and the torturous divorce litigation all while being plastered all over every shopping lane check out magazine and gossip show.
That kind of attention is never good for you.
Consider the lovely Farrah Fawcett. A talented actress and beauty queen whose true ability were rarely seen on the silver screen and for the most part ignored or rebuked as anything more than a bubble headed blonde bombshell. At the end of a horrifying battle against renal cancer, this Angel allowed people to see everything and anything about her struggle to survive. Was it a brave front by a woman desperate to be remembered as a genuine artist and activist or another capitalization of the media for one last shot of fame? Perhaps aside from a heart felt desire to give people insight into what goes on with cancer victims, it was also a way to counter act what would surely have been a media frenzy for any kind of footage on the dying Hollywood star.
A good offense is always the best defense.
And now we have the tragic loss of the King of Pop. A man whose entire life was lived in front of a camera whether it was television, film or paparazzi. For all his musical talent Michael Jackson’s legacy will forever have a thin layer of dirt spread across his gold star on the walk of fame due to his alleged over affection of young boys. This stain of pedophilia, whether true or not can never be rubbed off and as much as we would like to celebrate the life of musical history’s most famous son; a person revered the world over for his achievements in songwriting, musicality, dance and video, whenever people will recount his virtues of talent they will caveat it with snide iterations to the man/child perversions of countless tabloid reports.
Few celebrities were followed as closely as Jacko with the hordes of yellow journalists ever ready to pen the next salacious column exploiting his every move with glee. Even before the ambulance had arrived on the scene, reports of Michael’s death were being reported by the throng of paps ever present at the gates of his home, waiting like vultures for the dying to become the dead thus beginning the scramble of a media feeding frenzy. And the picking at his not even cold carcass, the famous and infamous one gloved wonder, had begun before the body was even removed from his home.
Without missing a beat the rumors of his demise being faked have already begun circulating the Internet and one cannot help but understand why this theory has some merit in it. Even the most talented and fame hungry person in the world could easily succumb to the pressures of constant attention and harassment. The motivation to escape the trapping of fame and for once be able to just go out without having a hundred media vans photograph and video your every move would be most enticing. It would also be a good way to escape his financial problems.
But more to the truth, it could be said that as much as Michael Jackson may have wanted the spotlight, the pressures of just existing within a fishbowl will wear even the strongest person down. Here was a person who before he was 12 was a world wide phenomenon. A singing super star whose popularity never really faded and along with that popularity came the responsibility to always be “on” and forever battle against the forces of mediocrity. Each album was a fight to retain the crown and as the styles and tastes of music changed, so too did the need to stay relevant.
Michael Jackson’s youthful appearance was just that. A facade like the make up actors wear during a performance, but unlike thespians who can take their faces off, MJ had to always be adorned with a mask that belayed the real person beneath. His frail health, always at issue, was compounded by the slew of media attention and it is this type of barrage that can be considered contributing factor to his death. Stress kills and with everything placed upon Michael’s slight shoulders to make a comeback, payoff mounting bills and just prove to the world he was still viable, it’s no wonder that he would finally fall victim to the fiery blaze of the spotlight.
For all his talent and ability, for all the good he had done in the world and as much as he may have wanted to be the center of attention, if you’re in the eye of a storm, eventually the wind will carry you away.