Top Leaderboard, Site wide
July 14, 2014
Truthdig: Drilling Beneath the Headlines
Help us grow by sharing
and liking Truthdig:
Sign up for Truthdig's Email NewsletterLike Truthdig on FacebookFollow Truthdig on TwitterSubscribe to Truthdig's RSS Feed

The Right to Resist




S Street Rising
Gays in the Military


Truthdig Bazaar more items

 
Report

The Man in the Mirror

Email this item Email    Print this item Print    Share this item... Share

Posted on Jul 13, 2009
AP photo / Jacqueline Larma

Images of a young Michael Jackson fill the TV screens at a downtown Los Angeles bar near the site of his memorial service.

By Chris Hedges

In celebrity culture we destroy what we worship. The commercial exploitation of Michael Jackson’s death was orchestrated by the corporate forces that rendered Jackson insane. Jackson, robbed of his childhood and surrounded by vultures that preyed on his fears and weaknesses, was so consumed by self-loathing he carved his African-American face into an ever-changing Caucasian death mask and hid his apparent pedophilia behind a Peter Pan illusion of eternal childhood. He could not disentangle his public and his private self. He became a commodity, a product, one to be sold, used and manipulated. He was infected by the moral nihilism and personal disintegration that are at the core of our corporate culture. And his fantasies of eternal youth, delusions of majesty, and desperate, disfiguring quests for physical transformation were expressions of our own yearning. He was a reflection of us in the extreme.

His memorial service—a variety show with a coffin—had an estimated 31.1 million television viewers. The ceremony, which featured performances or tributes from Stevie Wonder, Brooke Shields and other celebrities, was carried live on 19 networks, including the major broadcast and cable news outlets. It was the final episode of the long-running Michael Jackson series. And it concluded with Jackson’s daughter, Paris, being prodded to stand in front of a microphone to speak about her father. Janet Jackson, before the girl could get a few words out, told Paris to “speak up.” As the child broke down, the adults around her adjusted the microphone so we could hear the sobs. The crowd clapped. It was a haunting echo of what destroyed her father.

The stories we like best are “real life” stories—early fame, wild success and then a long, bizarre and macabre emotional train wreck. O.J Simpson offered a tamer version of the same plot. So does Britney Spears. Jackson, by the end, was heavily in debt and had weathered a $22 million out-of-court settlement payment to Jordy Chandler, as well as seven counts of child sexual abuse and two counts of administering an intoxicating agent in order to commit a felony. We fed on his physical and psychological disintegration, especially since many Americans are struggling with their own descent into overwhelming debt, loss of status and personal disintegration.

The lurid drama of Jackson’s personal life meshed perfectly with the ongoing dramas on television, in movies and in the news. News thrives on “real life” stories, especially those involving celebrities. News reports on television are mini-dramas complete with a star, a villain, a supporting cast, a good-looking host and a dramatic, if often unexpected, ending. The public greedily consumed “news” about Jackson, especially in his exile and decline, which often outdid most works of fiction. In “Fahrenheit 451,” Ray Bradbury’s novel about a future dystopia, people spend most of the day watching giant television screens that show endless scenes of police chases and criminal apprehensions. Life, Bradbury understood, once it was packaged, scripted, given a narrative and filmed, became the most compelling form of entertainment. And Jackson was a great show. He deserved a great finale.

Those who created Jackson’s public persona and turned him into a piece of property, first as a child and finally as a corpse encased in a $15,000 gold-plated casket, are the agents, publicists, marketing people, promoters, script writers, television and movie producers, advertisers, video technicians, photographers, bodyguards, recording executives, wardrobe consultants, fitness trainers, pollsters, public announcers and television news personalities who create the vast stage of celebrity for profit. They are the puppet masters. No one achieves celebrity status, no cultural illusion is swallowed as reality, without these armies of cultural enablers and intermediaries. The producers at the Staples Center in Los Angeles made sure the 18,000 attendees and the television audience (even the BBC devoted three hours to the tribute) watched a funeral that was turned into another maudlin form of uplifting popular entertainment.

Advertisement

Square, Site wide
The memorial service for Jackson was a celebration of celebrity. There was the queasy sight of groups of children, including his own, singing over the coffin. Magic Johnson put in a plug for Kentucky Fried Chicken. Shields, fighting back tears, recalled how she and a 33-year-old Jackson—who always maintained that he was straight—broke into Elizabeth Taylor’s room the night before her last wedding to “get the first peek of the [wedding] dress.” Shields and Jackson, at Taylor’s wedding, then joked that they were “the mother and father of the bride.”

“Yes, it may have seemed very odd to the outside,” Shields said, “but we made it fun and we made it real.”

There were photo montages in which a shot of Jackson shaking hands with Nelson Mandela was immediately followed by one of him with Kermit the Frog. Fame reduces all of the famous to the same level. Fame is its own denominator. And every anecdote seemed to confirm that when you spend your life as a celebrity, you have no idea who you are.


New and Improved Comments

If you have trouble leaving a comment, review this help page. Still having problems? Let us know. If you find yourself moderated, take a moment to review our comment policy.

By rania, April 25, 2010 at 11:18 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr. Hedges, If I’ve read your column about some subject that I don’t know well I would say you are good columnist. Unfortunately, I see you are trying to write about serious issues without proper research and based on lies and media slander, and your name will always stay marked as nonprofesional and unserious journalist to me. Is it possible that you, the journalist, the one who should be at the main sources of news, have over slept all FACTS about MJ?! Medical records which prove his words, FBI reports about the accusations and trials that were completely SET UP? Is it possible that you have over slept ALL HUMANITARIAN WORK that MJ actually did? Is it possible you didn’t hear all of his songs about humankind condition, our planet, philantrophy, unjustice? Or you simply refuse to speak about it cause someone had ordered this fabrication of article! What have you done for people in war zones, for sick people all over the world, for disabled and marginalized people all around the world? If your intention was to rase awareness about influence of corporations and marketing, fine, I would agree with some general statements but you have picked up COMPLETELY wrong person as an example. Because, Michael Jackson was also against that! Do not think that all people are stupid, blind and deaf, and that we won’t do some serious research by ourselves. I hope you will never again put yourself, your name and carrier in such stupid position, and that you will learn that serious article needs serious research. Beside all this, it is really ugly to bash dead man, his children and family. How dare you?! I hope next time before you mention MJ you will remember Martin Bashir and Evan Chandler. What goes around comes around, mr. Hedges. God is the Greatest Judge!
“One word for the media, please help the people see the love
Stop this garbage you’re feeding us, show him for what he really was
Remember there was more to come, remember he’s the chosen one
Remember he’s the wisest one, remember him for what he’s done”
You will be here and pass, but Michael, his love, generosity, charity, music and his legacy will live forever!

Report this

By ruhullaha, February 23, 2010 at 4:38 pm Link to this comment

Too add to Lullachild’s collections regarding Michael Jackson’s releases, watch Earth Song and They don’t really care about us.  When someone has someone internal which they share with the world, a bit of eternity is shared.  Genuine talent comes from beyond the artist’s individuality and stays beyond their time.

I am a Leo Tolstoy devotee and Tolstoy’s exceptional talents and brilliance are with me today. It is alright to love and respect that which gives beyond self.

Ruhullah

Report this

By lullachild, February 23, 2010 at 2:28 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I think the world is divided into two camps when it comes to Michael Jackson.  Or maybe three.  Those who followed his career after Thriller, those who didn’t and those who looked at everything he did after he died. I am in the third camp and if someone had not sent me a video of Billy Jean, live, after Michael Jackson’s death,  I would have completely agreed with Mr. Hedges whose writing is quite compelling.  If you know Michael Jackson’s work, though, beyond a couple of videos it is likely that you will fall into a kind of worshipful state, not because you are worshiping a celebrity but because the primitive centers of the brain, no doubt, equate genius with supernatural powers.  And why not?  A genius, by definition, is one who can do what others cannot. If others can’t do it then it is not natural and if it is not natural it is supernatural. We rationalists decide that by virtue of the word genius the gifts are now quite mundane.  Michael Jackson was not only a genius he was a genius who communicated, with a palpable passion, to all of us if we happened to be lucky enough to watch.  Go to Youtube and watch Billy Jean, The Man in the Mirror.  Watch Stranger in Moscow.  Watch Dance Break, watch Jam.  Watch Smooth Criminal, Live.  You will be able to take it from there.  The man was worthy of our adulation.  That we as a people crucified him is cause for our anguish.  For those of us who find his work of great value, for those of us who love him through his work, the pain of his murder keeps our mourning alive.  We are not mourning an icon; we are mourning a man we have come to know through his work, the way another generation might mourn, say Charlie Chaplin.  There is nothing wrong with a culture that mourns its chosen leaders.  There is plenty wrong with one that allows a man to be hunted down for over ten years and be defamed by the press for money. It was easier for the public to snicker about a celebrity who had been found innocent of pedophilia, than to face its fears and rage about fathers, brothers and uncles in our own back yard. That is why it was all such a good money maker. Now a true crime has been committed and a man has lost his life to grief and terror and brutalization. I think those of us who mourn feel a special pain just because Michael Jackson had such pride; he knew his gifts and he was profoundly proud of them and he used this pride to further his work on the stage and in front of the camera. I think that pride juxtaposed to the humiliations he had to endure affect keenly those of us who loved his pride. his unabashed grandiosity and his genius.

Report this

By lullachild, February 23, 2010 at 2:09 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I think the world is divided into two camps when it comes to Michael Jackson.  Or maybe three.  Those who followed his career after Thriller, those who didn’t and those who looked at everything he did after he died. I am in the third camp and if someone had not sent me a video of Billy Jean, live, after Michael Jackson’s death,  I would have completely agreed with Mr. Hedges whose writing is quite compelling.  If you know Michael Jackson’s work, though, beyond a couple of videos it is likely that you will fall into a kind of worshipful state, not because you are worshiping a celebrity but because the primitive centers of the brain, no doubt, equate genius with supernatural powers.  And why not?  A genius, by definition, is one who can do what others cannot. If others can’t do it then it is not natural and if it is not natural it is supernatural. We rationalists decide that by virtue of the word genius the gifts are now quite mundane.  Michael Jackson was not only a genius he was a genius who communicated, with a palpable passion, to all of us if we happened to be lucky enough to watch.  Go to Youtube and watch Billy Jean, The Man in the Mirror.  Watch Stranger in Moscow.  Watch Dance Break, watch Jam.  Watch Smooth Criminal, Live.  You will be able to take it from there.  The man was worthy of our adulation.  That we as a people crucified him is cause for our anguish.  For those of us who find his work of great value, for those of us who love him through his work, the pain of his murder keeps our mourning alive.  We are not mourning an icon; we are mourning a man we have come to know through his work, the way another generation might mourn, say Charlie Chaplin.  There is nothing wrong with a culture that mourns its chosen leaders.  There is plenty wrong with one that allows a man to be hunted down for over ten years and be defamed by the press for money. It was easier for the public to snicker about a celebrity who had been found innocent of pedophilia, than to face its fears and rage about fathers, brothers and uncles in its own back yard. That is why it was all such a good money maker. Now a true crime has been committed and a man has lost his life to grief and terror and brutalization. It is human nature to destroy our gods it is true.  We create cautionary tales to keep our individual spirit within the confines of the group’s rules of conformity.  I think those of us who mourn feel a special pain just because Michael Jackson had such pride; he knew his gifts and he was profoundly proud of them and he used this pride to further his work on the stage and in front of the camera. I think that pride juxtaposed to the humiliations he had to endure affect keenly those of us who loved his pride. his unabashed grandiosity and his genius.

Report this

By Patricia Boeglin, February 22, 2010 at 7:01 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I am more impressed by the responses supporting Michael Jackson than the article itself.  Missing from the article is the fact that MICHAEL JACKSON was a TARGET for RACISM by the RACIST WHITE MEDIA. They did not like the fact that this Iconic Afro-American King was being adored by the white female race and every other race on the planet.  DO NOT TRY TO UNDERMIND…. that RACISM is alive and well in America.  KISSES FOR MICHAEL JACKSON….  his heart was “genuine” and “pure”.... who said: “I WOULD SLIT MY WRISTS BEFORE I COULD HURT A CHILD”... I truly believe this to be true.

Report this

By neno, January 5, 2010 at 9:56 am Link to this comment

Very interesting. Unfortunately, Mr Chris Hedges is not much different from tabloid reporters. He criticizes this culture for using Jackson as a commodity, criticizes us for being obsessed with celebrities, yet he uses tabloid gossip about Michael Jackson to prove his point. Yes Michael Jackson had his mistakes, he wanted to be forever young, but he certainly didn’t want to be white. Has Mr Hedges even tried to see the autopsy results? He speaks about Jackson’s trials based on what? certainly not on what was really going on in that courtroom. Oh, I love social criticism, but not like this… this is just baseless judging. If you want to criticize society through Michael Jackson life, go investigate Thomas Sneddon, Diane Diamond, the Chandlers, the Arvizos, and you’ll find so much more to write about. Just one example: http://charlesthomsonjournalist.blogspot.com/2010/01/fbi-file-reveals-attempt-to-convict.html

Report this
Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, September 21, 2009 at 10:28 pm Link to this comment

I expect comments to be on the subject, not their vague value judgments of others sans content of their own.

Report this

By Loonesta, September 21, 2009 at 5:44 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’d expected something called TruthDig to be a little less crowded with
unsubstantiated speculation and vague value judgments…

Report this
Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, August 2, 2009 at 12:54 pm Link to this comment

Michael Jackson is a symbol and a symptom and ultimately suffered under what those in society want us to find important in our lives. And in so doing whitter away our time and energy and effort on such fruitless indevors while they rob us and keep us down.

He was made rich by it and some of his work was very good but look at how much time was wasted by the news networks on it? But then they got huge ratings for it too. So that is the answer and damn anything else that has a greater importance. It was ironic indeed that it was Fox News that didn’t carry much of that crap during Hannity, Beck, van Sustern and O’Reilly isn’t it?

Report this

By Tim, August 2, 2009 at 3:50 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I knew this sounded familiar. It’s how Chris Hedges opened up his speech at Powell’s Books in Portland, OR. Really good info and insight into our societies twisted way of following celebrities.

I just hope the kids Michael Jackson was taking care of (since they’re apparently not his) turn out ok.

Report this

By Stuart Resnick, July 29, 2009 at 5:00 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Perhaps sometimes it’s so difficult and painful to examine the tendencies of our own minds (e.g., dark voyeurism)... that we can only bear it at all by projecting it out as “the state of our society.” If so, OK, maybe it’s better than no examination at all.

Still, it may be worth remembering that we have far far more control over our own thinking and behavior than we do over others. And changes to ourselves may be a far far more efficient way to help the world, vs holding opinions about how other people (or “society” or “culture”) ought to be.

Report this

By Herrad, July 24, 2009 at 8:08 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hi Chris,

A friend posted me your piece about Michael Jackson, I really enjoyed reading.

I was nodding in agreement all the way7 through.

You have put into words exactly what I was thinking about the whole Celebrity Culture.

I hope you do not mind but I have copied and pasted it into my blog so my followers and other readers can read it too.

Really feel this is such a good article it needs to be widely read.

Hope you do not object, here is a link to my blog so you can see that I have placed the article with mention of your name and links to your website and the article.

http://accessdenied-livingwithms.blogspot.com/

Regards,
Herrad

Report this

By nyl casanova, July 21, 2009 at 3:03 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“The stories we like best are “real life” stories—early fame, wild success and then a long, bizarre and macabre emotional train wreck.”

Normally, it’s because writer like you tend to push it to the readers. Like in America where a person makes money writing autobiography, readers do buy their books to get inspirations from them? But mostly it’s out of curiosity.

At least MJ, makes his own biography, colorful but he still wants to share it to us.

And a person like you also makes money, writing critical article such as this. It’s good to be opinionated if you’re using facts, not just interesting words which can captivate your readers for your uplifting and more readers to come for your new book…

Nice try, Mr. Hedges

Report this

By Kija, July 20, 2009 at 12:24 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

That he doesn’t bother to do enough research about Jackson to know that his white skin was the result of a chronic disease and not some internalized racism driving him to bleach himself white indicates that this author like many others commodifies Jackson as well -not looking at the individual, but only at the pawn he can use to frame a debate.

Report this

By kq, July 20, 2009 at 10:38 am Link to this comment

I read this in the Chicago paper and it is the most brilliant piece of writing I have seen in a long time!  Much of what was said rings true in my view.

Our elevation to sainthood/cult status of talented individuals, and the media saturation which follows, is choking us. 

We each have unique talents which must be developed.  We must be able to do this in a society that does not value 1 person to the exclusion of all others.  Fame and fortune do not make the person whole, as we have seen.

Brilliant writing!  I’m sharing it with my friends.

Report this
Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, July 19, 2009 at 11:08 pm Link to this comment

Alice c

“Nothing is sacred any more. What are the values that we Americans hold to be self evident? I don’t think we know anymore.”

No, I guess you and Hedges and the frog in his pocket as we, don’t believe nothing is sacred any more and what are the values Alice c and Hedges and frog, as the only Americans hold to be self evident?  You and Hedges and froggy, don’t also think you know any more.

Hedges loose use of the word “we”, reminds me of the joke about Lone Range and Tonto!

Report this

By alice c, July 19, 2009 at 6:25 pm Link to this comment

Mr. Hedges is quite correct and Michael Jackson presents to us a clear example of the human as commodity.  He bought into and was defeated by his false sense of self that his handlers (all inclusive) seeded for his cultivation as a child-turned-adult entertainer. I especially thought it sick to have any of his children there at his memorial, and then to have the child speak!! As Mr. Hedges notes, the child, like her father, was used as a commodity. Nothing is sacred any more. What are the values that we Americans hold to be self evident? I don’t think we know anymore.

Report this

By lemang, July 19, 2009 at 4:29 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

the collective “we” always leave a lot to be desired. there is no doubt that the writer is a good writer but his analysis is utterly flawed. it seems you were watching and listening to all those who claimed to know michael jackson and by the end of the first week i knew that they wanted a piece of prime-time on TV. your analysis borders on much of the negative, you don’t mention his huge giving heart, and that he was a genius of a musician, something we cant take away from him. I liked and love Michael Jackson, and i am not American. his music was one that made me reach the skies, and i admired him for his eccentrics and the courage to dare to be different, and to refuse to fit into societal categories. when you write something, just spare us the dishonesty, do research especially on the idea that seems to float around that he didnt want to be black. you don’t even mention his autoimmune disease, vitiligo and lupus, the former contributing to the loss of melanin.

Report this

By laprofe63, July 19, 2009 at 4:15 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

@Virginia777: younger spirits indeed! I have been astounded by the sheer volume. They hear hope, and a message of love & peace. Michael did a version of ‘Come Together’ that the kiddies find much more invigorating than any Lennon version available on youtube.

Report this
Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, July 19, 2009 at 3:39 pm Link to this comment

Collective we has always seemed most annoying to my personal self, as me myself and I have stated in Hedges posts before, does Hedges have a frog in his pocket?

Report this
Virginia777's avatar

By Virginia777, July 19, 2009 at 2:25 pm Link to this comment

“The saturation coverage of Jackson’s death is an example of our collective flight into illusion. The obsession with the trivia of his life conceals the despair, meaninglessness and emptiness of our own lives.”

Whoa, Chris, who is this “we” you are referring to? I think there are quite a few “we’s” you are forgetting about in this article. Hedges is very far removed from younger spirits who found that Michael Jackson’s singing, dancing, and childlike attitude always lifted their spirits and (yes, perish the thought) gave them hope. 

He is also showing here that he has no appreciation for the African-American experience that gave birth to Jackson and his music, nor any clue as to why he can be seen as a role model by young people of color, in spite of his very public flaws.

Report this
Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, July 19, 2009 at 1:51 pm Link to this comment

I would have added to that ” intellectual artillery not just the news background sound but Madison Avenue marketing that has its own sound and it permeates the news until it is just “news.” You know something is wrong when a rag like the National Inquirer can break a legitimate news story over the so-called established sources! Where is Rod Serling?

Report this

By Rgyle, July 19, 2009 at 9:40 am Link to this comment

Caute’s Spengler excerpt from below is apt. This part bears repeating:

“Today we live so cowed under the bombardment of this intellectual artillery (the press) that hardly anyone can attain to the inward detachment that is required for a clear view of this monstrous drama. The will-to-power, operating under a pure democratic disguise, has accomplished its task so well that the object’s sense of freedom is actually flattered by the most thorough-going enslavement that has ever existed.”

Does anyone see how this applies to this very moment, on this blog? How we allow ourselves to be enslaved in a prison of mostly 2nd hand beliefs? When we believe, we accept the lie, and it is ours. Detached, we may find the shiny goldish bling chains not only unflattering, but quite hilarious.

Report this

By laprofe63, July 18, 2009 at 7:02 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I read today this same article, only reprinted in the Chicago Sun Times under the title ‘How the cult of celebrity destroys our souls.’

I’m teaching a sophomore seminar in the fall on Race in Popular Culture, and I’ll be sure to include it when we talk about the economic side of things. It’s especially good for getting the discussion going about people as products, marketing manipulation/creation, cultural consumption, etc.

I’m not sure how useful it will be to talk about race, since I find your analysis of that to be somewhat 2-dimensional. Without knowing of you previous to this, or ever having read anything by you before that I know of, I can tell that you are white, very white, and possibly quite old too.

Sorry to say, but that makes you pretty much irrelevant to the discussion. But don’t worry, your delusions, fantasies and quests are surely tied up in something, someone outside yourself to help you get through it…

Report this

By randomstu, July 18, 2009 at 6:34 pm Link to this comment

Mr Hedges must have spent many hours watching Michael Jackson stories on TV or other media. And spent still more time writing this story, exploring all the corners of Mr Jackson’s life and death.

He could have turned off the TV, read a book, taken a walk, whatever. Instead, he chose to focus on this dead celebrity. I don’t fault that; surely, it’s Mr Hedges right to spend his time and effort and attention as he pleases.

What I do fault him for is dishonesty. There’s nothing in the article to give the reader any hint as to why Mr Hedges sees so much importance in this particular dead celebrity. That is, he made the choice to watch all those Jackson stories and wrap his mind around them. Why not examine and explain his reasons for making this choice?

Not only does Mr Hedges give no clue as to why he followed this obsession with Jackson… he doesn’t even acknowledge that it was his own choice! Instead, he places all blame on “The moral nihilism of our culture”!

(We’re human beings, not sheep. Even if you see 2 or 3 or a million other people glued to the TV, it’s still entirely your own choice whether to do so yourself.)

Think about it. Mr Hedges spends 3 hours of his precious life watching a televised celebrity funeral service. If he feels this is not fruitful activity, then whose responsibility is it to hit the OFF switch on that TV? Does it make more sense for Mr Hedges to do so himself… or to wait for “our culture” to reach into his room and hit the switch for him?

The author avoids any examination of his reasons for obsessing about the King of Pop. What a perfect example of projection; what a stunning lack of introspection.

Stuart
http://stuart-randomthoughts.blogspot.com/

Report this

By pamrider, July 18, 2009 at 5:43 pm Link to this comment

I agree about Cronkite. On the day JFK was assassinated, I was a college intern at a community daily. I was the only person in the City Room to get an outside line. What else? Called Mom. The desk got the death news before the UPI bell alert because I passed along Mother’s words, “I’m so sorry. Walter Cronkite has tears in his eyes.”

We were lucky to have Cronkite as a media critic in his retirement.

I have to admit, though, I may have more affinity with the Michael Jackson grievers than I first thought. The world will change for me If I am still around when Leonard Cohen has written and sung his last.

Report this

By Inherit The Wind, July 18, 2009 at 5:23 pm Link to this comment

Yesterday, Walter Cronkite passed away.
Think about how HE affected and changed your life, as opposed to Michael Jackson.

When JFK was murdered, it was Walter Cronkite who kept us from panicking while allowing us to mourn.

When LBJ mired us in Viet Nam, it was Walter Cronkite who stepped in and said at best we could hope for a stalemate.  How many thousands of lives were saved by his pointing us toward ending that war?

In 1970, it was Walter Cronkite who brought the horror home of shooting our own college students, our Best and Brightest, for disagreeing with the Establishment.

In 1972, it was Walter Cronkite who hammered on the Watergate story, helping end prematurely the worst Presidency (until Reagan) of the 20th Century.

In 1977, it was Walter Cronkite screening alternately Anwar Sadat and Menachim Begin getting them to negotiate the peace between Israel and Egypt.

Michael Jackson was an entertainer, an entertainer whose music either annoyed or bored me.

If Walter Cronkite said a thing was true, it was true.  He changed lives and saved lives doing that.

Time to honor him.

Report this

By flowrchild, July 18, 2009 at 1:28 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Well put, Chris. Keep up the good work.

Report this

By flowrchild, July 18, 2009 at 1:28 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Well put, Chris. Keep up the good work.

Report this

By Caute, July 17, 2009 at 9:36 am Link to this comment

Amazing what Oswald Spengler had to say about it in 1919. Imagine if he watched TV today:

“English-American politics have created through the press a force-field of world-wide intellectual and financial tensions in which every individual unconsciously takes up the place allotted to him, so that he must think, will and act as a ruling personality somewhere or other in the distance thinks fit.
Man does not speak to man; the press and its associated, the electrical news-service, keep the waking consciousness of whole peoples and continents under a deafening drum-fire of theses, catchwords, standpoints, scenes, feelings, day by day and year by year, so that every Ego becomes a mere function of a monstrous intellectual Something.

Today we live so cowed under the bombardment of this intellectual artillery (the press) that hardly anyone can attain to the inward detachment that is required for a clear view of this monstrous drama. The will-to-power, operating under a pure democratic disguise, has accomplished its task so well that the object’s sense of freedom is actually flattered by the most thorough-going enslavement that has ever existed.
What is truth? For the multitude, that which it continually reads and hears. The public truth of the moment, which alone matters for effects and successes in the fact-world, is today a product of the press. What the Press Wills, is true. Its commands evoke, transform, interchange truths. Three weeks of press-work and the “truth” is acknowledged by everybody.
No tamer has his animals more under his power than the press. Unleash the people as reader-mass and it will storm through the streets and hurl itself upon the target indicated, terrifying and breaking windows; a hint from the press, and this mass will become quiet and go home.
A more appalling caricature of freedom of thought cannot be imagined.
Formerly a man did not dare to think freely. Now he dares, but cannot; his will to think is only a willingness to think to order, and this is what he feels as his liberty.”

Oswald Spengler

Report this

By Rgyle, July 16, 2009 at 4:59 pm Link to this comment

Night-Gaunt: Yes, I understand what you mean, that each of us develops something, many things, over the course of our lives. It can be fun, adventurous and all that. But just as we are born, these things are born, grow to a peak, then decline. The destiny is, eventually, decline for anything born. It’s like entropy. Even the sun and the universe are doomed. Yet, with applied intelligence, awareness, love, things can be maintained, perhaps even improved and decline can be avoided for a time.

I should have said that from birth we are “destined,” as mind/body organisms, to decline. And that in the meantime, there will be gains and losses. The rose appears as the bud disappears. This is the way it is for anything that exists.

It’s not so depressingly nihilistic, however, because what is never in decline is awareness, because it is not born of the organism, nor born at all, as so many “thing-based” folks might assume. Through all of the gain and loss, right up to death, one can grow in awareness of awareness, if there is interest in that. And life has many ways of eventually making us very interested. Like Chris Hedges’ writings, and everything else!

Everything is an entertainer, and a teacher. Life relaxes and explodes. Awareness does nothing but remain as it is while taking it all in. Have you noticed that?

Report this

By Rach, July 16, 2009 at 2:54 pm Link to this comment

On June 28, I posted my views on The idolization of Michael Jackson.

I wrote in that post: “Entertainment is an important aspect to human growth. It is important to our cultural evolution; but it has value only when that entertainment is of probity and represents good behavior. Entertainment is also an important divergence from the vicissitudes of life. However, when our lives become preoccupied by worshiping the Michael Jackson’s of our world, when we put more important issues that affect our well-being on a back burner, it, for me, becomes a very far-reaching and serious problem.”

That far-reaching and serious problem, seemingly insurmountable, is clearly expressed in this posting: The Man in the Mirror.

Chris Hedges writes: “The commercial exploitation of Michael Jackson’s death was orchestrated by the corporate forces that rendered him insane. He was infected by the moral nihilism and personal disintegration that are at the core of our corporate culture. He was a reflection of us in the extreme.”

A post by Deepak Chopra, A Tribute to My Friend, Michael Jackson, reveals the complexity that this issue or problem poses.

Michael Jackson’s friend Deepak Chopra writes: “Michael Jackson will be remembered, most likely, as a shattered icon, a pop genius who wound up a mutant of fame. That’s not who I will remember, however. His mixture of mystery, isolation, indulgence, overwhelming global fame, and personal loneliness was intimately known to me. For twenty years I observed every aspect, and as easy as it was to love Michael—and to want to protect him—his sudden death yesterday seemed almost fated.”

Chris Hedges and Deepak Chopra have both written provocative views that are different, but not contrary, and are good examples of the complexity inherent in this issue. It’s a very appropriate addendum to my view as expressed in The idolization of Michael Jackson.

In conclusion, this is another example where money is the root of the problem and its destruction its solution.
_______________________________________________________

A Tribute to My Friend, Michael Jackson: http://blog.beliefnet.com/intentchopra/2009/06/a-tribute-to-my-friend-michael.html

The idolization of Michael Jackson: http://horatio1937.blogspot.com/

Report this
Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, July 16, 2009 at 1:14 pm Link to this comment

How can we be “in decline” if we haven’t yet reached our peak yet? Theoretical peak. Most do not get to or know that they can peak at. Life is so haphazard it is a wonder we as a species accomplish as much as we do.

Report this

By jmr, July 16, 2009 at 1:11 pm Link to this comment

Jacksonitis, like Obamaphilia, is not a disease, but a manifestion of disease.

Report this

By Rgyle, July 16, 2009 at 9:25 am Link to this comment

Relative happiness, pleasure, comfort, security, freedom is just that – relative, and therefore not worth much nor for very long. Such is the way of entertainment. Boredom is the empty space between cravings temporarily satisfied. Boredom, when studied calmly and deeply, becomes quite interesting. Its space a portal to self awareness and the whole.

From the minute we are born, we are in decline. Be beyond what is born and dies.

Otherwise remain under the spell until it makes you care enough to go beyond.

Report this

By Caute, July 16, 2009 at 8:52 am Link to this comment

The Roman writer Lucretius says that we enjoy seeing people in a boat floundering in high seas. Not because we wish bad on them, but it does two things for us. It relieves boredom, the bane of Mankind, and it also makes our own situation look better. All spectacles seem to perform these functions for us.

Everyone can find someone worse off than themselves, but what does this then say about the whole?

‘Heaven and Earth are ruthless, and treat the myriad creatures as straw dogs.’

Lao-Tzu

Report this

By dihey, July 16, 2009 at 7:02 am Link to this comment

The new disease is known as Jacksonitis.

Report this

By Sylvia Barksdale, July 16, 2009 at 6:55 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hedges is right on so many of his observations concernig Michael Jackson. 

Not all people fit into his category of celebrity seeking and fame, however.  I am a many times published writer.  I am a writer of novels and if one should “hit”, I would remain totally anonymous.  As a person, I do not need attention from the world.  I am comfortable enough with myself to follow my innate talents,  be it writing, creating a painting, studying philosophy or digging in my garden soil.  Truth is found in simple things; thus on this particular topis, Mr. Hedges is not 100 percent correct.  As for television, if it isn’t a nature or history airing, I’m not interested.

I did admire Michael Jackson’s early performances and found him tolerable up until his “I’m Bad.”  It said too much about him that wasn’t entirely savory.

His death is sad but the hoopla that followered was unthinkable.  The whole country stool still but for the fanatism over Jackson.  Practically no news hit the airwaves and if it did, it was snippits following hours of speculation and the sensation of the Jackson death.

Hedges is right, most of the youth of America fits snugly into his pattern.  The evolution of man did not have to take this route.  The fault lies completely with the parents and grandparents.  America began to get soft following WW2 and the important aspects of life were all but forgotten.  TV and the easy chair and throwing money at the kids is what led us to this point.  It is not too late to reverse the trend of human decay.  It all rests with education.

Report this

By cacella, July 16, 2009 at 6:03 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

knickerfelves..was that it?
Hedges is wrong to compare todays woes with those of the Great Depession? I disagree. I think you´re being somewhat naiive if you think the Great Depression is somehow going to be considered in league with the possible downfall of human kind (which I think is the crisis Hedges is referring to)and which is the most likely outcome of our flawed ways. And if you think i´m being a little over the top, perhaps you ought to do a bit of research yourself. The information is all around if you open your eyes to look.

Report this

By jmr, July 16, 2009 at 12:11 am Link to this comment

Celebrity culture?  Well, not quite.

Two other words:  media, academia.

Media: a monolith which exists for the purpose of delivering brains and apetites, ready for manipulation and exploitation, to its clients.

Academia: in which minds are conditioned to deconstruct everything, including values, leaving nothing to consciousness but nihilism and narcissism.

Ronald Reagan, that consumate huckster, smugly announced that Orwell’s 1984 was not our 1984.  He was only right about the timing.  Orwell’s 1984 had arrived decades before, when television invaded our personal spaces, to co-opt and seduce our families, our causes and our culture.

Television, and now its cognate the World Wide Web, have empowered the lowest common denominator: our culture has become the apotheosis of mediocrity, and individuals mere nodes.

Nietzsche said it best:  “What?  You seek something?  You wish to multiply yourself tenfold, a hundredfold?  You seek followers?  Seek zeros!”

Report this
Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, July 15, 2009 at 9:46 pm Link to this comment

I think you are referring to the Noosphere as coined by the Jesuit archeologist Tellihard de Chardian (1881-1955) who believed, like Nietzsche that humanity is unfinished and can still evolve to its fullest potential. The Noosphere is the field of mental energy generated by intelligent beings around their worlds that have a group sentience yet is also an enhanced individuality within each of its units. He was suppressed during his life time by the Catholic church. [de Chardain believed in God inspired orthogenisis or directed evolution to a telological conclusion or creation of a teleost or final ultimate higher creation.] Definitely not how evolution is viewed by most biologists and myself. The idea of a Noosphere can fit within the realm of some of the ideas of quantum physics.

However we can still reach our utmost realization of our own best characteristics though, if we survive our baser more destructive instincts.

Report this

By Deyanira, July 15, 2009 at 6:18 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Good stuff. This man is after my heart.

Report this

By Caute, July 15, 2009 at 4:22 pm Link to this comment

Rgyle: Hans Vaihinger has a book called ‘The Philosophy of As If’ (hard to find today). We must act as if we are not identical, in essence, to the zucchinis, that we are not doing the exact same thing they are. We must act as if garden flowers are prettily colored for our benefit, rather than the reality that their color helps them replicate by attracting the attention of insects and birds.

‘Nothing is dearer to the heart than illusion,’ said the Poet.

It is shocking to note that only a tiny fraction of the data from the senses reaches consciousness. Decisions are made below our level of awareness and our conscious mind, the PR department, comes up with a ‘reason’ for the decision later.

In the human, as a rule, intellect only facilitates DNA replication, however, it seems that in certain humans, prototypes if you will, possibly of a new, emerging species, the intellect has become so powerful that it has loosed itself from the business of breeding and is able to bring the world into objective view. This new ‘super mind’ may already be poking its nose into hitherto unknown realities.

Let’s hope so!

Report this

By kickerofelves, July 15, 2009 at 4:08 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hedges wrote: “as we barrel toward a crisis that will create more misery than the Great Depression,”

What we are going through now or in the foreseeable future is nothing like the desperation of the Great Depression. Pity history is such an alien concept to Mr Hedges, he has some good points but he loses credibility because of his gross misstatement above.

While he may be excused since he is neither a historian or an economist one would think he’d spend five minutes researching the Great Depression before making silly statements like that above.

Report this

By Rgyle, July 15, 2009 at 3:34 pm Link to this comment

Caute: I like it. Or even an imaginary bearded grandfather sunflower in the clouds.

I heard it said once (by Ramesh Balsekar) that life allows humans to behave “as if” we have individual free will. Hey, I’m not the controller of the universe so “as if” works for me - easier to witness without personal entanglement.

Love the Plato quote. Hope for the man in the mental mirror.

Report this

By Kurgan, July 15, 2009 at 3:23 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Wow!

Another self-indulgent pseudo-philosophical rant from the ever-crazier Chris Hedges.

For Hedges to assume that MJ’s coverage was simply another sign of media’s corruption, is beyond false.

MJ wasn’t Paris Hilton. He wasn’t some talentless nobody who is famous for being famous. Jackson got world famous for possessing genuine and incredible talents.

Nor was it simply his musical talents that caused fans to love him. He was a major humanitarian who gave, and who truly loved all people. People connected to him on a human level because they saw a gentle soul.

Before Hedges and others start blaming “corporate” media and America’s “nihilistic celebrity culture”, maybe he should ask himself how come Jackson was also   famous (arguable more than he was here in the US) all around the world: Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, and the Middle East. Are people there also under the influence of a nihilistic, celebrity-obsessed (etc…) media culture?

If Hedges does not like MJ, then fine. If he believes that his death got too much coverage, then fine too. But to belittle a man so beloved by millions around the world, and use him (as he accuses the media of doing) to spew his usual Apocalyptic “woe-is-us” gibberish, is both low and contemptable.

Report this

By Frantisek Rezac, July 15, 2009 at 3:19 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Dear Chris Hedges,

please do not use “we” when writing what “we” allegedly think about Jackson. I would like to point out that I do not consider myself included in your “we”. The death of Michael Jackson leaves me absolutely indifferent.

On the other hand, I am moved by the premature death of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

I just wanted to set the record straight,

Thank you

Frantisek Rezac, Czech Republic

Report this

By Caute, July 15, 2009 at 2:55 pm Link to this comment

Rgyle: You are correct. The illusion of ‘free will’ seems to be an evolutionary development to keep the DNA storage units (humans) replicating. ‘Hope is dreaming while awake,’ Plato says. Storage units that cannot fool themselves would have died out. We can imagine that if a zucchini suddenly attained to a limited self consciousness, it would consider itself paramount in its garden world and be very proud of the replication units sprouting from its base and speak of them all the time to neighboring zucchinis. It may look to a nearby, towering sunflower as its Creator.

Report this

By Bill473, July 15, 2009 at 11:43 am Link to this comment

Too many questions remain, and, they haven’t buried him yet. I don’t think he’s dead.

Report this

By KDelphi, July 15, 2009 at 11:20 am Link to this comment

I keep trying to give a shit about this, but I cant work up the enthusiasm….one thing that did strike me as “strange” (??!!) and annoying, was, when I turned the tv on for a minute, to, maybe hear, some muzac (thats what it was, esp in later days), there was Rep Jackson Lee, with all the Af-Pak, health care, Great Depression shit going on, saying that she wanted a House Resolution honoring Michael Jackson.

Sigh.

Its not really what WAS “over-covered”..I just turn it off. It is what was NOT covered, due to the “coverage”...does that make sense??

I found it irritating to turn on, almost any “news” and hear morbid details of Jackson’s death. I foun d it infuriating that they would only “break” from coverage to announce war deaths….

Report this

By ruhullaha, July 15, 2009 at 11:19 am Link to this comment

The diversion from scarring reality into an illusionary abyss where societal and self-degenerative collective behavior live in a vat of recurrent denial was brilliantly documented in a novel titled, “The Inability to Mourn.”  This book written by Doctors’ Alexander and Murgarete Mitscherlick is a illuminating read.

This book which dissects the collective behaviors of the citizens of Nazi Germany reflects many of the behaviors shone in American society today.  Chris Hedges’ insightful article profiles what too few Americans can see.  Thank you Chris and keep up the good work.

Sincerely,

Ruhullah

Report this

By ruhullaha, July 15, 2009 at 11:13 am Link to this comment

The diversion from scarring reality into an illusionary abyss where societal and self-degenerative collective behavior live in a vat of recurrent denial was brilliantly documented in a novel titled, “The Inability to Mourn.”  This book written by Doctors’ Alexander and Murgarete Mitscherlick is a illuminating read.

The book, “The Inability to Mourn” skillfully dissected the collective behaviors of the citizen of Nazi Germany reflecting now many of the behaviors shone in American society today.  Chris Hedges’s insightful article profiles what too few Americans have the ability to accept. Denial is not a healing force, nor is it progressive.  Thank you Chris and keep up the good work.

Sincerely,

Ruhullaha

Report this

By jsper, July 15, 2009 at 10:42 am Link to this comment

UNITED SUCKERS OF AMERICA!
There are still people commenting on this blog about the importance of the entertainer, Michael Jackson. Yes he was good. Has nothing to do with the point that Chris Hedges is making!
Does the main-stream-media ever comment on what’s being taught in schools? No. Are children, or for that matter adults encouraged to challenge the status quo? No.
Anyone who asks questions in this american society is immediately labelled ‘negative’ and everyone goes apeshit!
Why aren’t we suckers whose retirement funds are in the toilet, and our children’s educational funds dominished, screaming the odds.. Taking to the streets and demanding jail time for the bastards who put us in this position? Where’s the accoutability? They put little guys selling drugs on the street in jail yet the really big criminals on Wall St get away with murder!
I dont get it.
Lets build our communities, not based on what they tell us to think, but on love, laughter and compassion. Lets have fun, and for Christ’s sake, turn off your TV’s!!

Report this

By Bill473, July 15, 2009 at 10:41 am Link to this comment

Is Michael Jackson really dead? I don’t think so.

Reasoning is here:
http://www.christiankeys.ca/#misl_highlights

Report this
politicky's avatar

By politicky, July 15, 2009 at 10:34 am Link to this comment

The media, or the movers and shakers behind the media don’t encourage people to purchase supplies and services to pamper themselves?

I watched a three year old point like a zombie at the television and drool, “I..want…it..” 

I immediately turned the TV off took the child outside to play and.

Most harried childcare providers can’t afford to do that.

How many women are forced to work just to help pay the rent, usually to a profit taking management agency? 

I submit that capitalism has been making it’s own laws and rules for so long that the idea of a “representative democracy” is a joke.  The idea of having any real control over raising intelligent, well fed, thoughtful children is lost.

Just like Michael Jackson’s childhood was lost to him.

What do you know about anything I have mentioned Mr. Hedges.

Effin’ nothin’ buddy.

Report this

By Rgyle, July 15, 2009 at 9:48 am Link to this comment

Gotta love Hedges. He’s scaring us sane.

Caute: Good comments. But there’s more to it. There is no free will that is being abused by humanity, us little gods that have, in fact, created and continue to create this living hell of modern life. Some are at the end of their wretched rope, exactly where the so-called free will opportunism must lead all of us one day, the sooner the better. Then, and only then, can one fully wake up, and see the horrifically beautiful joke, the illusion of free will egoism, and find the truth, just beyond mind, language, concepts and beliefs.

Mother Teresa said: “O God, I pray that you break my heart so wide open that the whole world falls in.”

End of rope, heartbreak, surrender, here we come!

Report this

By Caute, July 15, 2009 at 5:52 am Link to this comment

Bravo Chris Hedges! My God, a real journalist.

‘This world is the battleground of tormented, agonized beings who devour each other for survival,’ Schopenhauer tells us.

Life swings like a pendulum between strife and boredom. ‘Busyness’ and distraction are the only remedies outside Death. One must choose between delusion or an unbearable reality, a reality that seems to show we are mere suitcases for replicating DNA.

‘If a God had made this world, I should not like to be that God. The misery in the world would break my heart.’

Report this

By Kesey Seven, July 14, 2009 at 10:17 pm Link to this comment

As I read this article I can’t help but think of a special on NPR during the early stages of the Iraq occupation. US intelligence forces were saying they wanted to set up the equivalent of Who Wants To Be a Millionaire in Iraq. These, if I recall correctly, where Psychological Operations forces, people in charge of mind fornicating the enemy. 

Their rational was simple:  People caught up in a fantasy world care much less about politics.  It didn’t work in Iraq.

But it has worked splendidly in the United States, not just with the show but with the constant stream of celebrity gossip injected in our brains. 

Spears, Jackson, Simpson, Hilton—we can look at them all and make snide comments, feel morally superior, while at the same time turning a blind eye to the fact that our government and corporations have saturated the globe with weapons for the last fifty years and caused the death of millions upon millions of people.  And is still doing it.  And not a single word in the press about how many land mines, rocket-propelled-grenades, surface-to-air missiles, tanks, attack helicopters, grenades, fighter jets that are sold by America and its corporate allies every year—even when those weapons are used to kill American citizens and soldiers. 

Take a look around the next time you’re in the supermarket checkout line.  What do you see?  Garbage, garbage, garbage about celebrities and TV shows.

And don’t get me wrong. I love the trash as much as anyone else. Hell, I produce it when given the chance. I once had a friend who toured as a saxophone player with the legendary Burning Spear. He was able to catch a glimpse of Michael Jackson after a show. He said, with Michael drenched with sweat and his makeup washed away, you could see where the hunks of bone had been chiseled out of his chin, cheeks, and nose.  He was grotesque.  I love that story as much as I love a good trashy movie. 

But an anecdote from an old friend or a trashy movie does not take up space in newspapers or the evening news.  What we’re seeing more and more of is celebrity gossip replacing news. It’s classic mind fornication and we’re falling for it over and over again as our country careens down an path of global destruction. Take a look at Iraq. Take a look at New Orleans. Take a look at Michael Jackson’s face. Take a look at your checking account. What a thriller. You can’t beat it.

Report this

By Inherit The Wind, July 14, 2009 at 7:13 pm Link to this comment

Whoops! Wrong thread—this was for Kleagle Sessions attacking SotoMayor.

Report this

By Inherit The Wind, July 14, 2009 at 7:11 pm Link to this comment

If we are going to play with secession, again, then let any red state or state that gets more back than $1. for ever dollar its citizens pay in taxes.  So….Goodbye ‘Bama! Hello, New York! Goodbye Mississippi! Hello New Jersey!  Welcome back to sanity, Virginia and North Carolina!

Report this

By akula1, July 14, 2009 at 4:25 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I think this article is spot on… while some of the details surrounding the life of M.J will always be subject to debate and controversy, the point is to illustrate how utterly bankrupt we have become as a society, morally, spiritually and now financially.

M.J is not an isolated case… just look at the number of celebrities and “power” CEO’s that have lived the same narrative. Look at Heath Ledger, why, exactly was he taking six different powerful prescription sleeping pills? Look at Elvis and the drug related circumstances of his death. CEO’s that were richer beyond anyone’s wildest dreams and yet it still wasn’t enough and they had to keep trying to fill the emptiness inside until they too self-destructed.

While the exact circumstances of the lives of a celebrity like heath ledger and michael jackson are of course different, our society ultimately did the same thing to them…. drained them of all their humanity, used them until there was nothing left. It’s the same thing that is happening to all of us day in and day out, only on a more accelerated timeline. But, nevermind me. Gotta get back to work now!

Report this

By liecatcher, July 14, 2009 at 3:30 pm Link to this comment

To: totaleclipse, July 14 at 1:42 pm

Hey totaleclipse:

I’ve been there, done that & feel your pain & frustration knowing that not only were

you prevented from doing your job, but that countless generations are being

sacrificed to provided fodder for the FASCIST wars.

I “taught” health education , K-12 in Yonkers,N.Y. in the early 70’s for 6 yrs.

I was the only teacher for the entire system. It was a ghetto area & dangerous

to work there.. However, the most frustrating thing was not being about to

overcome the brainwashing foisted on the public by MIPIC -MEDICAL

INSURANCE PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX. I’ll just give

two examples:after doing my unit on the consequences of smoking, some

children went home & confronted their parents about it. The parents

complained to the principal that I was frightening their kids.

My dental health message was that with proper oral hygiene, drilling,

filling & billing would be unnecessary. That didn’t go too well either &

I finally gave up.

Today a gigantic fraud / hoax is being perpetrated on America with the

so-called “health care” bill. First of all, we can be sure that like the

tobacco bill written by Philip Morris, this bill will be craftef by MIPIC

& White House log will still be kept secret.

The reason the bill is a hoax is because it has nothing to do with health.

It is more of the same old symtom management system. Google

the leading causes of death in the U.S. & you will find that MIPIC

is killing more people than heart disease, & cancer. These IATROGENIC

deaths include both in & out of hospitals. But here is the real kicker. Heart

disease is not a disease, but a lifestyle that causes physiological

changes in the body in response to the trauma inflicted on it.

Most people know the consequences of thumb sucking on the

teeth, & many know that eating grease cloggs the blood vessels.

But why worry, there are drugs advertised 24/7 that will control this

condition. So eat drink & be merry until your first bypass.

Cancer is the rapid uncontrolled abnormal cell growth that takes place

in the body when cells die from exposure to carcinogens such as x-rays

& tobacco. It turns out that mammograms are self-fullfilling prophesies.

Other new high powered diagnostic x-ray procedures are even more

dangerous since the damage done is cumulative, like over exposure to the

sun. Health can’t be purchased in a bottle or a building, it takes a lifestyle

which includes proper diet in moderation, exercise, & rest.

Report this

By illusionishuman, July 14, 2009 at 3:16 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Yes, celebrity can be dehumanizing and debauched, but the author fails to account for any personal responsibility or decision-making power in Jackson himself. The assumption that he was a victim is pretty one-sided. Jackson was on top of the world at certain points in his career and strove to remain number one. Once you’re on top, however, the only way is down. In many ways, he seemed to be more like a Greek tragedy (or Willy Loman) constantly trying to reclaim that position of supreme personal power and ability, but was never quite able to return.

Report this

By liecatcher, July 14, 2009 at 2:38 pm Link to this comment

To: Spiritgirl, July 14 at 5:02 pm

Thanks !!!

I stand enlightened.

liecatcher

Report this

By Spiritgirl, July 14, 2009 at 2:02 pm Link to this comment

To: liecatcher

Would changing the word unwilling to unable in any
alter the essence of your message?

You wanted an answer so let me try to the best of my ability.  I used unwilling vs unable because I do believe that we each make choices everyday.  Some choices we make are because we don’t have all of the information.  Others are made because we are unwilling to face the ugly truth or because we don’t see a way out of a particular situation.  I believe MJ couldn’t see a way out of his particular situation, and in the end it broke his heart and led to his death.  The state of our nation, the lies, the mendacity, the avarice, the hypocrisy that bombard us daily need to be challenged with the light of truth everyday by all of us.  Unable would mean that we as individuals do not have choices.  It means that we do not have the ability to face our demons both individually and as a society and beat them down.  Unable is to take away our rights, and while the oligarchy is trying hard, we still have a constitution.  So unwilling really is the word because - we have to face the fear and be willing to change it with the truth!

Report this

By liecatcher, July 14, 2009 at 10:58 am Link to this comment

With such an outpouring of responses to:THE MAN IN THE MIRROR,
I’m offering two expressions of grief without commercialism.

Not too long ago a mother whose son was killed in Iraq took up residence in Crawford, Texas & tried to get something from

GWB that would ease the pain of the sensless death.

Following the loss of his son in WW 1, a father, Rudyard Kipling, wrote:

“The Gods of the Copybook Headings”  which was published in October 1919 .

I believe Kipling’s message is even more relevant today and the stakes are much
higher with perpetual wars,  populations being deceived, bankrupted, sacrificed, & in the throes of enslavement.:

As I pass through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place;
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “Stick to the Devil you know.”

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “The Wages of Sin is Death.”

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four—
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.
    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man—
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began:—
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will bum,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

Report this
Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, July 14, 2009 at 10:54 am Link to this comment

“Since I first learned of Jackson’s demise, I’ve been paraphrasing Tommy Lee Jones remark about Elvis from MIB when Will Smith says to him that Elvis is dead.  “Michael Jackson’s not dead, he’s just gone home.” I just wonder what planet he was from, so I can avoid it if space travel becomes common.”Psickmind fraud

From MIB II he was shown to be an agent (part time) and maybe just an alien too. The difference between Michael Jackson and the rest of us who are much like him in the personality area was his musical and dancing skills along with his fame. How would he have been if he was an ‘ordinary’ person? A forgettable crank or “weird” or “strange” person who would be either alienated totally or immersed in one of the fandoms where dress-up hides a multitude of personality and emotional deficits. His emotional intelligence problems and his need to keep the child inside outside might have put him in daycare or some other area where he felt most comfortable than with adults. If he was female he wouldn’t have had quite so much trouble.

A sad state of affairs. But then who among us can handle such fame, power and wealth without being warped by it? Not many I would say including myself. The best we can do is live and learn from others. It is the only way to survive.

Report this

By totaleclipse, July 14, 2009 at 10:42 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Having just read the report America the Illiterate, wanting very much to respond but thinking oh, it’s last November, and then decided to post it on this week’s report.

Spiritgirl opened the door for my post in stating, “What I do understand is that there has been a hostile takeover of America by the corporate oligarchy that has pushed a dumbing down of America.”

I’m a kindergarten teacher in the New York City Public School System. Teachers in the majority of the nyc schools are forced, yes, forced under penalty of letters in the file and reassignment most likely leading to termination, to use the workshop model. This usually includes the Readers and Writers Workshop format. Imagine 4 year olds are forced to read silently for 15-20 minutes as part of this model. The children are not allowed to ask questions during the mini-lesson, the “teaching” component of this workshop model. Every step in the mini-lesson is assigned a specific number of minutes for it’s duration . The school day has been corporatized!

The important aspect of all of this is not to educate, not to foster critical thinking skills. The children have no playtime, the entire day is spent like little work horses.

No one breathes a word of it in the media. Remember your kindergarten? It’s a whole different ball park now.

Report this
Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, July 14, 2009 at 9:55 am Link to this comment

I hope I am the last on my block to have a Michele Jackson ring tone, I am waiting for everyone else first!

Report this

By psickmind fraud, July 14, 2009 at 9:42 am Link to this comment

Since I first learned of Jackson’s demise, I’ve been paraphrasing Tommy Lee Jones remark about Elvis from MIB when Will Smith says to him that Elvis is dead.  “Michael Jackson’s not dead, he’s just gone home.” I just wonder what planet he was from, so I can avoid it if space travel becomes common.

Report this

By flow, July 14, 2009 at 9:36 am Link to this comment

”...We are all just prisoners here of our own device…” to quote the Eagles again.

Report this

By flow, July 14, 2009 at 9:21 am Link to this comment

Are we slaves to the oligarchs? Where are the shackles and irons?

“...We are all just prisoners here of our device…” to quote the Eagles again.

What we are suffering from is entrainment.  Free your mind and your ass will follow. There is no oblation or libation like liberation.

Mr Hedges, would the truth of your cultural critique and condemnation of the cult of celebrity still apply if you replace Michael Jackson with Paul Newman in the above article?

Report this

By Alwaxman, July 14, 2009 at 8:42 am Link to this comment

Hi Chris - I sent this piece to my brother Chuma, who lives in Canada, and this is what he came back with. Give it some thought.

—-

“Yes an interesting tirade indeed.  But I am tired of tirades though.  A lot of what he said rings true but it is not a balanced piece and he states as facts things that he cannot know for sure.  He makes several unsupported statements of causality and sweeping generalizations, masked by his tone of outrage and linguistic sleight of hand.

What about the impact of Micheal’s art?  What about the pressure of being thrust into stardom at an impossibly young age?  What about the argument of opportunistic parents who risked their children to exploit an obviously tortured soul? What about the reality of racial inequality in America?

He said a lot, but he left out a lot, as a result he loses credibility with readers like me who are not readily swayed by another angry restatement of the ills of America but are hungry for hope and solutions.

In the crowded cathedral of self-appointed moral ambassadors, his message is perfect for the choir but irrelevant, even alienating to the unconverted.

-Chuma
_____________________________________________________________ I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him. Ec 3:14”

Report this

By Kay Johnson, July 14, 2009 at 8:36 am Link to this comment

More than likely, someone on this site has already mentioned the BBC 4-part documentary, The Century of the Self, but if you haven’t seen the film, it is worth the time, and is available on Google Video.

Weaving together the history of public relations in the United States, with politics and corporations, adding the subversive influence of Edward Bernays, the nephew of Sigmund Freud, the story unfolds in much the same way that—

Spiritgirl describes in her post:

“What I do understand is that there has been a hostile takeover of America by the corporate oligarchy that has pushed a dumbing down of America, that has pushed a me me me first culture, that has pushed massive consumerism as the cure-all, that has pushed money over people at whatever cost, that has allowed Americans to delude themselves with “things” even as the “corporate oligarchy” is robbing the rest of us blind!”

The documentary takes a look at politics, psychology and psychologists, corporations and profits, and how the invisible hand of these experts, who do not have our best interests at heart, continue to dominate our lives. It is money and profits above all else.

In 1927, a journalist wrote, “A change has come over our democracy. It is called consumptionism. The American citizen’s first importance to his country is now no longer that of citizen but that of consumer.”

Report this

By Ike, July 14, 2009 at 8:36 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I sent this piece to my brother Chuma, who lives in Canada and this is what he came back with.

—-

Yes an interesting tirade indeed.  But I am tired of tirades though.  A lot of what he said rings true but it is not a balanced piece and he states as facts things that he cannot know for sure.  He makes several unsupported statements of causality and sweeping generalizations, masked by his tone of outrage and linguistic sleight of hand.

What about the impact of Michael’s art?  What about the pressure of being thrust into stardom at an impossibly young age?  What about the argument of opportunistic parents who risked their children to exploit an obviously tortured soul? What about the reality of racial inequality in America?

He said a lot, but he left out a lot, as a result he loses credibility with readers like me who are not readily swayed by another angry restatement of the ills of America but are hungry for hope and solutions.

In the crowded cathedral of self-appointed moral ambassadors, his message is perfect for the choir but irrelevant, even alienating to the unconverted.

-Chuma
_____________________________________________________________ I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him. Ec 3:14

Report this
thebeerdoctor's avatar

By thebeerdoctor, July 14, 2009 at 8:23 am Link to this comment

Chris Hedges write: “He transformed himself through surgery and perhaps female hormones from a brown-skinned African-American male to a chalf-faced androgynous ghoul with no clear sexual identity.”
Is this the great writing that fans of Hedges praise? First off, the “through surgery and perhaps female hormones”... what is that “perhaps”? Tell me some gossipy speculation that I don’t know. Then there is “chalk-faced androgynous ghoul with no clear sexual identity”... why does he have to have a clear sexual identity? To meet the Rev. Hedges litmus test? Never mind that he is slinging mud at a corpse; a practice deemed reprehensible when right wing bullfruit (as the late Dr, Thompson called them) engage in it, but seems to be given a pass because it is the utterance of the morally virtuous Hedges.
Using the demise of Michael Jackson (that is the one gloved One, not the great writer on beer, The Beer Hunter, who died a few years ago) as a vehicle to market your own racket of doom, is a cheap shot, to say the least.

Report this
Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, July 14, 2009 at 7:53 am Link to this comment

Is it possible Hedges family and fan club wait with bated breath for his articles to appear, so they can say how great they are?

Also, can one say it is the same mental lack of reason which fosters religion, also makes people fawn over something like Jackson and ignore real life and reason, actually the whole Jackson thing seems very much like relgion?

It seems the individual or people who can think for themselves are lacking in numbers, so while we have this Twilight Zone media coverage of a passing of one person like it means something in our lives, the war goes on, health care is not happening, the economy is sucking wind, programed ignorance plays an important part in this whole scheme of things.

MSM Focus’s on created fluff, while reality is ignored, so Texas has a new head of education who is a creationist is not so important, steering a course and fulfilling the need to continue institutionalized stupity, now that is important!

Report this

By epbowman, July 14, 2009 at 7:02 am Link to this comment

Chris—

So many “serious people” such as yourself have written Jackson off as just another pop star. But, I think he was far from the run-of-the-mill sex, drugs, and rock and roll celebrity.

As a child, Jackson was extremely sensitive; his sensitivity put him in touch with powerful emotions from an early age. Because of his many talents, he was able to express these emotions in a way that really touched people deeply. But being a channel for that kind of powerful emotion can really take its toll. And it did.

In addition, he was painfully shy and really did not know how to interact with people in a relaxed and normal way. Since he was mobbed by fans whenever he went out, normal social interaction was almost impossible.

Imagine, if you will, being a child star for whom maturity might be the end of the line. Imagine, getting over that hurdle and reaching maturity, you discover, just on the brink of an amazing career as an adult entertainer, that you have a skin disease that is going to make you look like a spotted pup. The famous white glove covered a hand going white. That is making lemonade out of lemons. But what to do when the disease is spreading over your entire body? The only way to achieve uniform color was to go white—an eerie white at that. So, what do you do? If you are Michael Jackson, you use it as part of your performance art, a la Marcel Marceau. To add to your problems, you develop lupus.

Jackson took these misfortunes and made them a part of his persona, and it worked. He was truly a great entertainer because he gave so much of himself in his performances. In addition, he was extremely generous with his money, giving to a multitude of charities. In his later years, he turned to writing songs about healing the world. His Earth Song video is a powerful emotional appeal to people to stop trashing the planet and each other.

As to the child molestation charges, which you enumerate as if they were facts, it appears from the evidence, that they were groundless, part of a vendetta on the part of certain people who were jealous or who just couldn’t stand who he was. He was the victim of all sorts of hate—racism and misogyny and homophobia, all rolled into one ugly ball of contempt and hostility by a society so warped sexually that it projects its sickness onto anyone who is not “normal.”

I think the worst that can be said about Michael Jackson is that he was extremely naive—and overly sensitive. But without sensitivity, no art. As to the drugs, he was a fragile guy who I think tried his best to make the world a better place and was betrayed by everyone around him—especially the doctors who were supposed to help him. He was taking drugs for pain and insomnia—not to get high.  But, once addicted, it’s a fast trip downhill. And, he didn’t seem to have the will or the ability to fight the addiction.

His career would have been longer if he had not been destroyed first by the charges, then by a media who desperately wanted the charges to be true—and ran ridiculously misleading headlines, which most people never read beyond.

As to your comments deriding those who would rather watch MJ coverage than the more serious “news,” I just can’t watch it anymore. I am so tired of watching the world going to hell in front of my eyes to the accompaniment of cheery, chirpy newsreaders—or pundits whose main activity seems to be playing gotcha. It is “disaster capitalism” at its worst. Of course the negative coverage of MJ is that as well.

In losing Michael Jackson, which actually happened years ago, we lost a powerful force for good in the world. But maybe his later work will live after him and help inspire people to work for peace and a healthy planet.

Report this

By liecatcher, July 14, 2009 at 4:03 am Link to this comment

TO prole:

By prole, July 14 at 5:17 am

Hey prole:

Thanks for the retrospective, you proved that the whole can be much more than the sum of its parts.

However, you missed a few of the most important.

. Mayer Amschel Rothschild (1743-1812) was born in Frankfurt-on-the-Main in Germany, the son of Moses Amschel Bauer, a banker and goldsmith. Their name was derived from the ‘red shield’ (‘rotschildt’) that hung over the door of their shop, and had been the emblem of revolutionary Jews in Eastern Europe.( by David Allen Rivera http://www.viewfromthewall.com), and

Goldman Sachs was founded in 1869 by German Jewish immigrant Marcus Goldman. In 1882, Goldman’s son-in-law Samuel Sachs .(Wikipedia)

It’s doubtful that Obama will write a poem about being controlled by the Jews or start bleaching his skin. After all, he’s just following orders

like his FASCIST predatory predecessors.

Report this

By Stiltru, July 14, 2009 at 2:51 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr. Hedges has great talent for exposing the horrors of capitalism without ever touching upon the inconveniently unique solution: international proletarian communism.  There simply is no known humanitarian alternative, and he is surely aware of this.  I suppose his silence is necessary to remain syndicated in the capitalist world, but it would be wrong to let him pose as a people’s hero when in fact he is an obscurantist coward.

Report this
prole's avatar

By prole, July 14, 2009 at 2:17 am Link to this comment

So, first Phil Spector, then Allen Klein and now Michael Jackson. Three of the most reviled figures in the sordid pop music business wiped away in the same year - and it’s only July. Will the cleansing of the music moral scum continue? “Jackson, robbed of his childhood and surrounded by vultures that preyed on his fears and weaknesses…became a commodity, a product, one to be sold, used and manipulated”...and not surprisingly, despite all his well-publicized character defects, he was probably to some extent, aware of this himself. Jackson referred to some of the “vultures” that preyed upon him, as they do so many others, in a song from his ‘95 HIStory album titled ‘They Don’t Care About Us’ which contained the pungent lyrics, ‘Jew me, sue me, everybody do me/Kick me, kike me, don’t you black or white me.’ Jackson was even more explicit in venting his rage on those he felt made him a “commodity, a product, one to be sold, used and manipulated.” in an ‘03 voicemail to his then adviser Dieter Wiesner (but only disclosed two years later during a lawsuit) when Jackson exclaimeded : “They suck—they’re like leeches. I’m so tired of it. I start out the most popular person in the world, make a lot of money, cars, and everything, and end up penniless. It’s a conspiracy. The Jews do it on purpose.”  Jackson’s fawning fans may have been under an “illusion” but apparently he himself wasn’t entirely. “The fame of celebrities masks the identities of those who possess true power.” And just like the Rubin’s and Summer’s and Greenspan’s and Bernanke’s have controlled the economy and caused it to “barrel toward a crisis that will create more misery than the Great Depression”, so too “we are controlled, manipulated and distracted by the celluloid shadows” produced by their tribal kin in the entertainment racket. “Oligarchic elite” such as Sumner Redstone CEO of Viacom, Michael Eisner, Chairman and CEO of Walt Disney, Edgar Bronfman, Sr., Chairman of Seagram Ltd., Edgar Bronfman, Jr, head of Universal Studios, Peter Chernin, President and Co-COO of News Corporation , NBC Uni CEO Jeff Zuker, Barry M. Meyer Chairman and CEO of Warner Bros. Entertainment, etc., etc., etc.  Another such entertainment tycoon had an even more direct role in Jackson’e last days. Multi-billionaire Phil Anschtz’s AEG subsidiary was promoting the Jackson comeback tour and stood to make an estimated $100 million plus from it. They put up $10 million advance money and the 50 London concerts planned were to be staged in the O2 areana also owned by Anschutz and AEG. Only problem was, Jackson was in no condition to undertake such a rigorous schedule and many camp followers around him at the time seemed to have forebodings of what was to come. But everybody wanted to get paid including Jackson who was reportedly in debt for $400 million..In the end their endless greed suceeded in killing the goose that laid the golden egg. But in another strange twist, it seems now that the mother of his (allegedly) two first children from one of his “phony marriage[s]’”, Deborah Rowe is actually Jewish. She had originally signed over custody of the children to Jackson (for an undisclosed sum) but now, with the estate hanging in the balance, it has been reported, that she may contest the will and seek to regain custody of the two children again from Jackson’s mother. So in the end, whatever posthumous residual royalties are coming to Jackson may wind up in Jewish hands after all. He probably wouldn’t have been surprised.

Report this

By Tricia, July 14, 2009 at 2:17 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr. Hedges when you write an article it is imperative that you get your facts straight.  After Marlon spoke the family members on the stage were expecting and calling for Janet to speak.  Had you noted before hand Paris was saying something to Janet while Marlon was speaking and when the family called for Janet to speak she informed them that Paris wanted to say something, so they allowed her to do so.

Michael Jackson was a genius and at the same time crazy as a cave bat.  Was he a pedophile?  I don’t know.  After reading the transcripts from the trial, I know that the parents of that young boy and the parents of the young boy that settled out of court were after money from the beginning and the countless other boys (who were by then young men) that testified on Michael’s behalf, denied any sexual or lewd activity on Michael’s part. I can not say with any definity that he was a pedophile.

The rest of your post was dead-on.  We are being eaten alive by our own egos and we have only ourselves to blame.

Report this

By liecatcher, July 14, 2009 at 1:53 am Link to this comment

Hey Chris Hedges:

This “MAN IN THE MIRROR” article is another masterpiece to your credit.

My first thought when I heard of MJ’s death was ELVIS PRESLEY, & then of

JonBenét Patricia Ramsey murdered in 1996.

We know a lot about celebrity drug use & that America is the drug consuming capitol of the world.

Some people use drugs to handle physical pain , others mental pain, & others for pleasure.

Since you are the master of seeing the “big picture”, I hope sometime down the road you will

write about how drugs,both those prescribed by doctors & those marketed by the criminal

cartels are used to control our society, & are integral part of the dumbing & numbing down

of America leading to a California denouement.

Report this

By liecatcher, July 14, 2009 at 1:08 am Link to this comment

To: Spiritgirl, July 13 at 5:15 pm

Your comment on Chris Hedges’ essay:The Man in the Mirror is beyond brilliant.
I first heard the phrase: “a dumbing down of America” while watching an interview on the Bill Moyers program.
Having studied about how the FASCIST OLIGARCHS spend
countless millions of dollars on brainwashing their
prey,I have a question for you which I will be eternally grateful if you answer.
In the last sentence of your essay: “So while MJ may have succumbed to his personal demons - this nation is still struggling with it’s own moral nihilism and appears to be unwilling to confront it!”
Would changing the word unwilling to unable in any
alter the essence of your message?

THANKS for taking the time to write something positive, informative & important about this tragedy.

Report this

By christian96, July 14, 2009 at 12:05 am Link to this comment

Well, I have obvious settled down and regained a
little of my senses after my comments about having
Osama Bin Laden fly planes into the CNN news building.  It was just deplorable the way they kept
showing over and over Michael’s little girl crying
and saying “I love my daddy.”  I taught Child
Development at several universities and I can assure
you that understanding Michael’s father, Joe Jackson,
would give us a great deal of insight into Michael’s life style.  I mainly studied Alfred Adler in graduate
school.  “Life style” basically means how a person
sees the world and their place in it.  I believe a
significant influence on Michael’s life style was
his perception of his relationship with his father,
Joe Jackson.  When I heard Joe Jackson talking about his record company rather than expressing love and
grief at the passing of his son I thought, “I’d like
to know more about this father, Joe Jackson.”  It
would sure help me try to understand the perceptions of Micahel much better.  My guess is that Joe Jackson was harsh and self-centered.  I don’t believe Michael felt loved by his father.  There is
some reason he left him out of his will.  Perhaps,
future books by other family members can give us
insight into the relationship of Michael and his
father.  Even though I am interested in trying to
understand Michael’s life in order to help children
experiencing similiar conditions, I AM ADAMANT THAT
MICHAEL’S WISHES BE HONORED AND THAT THE MEDIA KEEP
HIS CHILDREN OUT OF THE SPOTLIGHT.  Can the media
show a little love and concern for others or is it
all about themselves and how much publicity and money they can get?  I would guess the latter!  That’s the American way!

Report this

By Kesey Seven, July 13, 2009 at 11:35 pm Link to this comment

Can’t resist quoting The Eagles when the name of the report is The Man in the Mirror.

There were lines on the mirror
Lines on her face
She pretended not to notice
She was caught up in the race

Report this

By Kesey Seven, July 13, 2009 at 11:28 pm Link to this comment

Humphf. Tip of the hat here to Mr. Hedges.

Kesey Seven

Report this

By dar, July 13, 2009 at 10:55 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

what a bitter rant. MJ may have been a bizarre alien amongst us, but his music and dancing gave happiness to millions of people. I’m sure the author of this bitter screed has his dark side too, but I’m sure he hasn’t touched the hearts of even a tiny fraction of the people that were touched by MJ.

Report this

By Charlene, July 13, 2009 at 9:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It’s a mistake to blame the culture for how Michael Jackson was.
He was a very talented man who did sincerely care for others as much as he was capable of caring, but he was born with this problem with children & that was his downfall.
If you can blame anyone but Michael himself, I blame his own family for not helping him more—his sisters & brothers—he evidently still loved his family because he left his children’s care to his parents.
That tells me they had some amount of sway with him & they should have used it back when it would have done some good.
Fame, money & talent do not ruin you—not even when it comes at a young age.
Michael did that on his own.

Report this

By WeAreChange Tim, July 13, 2009 at 9:23 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Well it cost us more than $4 million dollars, the LAPD (our commons)were used as limo driver and bodyguard, and to the end, Jackson was treated like a commodity, not a human being

Report this

By Clark, July 13, 2009 at 9:18 pm Link to this comment

Once again, I think Mr. Hedges is making a pithy assessment of our “culture.”
One aspect of this article which I find troubling is the respectful reference made to Plato. The thinking of Plato and his vast following is actually more the cause of the sort of delusional behavior written about by Mr. Hedges than it is a solution. Plato is the epitome of the virtualist. His thinking on our ability to see the truth ultimately leaves no one responsible. I will not go into depth on his misogyny, but I will point out how we have been taught through the ages to worship the vir-ile and uphold the platonic as the ideal. Among philosophers, to me, he is right up there with Timothy Geithner.

Report this

By scooter, July 13, 2009 at 7:19 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Not much to argue with here.  Bleak, pessimistic, hopeless, correct.  Urgent to remember that things can change with a thunderclap.  We have the power.

Report this

By Inherit The Wind, July 13, 2009 at 6:49 pm Link to this comment

You’ve got the Jacksons mixed up with the Osmonds, who are (or were raised) Mormons.  I thought the Jacksons were 7th Day Adventists, or Pentecostals,—some super-fundi sect, but I’m not sure.  And DEFINITELY not Mormons.  When the Jacksons hit it big in 1969, the Mormons, I believe, were still teaching segregation.

Report this

By herewegoagain, July 13, 2009 at 6:20 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I know we believe that hyper consumerism is to blame for all this current dumbing down of the masses, but then how do we explain books from centuries ago that lament about the same problem with society?

I’m thinking of writers like Zola, Flaubert, and, more recently from the last century, Frank Norris. The underlying theme of their most well known books were also about the stupid things people did to keep the boredom at bay, rather than live more meaningful lives.

And remember that phrase about most people leading lives of quiet desperation was coined some time ago.

(All that being said, I do believe that today’s corporate consumerism is adding a rather menacing note of disconnected voyeurism, and worse, to our culture.)

Report this

By Arundel, July 13, 2009 at 4:54 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This was an excellent article, well worth reading and ferociously true in many aspects.  My mere quibble is that it doesn’t address-or even mention-  Jackson as an artist, that phenomenal talent when he was a child, and the very real connection people felt at seeing such a knowing, powerful voice erupting from a kid, long ago. 
That it was a mediated experience- an exploitation- by corporate media, and his overbearing father- is quite true.  I suppose that wasn’t the point, and not within the scale of the piece, but acknowledging there was a reason Jackson was fascinating- his talents as an artist- would have been welcome.  In other words, we’re not all just corporate slaves and fools to have been intrigued by Jackson; at his best he was a pop artist of a very high quality.  I don’t think that fascination at his descent into decadence, irrelavance, and ignominy is sheer manipulation. It’s an authentically interesting story: the stratospheric rise and tragic fall of a great star- it’s as old as Hollywood only a century but part of our mythology.  It’s very pagan, really.

But a thoughtful and right-on article. I especially appreciate criticizing the ghastly and mawkish exhibiting of Paris’s grief, I thought it stage-managed and rehearsed to the second, quite purposefully.  That family- and Jackson himself, a rather more willful person than suggested here- were full and eager participants in the exploitive corporate machine you so ably describe.

Report this

By rolmike, July 13, 2009 at 4:30 pm Link to this comment

I keep thinking of those Merowingian kings that were pulled through the Saxon villages even after they had died and were mummified, something that the Egyptians,too, did. Death cults and exploitation are older than the grossest form of capitalism, they go deeper. I am merely surprised that the powers that be did not take that corpse with endless needle marks in it, and mummify it and then make it dance like a jackass for the millions that would come and watched that show. mr. hedges does fine work, he knows his mass psychology, his critical theory, and he is rooted i the best that christianity has to offer. keep firing away, chris. an occasional laugh however would help.

Report this

By Dragonscreen, July 13, 2009 at 4:08 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I live in China and since the fall of communism I have seen China become the kind of spiritual wasteland you describe.  With nothing left to believe in China has become a bird’s nest full of little birds with their mouths open eating the worms supplied by the corporate and political elite.  Moral nihilism has breached the Great Wall.

Report this

By Malcolm Martin, July 13, 2009 at 3:53 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

First I need to say, damn Hedges you can write! Brilliant!

Then on the issue, capitalism will soon lay in repose alongside the King of Pop.

No telling how much damage it will do to the planet and how many humans will be left alive to pick up the pieces and how twisted they will be left by capitalism-generated pathologies. But thankfully, it will be dead. And the survivors will at least have an opportunity to rebuild human civilization around the values you correctly point out are reviled now, education, building community, honesty, transparency and sharing.

That’s the key one Chris: sharing. You are talking about socialism. You’ve written of socialism before and I don’t think you fully understand it. It will be the most profound form of democracy, a dictatorship of productive people commonly called workers, that will mandate that all of us share, all of us! No wealthy people, no Forbes 500, no banks or corporations or any other capitalist entities. No debating the bourgeoisie and their mouthpieces like Rush, Hanity, Beck, under the false impression that rationality can ever win in this economy where profit is god and people are commodities.

It’s the only way we will live into the future.

Report this

By mstar57, July 13, 2009 at 3:09 pm Link to this comment

As usual, Chris, I look forward to your posts every Monday and this one doesn’t disappoint!! EXCELLENT column!!

Report this

By hippie4ever, July 13, 2009 at 2:51 pm Link to this comment

Spiritgirl, great post. Thanks.

I can only add that the Jacksons in all their incarnations were at their heart, a manufactured act. During the 1960s and 1970s the Jackson 5 were just one of a series of “acts” including the Monkees, The Carpenters, The Cowsills. Everyone I knew paid them no mind, focusing instead on Clapton, Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Mothers of Invention…real artists producing real music that said and meant something unique. 

Later on, Michael had his awakening and produced some genius works of art, especially “Thriller” which continues to inspire and entertain. Yet after “His Story” which had some good material, nothing. The Freak Show began with “The Wacko Jacko Show” and digressed from there.

The other Jacksons? Well there’s Janet, who has maintained quiet dignity, which is really something to be admired in this family.  And LaToya thinks there’s a conspiracy of murder, with or without UFO involvement I’m unsure. Yeah, that’s one weird show biz family; I read once that they’re also Mormons. Actually that would explain quite a lot.

Report this

Page 1 of 2 pages  1 2 >

 
Right 1, Site wide - BlogAds Premium
 
Right 2, Site wide - Blogads
 
Join the Liberal Blog Advertising Network
 
 
 
Right Skyscraper, Site Wide
 
Join the Liberal Blog Advertising Network
 

A Progressive Journal of News and Opinion   Publisher, Zuade Kaufman   Editor, Robert Scheer
© 2014 Truthdig, LLC. All rights reserved.

Like Truthdig on Facebook