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The Man in the Mirror

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.


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.

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By doublestandards/glasshouses, July 13, 2009 at 2:18 pm Link to this comment
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I believe that one of the main factors in Obama’s victory over McCain was the public perception that there was more potential for celebrity status on his part.  He and his wife of twenty years have “dates” in NY and Paris.  They alternate with Brad and Jen on the covers of the tabloids.  His status as a celebrity is more important to the public than anything he does or doesn’t do politically and he seems to know it.  Being accused of breaking promises is so old school.

Hedges has described and explained the culture of death better than anyone else.

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By Spiritgirl, July 13, 2009 at 2:15 pm Link to this comment

“The cult of self, which Jackson embodied, dominates our culture….This is also the ethic promoted by corporations. It is the ethic of unfettered capitalism. It is the misguided belief that personal style and personal advancement, mistaken for individualism, are the same as democratic equality. It is the celebration of image over substance. “

Mr. Hedges, you are partially right.  Their has been an “exploitation of Michael Jackson”, both in life and now in death!  No one will ever really know or understand what a 5 year old MJ experienced or felt as he worked his entire childhood, no one will ever understand how it really feels to be mobbed everywhere they go - and for real most people wouldn’t really want to, and no one will ever understand they sycophants and enablers that surrounded this man or the demons that ate at his life! 

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! 

That there has been a “collective flight into illusion” is no doubt - our corporate owned newspapers push pablum as journalism, “our bought and paid for politicians” do the work of their corporate handlers to the detriment of the society at large - as they divide the electorate hiding behind mendacity and avarice!  The fact that the “public” falls for these lies is a whole other matter!  That after having GWB in office, the right wants to offer up Sarah Palin as a “Presidential Candidate” is further proof of the lows that this nation has sunk.  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!

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By captain rick, July 13, 2009 at 2:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I like Chris’s writing on this subject, he brings some sanity to this crazy world with a vocabulary to enable me to grab hold of and make some sense of celebrity culture.Our current president is a product of celebrity culture. Mostly a cardboard image that only appears to have real substance. G W was the same.That is how they get elected.
What concerns me is that when I go to a doctor to get fixed, and he is all about his image, I could die…...
The leaders of this so called country are killing us all with image and no real substance.When you watch a senate panel ask questions of their candidate for office, they talk all about themselves and don’t really ask the deep questions that are needed.
No wonder we get the likes of Ghetner and Brownie”.

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By marcus medler, July 13, 2009 at 1:54 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Come on readers! Say It—TURN OFF FOREVER THE T.V.

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By espaz, July 13, 2009 at 1:40 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

man .... what a scathing article! fn big time!!      i’m glad i didn’t watch the coverage ....  i like to think that i don’t perpetuate this shit that chris hedges speaks of.  however, i’m beginning to think that by just being alive i’m contributing to the planet’s woes…..oh well…at least i didn’t reproduce.

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By coloradokarl, July 13, 2009 at 1:29 pm Link to this comment

He was a twisted little drug addict who molested young boys.  The entertainers used to be kept outside the castle with the gypsies and the lepers. When we started “worshiping” them our society went straight to hell. Some father should of beat M.J. with in an inch of his life! Feel sorry for him? give me a break!

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By felicity, July 13, 2009 at 1:16 pm Link to this comment

One of the saddest things I’ve ever read was the answer Malcolm X gave to a reporter when asked if he could have any wish, what would it be and Malcolm replied, “To be born white.”

For this white woman sitting in her comfortable white environment enjoying the fruits of her white labor and the privileges her white life afforded her, to pretend to understand what being black in America was and is like, is the height of arrogance.

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By Roberto, July 13, 2009 at 12:47 pm Link to this comment
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Mr. Hedges is truly the best that this site has to offer. Too bad others can’t see deep enough to appreciate his analysis of celebrity culture and how it influences the “individual” and each of our actions. Some people like to think that they (and in turn every other ‘individual’) are self made and wholly free in their choice of action and even thought. Who taught u the language that u express yourself with? Who taught u your view of “individualism?” Who taught u everything that u think u know? Others! This culture! Your personality is the only thing that makes you just a bit different than those around you.
MJ was just 10 yrs old when he became a celebrity and I doubt any one can say he was a will free individual then. Some have the fortitude to become an emotionally and mentally ‘stable’ (debatable what that really entails and wholly defined by society) person, most do not. A person with that type of childhood of being adored by millions and a publicly dissected life coupled with the pressure of wielding a god-given talent cannot be expected to behave like the rest of us. We are what our personalities choose to do with our past experiences.
Any one who believes that culture does not influence the way “individuals” act and what they see as goals in life and what is acceptable behavior is a social moron who cannot see pass their own “individual” view of human nature, a view that they in turn use a blanket for how all should act and think. They claim “individualism” them throw anyone who doesn’t think like them under the bus.
And how one cannot see the very blatant ethics of greed and anything-for-profit wanton way of doing business that the entertainment industry and wall street and the banking systems use as their operating manual is beyond me.
Chris said it best, “Those who win are the best. Those who lose deserve to be erased. Those who fail, those who are ugly or poor, are belittled and mocked. Human beings are used, betrayed and discarded in a commodity culture,...Compassion, competence, intelligence and solidarity are useless assets when human beings are commodities. Those who do not achieve celebrity status, who do not win the prize money or make millions in Wall Street firms, deserve their fate,” if that is not an intelligible comparison of entertainment culture and capitalist economy and wall street then take a class in critical thinking but then again that may take from your “individualism.”

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By Mary Ann McNeely, July 13, 2009 at 12:41 pm Link to this comment

In John Ford’s film “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”, the town’s newspaper publisher says, “When the facts conflict with the legend, print the legend.”  Michael Jackson took that to heart, as do most other celebrities.

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By NABNYC, July 13, 2009 at 12:33 pm Link to this comment

I love the way Chris Hedges writes. 

I’ve been thinking about the loss of community in our country, discussed in Hedges’ book about American Christian Fascists, as well as by others.  The single family unit has been glorified, deemed by our politicians to be God-made, God-ordered, while community was being eliminated. 

The way that suburban tract homes are built serves to isolate the single family unit, geographically apart from everything unless there is family-provided transportation.  So children are raised in a pre-defined structure of the male-dominant dad, assumed to be the most intelligent and competent, the only person whose views are heard or matter, the female mom, assumed to be a servant and cook and nurse by birth, and the slave-children with no rights who must do as they are told.  And should be grateful that their parents forced them to live in an isolated tract home with only electronic pretend-friends for company.

Without community, people cannot and do not share with others their fears, the losses and sorrows, their strengths, they do not organize and unify to stand as a group to demand better for themselves.  Everyone is locked away in a tract home pretending that all is well. 

For Jackson, there is no doubt most of his problems come from the role of his father who controlled, used, beat, apparently sexually humiliated him, and sent him out into the world doomed to destroy himself.  If the family unit had been part of a community, perhaps someone else might have intervened to save that child.  But within the isolation of the single family unit, Dad raged and beat, Mom prayed, while the children were re-packaged, put to work, exploited, used, and destroyed.

Michael Jackson’s life is a very sad story.  The destruction of community, the tyranny of sexism and religion, the elevation of the single-family unit as being the perfect structure separate and apart from any community, is a big contributor to the story.

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By Night-Gaunt, July 13, 2009 at 12:22 pm Link to this comment

Bread an Circuses for escapism. When the economy is in really bad shape, like now, people will do anything to get away from it if only for a time. The Cabal uses that for itself.

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By Inherit The Wind, July 13, 2009 at 12:09 pm Link to this comment

I think Hedges is, yet again, full of it.

WHY did paparazzi pursue Diana to her death? Because lots of dumb people would rather read about who she was sleeping with than who our President is negotiating with, what’s going to happen to our taxes, or all the rest of the “depressing” news.

Look at hoopla and Geraldoization of Anna Nicole Smith’s death—think Gatti or McNeil will get the 24 hour Anna/Michael treatment?

The media does this BECAUSE PEOPLE BUY IT!  People and Us aren’t news, yet they survive for decades.  Who CARES if “rich and famous” Fred Schmuck is schtupping “supermodel” Bobbi Bimbo? Or if Phil Putz was dumped by Heidi Featherhead?  Or that Cyndi Sadcase was photographed crying into her root-beer-and-Campari?  Or that Tiffany Towers’ chest is enhanced? (as if it wasn’t obvious?)

All you gotta do is not demand this stuff and the market vanishes.  C’mon, America! We’ve killed the market for steel, cars, houses, pet rocks. I KNOW we can kill the market for inane gossip magazines and TV shows.

I don’t know why people buy and read this shit.  But they do and that keeps the paparazzi going and the tabs going and merry-go-round going.

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By Night-Gaunt, July 13, 2009 at 12:02 pm Link to this comment

We all have feet of clay, no matter how much light, gold and silver we may display over our life span. No matter who you see or find out in the world or in your bed with you it is the same. We are many and full of a multitude of things that make us human. All the vagaries of nature good and bad, light and dark and all in between. Some have more of it than others but all have something to contribute to the species. Most will not be noted anywhere except in some peoples memories for a while then lost for all time. And so it goes.

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By LucasFoxx, July 13, 2009 at 11:59 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Sorry.  You folks can say what you want.  I’m enjoying reliving the life and times of this underrated, overly criticized, tragic, talented and philanthropic man.

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By randy, July 13, 2009 at 11:46 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Splendid essay.  I’m reminded of the Biblical passage that asks “what good is it if you gain the whole world but lose your soul.”

Chris Hedges is an excellent writer and social commentator.  I always look forward to reading his articles.

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By Marshall K, July 13, 2009 at 11:25 am Link to this comment

I have found the whole post mortem Michael Jackson spectacle more than a little bizarre, just like his life.  Everyone praised him for being such a talented, awesome human being.  He had three good albums as an adult, was a great live performer, and had a great childhood career.  The rest of his life was spent in a sick, self indulgent life that most likely included child molesting.  I don’t see a lot of greatness there, except in terms of great popularity. 
There are many artists today that are still alive that have produced far greater work, and more of it too.  I feel more than a little disgusted that such a disturbed individual has been deified by so many famous people.

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By felicity, July 13, 2009 at 11:20 am Link to this comment

I may be misreading Hedges but in this article and others his theme seems to be there exist a ‘they’ who create and run our economy/culture/politics at the same time as there exist an ‘us’ who are not only at the perpetural mercy of the ‘they’ we perpeually live our lives according to ‘their’ dictates.

In essence, both are acting according to the nature of the beast - according to Plato a two-legged animal without feathers - the ‘they’ having identified the nature of the beast and then exploiting it accordingly, and the ‘us’ reacting out of our beast nature.

So, Mr. Hedges, until you figure out and share with us your formula for changing human nature, reading your essays will continue to be sojourns in let’s-get-depressed-today.

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

Once again Chris has nailed it.  Understanding the metaphor that M.J’s life represents for the greater issue of the sick Corporate dominance over the world we live in and generally our blind acceptance of it’s mantra.  Brilliantly written and deeply insightful.  Unfortunately,  many who read it will be either too consumed with their own quest for fame or so attached to believing the corporate state propaganda
that they simply won’t get it.  But, thank you for the assurance that reason does still exist in the world of insanity.

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By TAO Walker, July 13, 2009 at 11:00 am Link to this comment

However otherwise accurate his word-picture here, Chris Hedges continues to lag way behind ‘the-curve’ of societal disintegration.  He also, as usual, fails to make the critical distinction between the sub-species homo domesticus, of which he is plainly just one more among six-and-a-half billion “individual” members languishing in their various toxic ethno/cultural petri dishes and energizing that ruthless apparatus that exploits and then discards them, and us surviving free wild native Human Beings who belong all together to the Natural Living Arrangement of our Mother Earth.

Anyhow, the INSANE “....pursuit of status, wealth and fame….” has actually prevented the captive peoples from ever developing a soul to destroy.  It has not “....destroyed (y)our economy,” either.  It IS your economy, and it inevitably betrays all of you in its falseness.

For those here who carp about their fellah ‘n’ gal born-inmates who don’t make the “right” choices….what’s in their wallet?


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By Naz, July 13, 2009 at 10:34 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The United States stands for everything Jesus Christ stood against in virtually all aspects of its culture. Yet, it calls itself a nation founded on Christianity. America is so far removed from Christianity, it wouldn’t know it if it fell on it. America resembles pagan Rome with wireless electronic toys thrown in and it is heading for the same demise. The letters USA should mean, United Suckers of America.

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By Kay Johnson, July 13, 2009 at 10:26 am Link to this comment

Another brilliant piece of writing from Chris Hedges!


I also thought about the book, “A Picture of Dorian Gray.”

For most of the week following the death of Michael Jackson, I turned off my TV. Even Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow joined in on the hoopla.

Sad—the juxtaposition of Nina Simone and Michael Jackson at the Montreux Jazz Festival…

I still remember seeing Nina Simone at Carnegie Hall in July of 2001. When she walked out on stage, she told us that if she were healthier, she’d lead a march down Broadway to protest George Bush and his administration. She never lost her fighting spirit. Nina Simone was a mesmerizing artiste!

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By Werner Simon, July 13, 2009 at 10:18 am Link to this comment
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Chris Hedges’ voice is like no other in all of media. He has brilliantly connected all the dots that paint a picture of the worst aspects of amoral,souless, voracious CORPORATE CAPITALISM in terminal decay!!!

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By Night-Gaunt, July 13, 2009 at 10:17 am Link to this comment

The sad fact is that the Jackson coverage was great for ratings and those like us who want news and analysis were starved for two to three days. Only Fox News had some of their regular programming. I watched it without my counter dose of Schultz, Olberman, & Maddow like I normally did. They went for the ratings, not a surprise.

All such court cases concerning alleged pedophilia should be secret. Everyone and every thing in it. Only if it is a guilty verdict should it be made public and only after all the appeals are done. Not before.

Jackson reminded me of Rev. Charles Lutwig Dogeson aka “Lewis Carol” who liked to photograph children, some in various states of undress. The book I read was how during his time of life the views on adults and children changed to what we know today. At the start what Dogeson did wasn’t considered abnormal or ‘sexual’ at all. He liked being around children and wished to recapture that freedom of spirit & non-sexuality children have at an early age, and that the Bible admonishes us to be. Maybe Michael Jackson wanted that and all he did was innocent but was unseemly in our present attitude’s eyes.

Either way I am glad that the worse of it is over. Just the aftermath of the various doctors who may have contributed to this death will be analyzed.

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By Will, July 13, 2009 at 9:46 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Chris, Once again you have shown deep insight into the heartless, psychopathic, corporate driven culture that drives the world we live in.  Moreover, you expose the madness with true brilliance and style.  Thank you for all your work to enlighten others.  Unfortunately, many readers I fear will be too attached to their own quest for fame or attachment to the sick corporate culture to get or even consider what you have to say.  Sad as that may be, it is most inspiring to the rest of us to have reassurance that someone is seeing the big picture.

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By christian96, July 13, 2009 at 7:59 am Link to this comment

I got very angry over the media, especially CNN,
showing pictures of Michael’s little girl crying
because her daddy died.  He tried so hard to shelter
his children from the media.  It’s a good thing I
couldn’t get in touch with Osama Bin Laden.  I would
have given him the address of the CNN news building
and ask him to fly a few planes into the building.
They didn’t show the little girl crying ONCE.  They
had to show it over and over and over.  I am one
of the few people that happen to believe Michael
Jackson loved children regardless of what the
perverted media like to portray.  I’ve quit watching
CNN and ask those of you who agree with me to also
quit watching the perverts.

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By Old Geezer Pilot, July 13, 2009 at 7:55 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What an incredibly good writer is Chris Hedges. Bob, I hope you pay him well. He is among the best I have read wither in print or in cyberspace.

Keep it up, Chris.

One day we will run down the aisle and throw that hammer into the giant screen on the wall.


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By Tom Semioli, July 13, 2009 at 7:50 am Link to this comment
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Though I admired his artistic skills, I never cared for Michael Jackson, and neithere did millions of other Americans. Of course, you’d think that Ghandi died the way the commercial media covered it in the US. Which is why I turn to and support CSPAN, PACIFICA, NPR, and PBS.

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By thebeerdoctor, July 13, 2009 at 7:10 am Link to this comment

I think that perhaps the Reverend Hedges should have just turned off the television. Working yourself up into a verbal froth over a pathetic, but famous individual, is rather silly is it not?

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By Whoopster, July 13, 2009 at 7:04 am Link to this comment

Last Saturday evening, I had the pleasure of attending the Montreux Jazz Festival this weekend. The highlight of the weekend was the Tribute to Nina Simone. The wonderful and beautiful singers: Lizz Wright, Simone (daughter of Nina Simone), Angelique Kidjo and Diana Reeves interpreted the work of Nina Simone. The result was an extraordinarly emotion-filled evening of beautiful songs by powerful and talented women.  It is an evening I will not forget.

However,  this wonderful segment was followed by Quincy Jones and Wyclef Jean milking the passing of Michael Jackson without restraint, and in this writer’s opinion, with the loss of everyone’s dignity, the performers and the audience who, in Pavlovian style, were encouraged on at least ten occasions to “put their hands in the air” if you love Michael Jackson and/or Quincy Jones.

After 45 minutes of this spectacle, I had the better sense to leave the Auditorium Stravinski.

Nothing from the latter part of the evening could ever detract from the extraordinary experience of the opening Tribute to Nina Simone.

There was something truly grotesque about it… and right after the beautiful and moving tribute to the late Nina Simone.

The juxtaposition was truly mindboggling.

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By pamrider, July 13, 2009 at 7:01 am Link to this comment

Chris alludes to an aspect of news magnified by televison that is skewing the cultural mindset of what “everybody knows.”

Most news viewers believe or unconsciously accept that what is on the news is a a representation of what is real life. I grew up (from age 13) training to be a reporter. It seems like I’ve always known news is generally what is unusual. My acquaintences (treding toward highly educated, progressive folks) more often than not define the “real world” by what is on the news.

My friends who continued working in news claim complete ignorance of this delusion. Add the corporate pressure to sell “the good life,” the news bias (not necessarily always wrong) of “informing” about dangers, and the “popularity” of action over talking heads, one ends up with a superficial world tunneling into the collective psyche.

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By Don McGee, July 13, 2009 at 6:48 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr. Hedges comes incredibly close to creating the perfect commentary, exploring how Mr. Jackson’s life reveals the vacuous morality of modern culture. Unfortunatly, like so many of our progressive voices, he chooses to enable this behavior by offering Jackson an agent of BLAME - some nebulous, indefinable corporate beast. The metaphor is hackneyed and stretched, at best. At any point in his adult life Mr. Jackson had available to him the ability to apply his own FREE WILL, and to CHOOSE a different behavior, a different path. To be sure, this path is challenging, and runs against the tide of a culture void of values and ultimate truths. We are left with the progressive ideal of values based on personal choice and personal convenience.

Finally, to blame this nebulous, indefinable, “coporate” culture is a total copout; and allows for us to place BLAME where it definitely DOES NOT belong, rathering than accepting that blame exists with each of us individually!; (forget the fact that there simply is no relationship between the culture of the entertainment industry and Wall Street “banks”; give me a break!)

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By Mark Stenzler, July 13, 2009 at 5:36 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I had the pleasure of attending the Montreux Jazz Festival this weekend. The highlight of the weekend was the Tribute to Nina Simone. The wonderful and beautiful singers: Lizz Wright, Simone (daughter of Nina Simone), Angelique Kidjo and Diana Reeves interpreted the work of Nina Simone. The result was an extraordinarly emotion-filled evening of beautiful songs by powerful and talented women.  It is an evening I will not forget.

However,  this wonderful segment was followed by Quincy Jones and Wyclef Jean milking the passing of Michael Jackson without restraint, and in this writer’s opinion, with the loss of everyone’s dignity, the performers and the audience who, in Pavlovian style, were encouraged on at least ten occasions to “put their hands in the air” if you love Michael Jackson and/or Quincy Jones.

After 45 minutes of this spectacle, I had the better sense to leave the Auditorium Stravinski.

Nothing from the latter part of the evening could ever detract from the extraordinary experience of the opening Tribute to Nina Simone.

There was something truly grotesque about it… and right after the beautiful and moving tribute to the late Nina Simone.

The juxtaposition was truly mindboggling.

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By Dave24, July 13, 2009 at 5:33 am Link to this comment

1) Blaming culture is absurd.  Jackson was surrounded by vultures and was often exploited, however victimizing him belittles self-responsibility.  At some point the individual has to be responsible for his or her own life instead of blaming “culture.”  You said that Jackson “became a commodity, a product, one to be sold, used and manipulated.”  But if Jackson became a mere commodity, isn’t he to blame for allowing such a thing to happen?  Jackson was the one who signed his name to those contracts—and he was the one responsible for choosing the people around him.

2) Maybe the reason why the memorial had such high ratings is because every single media outlet was covering it.  I wanted to watch the news but Jackson was inescapable.  So tell me: If every channel is presenting the same event simultaneously, doesn’t it make sense that the ratings are high?  Viewers had no choice but to watch (assuming the TV stayed on); we can’t control programming.

And boo-hoo to the last paragraph.  Celebrity isn’t powerful: self-delusion that it is powerful, is.  Give credit where credit is properly due.

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By Anon, July 13, 2009 at 5:16 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Michael Jackson was a consumable. In fact, he was one of the first, I think, to make himself an object of consumption, rather than merely his music. And as we do with all consumables, and in the internet age, will probably begin to do to one another, we consumed him. So he died.

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By GoyToy, July 13, 2009 at 4:35 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Time to re-read “A Picture of Dorian Gray.” Nuff said.

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