CELEBRITY DEATH July 16, 2009Posted by wmmbb in Social Environment.
The treatment of Michael Jackson’s death puzzled me. He was a popular entertainer of some note. People die every day, and as far as I know Jacko did not do anything for anybody else – I may be wrong about that.
Chris Hedges at Truthdig argues that the media attention or distraction was all about the cult of celebrity, a fascination that he sees as sinister and degrading for all concerned, not least the viewers. In fact, Chris Hedges is not in the slightest impressed. For example, he observes:
The moral nihilism of our culture licenses a dark voyeurism into other people’s humiliation, pain, weakness and betrayal. Education, building community, honesty, transparency and sharing are qualities that will see you, in a gross perversion of democracy and morality, ridiculed and voted off any reality show. Fellow competitors for prize money and a chance for fleeting fame elect to “disappear” the unwanted.
No analysis is complete without psychiatry, and in this case he might be referring to the typical politician, such as Robert McNamara:
The cult of self, which Jackson embodied, dominates our culture. This cult shares within it the classic traits of psychopaths: superficial charm, grandiosity and self-importance; a need for constant stimulation, a penchant for lying, deception and manipulation; and the incapacity for remorse or guilt.
Television may be a very serious fix indeed, since it in this description implies giving over body and soul to the manipulators:
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. It deflects the moral questions arising from mounting social injustice, growing inequalities, costly imperial wars, economic collapse and political corruption. The wild pursuit of status, wealth and fame has destroyed our souls, as it destroyed Jackson, and it has destroyed our economy.
The fame of celebrities masks the identities of those who possess true power—corporations and the oligarchic elite. And as we sink into an economic and political morass, as we barrel toward a crisis that will create more misery than the Great Depression, we are controlled, manipulated and distracted by the celluloid shadows on the wall of Plato’s cave. The fantasy of celebrity culture is not designed simply to entertain. It is designed to drain us emotionally, confuse us about our identity, make us blame ourselves for our predicament, condition us to chase illusions of fame and happiness and keep us from fighting back. And in the end, that is all the Jackson coverage was really about, another tawdry and tasteless spectacle to divert a dying culture from the howling wolf at the gate.
And yet despite all the propaganda, that for example makes at different times the same people with no relevant education background experts on Communism and Islam, it is remarkable how inured most people are to the nonsense they are fed. People have a capacity to filter out what is presented.
Personally it is all a mystery to me since I do not watch television, which may be prejudicial here, but in the US perhaps necessary. I got stuck in a doctor’s waiting room today, and was then subjected to some of this televisual treatment.
The story keeps on keeping on. The conditions surrounding Michael Jackson’s death are suggestive of suspicions of foul play and there are the videos from his life such as when his hair caught fire while filming a commercial.
That is my small effort to kick that particular can down the road.