26 June 2009


The putative "king of pop" is dead. Long live the king, whoever he may be. I come here not to praise Jackson, but to bury him. Friends, literati, countrymen — lend me your pixels.

Being a grouchy SOB myself, I'm not going to spread praise where little or none is deserved. The biggest problem with Michael Jackson's career as a performer is that much of it that was worthwhile was not his work. Michael Jackson did not choreograph or shoot the "Thriller" or "Bad" videos; if one listens to them, one finds vapid nonsense with average-at-best vocal performances over inconsistent background instrumentals. The rest of his oeuvre is consistent only in its inconsistency. I suppose one could say the same for Miles Davis, or for Jimi Hendrix, but then that also reinforces my point.

The less said about his non-performance influence on popular culture, the better: The Beatles catalog; the ranch; the refusal to act like an adult human being in public; and on, and on, and on. This is not what popular culture needs in a king. On another tentacle, it's usually what popular culture gets in a king... but that does not make me any sorrier to see the departure of an inept sovereign, because at least there's some hope for the new one.

    Perhaps it's just my lifelong aversion to "pop," which usually means "turn your brain off, now, nothing's going to happen for about three or four minutes." Or, perhaps, it's just my lifelong aversion to flash over substance. As to Michael Jackson the individual, I'm slightly saddened but largely indifferent; as to Michael Jackson the cultural figure, I'm actually somewhat pleased, although I would have preferred just a quiet fade into the background al fine to death — and in particular to death redolent of a previous "king"'s, that will no doubt result in similar worship, as satirized in the clip. For "Graceland," read "Neverland Ranch"... if, that is, it ever emerges from bankruptcy.