Tuesday, June 30, 2009

King of Rock, King of Pop...

Two oddly similar "facts" that I stumbled upon in the last 6 hours from completely unrelated sources:
  1. The Michael Jackson Fan Club reports that, as of today, 12 people have committed suicide in response to the death of The Gloved One.
  2. As of 1991, about 100 times as many miraculous healings had been attributed to Elvis as had been attributed to the average Catholic saint.


Dr Ranke Welcha said...

I'm not sure what I look at the people who committed suicide because of Michael's death most with - either empathy or some kind of pitying disdain. I was a huge fan of his when I was growing up and it's never happy to hear about people killing themselves but I can't imagine myself thinking about doing that even if my hero died. Although, it's entirely possible that those individuals already suffered from severe depression beforehand. I guess I just feel that I still have other things to be with - or part of - here and they might not have felt that.

The Elvis factoid is an interesting one. If God exists and certain people have/do work miracles because of Him then I suppose Elvis could be such a magic man, even if he isn't officially recognised by the Church. Hell, Saint Patrick only banished snakes from Ireland (and probably got shit-faced on Irish whiskey every day) - but could he do that while playing guitar, shaking his hips and curling up the corner of his top lip as he sang? I don't think so!

That's checkmate, Peter.

neilshyminsky said...

Most of the people who Elvis has purportedly healed saw visions of him before their recovery. And, apparently, there has been some talk about how fans' devotion to Elvis meets certain basic requirements for a religion.

James said...

This sums up almost exactly how I feel about Jackson's death.

If true, that suicide number is kind of scary, if not shocking. I can't manage disdain, though. My thoughts on it are circular; that level of obsession with (well, anyone, but especially) Michael Jackson must be symptomatic of deeper problems... but the only reason we know they were that obsessed is because they killed themselves.

Dr Ranke Welcha said...

Yeah, disdain was probably too strong a word but it's the closest description I could think of at the time. James' link is an interesting one and I can't decide whether I internally flinch from the statements in there because I disagree with them or if it's because I'm subconsciously too timid to describe a recently deceased tragic life in such a way. It's not like Michael was someone like Pol Pot, or a similar type of person who, arguably, deserved a swift end.

I can't comment on any history of child abuse from Michael because that's never been proven (however suspicious the topic has been in the media at times). But I agree that he's a performer that stopped being musically relevant a little over a decade ago. And, however destructive and tragic his own childhood and fame was, he's long since had the time, power and ability to attempt to try to iron out trauma and adjust to life.

But, at the same time, I think it's too easy to dismissively pass him off as just a freak (and especially as "inhuman"). A person's lack of positive cultural relevancy doesn't necessarily make their death any less than another. Elvis had stopped being a musical force of nature long before dying in the bathroom after crawling off the toilet to find help. The amount of people worldwide who mourned his death, though, was phenomenal and it was probably hard to find a person at the time who didn't give a shit about it.

It also strikes me that, if you ask people why Jackson freaks/ed them out, most people will use his personal appearance or reclusive living as their sample of problems - and that's just a little weak or insubstantial as an argument, for my tastes. Michael has never been within the norm. Ever. Either in his dancing and musical composing (which was seen as freakish in a positive way) or with his facial surgery and constant psychological need to recapture/hold onto his youth (which was seen as negative). I guess I just don't see freakishness, in itself, as being undeserving of empathy.

I do still think it's unfortunate that people felt driven to suicide because of this other man's death though.