7 Reasons why Michael Jackson’s shocking June 25, 2009 death will become a larger event than Princess Diana’s
BY PAUL KAIHLA — Diana, Princess of Wales, had one of the most famous funerals in living memory — and the memory of the ‘Peoples’ Princess’ was celebrated in saturation TV coverage of her public vigils.
But the public outpouring for Michael Jackson has grown much larger and widespread than that for his friend, Diana, even though he was far more controversial than she. Within minutes of the Reagan UCLA Medical Center’s DOA announcement, networks called Jackson’s death “the story of the year.”
Here are 7 reasons why Jackson’s June 25, 2009 death will become a larger event in the global village’s collective consciousness than Diana’s 1997 tragic demise in Paris:
1. Michael Jackson became known when he was 11 years old; Diana, age 20. Jackson touched a much wider swath of humanity for a far longer period of time.
2. Jackson’s ticket to fame was music and dance, Diana’s was a title. Songs touch people more viscerally — indeed, archetypally — than photo-ops.
3. Jackson had an innate, world-class talent; he could actually do things. A public debate has raged over whether Diana’s biggest talent was, variously: her looks, “marrying up”, or conducting sly damage-control of her public image.
4. Jackson enjoyed a larger base: his home country’s population is 5x the size of Diana’s in Britain — and even after all of Jackson’s scandals, he remained insanely popular from Asia to Africa.
5. Four decades before Obama, Michael Jackson was the first American black hero of a different brand. Like Obama, Jackson had a mass appeal across generational, gender and racial lines.
6. Speaking of generations, Jackson became an icon of the largest one in history, the Baby Boom. (He was born one year before the post-WWII baby boom peaked in 1959). Jackson defined the music video, and helped make MTV a household name. In fact, you could argue that he defined the “MTV generation” and its pop culture spin-offs, including reality shows from Cribs to The Hills.
7. The “King of Pop” replaced “The King” (Elvis) as the most-impersonated singer, ever. Look no further than the line-ups on American Idol and Britain’s Got Talent who have based their acts on Michael Jackson.
As grandiose as Jackson seemed in public and on stage, his energy anatomy was more like that of a child. His inner evolution stopped at 11, before adolescence, when he became a pop star in the Jackson 5. He was poured, from then on, into a public alter ego. What character did he identify with, by his own admission? Peter Pan, the male who never grew up.
May his soul be sanctified . . .
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The mourning begins. . .
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