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Death, The Career Saver

Came across this hilarious (and pithy) graphic at the GraphJam site today:

jackson-graph

It pretty neatly sums up how Jacko could go in one day from being the object of ridicule and scorn, if not outright disgust, into a shining saint through the simple act of dropping dead. Two weeks ago, record stores couldn’t give his records away and now they can’t keep them on the shelves.

There’s a real feeling of deja vu here as we see the media and Joe Schmoe alike go from passing along juicy gossip on the train wreck that was this guy’s life, to suddenly lifting him up as some kind of earthbound angel too perfect to linger among the likes of us. It’s the same ritual we went through with Princess Diana, who if she’d gotten out of that car alive would still be — as she was then — fodder for tabloids and their rabid readers eager to see who she’s sleeping with this week, but by dying has joined the “taken too soon” pantheon alongside James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, and JFK.

I’m also old enough to remember the summer Elvis died. It was a major media event, even with only three networks and no internet to keep the self-feeding news cycle alive. A week before he fell off his toilet, the guy was on the cover of every tabloid in the supermarket, looking upwards of 300 pounds and sweating buckets in his Captain Marvel, Jr spandex with reporters tut-tutting how low the king had fallen and wondering openly how much longer he could possibly cling to life. Then when he died it was shock and disbelief all around, and within a couple years all evidence of Fat Elvis was airbrushed from history like a lapsed Communist from Joe Stalin’s photo album.

So it will be with Jackson, and it’s already begun. In America we make our own heroes, then we tear them down, but when they die before we’re through with them, we make them into saints, perhaps to ease our own guilt. So what’s the take-away message? How do we make sense of all this and move on? By remembering the words of a very wise man who said, and I quote:

Mama-se, mama-sa, ma-ma-coo-sa.

Indeed.

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