Monday, June 29, 2009

Triumph of the Punditocracy

Lots of comparisons are being made in the news between Michael Jackson’s untimely demise and the loss experienced by previous generations when first Elvis Presley, and then John Lennon died unexpectedly.

There is no comparison.

First, the obvious: Artists of previous generations dominated their medium is ways that nobody ever will dominate again.

But here’s the biggest difference: When Lennon and Elvis died, fans immediately went to their radios. There was the usual silliness (I remember my local DJ interviewing via phone George Harrison’s cousin about Lennon and she hadn’t seen the man in years.

DJ: How was John the last time you saw him?

C: Well, he was seventeen years old …)

Yeah, it was like that.

And it’s like that again.

But where is the music?

Stations with a formats even tangentially related to pop music went into overdrive, playing anything and everything by the late-great.

Michael Jackson died (as I write this) three and a half days ago.

I have yet to hear a single Michael Jackson or Jackson Five song on the radio. I have yet to see a single Michael Jackson video on the teevee machine.

Bits and pieces, sure. Usually interrupted for commentary by Donna Summer or Smokey Robinson or Corey Feldman (!) or somebody else whose opinion is … well, you decide. But the news media has a single narrative:

what is said about the man … or the event … is more important than the event itself.


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