It’s not that the death of the King of Pop had been particularly impactful to me. I listened to his music back in the day, enjoyed the videos, the dancing, the ever-growing freakshow around his personal life. Didn’t own the glove. Can’t relate to fans who now say they’ve lost a “family member.” (Really? A family member? Like, a family member who makes you uncomfortable at Christmas gatherings and whom you and your siblings are staging an intervention for?)
And the coverage! Wow — I mean I know it’s SOP for major media outlets to put celebrity deaths at the top of the news report, but haven’t these last few days felt out of all proportion? As funny, funny Web cartoonist Justin Pierce said:
Since this has happened, I have not seen any news about the brutal post-election violence in Iran, the intense bombings in Baghdad or the Taliban’s resurgence in Afghanistan.
Thank you Michael Jackson, for finally bringing peace to the Mideast.
‘Zactly. But I’ve discovered some interesting things in the wake of this media brouhaha. First, my children had never heard tell of Popmusica Rex, and wanted to know who this odd-looking boyman was. Thanks to YouTube, we were able to have an educational evening revisiting all the old music videos. (The face-morphing “Black or White” got the most requests for repeat viewings.)
I was surprised at how evergreen Michael Jackson remains. The tunes, the dancing, the imagery — it all held up, and was just as enjoyable all these years later, for me and the kids.”Thriller,” still rocks, sure, but “Bad”? “Billie Jean”? Good grief, “Remember the Time”?
But here’s something else: Our evening of media intake opened Pandora’s box of parody for my children. Because right alongside all those Michael Jackson vids on YouTube were the Weird Al Yankovic spoofs of “Bad” and “Beat It” (“Fat” and “Eat It”).
Me and the kiddies howled in tandem, a four-part harmony of hilarity. “He’s … he’s making fun of it!” cried Oldest Boy, who apparently has lived nine years without satirical influence. I know, I’m ashamed of me, too. I mean, come on, you’re living a cloistered, unlivable life if you’ve never encountered and appreciated:
How come you’re always such a fussy young man
Don’t want no Captain Crunch, don’t want no Raisin Bran
Well, don’t you know that other kids are starving in Japan
So eat it!
When watched back to back, real video and spoof video, the experience couldn’t be any more fun. The kids were picking up on all the details of the originals (the ripped-off grate that spews air, the solo dance on a diner counter) that got riffed in the spoofs. They couldn’t believe someone was allowed to make fun of someone else this way. They’ve been drilled for years on treating other kids right, having manners, making other people feel bigger, not smaller — and here’s this guy earning a living making fun of people. His parents are not yelling at him. He is not in jail.
I think my children all grew up a bit that day. They may never be able to moonwalk, but they sure as shootin’ will grow up knowing how to find the ridiculous in the sublime.