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Fanning The Fires Of Celebrity

July 4, 2009

Let’s face it…the world is barking mad!  It is a dark place, with differing hues along the spectrum.  What we are experiencing with the death of a talented salesman, Michael Jackson, has gripped the globe.  You do not have to do anything to die.  Just live and you will die one day.  The frenzy, the frantic, the freneticism that has resulted in the early death of a performer, a singer, a dancer, seems surreal to me.  Call me old fashioned.  Call me an old foggey.  However, the outpourings of young and old since his death seem almost irrational to me.

For me the passing of someone of the calibre of Annie Lennox would impact far greater.  And the list goes on.  Sure she is white, and she is a woman.  But she never seeks celebrity.  But everyone knows the lyrics of the Eurythmics, the co-creative talents of she and Dave Stewart.  There was a piano and their was music.  Moonwalking did not have a place in their virtuoso.

Death is sad but it is natural.  It is a certain for us all.  It is the how and when that we know nothing of.  It is precisely these two things that bring fear, the unkown.  What I have learnt living in Asia for ten years is the acceptance of mortality, not so easily embraced by the West.  We prefer to prolong life. Their is a level of selfishness in this concept.  It is for the living that the comfort of not losing a loved one lies.  And of course there is money to be made in prolonging life.  The Palliative Care Industry bears witness to this.  Machines, tubes, medications, for what purpose?  When your time comes it comes.  End of story.  But we use all means to hold on.  Not in Asian culture.  Your are born, you get old, you get sick and then you die.  Not too difficult to get ones head around.

The recent events surrounding the death of Michael Jackson have reached heights of hysteria that are beyond my comprehension.  The death of privileged people seems to impact far greater.  In the third world people are dying in the thousands each minute.  It would take longer to get a coffee at Starbucks.  But these people are poor, they are black, they are asian.  What have they contributed to the greater good?  They have lived their lives giving love to their families under circumstances that those of us in the West can hardly imagine. I knew someone who called me a ‘bleeding heart’!  Because one reacts to outrageous injustice one is seen to be an emotionally incontinent person.  How outrageous is that kind of name calling.

There is lack of perspective.  Music is an essential part of any culture, be it asian or western.  It can heal the heart.  It brings joy across the social strata.  And it brings big bucks into the pockets of entrepeneurs, producers, directors and the like.  Mozart died, Beethoven died, all of the great icons of classical music have died.  Pop artists die.  But the mass hysteria of the death of a comparitively young person like Michael Jackson has seen an outpouring of grief and sadness that the technological age has been able to grip the media with a frenzy.  There is money in death, the death of a celebrity.  The death of my parents was far more important than that of a pop idol.  There was no memorial service for thousands of people.  And yet they were important.  They were not privileged thus unnoticed. They were not celebrities, a passport to fame, or could it be infamy?

This death of Michael Jackson is a prime example of collective behaviour. The weeping and gnashing of tears worldwide. Where is our society going?  Where is the care and compassion for those less fortunate who have led extraordanarily ordinary lives.  His music gave joy to many, I am not disputing that fact.  He was talented.  He was troubled.  To hear Hollywood stars state that they were speechless, please!  Would they have said the same about the passing of their own family members.  I think not.

Fame is transitory.  It is the media who fire the hype.  Sells more newspapers and magazines than reporting the passing, at a young age, of someone who has lived a decent life, maybe they have not set up charitable institutions which they have made large donations to alleviate suffering.  But each of us tries to make the world a better place.

My admiration is for those who, quietly, raise money for this or that cause.  No strobe lighting, no orchestras, no choreography, no entourage.  My tears are for the common man/woman, who gives without an expectation of applause.

If there is a reason for your importance, then you are not important.

Live simply that others can simply live.  Not only was Jackson Whacko, but this world we live in is definitely Whacko…!

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