The sudden death of Michael Jackson on June 25, 2009 shocked the world. Fans and foes were stunned as nearly every media outlet, scooped by TMZ, raced to broadcast any minute detail of Jackson’s death.
One year later, the same media that lynched Michael Jackson for ratings during the molestation scandal and trial is using his name to profit on the anniversary of his death. Special broadcasts are planned to “commemorate” the death of Michael Jackson. The Los Angeles Police Department has made plans to beef up security near Forest Lawn, where Jackson is buried and around the Jackson family home.
Farrah Fawcett died just a few hours before Michael Jackson and her death became a footnote, just as Ed McMahon’s death on June 24, 2009 was overshadowed. Each were icons to varying generations but Michael Jackson’s death was more than just a rote news blurb.
“Oh, another celebrity died.”
Michael Jackson’s death spawned a media frenzy. Once again, Michael Jackson was in the news and it wasn’t even about something he did that was perceived as wrong. Michael Jackson died and legions of fans would want every last scrap of information. For days, Jackson was at the top of the headlines.
I remember a similar celebrity death media frenzy.
On August 31, 1997 I picked up my copy of The Columbus Dispatch from my porch and saw a headline that Princess Diana had been in a car crash. I was on my way to Columbus and put the paper on the table and went on my way. After a quick stop at Block’s Bagels I noticed the Dispatch box outside. The headline, a huge font on the front page, screamed “Princess Diana Dead”. I dug through my purse for change and bought the Dispatch and read the story on the spot.
When I got home, I confirmed that my subscription version of the Dispatch – which would have gone to press around midnight local time – only mentioned the car crash and serious injuries. I seem to recall an article within the next few days mentioning that the first run was before reports of Princess Diana’s death were confirmed.
For days the news media revolved around the death of Princess Diana. Thousands of admirers placed bouquets and other remembrances at the gates of Buckingham Palace. The world waited for word from Queen Elizabeth. The world waited for news of the funeral service. The conspiracy theories began to swirl.
Aunt Brenda got up in the middle of the night to watch all of the funeral procession and service live.
Twelve years later, Michael Jackson’s fans would place bouquets and remembrances at the gates of Neverland and at his childhood home in Gary, IN. The world waited for word from the Jackson family. The world waited for news of Michael Jackson’s funeral service. The conspiracy theories began to swirl.
I watched Michael Jackson’s funeral service until I had to turn it off following his daughter Paris’ tearful goodbye.
Today, thousands of Michael Jackson fans are expected to pay their respects at Forest Lawn. Millions around the world will head to the Internet to share their memories with other fans then turn to television to watch the special shows.
I’m going to be baking, listening to music that doesn’t include any Michael Jackson selections.
Sources: LA Times ; Huffington Post – One of the Most Shameful Episodes in Journalistic History