Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A bevy of MJ Memorial media notes

The debate over whether all that attention and hullabaloo rendered to the passing of Michael Jackson bores me. What's the point of arguing over it? It is, as a former Texas governor once said outrageously of rape, like the weather: It's gonna happen, so just relax and enjoy it.

And so I -- and millions of others -- did so. I suspect the ratings -- like yesterday's funerary show -- were pretty darn awesome. Jermaine Jackson knocking it out of the park with "Smile"? Made me rethink my objections to a Jackson Fourish show in Vegas, although Wynn is still the wrong property for it. Brooke Shields' "What's with the glove?" moment? Great, although I wish she had said what Jackson's answer was. And that little girl breaking down for her Daddy? Crushing. Classic moment. Prediction: Princes William and Harry will be calling to console the Jackson kids soon, if not already.

The only thing that bugged me was the hyperbole about what an unprecedented to-do this was (The A.P.'s Ted Anthony: "a celebrity spectacle like no other") when, in fact, that was so clearly a ridiculous notion. Princess Diana's death actually paralyzed a nation, raised ridiculous sums of money for charity, involved millions of people cramming along a public route to see her coffin, nearly unseated the world's most prestigious monarchy and resulted an Oscar-winning film. Just imagine what THAT would've been like in the age of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Happily, I'm not the only one doing the comparison on this score. In today's Las Vegas Sun, columnist Ron Kantowski compares the MJ Memorial Show to a list of prominent funerals. He pointed out that Ayrton Senna, a Formula One champ from Brazil who died in 1994,
drew 3 million casket-gawkers, and I bet that included virtually no Americans. Pope John Paul II drew 4 million. It seems to me that Ronald Reagan drew more people and at least as much sustained TV coverage. Granted, there wasn't a chance for the public to visit Jackson's casket, but still.

Another tip of the hat is due to the Review-Journal's Jason Bracelin and Mike Blasky. I don't know which one of them wrote this, but the lead sentence of their report on Vegas crowds gathering to watch the memorial yesterday at movie theaters was pitch-perfect and had a wonderful ring to it: "The theater was dark and the mood wasn't any brighter."

Finally, it must be said that my pal (and Miles' KVBC colleague) Alicia Jacobs provided some really cool coverage via Twitter. Say what you want about her as a journalist -- it seems to me she occupies a unique netherland between being a reporter and being a celebrity who uses her connections to take the public into worlds we don't usually get to go -- but her @AliciaJacobs text and photo Tweets from her up-close seat at Staples yesterday added a Vegasy dimension to the thing.

The whole thing has me even more psyched about the MJ Memorial benefit concert @ErichBergen and I are in the process of organizing. Details coming very soon!


V.S. said...

Steve, As native New Yorkers of a certain age (i.e. older than you) will remember, that bad taste rape joke you attributed to a Texas governor was originally made by a WABC channel 7 weatherman, Tex Antoine.

Tex had been a weatherman in NYC since the earliest days of TV and was a local institution. One night in 1976 the news anchor (Roger Grimsby) reported the rape of a 5 yrear old girl and then threw it to Tex. Tex said, "With rape so predominant in the news lately, it is well to remember the words of Confucius: 'If rape is inevitable, lie back and enjoy it.'

According to the Wikipedia article linked above, five days later Roger Grimsby, who was famous for sardonic comments introduced the new weatherman with, "Lie back, relax and enjoy the weather with Storm Field." Tex's marathon career had ended that night.

Alicia said...

HI Steve,
thank you for your kind words. Glad you enjoyed my Twitter coverage of MJ's Memorial, I really wanted to capture & share my personal experiences.
So...I'm part journalist, part celebrity? Maybe you can invent some catchy title for me!
Anyway, as you know, I've long been a fan of your writing, & appreciate the shout out. Always, Alicia