Michael Jackson Is Dead? Nobody told me……….

30 10 2009



Ok, I knew he was dead.

I will even admit that the headline is slightly tongue-in-cheek as I have been fully aware of the death of the King of Pop since June 25.

I even know where I was when I heard the news (a pub in Hertford, England) and I know someone who had actually got tickets to one of the shows at the O2 Arena in London.

But this week the public wailing and gnashing of teeth has returned with the release of This Is it – The Movie,  a compilation of clips of rehearsal footage for the 50 date stint at the O2 in front of 800,000 adoring fans (not all at the same time, just do the math) that Jacko was supposed to perform in London before he rather inconveniently died 2 weeks prior to Show 1.

So some bright spark (probably with a degree in marketing)  thoughtfully decided that the best way to honour his memory (and perhaps his commitments) was to show the fans what they might have seen if they had been lucky enough to score a ticket……..thus the synchronized world premiere of the movie this week.

Academy Award winner Elizabeth  Taylor called the movie the  “single most brilliant piece of film-making I have ever seen“, which coming from someone who played Cleopatra , Helen of Troy and Pearl Slaghoople (The Flintstones), would appear to be a ringing endorsement.

Farewell to Citizen Kane, The Godfather, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and Shaun of the Dead

Fans were also in raptures about the movie – “it was a chance to say goodbye”, “it would have been the best show over” and “absolutely amazing”, whilst the 167 paying customers at the  “>Odeon Cinema in Leicester Square, London (which seats over 1,600) felt they got VFM.

But am I alone in thinking that this takes the mourning of a celebrity into a new level (not seen since the over-reaction following the death of Princess Diana)?

And is it right to charge fans of Jackson to see footage of rehearsals? It’s not even the complete show – which would have appeared on the market in time for Christmas!

I am not denying that Michael Jackson was a legend, a hugely talented performer whose personal problems and dubious lifestyle choices often overshadowed the music that he made. But this is yet another cynical cash in, nothing more.

The movie is accompanied by the release of yet another Greatest Hits compilation entitled “This Is it – The Music that Inspired The Movie”, which can probably sit snugly alongside

  • HIStory
  • Number Ones
  • King of Pop
  • The Essential (featuring the Jackson 5)
  • and far too many other compilations, remixes, tributes to….

The LP “Thriller”, released in 1983 (and re-released in 2008), remains his best work and actually works fairly well as a greatest hits on its own. Certainly his subsequent work was nowhere near the quality of this album but I admit that I am not a fan per-se of Michael, more of a fan of music in general and its effects on society.

Celebrity figures live in the public eye and it is natural to assume that their death is also subject to the same scrutiny, but there must come a time when we let our idols go and to allow them the dignity in death that they may not have achieved (or been allowed to achieve) in life.

Far too many cultural icons are marketed aggressively after they leave this mortal coil (Che Guevara, Bob Marley, John Lennon, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain spring instantly to mind).

The morbid fascination with continuing to ensure that their legacy is fixed in the public eye is something that does no favours to their memory, it reduces them to the status of a t-shirt or a coffee mug – at the very least a poster on a student’s wall!

The release of “This Is It” is not a brilliant piece of film-making, it is a brilliant piece of marketing by an industry that sees opportunity in death and that is what inspired the movie…..not the music.




2 responses

1 11 2009
Tom Baker

The movie was excellent and I mean excellent. That being said, Elizabeth Taylor was exaggerating! Good post.

4 11 2009

Thanks for your comment.

Glad you enjoyed the film and MJ’s death was a great loss to the world of entertainment but there is something slightly morbid about the repackaging of all celebrity catalogue after death.

I am still waiting for a Patrick Swayze box set to come out…….

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