Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The Culture of Celebrity

If it were not for the media would Princess Diana and Michael Jackson be alive today? What defined a celebrity before the current era of paparazzi? Does their existance do us, the people, more harm than good?

The answers to these questions neither come easy nor are simple. Princess Diana sped to her death away from who she perceived as paparazzi. The necessity to shield her private life away from the 'Sauron' like eye of the public whisked her directly into the open arms of death. Similarly, Michael Jackson's final years were plagued with negative publicity which is a certain cause of his fatal addiction to prescription drugs.

The often 'good cop, bad cop' routine played by the fickle media leaves the lives of these celebrities wide open to public autopsies. The constant acceptance and now the daily ritual of preying on celebrity has given birth to a host of new business models, including gossip websites. What happened to the era when celebrities were reverred for their talents and their on screen persona? Their private lives remained as such, private. People saw them at premieres or interviews or at award shows thus wrapping them in that alluring shroud of mystery. Whilst also allowing them the honor of privacy in their daily lives.

In this era, the declining readership of print newspapers induce the editors to obtain more 'readable' material from the paparazzi and the increasing popularity of the internet propels the disbursement of such material to a wider audience. Angelina Jolie, in an era gone by, would have been likened to Grace Kelly or Jackie O. However, we can now even obtain extensive analysis of the veins in her arms on certain days.

A similar paparazzi culture has given claim to a fame to a host of otherwise forgotten individuals. In the past, Lindsay Lohan would possibly not have any claim to fame - she would be a one hit wonder. Now, without a single good production in the pipeline and almost broke, she remains in the forefront of celebrity news for her junkie lifestyle. Paris Hilton, Nicole Ritchie and a host of others manipulated the glitz of their families to obtain the focus of these cameras. It is difficult to respect and adore the art of these artistes when you have seen their underwear. What art can most of these celebrities speak of? Celebrities for the most part used to comprise of artistes. This is no longer the phenomenon.

Although an ardent fan of MJ's music, I never looked at nor paid attention to the paparazzi spin of his life that was potrayed by the media for the past few years. Thus I was able to retain the magic that his art cast on my life since childhood. This retention and this pure adoration for an artiste's work and for the gifts he had given us, is what makes it difficult for me to accept his sudden demise. I also believe this is what makes MJ the last true celebrity. Someone adored all over the world, not for the news they generated on one day by wearing a certain type of clothing but for their art - which in the end is what will remain for years to come.

It is a shame to see that people who have brought moments of peace to our lives through their work in movies or music, are now subjugated to our constant analysis and ridicule. If this brings about a phenomenon that we no longer see good pieces of art or music that has soul, it is as much our fault (for feeding the paparazzi the fuel to satisfy our thirst for celebrity gossip) as much as anyone elses.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Heaven Exists..

I really hope so.

Just so that Michael Jackson can look down on today on the world and see how much he was loved. If he didn't know it whilst alive, I pray he sees it now.


Monday, July 06, 2009

Another Day Is Gone...

So I've read most of the available news channels (that I'm interested in), looked at the gossip sites, searched for more interesting jobs, looked up my college application a little bit more and now I'm a tad bored. The boyfriend is missing since he's got visitors and I'm left to my own devices.

So maybe I'll start a poll. Who else is terribly bored?

Thursday, July 02, 2009

In Death, He Is Bigger Than Life

Over the past few days, I have spent a lot of time listening to MJ's songs, watching his videos, reading about him. The last time I must have been this focussed on him was probably when I was 9 or 10. One thing is certain, the more I listen and the more I see, the more of my childhood I remember. And I believe this is the reason that Michael Jackson will be legendary, he is part of our childhood. We feel his loss stronger than other generations as it feels as if this is the death of our childhood. And he will live forever because he is so connected to so many of us in a way that has never occured for later generations.

I was reading the Wikipedia entry on MJ yesterday, and suddenly I remembered! In 1986 (I was 2), there was a 3D 'cinema' (more like a tiny tent) at Sathutu Uyana. The first and last time I ever went to Sathutu Uyana was to watch a movie in this 3D cinema. I remember quite vividly Michael Jackson flying out of the screen at me, and me being petrified and crying and my parents having to leave the cinema. Up till this day, when I drive past that part of the park, I look at it and remember this occasion. The Wikipedia entry made it clear - the movie I was so frightened by was 'Captain EO' - MJ's 3D movie venture which somehow found its way to little Sathutu Uyana in Sri Lanka. So my earliest memory of MJ was when I was 2.

We have moved houses several times since I was 10, so most of my things are packed up in boxes. When I googled the album covers of Bad and Dangerous, I realised not only did I own these albums but I had the biggest poster of Bad (above picture) in my room, when I was 7 or 8. And it was this picture that was my first crush. Looking back at all his 'looks', I believe MJ was at his most 'stud'liest then. I remember arguing with my mother when I was around the same age, that Michael Jackson is and forever will be the 'King of Pop' as Elvis was the 'King of Rock and Roll'. Somehow this tag was less from studying of musical theory but more from wanting to create a musical kingdom where Madonna, incidentally was classified as my 'Queen of Pop'.

When I was around 9, I remember expressing to a friend who was older than me that I was in love with MJ and she telling me that he was around 30 years older to me. And soon afterwards, I remember being heartbroken as he married Lisa Marie Preistley.

Back in the day, we did not have cable nor internet. MTV and VH1 was something watched during summer holidays abroad. My mother had the great intellect to videorecord tapes of MTV UK for me so that I could watch (the same videos repeatedly) once I return to Sri Lanka. So in these videos that I watched for countless hours in my childhood was 'Thriller' (I was scared of that one and chose many a times to fast forward through the zombies), 'They Don't Really Care About Us' (I banged the table with much gusto), 'Black or White' (Very cool those changing faces), 'Remember the Time' (the Queen is so beautiful!), 'The Way You Make Me Feel' (what was he doing?!) and several others. Re-watching them now brings back memories of my old house, my old tv room, and the innocence of that time.

My friendships when I moved to a new school were cultivated through the similar tastes in music. We all loved Michael Jackson, for many of us he was our first crush. The boys loved him more than the girls did, but I loved him as much as the boys did so there! a connection to make friends with these smelly creatures. That have cooties. We danced to his songs at parties, I danced to his songs at home, I belted out 'You Are Not Alone' for the neighbours to complain. The 'Earth Song' brought tears to my now teenage eyes.

I moved to university and 'Billie Jean' was the craze, even after all those years. The number of nights, we rocked the dance floor to this song. With the wrong guy after the wrong drink. Driving in the car with an ex, 'Liberian Girl' plays on his CD player and he mentions how it reminds him of me. (I don't know why but hey so gullible!). Watched the Martin Bashir interviews whilst at university, tuning in without fail for the first and second installments and seethed with anger at Bashir for making a mockery of MJ.

NEVER for ONCE believe MJ did anything dispicable and wrong as he was accused of.

Yes, there are times - many a times - in my childhood and whilst growing up, that Michael Jackson returned to the background. As more hip and better looking artistes appealed to our growing levels of hormones. Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys replaced Michael Jackson's Bad poster. Walkman played songs of Britney Spears or Boyzone. Yes, there were people who imitated MJ, who loved him WAY more than I did but that does not mean I loved him any less. As harsh as it sounds, if my teen idol Nick Carter were to drop dead tomorrow, I doubt I'd shed a tear. (Yes, thats harsh but its true.)

But Michael Jackson remained, time and time again he returned to the forefront of my life, and never once left it. My tears over the past few days are for him. Who marked my life's many occasions with his presence, allowed me to understand and truly love music, allowed me the opportunity to create links with others through our mutual love of him, allowed me to enjoy my best nights dancing to his music. My tears are for the icon that made my life so beautiful with his creativity.

And, ironically, I know I am not alone in these feelings. I just wish Michael was alive to see how much we loved him. And that we only failed to show it whilst he was alive simply because thats our human way. We fail to show the people in our lives everyday how much we love them, so how was it easier to show him - who was going through trials and tribulations so many miles away. However, I know that his last concert bookings would have shown him. That no matter what the press through at him, what the money mongering heathens accused him of, the fact that 10 concert dates were increased to 50 FULLY SOLD OUT concert dates meant that his fans still ADORED him.

Your life made our lives beautiful.

You will live forever in our memories and hearts.

Rest in Peace.