Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Baudrillard and Michael Jackson's Memorial Service

In Baudrillard’s assessment of the realized Utopia, America, he critiques the lack of history, inability to uphold tradition and failure to maintain the integrity of personal privacy.

Driving toward the heartland of wealth, toward the Neverland Ranch, “you always hear the same question: ‘What are you doing after the orgy?’ What do you do when everything is available—sex, flowers, the stereotypes of life and death?” On Tuesday, July 7, 2009, during the Michael Jackson Memorial Service at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles and projected on plasma screens across “Astral America,” what is done is to take the stereotypical flowers of death and ignore the problems of probable pedophilia during a celebrity life. What is done after the orgy in a state of abundance, as can be guessed, is to pick and choose and do whatever fits the stage. In this case, I must concede to Baudrillard. There is no privacy. Nor are there commonly agreed upon traditions to guide actions and words. What is reverent is that which generates the most buzz for the Jackson estate's archives. After the orgy, you recreate the orgy only wearing the diamonds against the color of mourning.

A collage of images feature Michael Jackson from five-years-old to a few days prior to his death. His physicality, perhaps above anyone else's, evidences the “morbid preoccupation” of the body. The evolution of his appearance marks the hedonism of being ‘into’ the body. “This omnipresent cult of the body is extraordinary” when comparing his childhood smile in a soft, beautiful, full face to a washed-out, pointy, synthetic face, a death mask, long before being placed in golden casket.

But all benevolent action eclipses any harm done to others by a man on the day of his funeral and memorial. Therefore, in this realized Utopia, the toothpaste effect conceals the impurities of the orgy and all that is pure is thrust over accusations to create the hyperreal image. Performances masqueraded as a human. Behind the stage makeup and lights was a man mutilated by upbringing, childhood stardom, celebrity status and the man in the mirror. Understanding the demolotion of the spirit of being a child thrust into the artifical stage lighting, he kept his own children so far from the public eye that many of us forgot that he had children. Yet, the King of Pop, from the crescent moon upon which Brooke Shields imagines him, surely is crying to see his family clutch his children and thrust them onto the stage. On a day the children should be most protected in loving arms, Michael Jackson’s children are watched by camera crews in a day long funeral. As a nation we sit back and watch the potential for the same harmful cycle that led to this man’s death regenerate before our very eyes as eleven-year-old Paris Michael Katherine Jackson is thrust into the spotlight to close her father's memorial service.


  1. Americans have short memories. They forget 9/11, they forget gas prices were $5.00 per gallon, they forget MJ was a pediphhine, they dont see the grossly self centered person spending millions of dollars on himself as he is standing there singing "we are the world". Its all the same. Like the poet said "we will pay the price, but we will not count the cost".

    Nice blog!!


  2. Great post. More disturbing than the funeral production is the fact that his "loving, devoted" family have not even laid this exceptionally troubled man to rest. This is an explicit example of the way an individual’s soul can forever be tortured and traumatized by poor parenting. K.T.

  3. Matt and filmwriter7, I couldn't agree more! Thanks so much for joining the conversation.