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We'll laugh about MJ again, one day

2009-06-26 14:07
We'll never joke about Miriam Makeba. Never. Lady Di: A week. Michael Jackson? Mere minutes, thanks to Twitter. "It was in his Billy Genes". "Blame it on the Boogie". Come on, admit it! You're laughing too. As one tweeter put it in under 140 characters,  "This is Twitter, the 6 stages of grieving should take about 90 seconds".

But love him, loathe him, shamelessly cash in on his death, or dare to laugh at him before it's really polite, Michael Jackson remains the face(s) of many turning points and historic moments in popular culture - in fashion, in music, in the way we view celebrity. The first star to really prove that in pop, it really didn't matter if you were black or white (and that in fact, thanks to great wealth, and the wonders of plastic surgery, it was possible to be both.)

He was the first celebrity whose life we watched unfold on TV, in the newspapers and through his music, who fuelled speculation with songs like "Dirty Diana" and played up to the gossip in a way that even Madonna, the queen of self-publicity, didn't do with quite his candour.  It began when the back page of the Sunday Times still seemed fairly fresh, where Michael went from being a cute kid, to a pop icon, to the weird Wacko Jacko, to the Jacko we pitied because his celebrity was the jail from which he'd never escape. He died before he was able to reinvent himself, and perhaps he's lucky he did. In this world, nobody bothers to listen anymore when you beg them to "Leave me alone".   

So what about the sobbing fans, raising single white gloves to the sky in mourning? Shouldn't I be more respectful of their feelings? Well I don't know. It's not like they knew Michael Jackson. It's not like he's person you can honestly admire for his strength of character. This isn't an event that will change the world forever. It's not like the World Trade Centre just got bombed. It's not like Mandela has died.

But if I really mean that, why am I feeling sad that Michael Jackson is gone? Because I am. I'm sad. I feel like someone just cut my teddy bear up right in front of me.

The truth is, what I'm really mourning here is passing of my own past, the loss my youth, and the days, yes, when a newspaper still actually had breaking news in it. I'm mourning the time that Michael and his music reminds me of, and the experiences that I won't have. It's weird and sort of sad to realise that I'll never see him live. He was only 50. We weren't expecting this.  

I'm also concerned that his death will bring skinny jeans back into fashion. Seriously, we JUST got rid of them, and men my age just don't look that good in them. Can someone please inform Fokofpolisiekar's Francois of this point?

Speaking of looking good... aren't I forgetting something? Yes, I am: former Charlie's Angel Farrah Fawcett-Majors, who was unlucky enough to die on the same day as Michael did. If you ask me? The joke's really on her. She's become a mere footnote in Michael Jackson's global funeral service.

A funeral service that includes this tribute by Music Editor Miles Keylock, nostalgic memories and favourite songs from the channel24 team, a gallery of the biggest moments in his life, a quick quiz to test how well you know your MJ facts, and a Michael Jackson party pack - for the wake.

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