This Is It? Jackson Docu-Movie Hot on the Heels of Death

28 Oct

We’ve weathered a lot of celebrity deaths this year, and I’ve taken time to write about a lot of them on this blog, or at least the ones I cared enough about to mention.  I think it’s fair to say the most-publicized of these was probably the death of the so-called King of Pop, Michael Jackson.

(Photos redacted because WordPress is being a pain in the ass.  Imagine your own, or failing that, try Google.)

I don’t particularly want to rehash what I’ve already said about the man, and I certainly don’t want to delve too deeply into the gossip shit-show surrounding the particulars of his untimely demise, but it’s undeniable that his somewhat unorthodox life and controversial death made him one of the most polarizing superstars of all time.

It’s interesting to me how much publicity has sprung up around the man simply because he reached the end of his moral coil.  In the last ten years, the only time we heard about him in a news capacity was as his bizarre alter-ego, “Wacko Jacko” and apart from the die-hard fans out there, the majority of people seemed to have relegated him to the realm of eccentric has-been.

And now that he’s dead, it’s as though all the fans have come screaming out of the woodwork to prop him back up on the pedestal he fell from, lauding his musical genius all over the presses – I don’t think there’s a single major publication that didn’t do a full-colour ten-page spread detailing Michael Through The Ages.  And to be honest with you, that sort of rubs me the wrong way.
Let me explain what I mean.

If you read the last post I made about this man, you know I’ve got a great deal of respect for his art.  I don’t particularly care one way or the other if he was indeed a child molester (sorry if that sounds harsh, but it’s got nothing to do with his music); his importance to the musical community is kind of hard to miss.  So I don’t mean any disrespect when I say – isn’t there anything else going on in the world?

I mean, the man is dead, and I’m sorry that he’s no longer with us in the same way I’d be sorry for the loss of any person.  But this isn’t Ghandi we’re talking about – Michael Jackson didn’t dedicate his life to feeding starving children or building shelters or anything like that (though I am aware of his charitable contributions).  He was an important musician, but my patience for endless coverage of his life and death splayed all over every conceivable medium, every day since the day he died, is beginning to wear thin.

He died in June.  It’s October.  Everything else in this culture is thrown away and forgotten in much shorter order than that – hell, by Sunday my local grocery and department stores will be buried under a tsunami of fake snow, candy canes and reindeer paraphernalia, just as soon as they can square away the Jack-O-Lanterns and whatever other horseshit they couldn’t sell by Halloween.  So why is this different?

I’m not entirely sure why, but here’s what I do know for certain: nobody made a movie about Ghandi or Martin Luther King Jr. four month after their deaths.
Now, I’ll give this one sort of a pass, because from what I understand it’s not a Movie with a capital “M” – it’s sort of a stitched-together documentary about the last few rehearsals for Jackson’s comeback tour that was supposed to kick off shortly after he did.  That means they didn’t sink a huge amount of money into making some kind of blockbuster Hollywood aggrandizing biopic (Joaquin Phoenix, I’m looking in your direction), and that’s good, especially considering the kind of money that was already lost on the Tour That Never Was.

In fact it will be kind of nice for fans who didn’t get to see the guy perform one last time to be able to go to the theater and check out the aptly-titled “This Is It”, which comes out today.

But there’s some part of this that bugs me.  I mentioned before that it’s stitched together, like not a lot of forethought was put into it, and I can’t help but feel like this is one last chance to make a little money off a guy who, sooner or later, is going to be a fading memory.   Not that I begrudge anybody – I mean, like I said they lost a lot of cash on this failed tour and somebody, somewhere, has to be recouped for that.  But throwing together a bunch of footage of rehearsals for the show?  It’s kind of like on network TV when something goes wrong and you don’t have time to film a proper episode that week, what do you do?   Flashback episode.  Grab a bunch of footage from other episodes, edit them together with a loose storyline, and voila.  Instant filler.
I’m not trying to say the producers of “This Is It” are dong that, but frankly it all feels a little bit…cobbled.  Take this video for example:

(Sorry, all, WordPress is still being funky, so you’ll have to visit this link to check out the video.)

It was created to promote the movie, and while the video itself is very well done, “They Don’t Care About Us” is a very, very strange choice of song for a so-called tribute.  It was one of Jackson’s most political pieces, and not at all indicative of the sort of stuff he typically wrote.  Good song, but I still feel like this whole thing was organized so quickly and so shoddily that they just grabbed the first song they could get the rights to.

What am I trying to say about this?  To be honest, I don’t really know.  I feel this vague sense of anger about…well, about everything actually, but in this situation I can’t help but wonder who’s supposed to benefit from this whole carnival surrounding the apparent Legend (with a capital “L”) of Michael Jackson.  Not to say the fellow shouldn’t have a legacy, but why don’t you give him some time to get comfortable in his new digs before you start trotting his corpse all over the media in the interest of selling papers or movie tickets?

It could be I’m being a bit too harsh, but I feel like I have to make up for no blog posts in two days (I’ll admit to being kind of addicted to Facebook’s new PokerFace application…if you want to never get anything done again you should check it out).  So why don’t you give me your opinion?  Because apparently there’s nothing else worth talking about going on in the world anyway.  And I’m done – with apologies to the late MJ, all I wanna say is that I don’t really care about this.  At least not anymore.

One Response to “This Is It? Jackson Docu-Movie Hot on the Heels of Death”

  1. Alexandra Lucchesi October 28, 2009 at 4:48 PM #

    You’ve said alot of thoughts people are too afraid to admit are circulating through their own minds. And speaking of Halloween, it’s even more obvious when every costume store has a minimum of three different Michael Jackson costumes so fans can show their “admiration” to the star.
    Again, not that there’s anything wrong with that…

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