the MJ service and why the internet freaks me out

July 7, 2009

This is insane. I just woke up (yes, I know it’s almost 2 in the afternoon—I work graveyard shift!) just as the MJ Memorial Service was ending. But never fear future of media coverage, I can find every second of the service already pieced out and separated into minute-by-minute blog posts. Everyone’s got a live stream, a Liveblogging page (or, in the Wall Street Journal’s meta case, a liveblog of all the other liveblogs), a Twitter feed, a Facebook status update or a fucking newspaper article already written about the thing and the Range Rover-sponsored motercade (no shit) is barely in San Fernando. Having one of the largest news events in history happen right after the Internet’s Twitter tipping point is showing the world the potential of our creation of immediacy. It’s almost surreal to watch how modernity has rewritten the five stages of grief and turned the aftermath of MJ’s passing to a spectacle almost as bizarre as the performer himself. Acceptance is no longer last, it’s first. And numbeness is, I suppose, is now the ultimate goal.

But even though the rest of the world seemed to be okay with the progression of collective sadness into website hits, I can’t figure out how I truly feel about the whole thing. Am I really sad that he’s dead or do I feel obligated to be sad because he was such a prolific figure? Am I only caring because everyone else cares? If it wasn’t on the front page of the newspaper every day would I care at all? I liked Michael Jackson as much as anyone that went to Club 82 back in 2004 liked Michael Jackson, which is probably in the most uninformed way possible. Do I have a right to mourn? Growing up, he was the once-famous singer who wanted to be white so badly that he bleached his skin, sang the song from Free Willy and hung out with that dreamboat Caulkin from Home Alone. But now that he’s gone, do I weep for pop music? For movies that will forever have shitty soundtracks? For the misunderstood? Do I weep at all? I watched Captain EO everytime my mom and I went to Disneyland and own Moonwalker on VHS but does that make me a fan? Did I deserve a ticket to his memorial service?

I am frustrated that the death heard-’round-the-world is the first to make full usage of our balls out Internet because there’s no turning back. Everything from now on will have to be more accessible, updated faster, replayed quicker, written about before it’s even over and relegated to the past before anyone can even get back into their cars. Not allowing news to run its formerly-“natural” course of time is a shame to the public who are receiving immediate opinions, thoughts and images that are spontaneously determined from thousands of news sources received on dozens of different electronic devices. And we wonder why our kids can’t concentrate in school? We are not asked to actually understand things, just watch and read and comment and talk shit and say the first thing that comes to our mind instead of analyzing what it all means and how it might fit into the scope of your week or month or—gasp—year! We disseminate knowledge without education and immediacy without real content. A Michael Jackson memorial service with 8750 luckily-ticketed citizens who are going to walk out of the Staples Center and still not know what the fuck just happened. How is anyone supposed to maintain the patience of getting through a book when in the 10 minutes it took me to write this blog post, what I’m saying has already become outdated?

Back in the 80s, Ferris Bueller had some advice for us ’09 Internet fiends: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

UPDATE: Finally read my copy of Sunday’s L.A. Times and apparently, they have my sentiments exactly (and express them with much more hilarious and less depressing wording!). I must not be the only one resisting the future.

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