Michael Jackson’s Cult-ural Contributions to Society
by Timothy Malone
Michael Jackson as Cultural Vampire, King of Pop (popularizer of Synthetic Existence, Virtual Reality, death of the Organic and a move to the virtual), and Symbolic Representative of Cultural Forces, Institutions and Realities.
As Far as I can surmise, these are the seven major contributions Michael Jackson has made to the culture.
1. Made music devoid of content. Inauthentic. Faked experiences, artificial. Billy Jean was a song about relationship with a woman, who claimed he had gotten her pregnant. My assumption is that Michael Jackson was either a) homosexual, or b) asexual, or c) pedophile. The first two orientations are intolerable to dominant institutions and normative systems. Created a virtual experience that was acceptable to cultural norms, and denied his own experience, thus setting a template for future artists, and what is allowed to be articulated.
“Beat it” saw Jackson dressing as a “thug,” and acting the “street” roll. The message was one of cowardice. “You better run, you better do what you can. Don’t want to see no blood, don’t be no macho man.” Thus, taking the style of the “street (clothes a little too tight buddy, but why sacrifice style for authenticity?) in a vampiric fashion, sucking it’s energy, and turning a profit from it.
The lyrics to the song an absolute insult to anyone who exists in collapsed societal circumstance, as if gang life and violence were a choice (just “beat it”), a style, a fashion. Insults anyone who has been in a flight or flight situation, when flight becomes impossible. When one must fight. Music of the snitch.
2. Dance devoid of meaning. Dance, as an artform, as a symbolic representation of emotional life, of lofty feeling and sentiment. Dance, in its artistic form, as representaive of experience indesribable through linear articulation, profound experience. Michael’s movements, the first empty movements lacking a referent. Gyrations, twists, and thrusts implying a sexuality that is notoriously absent, and not coming close to attempting anything else. The moonwalk his only contribution as it signifies a going backwards, a regression….. Moon as cut loose from the earth with its rhythms anf life, and biological pulsations – pure, cold abstraction.
Brittney Spears, Justin Timberlake and the rest of the robotic puppets all stem from Michael Jackson’s influence.
3. The abandonment of the Body, the Natural, the organic. Michael Jackson’s drastic alteration through plastic surgery, implants, restructuring of bone signifies an attempt to divorce himself from his humanity, his ancestry, and biology. He cuts himself loose from history and creates an ungrounded, free-floating monstrosity, in an attempt to achieve for himself the beauty ideal of the Western woman. A cloned Elizabeth taylor. Attributed the havoc done by trhe scapel to natural “change.”
4. The first half-man, half-machine. His fame generated through pr companies (societal machines) (his funeral an advertisement for his albums), the stage, the lights. Only known through cameras and controlled lighting. Totally cut off from reality, living in a parabolic bubble; insulated. Image created by others in a machine.
5. Demonstrates the capacity for media to control popular opinion, perspective. Before his death, Michael Jackson as the butt of a joke, a societal laughing-stock, as creep-o pedohile “Jacko.” After his death, the “greatest entertainer who ever lived.” Adnd our opinion changes with his coverage. Michael Jackson as manipulable tool.
6. Michael Jackson demonstrates for us the way powerful corporations run. He is worth more dead than alive, as his record sales will soar. His record company profits from his demise. The funeral will generate vast income for his record company and estate, while the taxpayers are asked to float the bill from the service. Why in god’s name wouldn’t the cost of the memorial service be taken from his future record sales? Michael Jackson and the machine make a last contribution.
7. As the private becomes public (the funeral as typically a family affair, now a media, profit driving spectacle), the public (as in public sphere) dissapears. Politics and society give way to a cult of celebrity. Rebellion in Iran falls out of the news cycle. A coup in Honduras ushers in a right-wing military junta, probably known by US policy planners prior to happening. Innocent Afghans killed in collateral damage, the bloodiest day in Iraq in over a year. And we watch Michael Jackson’s children speak, listen tio the voice of some kid sing (the newest machine put out by Jackson’t tour manager), and watch politically irrelevant personalities praise Jackson. All the while completley unaware of what happens outside of our parabolic chambers.