If you were anywhere near a TV this morning you probably saw the Michael Jackson memorial. The early stats were: a price tag of $1.2M and climbing to the city in a bankrupt state and 3200 cops to manage thousands of people outside and inside the Staples Center. My friends in Belgium watched it live, as did viewers in 180 other countries.
I’m not quite sure what to make of the spectacle because to me grieving is a private affair. Does public mourning, even when disguised as a celebration of life, ease the pain for the family? The show did go on for the Jackson family who probably felt obligated to do this for MJ’s fans. When his brothers, the pallbearers, carried his coffin out wearing their single sequined gloves, it was a testament to the family’s entertainment legacy. But when we all go back to our lives as usual, can the emptiness they must feel be filled by any amount of public adoration for his memory?
I’ve heard from friends who either loved the tribute or felt disgusted by it. I’m more puzzled by the public that now loves him more in death. Personally I found raw tenderness in some of the speeches and performances, but I’m thinking I would have spared his children’s exposure to the media. His daughter’s heartbreak on display to the whole world? The cynic in me says it makes great TV and probably shows an united front for whatever legal battle lays ahead for their custody rights. I also know we live in the electronic age where privacy is headed toward extinction, but I would have spared them.