As Grace mentioned the connection between Michael Jackson and Karen Carpenter immediately came to my mind at the time of his death as well. I have a feeling that the real killer here was his anorexia, the drugs just made it worse.
Interestingly, the coverage of both Fawcett and Jackson’s deaths have been very odd, in my opinion. Very few of those who gave statements in the death of Jackson seemed very real, instead they focused on his career and their connection to it. Quincy Jones made sure to give the number of records sold and which records he worked on before saying he felt like he lost his “brother.” I don’t know about you, but that’s not the first thing I think about when I have tender thoughts of family members. Most of the celebrity “grief stricken statements” seemed more of an opportunity to show off their accomplishments and boil down the whole of Jackson’s life as if he were a cartoon. It’s no wonder one of the lawyers who represented him during the case against him for child molestation described Jackson as “one of the loneliest people,” he’d ever met. The only celebrity statements that seemed remotely like normal human reactions were Lisa Marie Presley, Brook Shields and Elizabeth Taylor’s.
I have to admit that I am cringing through most of the coverage of his death which seems to vacillate between extreme hyperbole (Ann Courie saying there might not be any MTV without Jackson) and turning him into a convenient way for certain celebrities to plug their own talents and importance. To say it is crass is a far too great of an understatement and the fact that the media (which itself seems to have gone the direction of placing its own head so far up its own butt that it hasn’t seen daylight in 20 years) is fanning the flames of this hyperbolic narcissistic feeding frenzy, at least hear in NPD central, Los Angeles.
And the sad documentary (which is made only that much more sad by Farrah Fawcett’s death) also seems a strange macabre ego massage. While I feel very sad for anyone who has health troubles, it seems an odd way to gain celebrity status, which has been happening as of late, some woman in GB did her death as a reality show, another dude the same, and then it seemed, in an effort to rekindle her celebrity, Fawcett allowed the documentary to be made. I’m not sure what is sicker people watching these other people suffer during the last moments of their life or the desire to be watched while walking through death’s door.
For some reason (being under the weather with nothing else on TV) I found myself watching part of the Fawcett documentary which was an odd mix or sadness, beauty (Fawcett’s journal writing about her experience was engaging and poetic) and twistedly narcissistic. She insisted on going home after having major surgery back from Europe to the US despite doctors’ warnings which I found oddly arrogant. After facing a deadly disease, going to another country for expert help, and one can only imagine facing your mortality squarely, she did the unexpected, she ignored their advice in characteristic stubborn star fashion. the normal comforting blanket of celebrity became a strange disconnect from reality, a retreat into her specialness which she paid the price for on the flight back as the doctors had warned.
It’s odd that we’ve now had a 96 hour news black out because two celebrities have died. One more infamous in recent years than famous, the others most memorable moment in the past fifteen years a bizarre seemingly drug addled interview on Letterman with “art” made by her naked body, published in Playboy when she was 50 years old, well past the expiration date on the public’s appetite for her nudity. She then came home after the expert doctors she’d gone all the way to Germany for who told her not to fly home early, which she did anyway (a typical sort of celebrity knows best sort of attitude which I’ve seen a lot here in LA) to her apartment with a giant Andy Warhol portrait of herself in the living room. She claimed to desire her privacy and was angry about people finding out about her health problems – so why the documentary detailing the nitty gritty of it? The answer to this seems to be a pathological need for attention, which appears to be the bane of the famous/infamous’ existance. Farrah’s diary entries, written and read by her in the documentary were very well written and moving, revealed a lot about the sheltered and privileged life she led when she wrote an entry about never having gone through any real sort of health problem and how she wanted her life back. While she did count her many bliessings she also infered her specialness was given by God instead of understanding that her life, as all lives have lessons and one can not rise above being human to be anything other than as special as anyone else. She seemed to lack the insight of her connection to the whole of humanity and there was a constant feeling the reason for the documentary was an indignance with her own mortality, that somehow fame which had made a goddess out of her, could not give her the one thing that a real Goddess would have, immortality. She seemed to be beffudled by the idea that she was human and had an odd percpective that her facing death was somehow anything more than what we all share. We all die. We all have pain. We all suffer. There is no escaping this, yet there seemed to be a part of her that came through that actually thought she would somehow escape the inevitbale almost as if she had never considered it until she was staring it down. And although she seemed mildly humbled when she was feeling her worst as soon as she got good news she abandoned her inner quest back to her throne. It was very odd.
I live in Los Angeles and at this point I’m not sure if this sick fascination with the “famous” is a function of the bizarre and twisted culture of Hollywood that is warping my greater view of American culture or whether American culture truly has become a tabloid, insanely obsessed, strangely narcissistic fish bowl.
As a way to escape the onslaught of Jacskson and Fawcett endless non-news stream, we turned on Bill Maher. Ironically, he actually did talk about Michael Jackson with Billy Bob Thornton, however when that interview was done MJ would still have been alive. But what struck me like another hammer over the head was the first interview with Cameron Diaz promoting her new movie, where she plays a mother who has a second child to save her first one from cancer (she needed a donor match). Interestingly, Diaz revealed a lot about the strange curse disguised as a gift, known to us commoners as “celebrity.” In her comment she mentioned that people (the public) expect her (or any celebrity) to stay the same as when the public “fell in love” with them. That said celebrity, in her case was when she was 22, which she used as an example. She then went on to talk rather candidly with Maher about her feelings about marriage and children which she said she understood (only and purely) as a biological need to procreate. Seriously, that’s what she thought marriage and family was about. And she said she didn’t believe anyone who got married thought they would actually stay married and anyone who married held onto the security blanket of a possible divorce down the road.
Wow, I thought, she sounds like a 22 year old girl who was very immature for her age.
In a strange way she harkens back to the ancient archetype of the virgin (not what the virgin became but what it was initially which was a woman who had no need of family or men and was considered complete onto herself – she represented the girlhood phase of femininty just as say the bacholor or Peter Pan represents eternal boyhood. However virgins were dedicated to the Goddess and spent their lives in service to the spiritual path of the maiden).
But back to the point I was making about Diaz’s understanding of, let’s be honest, love. Bill Maher also suffers from the same affliction as she, an inability to really connect with others and have true empathy. You may wonder how I jumped to such a conclusion based on the interview and her rather shallow portrayals on film. Well, I’ll break it down. Firstly, there is partial truth to the need for procreation and for most people this is how they leave their mark on the world through their family. However more important than that basic primal desire is what is masked underneath that desire, and that desire is the desire to be one with another living being – to find connection. Sexuality in most ancient cultures was actually seen as a way to connect with the divine through feeling the oneness and the living spirit of God/Goddess in your partner. Sure, now sex has been turned in on itself to control people with, turning their most primal and spiritual desires into something to be disgusted and embarassed about so the 3rd party religious institution can rid a person of their sin and make them holy again through disconnecting them to the very source of the spirit of the Creator. It is through sexuality that we become divine/co-creators or potential co-creators (at least in a physical/symbolic way) in the ever expanding universe.
It was interesting to see Maher and Diaz, two sides of the same coin, sitting across the table from one another, each wearing a different mask but unknowingly of the same distorted viewpoint. Diaz representing what she said were the many “opportunities” she had been presented with unlike her parents and Maher, who I suspect never got past some twisted Freudian relationship with his mother, both so empty and insecure and afraid to be vulnerable to anyone, preferring to stay frozen in time and in control at all costs. I say this because one of the greatest gifts of romantic love is being out of control, losing your mind and then seeing yourself through the mirror of your partner who challenges you to be a better human being, not neccessarily richer, or a bigger star, but a more evolved soul, something most of Hollywood is completey unconcerned about. It’s interesting here as an aside to note, that the card representing the film/TV industry is the Devil card in the tarot. I had been told this by several readers and then put it to the test only to find it was true. When reflecting on why this would be I realized that the grueling work schedules and focus on material things and status are the greatest fixation for the vast majority of people who participate in the industry. There is a one-upmanship unprecidented in any other field and a vaccous need to be the most famous of the famous, which of course is born of great insecurity, shame and narcissism (which by defination is a shame disorder but that’s another aside).
I’ve seen (because again I lived in LA for a very long time and you can infere what you want…) a pattern among celebrities or people who attain a level of fame. The best metaphor I could come up with was imagine that these individuals are flowers in a field and plucked and pressed in a book, dried to perfection and kept forever in this state. Their life stays frozen. Their spiritual growth frozen, because no one will confront them anymore for fear of their status (by being friends/lovers or whatever of the famous person) will be lost by a blow off. Even the most evolved souls who truly seek out ways to improve their spirits suffer under the weight of being plucked and pressed, losing their roots and being isolated, stared at, admired from a far for appearance only, and being under a constant microscope.
Fame is a killer, like heroine it is addictive and intensly destructive yet most Americans suffer under the delusion that it’s something to be desired and like a magic potion will solve all of their trouble if only they could be rich and famous like the celebrities they adore. So many people that go into the performing arts do it for the sake of fame and believe the lie that life will be fixed on the other side. A belief I’m sure Kurt Cobain had as so may other rock stars before him, only to find that wherever you run there you are, and being famous doesn’t change you, you just have a thousand eyes watching every move you make, judging, reporting and admiring, heightening the insecurity and shame felt pre-fame. I’m quite sure this is why so many celebrities (especially musicians who carve their own path and whose success is more dependant on their ambition than actors whose fates are more at the whim of circumstance) die horrible premature deaths, hooked on drugs, unable to enjoy a decent salad due to body dismorphia, completely alone because no one is willing to be honest (although most celebrities would just rid themselves of anyone honest so that’s a self-created problem) and confused, taken advantage of, but hey, they get to live in houses so big they probably only use one percent of the space they own, and wear clothing that costs more than some people’s homes. Seems like a fair trade.
I want to say here that I don’t believe in romanticizing people after death. Perhaps because I know the souls of all individuals proceed and are eternal, I don’t feel there is any use in lying. When Nixon died he became Saint Nixon, Reagan an Angel. We learn nothing from the lives of those we have had the privelage to watch if we do so dishonestly. I am not criticizing these individuals. I am criticizing the disturbing way our culture fixates on certain individuals to the point of their destruction. I truly feel pity for those who spend their lives chasing fame, fortune, and status. It all too often leads to a lonely life spent chasing a phantom carrot. For the souls who have crossed over, all of them, not just those whom we have seen on TV, may their spirits be guided to the light as peace and love consume them.
8 thoughts on “Michael Jackson, Farah Fawcett & the Coverage & Fame”
I don’t live in LA. I don’t watch much tv and yet, I am surrounded by it too everywhere I go. It’s like there is no escaping it. Maybe people pay so much attention to celebrities so they can avoid thinking about and living their own lives preferring to let celebrities live it for them.
The human brain wasn’t wired to accept stimuli 24/7, as it does when assaulted by non-stop news and entertainment. No wonder our perceptions are warped. We live in “celebreality,” where – thanks to TV and the internet – anyone can obtain some sort of quasi-celebrity status, at least for 15 minutes. Andy Warhol was right on about that!
Most celebrities seem to relish attention – until it becomes negative. Then it becomes intrusion! You can’t hire an agent and a publicist to put your name and face out there, and then bitch and moan when you’ve been busted for doing something stupid or irrational. Anyone in the public eye is going to be held to a higher standard and woe to them if they tumble off the pedestal. Makes me happy I’m a nobody!
Here in Ocala, FL, our big celebrity is John Travolta. He and his wife have a mansion with its own airstrip, which makes it convenient to fly back and forth to Clearwater, where Scientology has its headquarters. I’ve never had a Travolta sighting myself (they tend to go out under cover of darkness, like vampires), but the local paper drools over them. They have a special column about them, a Travolta watch! So even here in Podunk, you can’t get away from celebreality.
As for Jackson, I think the stuff that’s going to come out about him and his way of life will curl people’s hair. I’m not disputing his talent, which was massive, but he seemed to live in a twisted little Netherworld, not a fairyland Neverland. I feel sorry for his children …. although not biologically his (according to the birth mother), he was their legal father and his “legacy” will be theirs to bear. So, you see, just by knowing this, I am as guilty as anyone of feeding into this twisted reality. Shame on me!
Denise, your thoughts come through you to “paper”, so perfectly.
First, I feel the media is totally to blame for devoting most of their airtime to the death of Michael Jackson, for days/nights. I hate to imagine that the majority of beings in this country are truly SO undeveloped as to want this kind of coverage. Heaven help us, if so. I wish his soul blessings, he had great dancing talent, yet this is a being who seemingly refused to grow up, and get the counseling/therapy that he surely could have afforded. I think too, that this bit of “buying” children thru surrogates just kind of defies spirituality. And the media is selling all of this to whatever dumb, non-growing beings are “out there”, watching.
I saw most of the Farrah documentary, & I felt uncomfortable watching it. I didn’t feel that it could help others, to watch it. I felt that it just wasn’t “helpful” to viewers, & wondered if she did it for the money mainly, or the attention. She had some courage, yes, but I didn’t feel it really accomplished much for viewers.And no, I didn’t get the feeling that she felt connected to all the other souls who’ve been through what she went through: it seemed to me to be more of a ego thing, although she probably didn’t recognize it as such. Most stars are probably hugely into ego rather than soul/psychological growth.
I have a hard time believing that teenybopper fans of Paris Hilton, &Michael Jackson fans of whatever age, are true CNN or Fox watchers. I think the owners of the media are mostly a very low level lot, without substance, who have no interest in educating people or presenting truth about so many serious things, such as what has been going on in our gov’t. Not that that is an uplifting subject, but the tv media has been complicit in covering up a number of very serious truths of the previous 8 yrs, and it cannot be an “accident”.
There are plenty of magazines and tabloids that will be doing plenty of coverage about MJ and his death, and in earlier years, with other , more serious and substantive media owners/directors, they would have left most of the coverage after a day or so, to the magazines and tabloids. Not everyone in this world or this country is “sick” and shallow, but from watching the media coverage of MJ’s death, you’d think that is the case. Heaven help our country, and the psychologicial states of way too many. I hate the right-wing phrase/cry of “FAMILY VALUES”. Having values is not a “family” thing, but an individual thing, which of course they don’t think about in promoting their causes. But the media damned sure has lousy “values” about what they consider huge news, and what they’ve chosen to cover up, that is/was highly important.
I am very glad that I don’t have cable television. We live in the country so can only get two stations…I watch “The Biggest Loser” nine month out of the year – and that is about it.
I used to think that talk show hosts were somewhat funny. Now they seem jaded to me.
And something that I am completely disgusted by are the “commercial” paid for by lobbing groups like the meat-packers association that deliberately portray their product as cool in offhanded remarks in sit-coms. And no one seems to know about it! They are being brainwashed.
One thing is for sure. There are little demons (or laggards or whatever you want to call them) hanging onto a majority of the television actors, announcers, hosts, and commentators.
Beware! You can pick up all kinds of nasty insidious junk from watching television – just even flipping though channels.
And heavens knows what is going into chilrens’ heads from televiosn…ALL television: news, sit-coms, talk shows, dramas, reality shows…do we really want that junk in our childrens’ subconscious brains?
It’s crap, guys! Pure & simple doo-doo going into your heads!
Sorry for the severe nature of my post! LOL!
On another note entirely… As a world traveler 2 planes have gone done in the past month at 10degrees southern lattitude. Check for yourself the Air France plane and the Yemeni plane went down at what appears to me to be the same latititude. I saw a documentary where scientists claimed that the magnetic field of the Earth was weakening over that part of Brazil shortly after the Air France crash and my mind immediately was sent spinning so when I saw this other plane go down at the same latitude it seems to me that the weakening magnetic field may be disrupting the plane’s instruments. I have emailed the investigation board at the FAA. I am not a scientist but it seems like an unusual coincidence. If anyone knows anyone who can pass along this information I thinks its worthy of a second look… Particularly since it scares the bejesus out of me everytime I fly now… All the Best!
Interesting you should mention the plane crashes, because my husband was talking just today about the weakening of our atmospere due to pollution and how microbursts or solar weather is affecting the wind systems. These microbursts from these extra solar storms in space drive down winds from the upper atmospere at at speeds up to and exceeding 1,ooo/mph. These winds have temperatures of 200 below zero.
A civilian plane would snap like a twig in the wind under those conditions. An amoured military plane might fair a little better. At any rate, with all this pollution messing up our atomspere, these microbursts are getting more and more frequent.
My husband is a big fan of space weather and how it affects our planet and our technology.
Pretty cool post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really liked.
I really like your metaphor of fame as a plucked and pressed flower that no longer has any capacity for growth. John Updike said that fame was a mask that eats into the face. The Japanese say that the whale that blows is the one that gets harpooned. I am very pleased that I am not famous but I would like my poetry to be more widely read!
Best wishes from Simon