There’s obviously an insatiable public curiosity about the late Michael Jackson.
Since he died suddenly and unexpectedly last week at age 50, the media has jumped on the story with a vengeance.
Some news magazines ditched virtually all of their other content in favour of photographs and articles concerning the individual former Beatle Paul McCartney describes as “a talented boy man with a gentle soul.”
Consumers are buying up his music at an unprecedented pace and his celebrity friends are heaping praise on him as though he were the second coming of Jesus.
Speaking of Christ, a few of his more devoted fans have even gone so far as to refer to Jackson as the King of Kings, a title normally reserved for the Christian messiah.
And to be fair, if Elvis was The King, and Bruce Springsteen is The Boss, then it probably won’t hurt anyone if Jackson becomes known as the new King of Kings. After all, we’re only talking about show business.
There’s no question that Jackson was talented: both at music and marketing; however, some of the pubic adoration that is going on these days is surely over the top.
Jackson and his siblings can rightly claim a place in the history of Motown – a style of music of great importance.
Whether the kind of disco/pop that Michael recorded in later years will have similar lasting value is anyone’s guess.
In any case, Jackson still has millions of fans and earned many millions of dollars during his lifetime.
It’s amazing to ordinary citizens and financial experts alike that he could run up huge debts and lose so much money when he had earned so much, but that appears to have happened.
Even so, his estate will likely still be worth hundreds of millions of dollars when it is divided among his heirs.
The most curious development of the past week is the way his legion of fans have mostly forgotten or forgiven the child molestation allegations he faced a few years ago.
It’s as though they don’t realize he paid at least $20 million to the families of the little boys he is said to have sexually abused.
“He was acquitted,” his fans say.
Uh huh, and O. J. Simpson is just misunderstood, eh?
Now it appears that Jackson was a drug addict who employed a nanny who claims it was her responsibility to occasionally pump his stomach, and keep him from dying of an overdose.
Though Jackson claimed to have had only two plastic surgery operations, some experts maintain he had more than 20.
His appearance certainly changed over the years.
It’s no wonder that standup comics used to joke that Jackson had successfully transformed himself from a black man into a white woman.
Such comments may have been a bit mean, but there’s no denying that Jackson came by the title “Wacko Jacko” honestly.
He married two women in what critics have described as “sham marriages,” possibly to make himself more acceptable to fans who might have been turned off by his rumoured pedophilia.
Amazingly, Jackson admitted to sleeping in a bed with the young sons of acquaintances, as though that were the most normal thing in the world for a middle-aged man.
It’s difficult to guess what Jackson’s ultimate legacy will be, but one can guess that he’ll eventually be viewed as much less important than the Beatles but nearly as important as Elvis.
Jackson and Elvis were true innovators in the world of music, but they were both overrated and behaved like clowns from time to time.
Lee Giles is an Advocate editor.