We are all Michael Jackson.

The amount of attention and the sheer bandwidth devoted to the passing of Michael Jackson is, well, amazing. Some may find this disturbing. I am inclined to think that it is a telling moment in the unwinding of American society’s scroll.

People read Michael Jackson human interest stories because he represents what is true of a lot of us. We have been incredibly successful, or have at least had promise of great talent and opportunity, but now can no longer sing. We have demonstrated the ability to produce and earn, but we are buried in debt and have nothing to show for past years’ incomes. We take too many pills. We fear death and worship youth and seek to hide what age has made us by alabaster pastes, or brave new lines of skin and cartilage. Too many of our relationships are defined by self-interest; other people do things for us because they know or hope that we will pay them something sometime; in social spaces where there is no opportunity for exchange, such as in waiting rooms or airports, we Americans keep to ourselves and barely say “hi.” Yes, we are all terribly alone.

We are all Michael Jackson.

This is true of the individual and the collective. Our country would like to think that it is young and strong and has its best days ahead of it. At least, Mr. Reagan said so, and Mr. Obama repeated the line recently. Yet we have the oldest written constitution in the world. We are, in fact, an ancien régime. Even Appotomax stands a sesquicentennial back these days. Collectively, we want to think that everyone else out there will love us again and that, with inherent genius, we can do another tour and have another campaign and even save the children of the world, as if they would come to me. But has been some time since we walked on the moon.

1 comment:

Marsha O-W said...

been some time since we've moon-walked too...in keeping with the MJ metaphor.