Since the day the King of Pop suddenly passed last summer, has there been a single day that he still doesn’t manage to miraculously show up in the news? As of eleven hours ago MTV.com announced that Disney will be bringing back what is described as ‘a 3-D sci-fi movie/theme park attraction. Here’s MTV’s film synopsis:
“The story follows EO (played by Jackson) on a journey to deliver a gift to the evil Witch Queen (Anjelica Huston). Thanks to the power of song and MJ magic, the Queen is transformed before she can send EO and his ship crew off to be tortured.”
As interesting as that may be, what’s even more so is to look to the past to the predictions of Jackson’s untimely death. Everyone from Spirit Man Joseph Tittel (whoever that is) to Nostradamus apparently predicted the event.
Way back in 2001, in A Massive Swelling: Celebrity Reexamined as a Grotesque, Crippling Disease and Other Cultural Revelations, Cintra Wilson compelled Michael Jackson to run away and go live out his days in the sunshine. She said, “Disappear before we, the worlds mean spirited publications kill you with our smothering, obsessive need to know you better.” She predicted that during a peaceful lull, he would suddenly quietly die under really bizarre circumstances. In her vision, we would find him drowned in four inches of bath water, “fully made up and dressed in an Ice Capades unitard or slumped over his private ferris wheel with a telltale can of silly string and a Ziplock bag.” (p. 49)
Well…..okay it didn’t happen quite like that but it was pretty weird. Fox News had an expert body language analyst pick apart Brooke Sheild’s reaction to his death when she responded to questions such as “Are you sad about Michael Jackson’s death?” and “Would you ever let your children sleep over at his house?” Was she just pretending to be sad?
What’s the point? What the hell was wrong with Michael Jackson? What’s wrong with us? Why am I contributing to an already over-saturated body of Michael Jackson information? According to the University of Warwick, the modern cult of celebrity came with the popularity of the obituary section in 18th century newspapers and magazines. Obituaries were originally written with the intent of showing how ones life would be rewarded or punished in death. The fact that death sells was not unnoticed by the founders of the early tabloids. Besides this, is there an even more sinister cause than financial gain for our fascination with dead celebrities?
In his exploration of the evolution of the tabloid industry, I Watched a Wild Hog Eat My Baby, Bill Sloan deconstructs how the tabloids changed the format and focus of traditional media outlets, and adapted them to cater to “basic human interest.” The book speculates on a connection between the “godfather of the modern tabloid,” Generoso Paul Pope Junior and the CIA. Before his important role in building the a billion dollar tabloid industry, he worked with the agency in a role he described as “psychological warfare.” The reason he provided for leaving the agency was “being fed up with the bureaucracy.” Whether or not New York crime boss Frank Costello provided the financial backing Pope needed to acquire The Enquirer is up for debate. It is a widely acknowledged fact that after World War II, periodical wholesaling and distribution was one of the earliest legitimate businesses controlled by the mafia.
Back in 1956, in The Power Elite, sociologist C. Wright Mills says “the power of the professional celebrity is the power of distraction.” (p. 360)…..
In 2008, the fictional narrator of Cintra Wilson’s, Caligula for President, says “winning the attention of Americans is like hypnotizing chickens.” (p21) The book goes on to make a connection between Anna Nicole Smith’s demise on February 8th, 2007, and the February 9th reports on the government’s manipulation of information leading to the invasion of Iraq.
Mills, C. Wright, The Power Elite, Oxford Press, 1956
Sloan, Bill, I Watched a Wild Hog Eat My Baby, Prometheus Books; First Edition edition March 2001
Wilson, Cintra, Caligula for President, Bloomsbury, 2008
Wilson, Cintra, A Massive Swelling: Celebrity Reexamined as a Grotesque, Crippling Disease and Other Cultural Revelations, Penguin, July 2001