The Media, Michael Jackson, and Dead Soldiers
by Yvette D. Carnell
The aunt of a soldier killed in Afghanistan has joined Charles Krauthammer and Bill O’Reilly in decrying the media coverage surrounding Michael Jackson’s death. Her nephew, 1st Lt Brian Bradshaw, was killed when an explosive device detonated near his vehicle.
Let there be no mistake, I mourn the death of all service members who give their life for our country. However, there are few television outlets which routinely offer even the scarcest coverage of individual soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The only show that immediately comes to mind is This Week with George Stephanopoulos where each week, they air a segment titled “In Memoriam” in which they list the name, age, and rank of soldiers killed during the previous week.
Most networks focus their coverage on much broader issues such as when will the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq end or which strategies are best for moving forward. Hence, the death of Michael Jackson did not suppress the coverage of America’s fallen soldiers.
Although the death of the King of Pop could not erase that which did not exist, his death did succeed in resurrecting resentment among white America. Sadly, American soldiers are dismembered and killed almost every day, but that didn’t stop America from watching Paris Hilton go to jail, Lindsay Lohan act a fool, or the Kung-Fu Panda premiere.
Where were the mothers of the fallen and conservative talking heads when the death of Anna Nicole Smith eclipsed media coverage, or when Heath Ledger’s untimely death was breaking news on CNN?
Neither Smith nor Ledger had a career which spanned decades or broke records in any way close to that of Michael Jackson. So why the criticism of the media over MJ’s death and not that of Smith or Ledger?
The answer lies beneath Michael’s own dysfunction. Due to his exaggerated European features, one could hardly tell but he was, in fact, a black man. And the idea that a black man could have the seismic impact on humanity that Michael Jackson had causes many of his critics to attack the messenger, in this case, the media.
By attacking the media, critics are refusing to acknowledge Michael Jackson’s legacy, thereby robbing him of his place in history. Will the growing chorus of media criticism gain traction over the coming days? I hope not. But one thing’s for sure, Michael Jackson’s death deserved every minute of coverage that it has received. Unlike so many talentless hacks (O’Reilly and Co.) and media “personalities”, the King of Pop earned his title and his place in history. R.I.P. MJ.