Stop the Michael Madness

A strange thing happened to me the other night. I was surfing through the various news channels and happened upon an interview with former vice-president Dick Cheney. For the first time ever, I was actually glad to see Dick and listen to what he had to say.


Please don't misconstrue this, as I am sure it was a one time phenomenon. I still rank Cheney a close second to Darth Vadar on my top ten list of all-time evil people. But on this occasion, he actually served a humanitarian purpose.


He gave me some much needed relief from the media's obsessive coverage of Michael Jackson.


It is not my intent to take a cheap, posthumous shot at Jackson. He was a brilliant, once-in-a-generation artist. He was also a wounded, tortured human being who appears to have been undone by his personal demons. Like the rest of us, he was a mixture of both beauty and ugliness.

Michael Jackson in happier days


However, the media's coverage of his death has become surreal, absurd and downright ridiculous. If you have watched television in the past week, you know what I mean — there is no escaping this story. It has been all-Michael, all the time.


The media has left no stone unturned. We have heard from Michael's doctor, Michael's doctor's lawyer, Michael's nurse, Michael's family and Michael's friends. We have heard bout Michael's medication, Michael's will, Michael's baby-mama, Michael's finances, Michael's memorial service and Michael's personal habits.


To put this in perspective, consider the following — the death of a dysfunctional pop star has gotten the same amount and intensity of coverage as the 9-11 attacks received back in 2001.


And the fact that America is tuning in is the real tragedy.


With all due respect to Jackson's family, there is nothing about his life and accomplishments to merit this firestorm. He simply was not that important, no matter how many albums he might have sold 25 years ago.


If you believe everything you hear about the circumstances surrounding his death, it is safe to assume that Michael Jackson suffered from the disease of chemical dependency, as does 15 percent of the world's population. It is also safe to assume this condition was directly responsible for his demise.


Granted, that is a tragedy. However, it is a tragedy when any addict dies from their disease, especially when there is so much help available. The fact that Jackson could sing and dance does not make his passing any more heartbreaking.


Besides, we are surrounded by tragic events, many of them far worse than this one. At least Jackson is now at peace. What about the victims of Bernard Madoff and R. Allen Stanford? How about the adolescent females who have been psychologically traumatized and sexually abused by the polygamist predators in the FLDS?  Why are we not talking about the 3.5 million homeless Americans?


These people have been, and will continue to be, largely ignored. And therein lies the answer. You have the power to send a message to the mainstream media and let them know how you feel about this issue. You can take an action that will speak louder than a million words.


Turn off your television.


And then if you are feeling really rebellious, pick up a book and read it. Or have a conversation with your family. I know these are both revolutionary ideas, but you might be surprised at the joy and fulfillment they bring.


I am not saying you should ignore Michael Jackson completely. If his death caused you sadness, you should definitely mourn the loss. However, there are better ways to do this than sitting in front of the tube like an automaton, lapping up a bunch of useless information. You could actually do what I did.


Get a copy of Off the Wall, by far Jackson's best album. Find his best song, Don't Stop, and turn it up full blast. After the song ends, and you are finished moving to the rhythm, look upward and say, "Thanks, Michael. I hope you are at peace now."


Then move on — because there are actually tragic, unjust situations going on all around you at this very moment. And unlike what happened to the King of Pop, you actually have the power to change these.