I’m a little too young to have ever really understood all the hype surrounding Michael Jackson (I was only 2 years old when he made that historic appearance on t.v. and I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Thriller video in its entirety, although I’m embarrassed to admit I know most of the dance as a result of repeated viewings of 13 Going On 30) but nonetheless, you can count me among the huge numbers of people who have found him fascinating (if not also creepy & off-putting) and also among the huge numbers of people glued to CNN last night as they bought time while they figured out whether they really had been scooped by an entertainment blog and whether MJ really was, in fact, an ex pop singer, as it were.
After we turned off the television, I came upstairs to an email from World Vision bringing to my divided attention the fact that 250,000 people have recently been displaced in the Congo as a result of renewed conflict in that area, and I can’t stop thinking about the timely juxtaposition of the two. I just can’t make sense of the fact that we have such a twisted, rabid obsession with fame that we essentially drove a very talented kid to become an increasingly (from all accounts) insane, deranged, and possibly criminally-minded adult and that when it ended with his death (as these narratives tend to do) we can’t look away from the Breaking News, but when people die or are displaced or tortured or have their basic human rights taken away in large numbers in a part of the world not located anywhere near a Pinkberry franchise, it is relegated to the little ticker at the bottom of the screen, if it’s reported on at all. And I don’t really mean to be all soapboxy about it, because I’ve been listening to I’ll Be There on Grooveshark this afternoon and feeling a little sad and I will openly admit that I’d probably be more than a little devastated if one of my childhood idols went crazy and then died in a very public and dramatic fashion, but my very unscientific observation on the subject is that it’s weird, isn’t it, this fascination with and public mourning for people who can sing well, or act well, or write well, or are just weird and/or beautiful and whom we’ll probably never be in the same room with, never have a conversation with, and who would never be aware (much less care) if we were to suffer from cardiac arrest or cancer or a tragic fall from a ladder while putting away last year’s Christmas decorations?
On a lighter note (or a darker note; I can’t quite decide which), I’ve been watching baseball every Monday night for the past few weeks, cheering on the Hurricanes in their quest for world domination (or church league domination, at very least) and learning the appropriate things you’re supposed to yell out at these sorts of events to encourage the team, the appropriate times you’re supposed to yell them, and the fact that you always yell these encouragements twice, for reasons that are at time of writing still unclear to me. (I think I’m coming along nicely, although I’m still getting used to the fact that you don’t yell “COME ON!” like you do in hockey, because frankly, I quite enjoy yelling that, or at least muttering it indignantly.) A few weeks ago, one of the teams playing on the diamond after the Hurricanes was called the Crusaders, and it still boggles my mind a little bit, because really? Given all of the possible other equally intimidating names you can use (sample ideas you can feel free to use: the Chicken Poxes, the Rabid Badgers, the Dental Hygenists) and the fact that naming a baseball team seems quite a bit simpler than naming most other things, THAT’S what you’re going to call your baseball team? I’m a little relieved it’s just church league, and not an inter-faith league because, come on, the whole crusades thing wasn’t exactly our finest hour, was it?