Friday, June 26, 2009

The King is Dead...Long Live the King

Michael Jackson is dead.

Called "the King of Pop" in his day, Michael Jackson has reached his ignoble end. Most of us knew it was coming, but like a train wreck, we couldn't look away. It's hard not to be ambivalent about his tragic demise, because on one hand, MJ had a huge influence on the popular culture of his day, not to mention his musical genius that leaves us with a huge body of work, spanning close to 40 years, and on the other hand, his life in the past 10 years was a freak show worthy of the heyday of Barnum and Bailey. I grew up with Michael Jackson. He's a year older than me, and I remember my love for the Jackson Five and their cutest member at the ripe old age of 12. I wanted to have his babies.....*sigh*

Both his life and the tragic quality of his death are certainly reminiscent of other mega-stars of their day....Elvis Presley coming to my mind almost immediately. Both stars were the "it" pop stars of their time and both wore the mantle of "king" of rock and roll and pop respectively. Elvis died of a legally obtained drug overdose, and as I write this, the autopsy on Jackson is underway and will probably reveal a toxic cocktail of drugs in his body as well. Which begs the question, in my mind...when did people in these men's lives stop saying "no" to them? At what level of celebrity, or wealth, do people begin to abrogate their obligation to keep someone from killing themselves with excess?

Celebrities of the recent and not so recent past...all died of drug overdoses administered by supposed doctors, whose first vow is to "do no harm." Heath Ledger, Anna Nicole Smith, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis and now Michael Jackson. The list is larger, of course, but it would do no good to list them here. All huge celebrities in their times and all fabulously wealthy. When do the hangers on and their families and the people who allegedly love them take the bull by the horns and intervene? Can someone who hasn't heard the word "no" in 20 years actually change? Do these people become so self centered, that, like actual kings, their merest desire is fulfilled instantly without thought for the possible consequences? Do the enablers surrounding these people think so much of their golden goose that they would allow it to kill itself? Evidently so.

When I heard of Michael Jackson's demise, my first thoughts were..."I wonder how long it's going to be before the report comes out that he died from a drug overdose?" Not long. Within hours, there was a report on the web (the UK Sun) that his personal physician administered a dose of the drug, Demerol, several hours prior to the emergency 911 call to his home. Fancy that. Funny, the same thing happened to both Anna Nicole and Elvis. Their personal physicians enabled their deaths....

It's truly a shame that talents like this live fast and die early, but it's a further shame that their deaths are hastened by the people who are supposed to have their best interests at heart, and who, firstly, take a vow to "do no harm."


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