Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Michael Jackson's Memorial in Downtown LA: TV Hysteria

It would be remiss of The Flaming Nose to not cover the extraordinary live television event that is building to a hysterical pitch this morning. Coverage of the Michael Jackson memorial at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles has gone from breathless celebrity chest beating to an almost apocalyptic tone. It reminds me very much of a classic Nathanael West novel (Day of the Locust) set in Hollywood during the Great Depression.

Every cable news, local news and network news channel appears to be covering the event. It is also streaming live on all news websites. It's not worth listing them all here. If you can't find the coverage within 30 seconds of switching on your set or booting up your PC, then stick a mirror under your nose to see if you're still breathing.

One of the most interesting circus side stories to this amazing public meltdown, quite literally involves the circus. KTLA-TV's website reported that dozens of elephants were paraded through LA at dawn, past the pulsating crowds waiting outside the Staples Center for Michael Jackson's memorial. Barnum and Bailey's circus begins its run at the same venue tomorrow and an elephant walk is part of their tradition. We don't make this stuff up folks, we're just passing it along.

Meanwhile, several news outlets have just reported that Mr. Jackson's casket will be transported to the Staples center for the memorial. Apparently it will be rolled out during a performance of "Thriller". OK, I did actually make that one up. But it wouldn't surprise me.

Superstars scheduled to appear at the memorial include Stevie Wonder and Jennifer Hudson. Elizabeth Taylor respectfully declined.

I don't recall anything like this level of public insanity when past music superstars met their demise. Surely both Elvis and John Lennon were as big, if not bigger in the pantheon of dead celebrities? What makes Michael Jackson's death and subsequent memorial a bigger media event? I offer the following hypothesis:

  • The number of media outlets has exploded. There are countless websites, cable channels, social networking sites....one can barely get a Tweet in edgewise. They all contribute to the media uproar like twigs being thrown onto a giant bonfire.
  • Similar to "The Day of the Locust" which is set in the great Depression, we are now teetering on the edge of very dark days. If not an actual depression, we are certainly in a deep recession, with massive unemployment in Southern California. Mob mentality thrives in an economic downturn.
There's no escaping it, so unless you're trapped in an office with no Internet connection or hiking in the desert...there will be coverage. The Flaming Nose will be there to watch and report.


Amy said...

You summed it up perfectly, Jane. I didn't even know about the elephants or the plan to roll the body out to "Thriller." I can only bear to watch snippets of Jackson-related news, so my television has been off much of the time lately.

What's happening in this country? Have most of us gone mad?

Amy said...

Scott, who is at work right now and "buried up to his neck" in Jackson stuff, said "go with Channel 13 - I Love Lucy! Good for KCOP!"

LAGal said...

I wonder what would happn if Jesus' second coming were to follow this? Quite frankly, some of these news outlets wouldn't show up. This is wild and I liked Michael's music very much, but he certainly wasn't bigger than Elvis or the Beatles or Sinatra. Yes, he is right up there with them, but he isn't bigger than them.

Lisa said...

I completely agree with your rationale at the end of your post for this insane public spectacle. I was away from TV for most of today and only saw snippets of the service; was more interested in how the city of L.A. would fare.

I think the saturation point for most of us was reached several days ago...

Jane said...

It seems the city of LA, resilient as ever, has survived the latest celebrity meltdown. The only thing left is the estimated $4 million bill for the extra police, security and emergency crews. Hopefully someone will donate to that cause, because the tax payers in this state are broke!