Unless you live in a cave in some remote part of the world, you’ve probably heard that Michael Jackson passed away a few days ago.  I take that back.  You could probably walk deep into some cave in Afghanistan and the first you’d hear from some grotesque mountain man would be, “Hey, did you hear Michael Jackson died?”

 So, everybody knows and with that comes the 24/7 round the clock coverage on every news channel, and tributes by everyone who ever had a piece of lint of MJ’s clothing land on him.  Is it ridiculous?  Yes?  Is the news interesting?  No!   Is our cultural behavior fascinating?  Absolutely. 

 Regardless of if you liked MJ or not (and I was definitely a fan in high school, and I could see how someone could like him as an entertainer but dislike him as a person), you have to be amazed by the sudden attention to his death.  Just 2 weeks ago, he was a frail and wounded man, and no one cared if he was homeless on the side of the curb outside of a 7/11 store drinking cheap wine out of a paper bag.   Now, everyone is interested in paying some sort of a tribute and discussing how sad it is.  Jesse Jackson cannot wait to have the spotlight shine on him once again discussing the sad nature of this situation.

  (For the international Audience, Jesse Jackson is a reverend who likes to get involved in politics, and turn everything into a race issue; particularly if he can grab the spotlight.  He’d make a national racial case out of why your ordered the “Pinto Beans” as opposed to the “Black Beans” at a Mexican restaurant..)

 There are two issues that are a bit alarming to me: 

  1. Why do people insist on paying tribute AFTER someone dies?
  2. Why is there a need to lionize and praise someone after they pass away?

 

  • The first issue: Tribute that’s too late. 

 Very rarely, you see tributes to living legends, but moving out of the scope of celebrity, very rarely do people take the time to appreciate someone else they care about.  They make take the time to write great eulogy speeches but couldn’t take the time to make a phone call.  This isn’t even about Michael Jackson.  We’ll get to that later.  This is about tendencies of human behavior.

 My father was never big on funerals.  If invited, sometimes he’d attend, and sometimes he wouldn’t depending on the circumstances. He always said, “If you have something nice to say to appreciate someone, say it when they’re alive.  Once they die, let it go.”  It seems like common sense but you don’t realize or comprehend the tremendous magnitude of it until you experience it personally. 

 I realized the effect of it personally when my friend Seth passed away back in March..  I didn’t feel a need to write a speech that’d wow everyone to no end.  Sure, it’s nice to pay tribute and commemorate someone, and I am all for paying tribute. From a personal perspective, there is some solace in the fact that you said what you wanted to say to that person while they he/she was alive.  While you can’t make up for the loss, there is a very tiny bit of catharsis in knowing that the person KNEW how you felt about him/her

It’s unfortunate that people don’t focus on that aspect of showing appreciation more.  Upon hearing the news of someone passing away, people seem quick to want to offer a nice tribute, but the true impact would have been felt much more had the action been carried out while the person was alive.

 Thus, you learn to show appreciation for people, as it difficult as it may be to verbalize your feelings out loud.  Whether it’s a parent, another family member, friend, give them a call, take them out to lunch and tell them you appreciate them.  OK, now that was the sentimental sweetheart part of the post. 

  • So let’s get to the 2nd issue: The emphasis on lionizing people after the die.

 Paying tribute to someone is a nice gesture if words are congruent with your emotions.  Whether it’s an acquaintance, a distant relative, or Michael Jackson, it’s common sense that you’d miss someone you genuinely liked.  However, what if you didn’t like the person?

 People often feel a need to say something nice about someone after the fact. Entire revisionist stories are written, and people suddenly develop selective memories about the events that occurred, or somehow they convince themselves to see the events differently.  It often becomes ridiculous and if the person is remotely famous, the effects are that much more intensified.

My question is: Where do you draw the line?  Seriously? 

 We know that people don’t have pleasant eulogies for those who commit genoiced or those who are mass murderers.  Certainly, there is no positive tribute for Joseph Stalin, Hitler, or the Zodiac Killer.    Where is the cut off line, however? Where is that arbitrary line where we decide to not champion somebody?  If someone went on a rampage, stormed into a government building bent on going on a killing spree, but ended up killing dangerous escaped convicts, and in the process died himself, what happens then?

 ”Well, let us remember Bob Smith for saving the children who were playing outside while on a fieldtrip from the school.  The children’s lives were spared from being slain by the dangerous convicts Bob shot.   Of course, Bob went in to the building with the intention of just shooting random people, but by miracle, ended up taking out bad guys.  God bless him.”

 Where do we draw the line?

 In the Michael Jackson case, the same media that vilified him is now paying tributes to him.  Where is the consistency?  Yes, I get that much of the media is a collection of whores who want to milk the story for what they can.  They like to exploit what they can.  Anyone with reasonable intelligence can see that pattern of behavior.

But then, even in the case of someone not famous, you see the same trend of behavior, the trend of lionizing what used to be a contemptible character.   The guy who was an asshole suddenly is recalled with fond memories. 

It doesn’t work that way.  A prick is a prick, present or past tense.   Joseph Stalin was a prick. We should be glad the motherf*cker is dead.  Just because he dies, doesn’t make him a saint.  Consistency!

That brings me to another point:  Why is it sacrilege to rejoice when an asshole dies?

It makes no sense.   It only makes sense to be sad when a good guy passes on.  So, yes, I was pretty bummed out when I recently logged on the Internet to see the news that George Carlin died of a heart attack.  It sucks!   He was 71, but still, George Carlin is the kind of guy you’d want to see live to be a 100.  I think he was a brilliant comedic mind, an astute social commentator, and a genius of an artist; plus an all around good-guy.

It makes no sense to mourn the loss of a prick.  A few years back, ex-president Gerald Ford “Passed Away”.   My initial gut reaction?  One less scumbag on the planet!  My second reaction?  “Why couldn’t he die in 1963 during the Warren Commission, or before it?”  Over all reflection on the situation: Just one less scumbag the planet.

All human beings die.  When the ones whom we care about and admire die, then naturally we are saddened by it because we feel that void in our hearts.  When a prick dies, then we ought to celebrate.  Dick Cheney is one evil son of a bitch, and he is almost 70 years old.  One day, Dick Cheney will die, as do all living creatures. You don’t hold a memorial service for an evil fuck like that. I think you should be allowed to rejoice in such instances.  You ought to be commended for pulling out your old Van Halen CD (or MP3 now days) and cranking out LOUD the song:  “Dancing in The Street”. 

This is how it’d go:

Newsflash:  Dick Cheney died today while Hunting.  An Elk shoved his horns up Dick’s rectum puncturing his colon as well as his sternum.  His loss is being felt, but we can’t figure out where.

Reaction: Happy People Start blasting Van Halen’s cover of  “Dancing in the Street”…..

 There’ll be swinging , swaying,
records playing
… Dancing in The Street….. 
Whoaaaaaa,
It doesn’t matter what you wear,
Just as long as you are there,
Come on every guy, every girl, everywhere,
‘Round the world. They’ll be dancing.
Dancing in The Street.  
It’ just an invitation,
Across the Nation,
A chance for the folks to meet,
There’ll be laughing, singing,
Music Swinging,
Dancing in the Streets…… 
There’ll be dancing in Chicago,
Down in New Orleans,
Up in New York City…

   ———————————————————————–

 OK, I am getting sidetracked a bit.  Back to the issue:

 Anyhow, this phenomenon will continue.  Granted there will be individuals who will sorely be missed by a lot of people.  There will be various inspirational figures who will touched people through actions, art, or just every day personal interaction.  Yet, there will be the Dick Cheneys of the World, despised by most of the planet, and when they pass away, you are assured of seeing round the clock tribute on CNN and every other news channel.  The same people who couldn’t stand the guy will release a statement about the sad loss of having lost that person. 

  If there is anything to take away, it’s that when it comes to making statements about someone’s character, human beings are consistently inconsistent.  They’ll attempt to mourn a Cheney type, when in fact, their true gut feeling would be to rejoice…..  Speaking of celebration, here is Van Halen once again…..

Enjoy….