lunedì, luglio 06, 2009

Hommages shmommages

So last weekend Melbine and her man were visiting from Canada on their way between Paris and the 'Dam. It was lovely though all the unwholesome food made her sick. Anyways, I don't like going on about people: mentioning it because when we met up with another couple downtown, we stumbled across a Michael Jackson memorial in the Parc de Cinquentenaire. Almost everybody dressed in white, or else like Michael Jackson himself, while one of his lesser contributions to the pop music genre, Dangerous, played in the background. 800 people, I read later. While we watched they made a big circle, held hands, and started swaying gently back and forth to some music that was absolutely inappropriate for swaying gently back and forth to. Some were visibly upset, some had brought poster collages. It was all very earnest and there were tonnes of little kids running around.

Our reactions were interesting. The F-word was angry - as far as I could decipher, angry at the flagrant waste of emotion in a world where emotion could be so usefully applied elsewhere. "He's not Nelson Fucking Mandela," I believe he said at one point, which is an awfully good point when you think about it. Even if you're fucking daft enough to reckon contributions to music are as important as contributions to the relatively peaceful liberation of millions of oppressed South Africans, what has been his legacy - honestly? And I ask that as someone who likes the Jackson 5 and Off the Wall, but really - legacy-wise? Contributing to the final emasculation of soul and R&B music? Making that fucking smurf-voiced Justin Timberlake's career possible? Making our pop music scene about 20 degrees more tedious and anodyne than it was before? Putting out absolute shit in the 90's that made J-Pop look awesome when I was a teenager? Providing an all-too-often ignored cautionary tale about the consequences of abusive, megolomaniac parents flogging their talented children into fame?

And then the couple who had joined us were pre-occupied with getting an ice-cream for their daughter, despite a hell of a line. I think Melbine was a little touched. Her husband looked amused. I was creeped the fuck out. This was a man who had spent something like $30 million to make child abuse allegations go away, whatever one thinks about the upshot of his criminal trials (John Niven made a fairly unique, at the moment, critical evaluation of them in the Independent a few days ago).

I do find his life melancholy, I felt an emotion that was something like pity, but not exactly, when he died (the other week, we were discussing the paucity of emotional words in English with a Brazilian Portuguese friend - they have a word for every gradation of feeling, apparently - but that's a blog post for another time). But these recent outpourings of unmitigated grief and adulation are really starting to fuck me off. Not just because it's a waste of emotion in a world that needs emotion, though that's part of it - I just feel like in a week or two people are going to blink a few times, realize 'I've made a collage for a man who spent $30 million on civil payouts to make child abuse allegations go away, I've held hands and swayed back and forth for a man who might have managed an O.J., I've been publicly weeping for a dodgy stranger who may have caused hands-on life-long damage to several young boys", and then feel like creepy idiots. And if they don't . . . maybe they should.

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