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The Media vs Pop Culture Icons
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This article analyses, in a very thoughtful way, the media treatment of Michael Jackson and discusses what public adulation has done to popular figures.

If two weeks go by without a celebrity scandal or a particularly grisly murder case, the media and its talking heads grow noticeably restive. The Kobe Bryant, Martha Stewart, Scott Peterson, Robert Blake and Jackson cases tend to merge into one lengthy, undignified assault on public intelligence and decency.

The basic trend in the American media is toward a vast expansion of “yellow journalism,” with its sensationalism and scandal-mongering, even within “respectable” outlets. This has deep social causes. The US is a country seething with social contradictions and tensions, none of which can be discussed openly. The vast chasm between the elite and the rest of the population must remain a secret as far as the media is concerned.

And yet the media establishment is aware of the discontent and restlessness that pervades so much of American daily life and finds expression most often in violent, anti-social acts. The task of “yellow journalism” is to tap into popular hostility without ever permitting it to become focused on the underlying social relationships of capitalism. Confused, populist resentment against overpaid performers and athletes, or even individual corporate criminals, can be fairly easily manipulated.

There is also a specific need to divert attention not only from the war in Iraq, with its casualties and atrocities, but also from the preparations for new acts of aggression, whether against Syria, Iran or some other target of US imperialist interests.

Michael Jackson’s legal fate remains unclear. The media, switching its tone from day to day, is somewhat undecided as to how things should turn out. The singer may be convicted and branded a sexual predator—an outcome that would certainly please many media movers and shakers. On the other hand, the possibility remains that Jackson will be “vindicated” and permitted at least a partial heart-warming comeback, in which case we will be reminded that never for a day did the singer cease to be one of America’s pop culture icons.

Either way, the media circus will pack up and move on to its next venue, unconcerned about the mess it has left behind.

The whole article is worth reading.

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