: Gawd, I’m about to quote Terry Teachout in three straight posts. I might as well just replace my page with a redirect…. No, I wouldn’t want to do that. I don’t want to hand you over to someone who might write about dreaded opera.
Anyway, here’s what Terry has to say about Michael Jackson:
Is it just me, or are any of you out there offended by the tone of the countless clever-clever op-eds, think pieces, and thumbsuckers of the past couple of days that have sought to “interpret” and pseudo-intellectualize the Michael Jackson story? Jackson’s arrest isn’t a Media Phenomenon, nor is it a sign of the times. It’s a news story about an alleged pedophile, one who has spent millions of dollars to keep himself out of jail. And I don’t give a good goddamn about the social significance of his mug shot, either. If he did what he’s said to have done, I want to see him in a jail cell, and once he’s there, my interest in him will be over and done with.
As for the interest of the mass media, my guess is that at some point fairly soon they’ll wake up and realize that the youthful target market after which they lust so desperately couldn’t care less about Michael Jackson. His arrest may be news, but his music is yesterday’s news, if not the day before. Big Media is so Eighties.
We’ll see whether he’s right. I hope he is.
I asked below whether Jackson will turn into the biggest scandal in Hollywood history. Our reaction to it will be telling.
I suspect the nation has caught a case of scandal fatigue. Oh, lord, scandals and their media and audience appeal will never go away. But we’ve had so damned many of them and — more importantly — they’ve all been so damned overplayed and replayed that we’ve just about had our fill.
This has been a long time coming.
When I worked at People in the ’80s, I lived through the shift from product-based coverage (hey, the new movie is out) to personality-based coverage (hey, the star just got arrested). The event in the star’s life, we discovered then, sold better than the event in the star’s career: crime, sex, lust, scandal.
I called it bodily-fluids journalism. (And I created Entertainment Weekly as an antidote.) Billions have been made on BFJ and it ain’t going away.
But when Arnold Schwarzenegger got elected in spite of the LA Times’ best efforts to pull a gotcha on him, I said at the time that this was an indication that the voters — aka the audience — was fed up with scandal-based coverage, especially in politics; they didn’t care.
Or more to the point: They’re smarter than that. They didn’t judge Schwarzenegger on the basis of his peccadillos but instead on the basis of his politics and policies and promises
And I think Terry’s right about Jackson: We’ll judge him on the basis of his guilt or innocence.
Oh, the coverage will be nuclear. And the scandal is huge. But it’s our reaction to it that may be shifting. We’ll see.
: See also Eurosavant’s view of German coverage of the Jackson story.
: We’ve all been hearing Michael Jackson jokes I couldn’t quote on a family blog. But Newsmax does is the favor of collecting the one-liners from late-night TV. Leno’s are practically shocking.
Letterman: Michael Jackson turned himself in today. His bail was set at $3 million because he is considered a flight risk. Well, sure, if he runs off, he could fit right in anywhere.
Kilborn: Michael Jackson was arrested today. You know, the interesting thing is that this all could have been avoided if he would have stuck to grabbing his own crotch.
Leno: Tonight we have California firefighters here, to give thanks to them for the great job they did putting out the fires. These guys are brave. Just like the Boy Scouts at the Neverland Ranch, they put their asses on the line every day.
Leno: Of course you know about Michael Jackson