Yesterday's deaths of Michael Jackson, the fourth best selling recording artist of all time, and of Farrah Fawcett closes yet two more chapters in popular culture history. Michael Jackson's fantastic career of proving to be one of the biggest names in entertainment of all time seemed to often overshadowed by his sheer strangeness. His Neverland Ranch, his attempted purchase of the Elephant Man remains, and all of his seemingly endless elective plastic surgeries where some even joked he went from being an African American male to becoming an old White woman, all created a cult atmosphere of strangeness surrounding this pop icon. On FOX News, the attorney for the Jackson family, Brian Oxman, had claimed that he had tried for a long time to prevent Michael Jackson from over-use of some prescription medications that were claimed to be needed for pai management. Likely, far more will be heard about this prescription drug use in the coming weeks as an autopsy might only fuel more speculation among many tabloids. Expect the Michael Jackson story to become a major tabloid news headline for months.
Despite being such a major trend setting iconic star, Michael Jackson's near constant media circus only seemed to make as much news as his own groundbreaking stage performances, new uses of media including music videos and his huge selling recordings. Comics for years joked about Jackson's Neverland Ranch and his frequent child guests such as Macaulay Culkin, yet Jackson never took a clue from any of this to even avoid any question of inappropriate interests in young boys. Finally, all of this only made him a target of a mother involved in welfare fraud scheme to attempt to extort him over similar related allegations. But when comics joked that how could your run of the mill scum child molester ever hope to even compete with something like the Neverland Ranch, Jackson, his family, friends or his lifelong family attorney should have taken a serious clue here to even avoid any appearance of anything questionable involving little boys, but no one did until it landed him in a courtroom for a five month trial draining huge amounts of money. Michael Jackson's intent of Neverland might have been pure enough, and intended for the benefit of adding some joy to the lives of sick children. However his oddness, including showing up at court in pajamas, only seemed to conjure up his image as a very eccentric musical genius who almost begged for controversy.
Michael Jackson also reportedly spent so much money that he actually died $400 million dollars in debt and ended up losing much of his income over the years despite some great business deals such as buying The Beatles catalogue of recordings. How Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and the families of John Lennon and George Harrison let this get away seems like a scandal in itself. Yet in all reality for someone to make this much money, and then to lose this much money and to leave with this much debt, Jackson probably has little left to leave his three children.
In the end, Michael Jackson seemed to end up dying young so many other tragic music icons, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Marc Bolan, Elvis Presley and others. A planned soldout comeback tour by Jackson in London will never be. There will be no comeback for the "King Of Pop". No last chance to salvage or redeem his badly spoiled reputation. By any standard of measurement, Michael Jackson's reputation was strange for any African American recording act, let alone for any recording act. It was like nothing from an artist growing up from the Motown family of acts had ever seen. The Temptations or Supremes never made a bid to buy the Elephant Man's remains or to sleep in some sort of special chamber. Neither did The Beatles or Rolling Stones either. Michael Jackson's bizarre death was the final chapter to a bizarre life and career.
Actress Farrah Fawcett seemed to be another interesting pop culture icon and set of contradictions as well. For so many years she seemed like a simply dreadful actress, so bad that she made acting in cheapie grade Z movies look positively Shakespearean in quality by comparison. For years, it only seemed that her good looks were her only one real asset. CHARLIE"s ANGELS had to be one of the most embarrassingly bad TV detective dramas of all time. It was horrible and lasted far longer on TV than it ever deserved to. And with a revolving door of actresses quiting the show and new ones being hired, it all just seemed like a real trainwreck mess that never deserved to even be aired. Amazingly, this crap TV show even was a #1 show at one point, despite easily being one of the worst programs on TV. Even as a kid I thought that the show was pure dreck and miles beyond horrible.
In later years, a terribly disoriented appearance by Fawcett on David Letterman's show only help to fuel speculation of alcohol and drug abuse, forcing Fawcett to fight to challenge that image in many other interviews and appearances afterward with Howard Stern and others. And even though to many Fawcett lacked any real potential as a serious actress, she surprised her critics with such good performances in THE BURNING BED and EXTREMITIES that she actually became a multiple Golden Globe and Emmy nominee, which was a far cry from going from being one of the worst actresses on TV to one that could seriously act well enough to be considered for major awards. That was a great leap for the actress.
And Fawcett did win much praise and support for her couragious three year battle with cancer, which sadly ended the life of the actress who greatly improved over the years to becoming a reasonably serious talented dramatic actress afterall.
While neither Michael Jackson or Farrah Fawcett had little impression on me, because I never really personally considered either as a really significant serious figure, nonetheless many loved both entertainers.
Michael Jackson's music always seemed like pure pop music to me, while I was always a rock fan far more impressed by The Beatles, The Doors, Canned Heat, T.Rex, Ten Years After and others. But the early Jacksons' recordings were good Motown music to me. Even "Dancin' Machine", recorded after Michael left the group for a solo career seemed like one of their best recording simply because it was good Motown in the same vein as The Temptations, The Supremes or Four Tops. But Michael Jackson might have been the best bubblegum music king ever. His music wasn't the most serious writing ever. At least, The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix always experimented with some bold new musical styles, while Jackson was always making music just for kids it seemed.
Farrah Fawcett did have that famous head full of long blonde hair that so many young guys liked when I was a young guy. However, I never really saw much to impress me with Fawcett until she did either THE BURNING BED or EXTREMITIES.
Neither Jackson or Fawcett added much to my own life experience. But to many millions of others, Jackson was the soundtrack to their lives, with his perpetual childhood and ultimate Peter Pan-like persona, while Farrah Fawcett's famous swimsuit poster graced their walls, but not mine.