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Thursday, June 25, 2009

I'm not an especially big fan of Michael Jackson—like a lot of people my age I have strong memories of Off the Wall and Thriller and not much else—but nonetheless I feel shaken by the asshat snark explosion you see in things like the first MetaFilter obituary thread. There's recognizable whiffs of both racism and queer panic in these kneejerk reactions, but also, I think, a simple human meanness. Even if you believe every terrible allegation made against Jackson—every last one—he remains in the end an incredibly tragic figure drained dry by a celebrity culture that completely and contemptuously devoured him. Whatever he did or didn't do—and who knows—like the rest of us he didn't choose the life he lived, beginning with an abused and ruined childhood that left him psychologically broken and, to use the favored euphemism, "weird."

If we have a modicum of generosity, we can only pity him. I simply do not understand this impulse to moonwalk on his grave.