Michael Jackson Faked His Death (Exclusive Pics)

Just kidding. If you believe the claim offered by the title of this post, you may be drowning in the fetid cesspool that is our celebrity obsessed culture. I feel sorry for Michael Jackson’s family–mostly his kids–but I think it’s a pity that they are selling tickets to his memorial tomorrow at the Staples Center. It’s not just a pity. It’s disgusting. More than twenty years ago, Neil Postman argued in Amusing Ourselves to Death that television was eroding discourse in this country because of its structural elements as a medium. He claimed that TV has disconnected information from its context; that the lines between discourse–any discourse, political, legal, etc.– and entertainment were blurring more and more.  Michael Jackson’s death may not be the apotheosis of this phenomenon, but it is a disturbing signpost along the way.

It goes without saying that stories like his distract us from more important issues, and yet I feel I have to say this. Why? Because Postman’s argument is eerily prophetic. Discourse has become entertainment. That is to say, most discourse is entertainment. Look at the nightly news. It starts with a car chase or crash and ends with some mindless puff piece. News as entertainment. Look at any political rally or debate. The pundits are there to highlight the drama, to tell us who more skillfully handled the crowd. Politics as entertainment. Maybe, just maybe, the Internet has begun to change discourse. Maybe the fact that so many people turn to Internet to communicate with each other about issues that are important to them signals a dramatic shift in the discourse/entertainment continuum. Maybe real, serious, meaningful discourse is possible. Maybe this very blog and all the blogs like it are proof of that.

Then again, maybe not.

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One Response to “Michael Jackson Faked His Death (Exclusive Pics)”

  1. Here, here! I couldn’t have said it better myself.

    I think that Marshall McLuhan was even more prophetic. He is the father of media studies and his idea that the medium is the message, seems altogether true. And I believe that the Internet continues to prove that. It is certainly a lot more interactive than television could ever be.

    The revolution will not be televised, but it probably has a website.

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