By Jon Roig
Arizona Daily Wildcat January 25, 1996
It's a sad thing when a pop star goes crazy, but it appears that Michael Jackson has gone over the edge. It's even sadder when the whole world just accepts it.
He has a midget now. I've seen it several times over the last few days, as Mikey is back in the news now that his marriage has come to an end. I don't know the midget's name or his purpose. All I know is that I've seen this little man in several file c lips of Michael traipsing around the world, doing whatever Michael does with his time. The media never mentions it, but there he is, grinning at me in full circus regalia from some other land and some other time in the past. I think it's downright odd, to say the least.
You may think it's a bit bizarre that I'm even talking about Michael Jackson in the first place. But really, I'm no different than the rest of America. Over the weekend, MTV ran a full day of Michael Jackson videos interspersed with random people from t he streets of New York giving Michael and Lisa Marie love advice. The psychics got into the act too, pooling their collective wisdom to give Michael his much needed advice from the Spirit World.
Besides being an excellent chance to view Jackson's impressive body of work, it was an interesting view into the psyche of the citizens of our country. We have never met Michael Jackson or the artist formerly known as his wife, but we are more than willi ng to give them love advice and offer our own interpretations of what went wrong.
In a sense, celebrities are performance artists now, and as such their lives are open to interpretation. "All the world's a stage ..." means something different to you and me than to a super star whose every move is carefully recorded by the media. We m ay act out our lives according to some self-generated script, but the audience is very small, and at best, somewhat inattentive.
Stars are not like us. If you saw me traveling around with a circus midget, you'd probably treat me like a leper. If you heard about me sleeping with little boys you'd probably have me locked up, and if I gave the excuse that I was blackmailed by evil s chemers looking to steal my millions ... would you believe me? Why not? I've seen stranger plots unfold on my TV.
Michael Jackson has an amusement park all to himself. Doesn't anyone else think that's abnormal? Picture, if you can, Jackson riding his 1:1 scale reproduction of Disney's Pirates of Caribbean ride over and over again, alone, in the middle of the night. It's almost Citizen Kane come to life.
Is this the same little black boy whom the world fell in love with in the days of the Jackson Five? Many years and hundreds of millions of dollars later, Michael Jackson has turned into a raving lunatic.
Sure, he did that interview with his wife and Barbara Walters to clear his name, but he did it wearing giant space boots. His new double album, "History," was promoted with several giant statues of his likeness strategically placed throughout Europe. Th e commercial announcing it had him leading a giant army against the forces of evil.
And evil, according to Michael Jackson, is embodied by the media. He's not too busy healing the world in his "What About Us" video to take aim at the press for bringin' him down in "Scream."
Yet it seems that Jackson was perfectly willing to revise "History" by taking out an anti-Semitic comment and, I'm sure, thriving on the press attention.
My point is that celebrities have been allowed to act like total freaks because they have, in essence, become characters on their own version of The Real World.
The medium of television exists only in time - there are few records of its content to be examined at a later date. Contrast this with the print medium, which exists independently of time, and thus opens itself to examination. One can pore over a book ( or a newspaper column, for that matter) at one's leisure and easily examine the rhetoric and devices used in the text. Gross inconsistencies stick out in print, whereas on TV they are just part of the fun. The good guys always win at the end, no matter what strange twist of fate comes along to bring about these events. The bizarre and unexpected is normal in the world of television.
The "serious" shows are no exception - take some time and take a hard look at the news events reported on TV. You just might see the midget.
E-mail Jon Roig at: email@example.com