There’s an NY congressman and an aunt of a killed soldier who are taking issue with Michael Jackson’s funeral coverage. I don’t know what it’s like to lose a close relative before their time, thank you God, and I agree that the life of a soldier, or anyone, is just as important as Michael Jackson’s.
But here’s the thing, the importance of one’s life is not necessarily tied to how much attention their death gets. Many “average” people die every day, many before they reach old age, yet celebrities just get more attention. Does that mean the celebrity is viewed as more important? No. However, more people happen to know about a celebrity, so their death is going to get their attention. People in small families have smaller funerals, people in larger families have larger funerals. People who interact with many others and can even be mini-celebrities, such as pastors, local politicians, the local weatherguy, will have bigger funerals, simply because more people have interacted with them directly (such as a pastor) or indirectly (like the local weatherguy).
To some degree, some people have attached too much importance to MJ’s life in relation to fallen soldiers or everyday people. He’s simply an entertainer, yet some people have treated him like deity. That being said, however, the media coverage of his death is understandable. I think another blogger has said in the past, “average people weren’t beamed into our living rooms.” It doesn’t mean MJ was more significant than the average person, it was just more people knew who he was.
Also, I think the average person is better off when they die. Michael Jackson’s life was a media spectacle. Being the entertainer he was, I’m sure part of him embraced it, but another part hated it. His life was celebrated by many, but how many people truly knew him? When I die, I picture my life to be celebrated by my family, people who really knew me. How many people truly knew Michael Jackson? Also, I don’t think many soldiers want their death to be a media spectacle.
I understand the point some people are making; there are soldiers who die for our country who are not celebrated as much as an entertainer. At the same time, however, the attention paid to someone’s death is going to be directly related to how many people they know, to some degree or another. Therefore, it’s naturally that someone a generation grows up with will get a lot of attention when they die.