After a Fashion
Your Style Avatar cleverly distills this weekend's news overkill, so you don't have to
HOW INCONSIDERATE OF YOU, MICHAEL JACKSON It doesn't matter what I planned to write about, because this Michael Jackson thing has blown everything else out of the water, off the Web, and off the airwaves. Why, oh, why did the King of Schlock have to die the same day as Texas' own little angel Farrah Fawcett? Darling Farrah. Everyone who reads this column knows of my enduring love for her, so I'm just not going to belabor that point. I already wrote about my friends Gail Chovan and Nina Seely throwing the Farrah tribute recently, and recently rewrote about my charming experience with her at the Austin Film Society's Texas Film Hall of Fame 2003, for which I had chosen her tribute clips. The thing is that we knew Farrah was in bad shape and frankly knew she could die at any time. That makes her death no less of a loss to us. The morning she died, every news outlet was focused on her, and there were many lovely tributes (prepared in advance, no doubt) throughout the next couple of hours. Word has it that when Farrah Fawcett arrived in Heaven, God was such a big fan he decided to grant her one wish. She asked that all the children in the world could be safe. So God killed Michael Jackson. (Thank you, www.popbitch.com.) And then? Damn. The firestorm of media coverage began – and it's not true that South Carolina's luv guv, Mark Sanford, was caught dancing around in a thong wearing a Charlie's Angels T-shirt and a single white glove. But it's just like MJ to outshine the rest. He and I were both essentially the same age, and MJ was a star most of my life. Hated him at first (I was way too cool for the Jackson 5). Loved him for the Off the Wall and Thriller albums and realized what an amazing talent he was at about the same time it dawned on me what a freak he was. With the PR machine sizzling in overdrive, we read all about him (falsely) bidding on the bones of the Elephant Man and sleeping in a hyperbaric chamber. Please. That would make anyone crazy. But crazy he was, and as the news is reporting, apparently alcoholic and imbibing a pharmacopoeia of drugs every day. We all know about the scandals, trials, and tribulations of this, um ... role model and icon, but it was a surprise when he died. I rapidly became bored with all the hoopla and waited for the jokes. It began with wags saying that reports of Michael Jackson having a heart attack are incorrect and that he was found in the children's ward just having a stroke. That night Jimmy Kimmel said that MJ started out as a black person that white people could relate to and that he ended up being a white person that black people could relate to. The joke fell flat. The New York Daily News skewered Kimmel by asking, "Is it too soon for jokes?" Nonsense! I remember the day after Gianni Versace was murdered, and a friend came up to me and said, "Knock, knock." "Who's there?" I answered. "Versace," he said. "Versace who?" I asked. "Tsk, tsk. See how the fashion world is?" So, I say, let the jokes roll in. PopBitch.com has a treasure trove of them. It was funny seeing the grieving fans clustered around Michael Jackson's star on Hollywood Boulevard – except the star was not dedicated to the Queen of Plastic Surgery but to a local L.A. radio personality named Michael Jackson. The Queen's star was covered up by some construction work. The next morning, Women's Wear Daily wrote about his effect on fashion, without ignoring some of his more, uh, exotic predilections. One WWD online poster began the shrill retorts by posting: "Who ever wrote this article should be ashamed of themselves. Broke haters are the new black. I want my money back from this site ASAP! RIP MJ ... the greatest of all time, inside and out!" How can anyone argue with that? The authoritative Celine Dion likened it to the widespread grief after the Kennedy assassination (an event that occurred before the Canadian chanteuse was even born). Poor Madonna can't stop crying, and even Cher said, "I'm having a million different reactions I didn't expect I would feel." How can she tell? Remember. It's not the heat; it's the stupidity.
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