Right now, my television is tuned to CNN.
And yes, they are doing a live broadcast of Michael Jackson's memorial service/media circus.
Does this bother me?
Not so much. While I'm not glued to my TV, I am listening every now and then to the reports.
I understand that a lot of people are beyond pissed (to put it lightly) that he is getting so much media attention.
Personally, I don't see what the big deal is.
I heard a great discussion last night on one of the nightly news shows - all the panelists answered "NO!" when asked if they would have ever left their kids with Michael Jackson, and yet they all agreed that he was a musical genius, a pop music icon and that you really had to separate the two Michaels.
Yes, on one hand, Jackson had some very serious issues - charges of child abuse, pedophilia, etc. He was freakishly private. He wore face masks in public. He paid MILLIONS of dollars to his accusers to either settle the cases or silence the charges. He had problems. He had personal demons.
But on the other hand, he was incredibly talented. He has billions of fans worldwide. He was a musical genius. He was likely the biggest celebrity in the world. He did a lot of humanitarian work. He co-wrote "We Are The World" for crying out loud.
[One entertainment reporter noted this morning on Twitter that perhaps people are mourning the Michael of 1989 and not that of 2009. A very valid point, I think].
Does the bad outweigh the good? That's not for me (or anyone else) to decide.
Do I think he did the things he had been accused of doing? I don't know. Maybe he did. Maybe he didn't. Would I have left my kids alone with Michael Jackson? No. A million times no. But it's not my place to pass judgment on him.
Do I think the media is sugarcoating the bad to focus on the good? Maybe. But then again, they have been talking about the criminal case and the payouts and the accusations. They haven't swept it under the carpet. But we all know that the media (and the general public) is ADDICTED TO celebrities and this story is like crack to them. They can't give it up and the won't give up the ratings that come with it.
Do I think it's wrong to have such a huge public memorial for him? No. I don't. His death was shocking, unexpected and is still somewhat unbelievable. (If you were ever a fan - which I was - I think it's safe to say that a little bit of your childhood died right along with him on June 25th). And quite honestly, this will likely go down in history as the biggest news story of 2009. As a journalist, you can't NOT cover it.
You don't have to like it. You don't have to watch it.
However, I think people need to remember that he has a family who loves him and is in mourning. He has children who are now fatherless. Regardless of his history and the wrongs he may have done, his family and friends deserve a chance to say good-bye and mourn his passing.
And if they want to do their mourning in such a public manner - and pass out tickets to it - then I suppose that is their right, and really who are we to question it?
Let his family and fans mourn. Let today be a somber day, but a day of celebrating the good in his life.
Save your judgments for another day.
[A postscript: I watched the entire memorial service and I will admit that I shed many tears. So many different people poured out their hearts and shared their memories. And then to hear his daughter say "daddy was the best father" -- that was heartbreaking.]