Out of Touch Again
I felt it again twenty years after Elvis’s demise when Princess Diana died. I looked at her death as just another traffic accident that killed someone I didn’t know, but people around me were profoundly affected. When I noticed a neighbor had been crying, I asked what was wrong. “I watched Princess Di’s funeral this morning,” she said, and I figured there was little I could do for her. I wrote a column about how alienated I felt while witnessing the prolonged, melodramatic hand-wringing of those around me. It wasn’t well received, and it’s likely this one won’t be either. Oh well.
When I saw images of Reverend Al Sharpton doing the bump and grind during a memorial service for Michael Jackson the other day, I had to turn away. This is the guy ran for president looking like a washed-out Elvis impersonator. According to a CBS New report: “[Sharpton] and Director Spike Lee urged the audience to revel in Jackson accomplishments and disregard what they characterized as negative news coverage of the star.”
Yes, ignore the bizarre surgeries, the evidence that Jackson was a transgendered child molester. He was a king. Although we crave a king or a princess to look up to, we can turn on him or her if we perceive flaws. The ancient Irish would only accept as a king or queen someone who was physically unblemished. Maybe it was easier to believe the king really was perfect if he looked that way. People wouldn’t perceive his peccadilloes when he posed in royal robes. But if he should lose a fingertip or scar himself, the illusion would melt away, he would be dumped, and a “perfect” leader put in his place.
About six years into his administration, Americans focused on George Bush’s blemishes and there were more than a few. Eight years in, his flaws were being magnified daily and people started believing that if we could only find the perfect king, our economy and everything else would be fine again. That was certainly true on the first Tuesday of November last year when we elected Barack Obama president. He posed as the rightful king who would put things right and 53% of us believed him.
Returning to my original question - am I out of touch with American culture? Yes - large swathes of it at least, and I don’t want to adapt myself either. That I’m “in it, but not of it” describes my position best, I think. I’ll never be part of the collective hand-wringing or keening that goes on around me when some iconic celebrity dies prematurely. I won’t join the starry-eyed, hero-worshiping throngs enthralled with the new king either. Am I cold? Unfeeling? I don’t think so. Instead, I’m thinking too many people around me are immature, easily manipulated, reluctant to grow up - and that segment of our population has temporarily become the majority.
Some portion of them, however, will mature when they realize their newly-elected perfect king cannot put everything right again, that it was childish to think he could, and that he’s making things vastly worse instead. It will be a heartbreak to face up to this, but recognizing it and dealing with disappointment forces us to grow up, right? That’s the hope and change I’m waiting for.
Though I try to avoid it, saturation coverage of Michael Jackson is all around me, and there’s still his funeral to deal with Friday. Guess it doesn’t matter that our economy is sinking fast in spite of the trillions we’re borrowing and printing to stimulate it, that Iran is in revolt against its Islamofascist terrorist government, that North Korea is trying to touch off another war, that the dollar is collapsing, that communist Cuba’s ally Venezuela is threatening militarily action in Honduras, that Congress is trying to deepen our bankruptcy with socialized medicine and an energy bill to fight a non-existent climate threat. None of that is as important as the death of a cultural/sexual/racial freak.
Yeah, I’m out of touch. It’s the only way to be these days.