In the 17 hours or so since Michael Jackson’s death has been reported, an interesting rift has developed in online communications. Apparently, some folks who have been discussing the Iran elections are upset that so many people are discussing celebrity deaths:
This is probably a reflection of a few things. First, there is an age gap in appreciating Michael Jackson’s career. If you were born after 1985, your first memories of Michael Jackson are probably the world premiere of the “Black or White” video, and increasingly fragile physique, and a series of bizarre controversies and allegations of inappropriate conduct around young boys. But it you are in the first generation to have MTV (back when it was ’round-the-clock music videos) or older, you remember that Michael Jackson almost single-glovedly invented the concept of pop music entertainment.
There’s also the fact that news, like politics, is local. The loss of an iconic American pop culture figure is naturally going to mean more to Americans than election protests halfway around the world. (And it’s worth noting that the folks who decide what news gets on TV have a role to play. This week’s DC Metro crash probably wouldn’t have had the same coverage if it happened on a public transportation system for a city that doesn’t host a major bureau for every news organization in the known universe.)
They have a point, and it isn’t the only story getting swept under a rug. Mark Sanford’s Argentinian dalliances have been muted outside South Carolina, and the Barack Obama health care debate is moving along on Capitol Hill in the background of the national consciousness.
The great thing about modern media is that, even if the “mainstream” press is obsessed with one story, an avid reader can seek out information from other sources. And it for media analysis junkies, it provides a platform for discussions that simply don’t happen in one-way broadcast media. In no other environment could the worlds of Michael Jackson and Iranian Fundamentalists collide in quite the same way.
If only there was some way to combine the issues…