Ron Rosenbaum, Writer

June 28, 2009

The Shame of it All: Michael Jackson Wipes Out Iran Scrutiny

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 7:20 am

Years from now this moment will become the defining tragic symbol of the bankruptcy of media culture that no bailout will cure. It’s too late. For all we know it might be a defining tragic turning point in actual, geopolitical history as well, as the insanely stupid and useless Michael Jackson coverage starved of oxygen what hope was left for the Iranian resistance by blotting it out from the screens and scrutiny of the world.

The whole world is watching…”Billy Jean”.

Nothing could illustrate the triumph of the publicity-industrial-complex (a phrase I coined, by the way) over the fate of real people fighting for their freedom who will now be beaten, tortured and murdered with impunity, at least in part because the media took its collective eye off Iran to give us endless clips of the MJ freak show.

Would it have made a difference in Iran? Maybe not.The fascist theocrats would probably have triumphed anyway, but the impact of the opposition would have been greater, its future more hopeful. The spectacle of brutality might have hounded the regime like the photos of the police dogs did the racist cops of Bermingham, Alabama in the civil rights revolution. But we’ll never know.

I’m not a prudish opponent of “sensationalism”. But if the media can’t see that the events in Iran are genuinely sensational as opposed to fake sensational, that “Neda” is more important than “Billy Jean”, that they don’t necessarily have to be opposed choices, but in this case, by an accident of timing, they were— then….oh forget it.

The whole thing’s disgusting.



  1. If we could just pound that “Billie Jean” baseline into the “holy city of Qom” (and why does the media repeat the phrase “holy city of Qom” as often as they do “King of Pop”? Is there some Scientology directive about this?), Khameinie would surrender, because you can’t get that hook out of your head! Listen to Little Willie John instead

    Comment by charlie finch — June 28, 2009 @ 8:10 am | Reply

  2. agreed, agreed, agreed…however….Don’t you think that once the crackdown solidified earlier this week, making it clear—unfortunately—that nothing would change in the short term, that the media had more or less given up on chasing this one down. Indeed, didn’t the Sanford affair (as it were) already nudge Iran off the top shelf?

    Comment by Boaz Roth — June 28, 2009 @ 10:13 am | Reply

  3. AP reporting from their offices of massive police beatings and arrests in Teheran. Western press not allowed in streets.

    Comment by charlie finch — June 28, 2009 @ 12:21 pm | Reply

  4. It’s hard to know what people are following. Certainly Iran got our attention last week. I don’t know that you keep a tragedy front and center to have people concerned about it. Isn’t Hamlet broken up with comedic moments? Aside from brief youtube reports, notice has been out about Gen. Odierno, our highest ranking officer in Iraq, saying that Iran continues to train and supply insurgents in Iraq though his area of operations remains only Iraq, the Israelis are asking the Russians not to supply Iran with the S-300 air defense system. But we all notice other news of interest to us: Farah Fawcett’s funeral is going to be in the Catholic cathedral in downtown LA; I don’t recall seeing her at Mass at the Catholic Student Center in Austin; pity, she could have really created interest in the CYO.

    Comment by Michael — June 28, 2009 @ 9:34 pm | Reply

  5. It’s interesting to see the way both Left and Right and all those in between have, with the exception of a few crackpots on either side, come together, in spirit at least, to express contempt for the mindless adulation of celebrity that has become the cornerstone of the failed mainstream media.

    Thankfully, we have blogs, YouTube and Twitter, so real news can still get some exposure.

    Comment by Evil Pundit — June 29, 2009 @ 1:52 am | Reply

  6. I am unaware of anytime in history that someone remained the center of attention long after they had nothing more to really contribute. This seems to be a phenomenon of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Michael Jackson was a has-been. He had not done anything significant in years. At most, he should have been an object of pity. I am reminded somewhat of the death of Rudolph Valentino. People of that era went crazy over his early demise. But he died at the top of his acting career.

    Comment by David Thomson — June 29, 2009 @ 3:56 am | Reply

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