Why I Don’t Plan to Watch ‘Tributes’ to Michael Jackson

We all love Jackson's music, but we all did not and do not love him.

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I’m finding the prospect of these Michael Jackson tributes being aggressively produced and promoted by media companies to be depressing, exploitative and more than a bit hypocritical. They know that they’ll get ratings and make money off of Jackson’s death. But they weren’t exactly backing Jackson up in life. I don’t plan to watch or listen to any of them, though I may see some of it just by chance. Never mistake a fan for a friend. We all love Jackson’s music, but we all did not and do not love him. The media hypocrisy sickens.

Jackson was misunderstood because we assume that because we love his videos and know every word of every one of his songs, we know him. WE MAY NEVER KNOW HIM. We hardly truly know members of our own families. Yet we think we really know Jackson and other celebrities whose music, movies,videos, families, marriages and lives we obsess over.

Michael Jackson’s work should certainly be honored. And his life and death will be worthy of news coverage for decades to come. But is everything we are seeing, and the “tributes” we have yet to see, honoring him as a person, as a human being? I don’t think so.

What we are seeing is the 21st century equivalent of the Roman soldiers casting lots for the garments of Jesus (Luke 23:34). Most of us did not value Michael Jackson as a person, as flawed as he was (and all of us are). We just covet what he left behind.

I, for one, want better for Jackson’s memory, his family and those who truly knew and loved him. Because it is just what I would want for me and mine, when my life is over.


  • Altough I can certainly uderstand your frustration with all the accolades for Michael now, when only a few short years ago he was tried in the court of public opinion and found guilty,let the media pay homage to him, his music and the genius he was.
    I agree, we never realy knew him, but we knew his talent and”the way he made us feel”. For a few short days maybe we can enjoy his contributions and not judge him. Few of us will ever know what it was like to walk in his moccasins.
    Almost forty yeaes ago when he was still a child, he and his brothers were shopping in a suburban Boston mall. Hardly anyone noiced them or paid any attention to them. When a fellow shopper did reocnize them, the person accompanying the group, put his finger over his lips silently pleading for her to respect their privacy. She did. Imagine having to live like that for forty years.
    So,let the world celebrate his life and work.
    AABoomers.com mourns the loss of our Boomer brother,yet smile when we think of the jam session going on in heaven on Thursday, whrn Ray Charles, James Brown, and Jackie Wilson greeted him!

  • Joshua M. Jarmon

    I agree with Mr. Edmonds on this issue. I think it was wrong how the media treated him while he was on trial. Now people are hopping on the bandwagon saying how great of a person he is and has been in his lifetime. Personally, I love his music and that is where it stops. There were many confusing aspects of his life that people are still trying to figure out.

  • L. Wright

    I’ll agree with the above poster, I loved his music, but that’s where it stops MJ left the black race a very long time ago, from the nose jobs to the changing of his skin. I can only miss the off the wall, thriller basically the 80’s MJ, anything after that was a trajic, misguided, troubled mistake.

  • V Gordon

    Finally, someone has the courage to say what a lot of us have been thinking and that is…love his music, but had serious concerns about the man. He was gifted and talented and yet his life was plagued with questionable choices and drama and so much saddness. I’ve heard many say that he didn’t have a childhood, but what is so sad to me was that he didn’t have an adulthood either…at least not one that was modeled in public. He didn’t seem to realize that he was in a greater position than most to get his life together, but instead it was filled with questionable and poor, misguided choices and behavior and people. And even if his personal life was more together than what the public actually knew, its sad that we will never really know that. His untimely death is tragic and sad, yes…but I see more tragedy and saddnes in how he lived and projected his life.

  • I really wont entertainment any of the above comments. You didn’t know “Jesus” either but I bet you wont ever say you don’t know him. As a true fan I know Michael well enough, although I’ve never met him. I wont question the skin change, he said he had a disease and I’ll have to believe that until proven otherwise. As far as the nose jobs, many celebrities and none celebrities (black and white) have them all the time. I don’t particularly like my nose but I can live with it. And it has nothing to do with wanting to look white. Michael had a childhood or haven’t any of you seen the pictures of him and his brothers and sisters playing all the time. He went many places with his family and friends. True fans know that! I read enough fan magazines to know that growing up! Even you to write the family letters! Every human being has also made poor and misguided choices in their lives including me, still do. So what makes him any different than any of us? Perfect people like yall need to tell us your secret for being without fault! Michael was a person with a good heart and soul. Someone who loved people, young and old, rich and poor. Or haven’t any of you been listening to people who truly knew the man and not the media. His legacy and music will live on, the true genius, innovator and humanitarian. And if you don’t want to watch the tributes or email or blog about him, FINE! DON”T. Makes its easier for my television to work and my computer not to crash! I LOVE YOU MICHAEL JACKSON! THE KING OF POP! THE GREATEST ENTERTAINER TO LIVE THUS FAR! RIP and Condolences to the family!

  • I was one of millions of little black boys that wanted to BE Michael Jackson (or any member of the Jackson 5)! I BEGGED my mother to let me grow a big ‘fro. (She resisted because she knew I would not take care of it. When she finally relented when I turned 14, I proved her right. It doesn’t surprise her that I rock the bald look today!)

    But the fact that MJ is an icon is all about making US feel good, and only serves to dehumanize him–something he seemed to struggle with all of his life. If we are truly to honor Michael Jackson in death, the tributes should be about the life he lived, the dreams he pursued, the joys he experienced, the pain he suffered, the redemption he needed, the burdens he carried as a man. Tributes should be about HIM, as a person, not about US. Focusing only on his iconic status is self-serving, does not honor his memory and the loss experienced by those who really knew and loved him, including his family. (Not us. His REAL family.)

    • Julie

      Beautiful petroy, Michael. Flaghopping will make a wonderful Father’s Day gift for Jack Sr.Thanks for reminding us of the wonderful trips we have taken to Ireland.Anna DonovanPortland, Oregon USA

  • Diane Anderrson

    Let’s honor Michael for all he did. How many know about the charities he supported? The Motown icons who he supported and buried? Or the demons that haunted him. He was human — flawed and sometimes infuriating. He was a man. A man who for 40 years danced and sang his heart out while breaking down doors for all the artists to come. I remember seeing the video for his Black or White video and seething with anger. I couldn’t believe the person on the screen was Michael — I felt he rejected the black race. And I like many turned away. But when I hear his music I remember the eleven year old boy who had me rushing to buy Right On Magazine. I remember the twenty-something young man that sang me through college. I remember the songs that my grandkids love now as much as I loved them then. He was a genius — a tremendous talent and he will leave an enduring legacy. We all have our demons. Most of us just don’t work them out so publicly. Rest in peace Michael. Your songs are the song track of my life.

  • Don’t judge a man until you’ve walked a step or two in his shoes. I agree with Alfred. Michael died but Joseph Jackson is still alive. A true test of our sincerity might be to honor, in life, his contributions to America’s cultural fabric.

    Joseph’s parents separated when he was young. He went to live with his father, however, upon attaining the age of 18, he left Oakland CA to be closer to his mother. I can’t imagine what it might have been like to have been raised by a single father in the 1940s. Maybe we’ll never know because people didn’t talk about “certain things” back then. but I suspect that he was an abuse survivor but he persevered nevertheless.

    After a failed career as a boxer then singer, he ended up working a crane at a steel mill. Despite a lifetime of setbacks, he kept going and held on to the American dream of achieving more for his kids than anyone had achieved for him. From this foundation, Joseph Jackson ignited an empire.

    Don’t judge him like you would Matthew Knowles or Clive Davis. He had none of their advantages, except a bigger dream, more courage and a bigger tolerance for risk. He was black, poor & uneducated but still figured out the music business and America’s racial hypocrisy. At a time when we were still trying to overcome, he out-produced, over-delivered, out-performed, out-negotiated and over-achieved. He did it all with neither a roadmap for success nor a support net to catch him if he fell.

    The complexities of Michael’s affairs are tremendous. But I trust Joseph to have a plan for dealing with it. And if it includes the promotion of a venture for wealth creation, so be it. At the end of the day, he accomplished more in his lifetime than most of us ever will. And for this, we need to show deference.

    Did he make mistakes along the way, sure. But who amongst us is perfect? Joseph is in his final years. He is in mourning, he doesn’t hear well, he has a gargantuan sense of pride and he is the face of the family. Lets give him a break. If this promotion turns out to be a freak show, so what. Since when have we been above participating in a freak show.

    If you want to honor Michael, lets demonstrate respect for his legacy, his privacy, his family and his father.

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  • Thanks for the opinion and comments regarding Michael. Everyone has one, including myself. I happen to appreciate his contribution to our society, and consequently, as you may elude to – the reason you have a column in this magazine that I may reply to.

    Unfortunately, and in my opinion, this is not the time nor place to post a personal statement regarding someone very special to many and the envy of jealous/self-benefitting others. No one was close enough to him to written or “struck him down”,so why would you?

    Although he had a past, it was his past, not ours. I don’t know anyone who is proud of all of the things they have done. Further, what good does it do to linger on those items? The bottom line is that he was a human being and a product of his experiences, circumstances and environment. Only Michael could express his feelings and no one will ever understand the magnitude of those events from his eyes.

    In closing, I believe we should always respect others who have harmed no one. I would not expect that someone would write a negative commentary about an average Joe or Jane who has just passed, nor that of Michael Jackson. May he rest in peace and solitude and that his children and mother be the best for what is to come.

  • Rita

    I don’t know Barack Obama, Earl Graves or Oprah Winfrey but that doesn’t mean I could not offer tribute upon the untimely death of either. I can honor a persons contribution – without endorsing them as a role model. We are expected, as americans, to salute a flag that represents nothing but hardship for most African Americans.

  • I didn’t know Michael and I don’t know any celebrities either, yet, this article seems to attract the few that wanted to say what the author has conveyed – not all “Black” Americans were MJ’s greatest supporters.

    I believe one of the statements from “Amanda” hit it on the head, though; we can’t judge anyone and much less, if I may be so rude, the average Joe or Jane. Let the man rest, and as an African American, be proud that one with similar heritage made such an astounding contribution to our society.

  • George Parker

    It is your right to take offense to the media’s tributes to Michael Jackson. Yours is one interpretation of these events and of those who espouse admiration for Michael and his contribution. Having said that, your interpretaion is very cynical, reflecting more about you than the events.

    Not many people can say that they knew or understood Michael. As is the case with most of us, he was complex and flawed. Nevertheless, what he put out to the world resonated tremendously with millions of people around the world who appreciated his messages, rhythms, dance and songs. I don’t doubt for one minute that the many entertainers, commentators, and fans celebrating Michael Jackson life were expressing their appreciation for his outstanding contribution — the work of a truly gifted and generous man.

  • I feel exactly the same way. People only love you when you’re dead. I wasn’t a fan of MJ’s when he was alive so I’m not going to act like I like him now that he’s dead. I wish his family and true friends the best. But this bandwagon of how great he was by people that didn’t care about him 2 weeks ago is so fake, it’s making me sick.

  • RA

    “as an African American, be proud that one with similar heritage made such an astounding contribution to our society” Rita

    You see that right there is where our lack of fully understanding time comes into play, fast fwd 100yrs from now when our great grandchildren are discussing a great black entertainer and they try to bring up Michael jackson his white great grandchildren, his white images may very well dispute that he was black, so where would the pride be then? Our understanding of time is so limited to the struggle of our every day lives that we fail to put in check anyone who disrespects or leaves the black race, why must we forgive this man, because he died please, his surviving family members should also be questioned in allowing this man to use that lame rare disease excuse for his whitening skin. Oddily did he try to get his BLACK skin back? White kids, Black & White song, Whiting skin he wanted to be white period. Great entertainer YES, without question, Great African? Not even close. please forgive any typos.

  • I have to respond. I am the one who believes Michael is an African American and contributed to society through many genres including music. Just because he had plastic surgery to do what he wanted to do with his face, doesn’t make him less African American. H…ll how many “dark” or “darker” skinned people act “white”. Do you know one or more of them? It is an idiotic comment and observation which reduces us to making judgments about someones appearance. We have got to stop this – it is destroying us as a human race. What difference did that make. Kids know he was Black and all will know that later, thanks to the media and folk like you. His children were HIS and biology has not one thing to do with it. We should embrace that he loved someone other than himself. Give him a break. His family is not the issue here, as is anyone else’s family when they are dead. Black skin doesn’t make a person Black. Stop talking about him as a disgrace. He is and will be the best Pop star of all time. Thank God that he was a gifted African American man.

  • Andrea

    I will greatly miss Michael, and I am truly disappointed that people are mentioning the negative things about his life less than a week of his death. Sometimes some things should be kept to ourselves in the name of respect for close family, friends and the deceased. Don’t get me wrong, we are entitled to our opinion, but we should be sensitve to other whether fammous or not. I do feel bad for him in regards that he didn’t really have a childhood. I mean performing at age five in strange places, recording for hours all in the name of us dancing to good music. I have a seven-year-old son, and I could not imagine him being tutored for only three hours, and then recording until bedtime, performng at strip clubs, being beaten and made fun of by your own father because he’s different. To me, thatm child abuse, and I believe he has been abused in so many ways even until his death. He has been the subject of so many jokes it’s sad. I am so glad I never jumped on that bandwagon. And for all of you that says or thought that Michael was wierd, I would love for you to but your secret sin on display for all to mock and judge. Miss you love you Michael. You were human, forgive us for forgetting.

  • RA

    In the overall history of the African Race what did he contribute? In this age where rappers & entertainers represent the Black Race on BET, CNN, MTV etc? In this age 4,000yrs of African history has been reduced & continue to reduced to nothing with two simple letters B.C. In this age where African Americans are a people without a country, not realizing our race is being replaced with the words Multicultural? In this age where our future idolizes entertainers (who most cases are either uneducated on our TRUE history or in most cases only care about themselves and their fame & fortune). Please tell me what did Michael Jackson contribute to the African Race? Did his music make you proud to be Black? Did his music speak of the pride of being Black? Did he stand out as a symbol of what being Black is about? We were once Kings, Queens, Scientists etc, now here we are honoring an entertainer who wasn’t even proud being African.

  • Patize

    I agree with alfred with michael jackson’s passing b4 that the media had damaged him physically, emotionally & mentally. All this hypocrisy of his death is sickening and its horrible to pay a tribute 2 someone they obivously didnt care about! May Godbless his family

  • SAL

    How about a blog entry on the recent Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action? Talk about a newsworthy (and potentially devastating for many black folks) event!

  • char

    I am so sad for his family and of course for MJ sudden death. Who was MJ? Will we ever know. How can Sharpton claim that MJ paved the way for our President, or Opray for that matter. Was he proud to be Black? I don’t think so. Look at his children, not an ounce of blackness running through their veins–that says it all to me. I hope MJ will finally find peace.

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    MJ had vitiligo which is a skin disease that causes discoloration in blotchy patches as a result of having lupus, which he was diagnosed with both in 1986. Both diseases are incurable. He was trying to even out his complexion. Ultimately, he just depigmentized his skin so that it would be even. Pics of him with the condition can be found on YouTube. Although, I’ve heard him openly acknowledge that he was proud to be a ‘black’ man, one has to wonder why didn’t he date any black women. Did he not like us? We liked him – A LOT!!! Last, I never understood why he didn’t come clean about his medical conditions.

  • seriously, this blog is marvilous . I think im gonna stick around and read some of your posts. Wishing you the best

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