Archive for Thursday, July 9, 2009

Wrong focus

July 9, 2009


To the editor:

The spectacle that is Michael Jackson’s death and its obvious importance for millions of American citizens is emblematic of the continued deterioration of our once great republic.

Mr. Jackson was an entertainer of middling talent for a succession of generations whose estimation of middling talent is emblematic of their rather low attention spans: a flashing light show, a near-anorexic performer, lyrics written to the level of a 4-year-old (“beat it, beat it”), a voice grating in its expulsion and music played in excess of normative decibels. This then is what constitutes entertainment for the intellectually challenged.

One need not dwell here on Mr. Jackson’s well-publicized personal life and its bizarre tendencies. Suffice it to say, were he not in possession of millions of dollars and a purchasable dream team of aggressive and unscrupulous lawyers he would long ago have gone the way of less affluent aggrandizers (to jail).

While much of America has focused on the Jackson death syndrome, we have ignored the more pressing problems of our two current wars. We have now lost in excess of 4,000 American service members. Thousands more have returned home minus a leg or arm courtesy of the seemingly unstoppable plague of improvised explosive devices. These casualties of war should be our focus, not Mr. Jackson and his putrid performances.

Benjamin Franklin famously intoned that we might not be able to keep our Republic. It is a shame we are losing it to the likes of Mr. Jackson and his fans.

O’Connell is from Lawrence


jaywalker 7 years, 7 months ago

This LTE is emblematic of the middling....................well, I think PeeUuu will suffice.
And there has to be more to that Franklin quote, isn't there?

CLARKKENT 7 years, 7 months ago



labmonkey 7 years, 7 months ago

Although you can tell by the tone of this letter that Mr. O'Connell probably gets angry at "those kids in his yard," he does make a very good point about there being other, much more newsworthy stories.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 7 months ago

I don't care too much for opera or figure skating, and Michael Jackson's music wasn't really my cup of tea, either. But that doesn't mean he had no talent. He wrote some very good songs, and his dancing ability was highly praised by other dancers.

Sure, the celebrity hype machine is very problematic, but that doesn't mean that celebrities that are hyped by it are automatically talentless.

Kirk Larson 7 years, 7 months ago

While I'm no big Michael Jackson fan....

Geezameenie, and I thought I was getting old!

BigAl 7 years, 7 months ago

Finally, Nancy Boy and I agree on something. I did enjoy MJ's music but the man was odd. Al Sharpton says that MJ paved the way for other black artists. Apparently Al has never heard of the Supremes, The Temptations, Smokey Robinson, Jim Brown, that whole Motown thing. MJ was NOT a civil rights leader by any stretch of the imagination. He was simply an entertainer that became a little weird.
Peace to his family.

Eric Neuteboom 7 years, 7 months ago

"And one more thing: Get Off My Lawn!"

  • Matthew M. O’Connell

devobrun 7 years, 7 months ago

logic: if you listen to the speech by Mr. Moyers linked by bronze, you'll hear a story about a man battling two wolves within himself. The good wolf and the bad wolf. The winner is the wolf who is fed by the man.

People who believe politicians, news preparers, corporate spokesmen, advocacy groups.......yep, just about everybody with an agenda, feed the bad wolf.

MJ, Princess Di, Bill Clinton, global warming, crisis this, crisis that......and people buy it.
There is plenty of energy, your are being jerked around. The globe is not in danger from CO2, your are being led like cattle. The food you eat is safer than at any time in the history of man, forget the cancer scares. Picograms of mercury in vaccines don't cause autism. Michael Jackson was just another entertainer, not the king of anything. Elvis is dead, too.

You are an individual on this planet, defined by what you do, and the content of your character. External, media driven agendas shouldn't have nearly as much effect on your feelings. You have a choice people, feed that which is right there in front of you (like your family), or that which is received by you (like MJ and save the whales campaigns).

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 7 months ago

".yep, just about everybody with an agenda, feed the bad wolf."

Sure is a good thing you have no agenda, devo-- just pure, unadulterated truthiness.

devobrun 7 years, 7 months ago

Bozo: My agenda throughout all my posts to LJW is to challenge authority. I challenge the authority that Michael Jackson is important, or: That Al Gore knows anything about the temperature of the globe. That we know that all apelike creatures share an ape-like ancestor. That abstractions, implemented in computer programs are just as good as a real test. That "new". "alternative", "progressive" anything has any meaning. That "alternative" anything is necessarily good. That recycled ideas, like windmills are now any different than they were 20 years ago.

My agenda is to challenge modern replacements of old traditions. I do this not because I wish to maintain old traditions. I do this because new ideas must be properly tested. If they work, fine. If not, then be honest about it.

Media hype is not honesty. Jackson, environmentalism, scare tactics abound in the media. I buy none of it. Advocates that I challenge think that I have an agenda to defend the old wisdom. I offer only that we probably don't know.
The limited extent of human knowledge combined with the possibility of error makes open-mindedness a highly desirable attitude. Buying into media generated hype is sad, whether it is Jackson, Princess, Di, or programs on History Channel about the end of the world. Garbage, all of it.

devobrun 7 years, 7 months ago

logic: The absurdity of current media is a result of people buying into it. The media is giving the people what they want. People want stories that are absurd, scary, amazing, hopeful, and entertaining. The people have chosen the bad wolf, as Moyer's Indian friend would define it.

Environmental stories allow people to feel guilty and redeemed. MJ and Princess stories allow people to feel sad, but not really. Doom and gloom stories from AL Gore and heroic remedies make people feel scared but determined.

The media creates reality and meaning. The media creates solutions that soothe the human soul.

By choosing to believe the media, people have given over their souls to the bad wolf. There seems to be no stopping it either. Now we have twitter so that the people can be fed their reality even when they are on the go.

devobrun 7 years, 7 months ago

beerguy: The whales probably don't need saving. They'll be fine. The people trying to save the whales are probably not doing much to save the whale, anyway. I don't need the guilt.

devobrun 7 years, 7 months ago

Big Al:

Aretha Franklin, BB King, James Brown, the Isleys.

Old guy soul. Michael Jackson was bubble gum during these times. He came back with a fabulous Quincy Jones album, where he danced great. Subsequent albums didn't live up.

So, one worthy album and he's the king of pop. Not.

Paul R Getto 7 years, 7 months ago

Nothing new; the third chimp on the planet has supported a celebrity culture for man centuries. The tradition is quite old. Check out the treatment of the Olympic athletes back in the "good old days" when some cheated, lied and bribed people to win. At least they did 'stop' the wars a bit for the benefit of the games. Jackson was a strange fellow in some ways, but a mighty talent.

mistygreen 7 years, 7 months ago

I found this LTE interesting as I felt that I was the only one that was 1). Felt MJ was overrated. 2). Sick and tired of hearing about him and how his survivors are fighting over his estate. 3). Tired of everyone boo-hooing over the loss of a pop icon.

devobrun 7 years, 7 months ago

Logic, it is true,I could not have a less sanguine attitude toward the media than I have now. The NYT invents stories about homeless druggies. The television is covered with Entertainment Tonight stories. The weather channel runs "earth in peril" shows. Every corporation, advocacy group and flim flam operation has a newsletter and news releases. Many of these stories are published in newspapers as news.

Spreadsheet science is currently coupled with the media. Throw data into a correlation routine and see what comes out. Produce a press release. Promote yourself, your work, and recommend further study. The press laps this up.

But what do you expect from the people who couldn't read or write well enough to major in history or literature. Couldn't work a math problem to save their life. Intramural athletic ability and a wanna be attitude?

Hey scooter...goin' back to the house is all grown up and having to meet a deadline. What's on the wire. Maybe I should go to one of the verbose KU profs for a take on Michael. Yup, that's it. News baby.

lgreen17 7 years, 7 months ago

Michael Jackson embodied everything that is great about this country. He was born to a low income family and yet his talent made him millions. He was accused of a crime and found not guilty by a jury of his peers. He could reinvente himself and his music over and over again, and most importantly he was/is adored by MILLIONS of people around the world. Isn't that the American Dream?

You don't like him Matt, but that doesn't mean the sky is falling. Another great thing about America: we can all have our opinions. You opinons are no better than mine, just different!

Tony Kisner 7 years, 7 months ago

need to put Matt on invite list for my next dinner party. Sounds like a fun guy.

What is art any way?

Leslie Swearingen 7 years, 7 months ago

Matt you are a total idiot. Michael Jackson was a great performer, way above average. Those dance moves of his were fantastic. My granddaughter and I both enjoy his music and dancing which proves that his talent crossed generational lines. I am very sad that he is gone. You should be thoroughly ashamed of yourself.

Charles Bloss 7 years, 7 months ago

That crap clogged the airwaves for two weeks and I am sick of it and him. As the child molester he was, he should have been locked up, but money buys most anything. Thank you, Lynn

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