Tribute to a Contemporary Genius…

As the Standpoint bloggers’ equivalent of a sort of minister of fun/culture department, or whatever, I guess I can’t get away without offering a tribute to Michael Jackson, who as you know has died of a heart attack aged only 50. Tragically young for these days, frighteningly sudden and a shock to everyone. I hope that the sudden demise of someone who was certainly an icon of his day will help to draw public attention to the dangers of heart conditions – for more info please visit the site of the British Heart Foundation.

Now, here is a video of Michael Jackson.

I never ‘got it’ with Jackson. Please use the comments box on this post to leave your tributes and tell me why he was such a genius? I’m ready to be convinced.

Meanwhile lots of commentators are going to write pretentious claptrap about him today, so I shall join in. Here goes.

I can’t help feeling that the extraordinary thing about him was not so much his art as everything its popularity told us about our times – where health and happiness are bartered for excess profit, where image has stabbed substance through the heart, where consumers will swallow without question whatever our controllers shove down our numbed and flabby throats. Michael Jackson touched millions, probably billions, of people worldwide. The King of Pop, certainly – just as MacDonald’s is the king of food? Could it be that the death of Jackson, coinciding with the credit crunch and this massive recession, represents the end of an era?

Here’s an idea for paying tribute. We’re not here forever. We’ve a few brief decades, at best, to sit on this poor old planet and do something. What are we doing with our lives? For a few minutes, stop moving, stop the noise, stop the anaesthetic, and think about it.

An autumn note

“For many, the end of this uneasy year cannot come quickly enough”

An ordinary killing

Ian Cobain’s book uses the killing of Millar McAllister to paint a meticulous portrait of the Troubles

Greater—not wiser

John Mullan elucidates the genius of Charles Dickens
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