Dr. Murray Guilty

Doesn't everyone take their doctor on vacation?

Maybe if Dr. Nick had been tried in court instead of in front of the Tennessee State Medical Licensing board, he would have gone to jail for killing Elvis – and Michael Jackson, Corey Haim and other doctor shopping celebrities might be alive.

But doctors are rarely held to the standard that mere morals are held to – so Dr. Conrad Murray, who was just the last in a string of pusher doctors, is found guilty at trial rather than be fined by the medical board for poor ethical standards.

Will Murray be the latest victim of celebrity excess and the greed that surrounds celebrities, or will he herald a change for doctors to really do no harm to their celebrity patients?

What’s most interesting to me is how much easier it seems to be for doctors to be blamed when their patient is a dead celebrity – because having worked some years ago on a medical malpractise complaint against a doctor, it is astonishingly difficult to establish guilt.

In the Vancouver case, a doctor who specialized in AIDs patients, was using liquid nitrogen to burn off anal warts – a common opportunistic infection. But think about that for a moment: Liquid nitrogen, anal spincter.

If you aren’t squirming in your chair, you probably haven’t had to have liquid nitrogen applied to your skin. Having had liquid nitrogen used to remove planter warts from my toe and some moles on my arm, I can assure you that liquid nitrogen is nothing that you want on anything as sensitive as your anus.

Of the three doctors who reviewed the treatment, one stated that the application of liquid nitrogen to the anal area was inappropriately agressive, with the other two indicating that it was unconventional but not unthinkable as a treatment option.

That four of the five patients that we represented didn’t even have anal warts, didn’t factor into the assessement of the appropriateness of the treatment.

So, here, we had a case of a doctor, using unconventional aggressive treatment for an ailment that the patients don’t have and isn’t warrented for what they do have. But these are just five gay guys and not dead celebrities, so the case falls apart in the face of doctors standing together – and it doesn’t matter what reality or evidence demonstrates.

So while Dr. Conrad Murray didn’t get Jackson addicted to drugs, he stepped into a situation that Jackson’s death was inevitable and gambled that he could do what he was paid to do and get out before things went too wrong. He gambled and lost.

Is it fair he go to jail?

In that jail is intended as a deterrent to crime and insofar as Murray’s actions were criminally negligent in that he was not trained to administer the drug at issue, which was further being done in an improper setting, yes, Dr. Murray, as a medical doctor, knew or ought to have known, how dangerous the situation was.

Despite that Jackson himself should have been in jail and not unconsciously preparing for a concert tour (can you call it a tour when it’s just the one location?),  no matter Jackson’s failings and shortcomings, Dr. Conrad Murray contributed to his death.

But it’s the actions after that are the most telling – Murray did not immediately call for help and he hid information from medical responders. There was never doubt about Murray’s contributions – but there is some doubt as to whether he should shoulder the full burden.

But, as with Elvis, the biggest share of responsibility lies with Jackson himself. Celebrity seems to be it’s own reward as well as punishment.

__________________

Disclaimers:

1. Doctors and police should never investigate themselves for misconduct, because there’s an inherent conflict of interest.

2. I am not now, nor have I ever been, a Michael Jackson fan. I believed him to be guilty of The Charges years in advance of any claims being made. That taints my observations of the current events, and I just wanted to admit my bias.

Cooking with Elvis

Elvis Presley Enterprises (“EPE”) has licensed a line of kitchen appliances to bear Elvis’ name. What kitchen appliances have to do with Elvis is beyond me, Elvis wasn’t known for popping into the kitchen and cooking up a mess of anything.

When Elvis first became famous, people just didn’t know what to make of him. He didn’t fit neatly in any established musical genre, he didn’t sing or perform like anyone else and he sold so many more records than anyone that the idea of presenting gold records for million selling albums became an industry standard.

Elvis was treated like a fad and the prevailing wisdom was to grab as much money as he could generate while he could generate – and for 23 years (from 1954 to 1977), Elvis Presley made money as fast as the American mint could produce it. Thirty four years after his death, Elvis is still generating more money than current day celebrities do.

The 2011 Forbes List of Dead Celebrity earnings places Elvis at number 2 with $55 million. Micheal Jackson gets his first number 1 spot with $170 million; Jackson missed the number 1 spot in his death year because of estate sales of Rogers and Hammerstein and Yves St. Laurent.

Elvis has been the number one earning dead celebrity in every year of the Forbes list, except for the last two years. However, it’s expected for him to retain his number one placement as Jackson is unlikely to continue “earning” at his present rate and will drop as time passes.

There’s a few things that are significant about the Forbes list calculations to consider:

On the Jackson side of the equation, besides the obvious that he’s a recently deceased celebrity, there’s the source of his earnings, which has a lot to do with his investment in The Beatles and other artist’s catalogs. Jackson’s earnings do not reflect the sales of his own work and related merchandise, but Elvis’ do – it’s all down to licensing the Elvis name and image, as well as Graceland tours and Elvis week events.

On the Elvis side, his earnings do not include any money from the sale of his catalog from 1954 to 1973, since Elvis had sold the catalog to RCA to refinance his divorce. This is the most valuable catalog that has proven repeatedly to have no upper limit for the number of times you can sell the same recordings and Elvis’ estate receives no royalties and so, the sales of the largest part of Elvis’ body of work, doesn’t get calculated into his earnings.

Elvis, in effect, is playing with a hand tied behind his back and he’s still coming out at the top of the list.

I think that this is a large part of his appeal, no matter how big and popular Elvis was and continues to be, there’s always a sense of him being the underdog – life was stacked against him and he succeeded despite all the impediments and improbabilities.

Parker selling Elvis photos to fans

Tom Parker, Elvis’ manager, was a consummate huckster and was creative with elaborate side deals to maximize profits – and EPE continues that tradition of Elvis as a money machine rather than Elvis as an artist and human being.

Elvis wanting nothing more than to make something of himself as a performer and to achieve the middle class American dream. In early interviews, he talked mostly of being able to take care of his parents and was always genuinely grateful to his fans for his success. When Elvis said “Thank you, thank you very much” it was a sincere utterance, not a stage blanditude.

The response of the youth was to embrace Elvis as one of their own writ epic, the conquering underdog who ushered in a new era by making social distinctions between black and white, north and south, poor or middle class or wealthy all null and void. Elvis embodied the American Dream.

But being a visionary, even an unintentional one, is a hard road.

While the establishment was more than happy to rake in the money, Elvis was denigrated for being vulgar and a fad in the 1950’s, undermining his revolutionary artistry.

The 1960’s movie decade began with honest efforts of serious acting – Wild in the Country and Flaming Star, but these were eclipsed at the box office by the lighter Blue Hawaii and GI Blues – so the Elvis Presley Movie was cast – a pretty location, a fight, pretty girls, and as many songs as could be crammed into the running time of the movie.

It’s impossible to argue with money, so Elvis made three movies plus soundtrack records almost every year of the 1960s – churning out so much product that Elvis became the establishment that the youth audience rebelled against and moved onto other artists – who, as much as they wanted to make the money Elvis did – they wanted to say something, to stand for something, with their music – the way that Elvis once did in the 1950’s.

Before the licensing deals, before the merchandise, before Parker….

It’s hard to argue with success and that’s the way that the establishment rolls.

Not on what ratified abstract or artistically could be, but what hard cash there is, while it’s there.

Which explains why the establishment is so resistant to any change – they want to milk what they can, for as long as they can, until they can’t anymore. Big Business doesn’t like to change it’s business model or practise until it’s forced to.

Which is why there is such resistance to climate change and environmental protection – it’s not because they really doubt the science, it’s because they haven’t finished squeezing out all the money – but, like for Elvis, by the time he was taken seriously as an artist this decade under Sony’s stewardship, he’d been dead for over 30 years.

Because it doesn’t matter how talented or smart or attractive or successful you are, if you are unfulfilled as a person, you just withdraw, wither and die – and no matter what successes Elvis had – he was unfulfilled as an artist and performer, his dreams of being a serious actor thwarted by his management and his own inability to be assertive, and RCA’s push for quantity over quality recordings, ultimately, he went unfilled as a singer for many years.

It may well be too late for humans en masse to change our behaviours to ensure that we continue on as we are. But survival is to the best adapted, not to the most established.

Dead Celebrities

Amy Winehouse is the latest dead too soon celebrity, as an Elvis fan, I can feel for Amy’s fans, wondering how a person so talented, famous and loved could be so pointlessly and wastefully dead at only 27.

My initial reaction was not quite the, aren’t they already dead response that I get to the tabloids at the supermarket check out line when they feature photos of elderly celebs who had last passed out of the public eye, but who were apparently not actually dead, just forgotten.

Amy Winehouse seems to have been determined to overdose, so in many respects, it was just a matter of when. My response was more to wonder, why with her money, didn’t she hire someone to be sober and watching over her?

But then, that didn’t work out too well for Michael Jackson.

So, the lesson seems more to not using drugs above your ability to remain a functional person – thus one should avoid physically addictive drugs – and to know your limit and toke within it.

What’s incomprehensible to us mere unfamous mortals is how can a person who is famous – and famous for actual talent who worked hard to become famous – as opposed to insta-fame of infamous for anti-social actions or behaviours or reality program famous. People becoming famous for stunts or crimes makes more sense than unreality programs – which are a bizarre form of escapism that makes little sense to me – certainly, far less sense than drugs or alcohol – at least they can be entertaining and thought provoking.

But what we mere mortal fans can’t understand is our fave celeb being unhappy while at the same time, being that celebrity.

Being famous doesn’t solve any of the problems that you had before – it makes money problems less, but not family dynamics, it lessens your ability to trust people, it puts you in unfamiliar territory with precarious staying power – if anything, being famous – especially if at a young age or too fast, will destabilize you and becomes almost a gateway addition of it’s own – unless you maintain a level head (assuming you had one to start with) and a supportive family structure to keep you grounded.

The love of fans does simply not compare to the love of family and friends, which is for you the actual person, before the fame and money, to the best and despite the worst.

Fan love is blind to faults, while being fickle and often unforgiving – it is not dependable – and perhaps drugs are the easiest way to simulate that sense of being cared for, protected and a well being of knowing you’re the centre of the universe.

We love our celebrities to death, yet we seem constantly surprised by that same death.

 

 

Measuring Up To Elvis

Following up on my earlier Why Elvis Remains the Bar and some semi-recent news items that would like to proclaim the King is off or at least having to share the throne; specifically about Mariah Carey getting more number 1 singles, Glee surpassing Elvis chart records and most erroneously, Michael Jackson topping Elvis on the Forbes dead celebrity earning list.

Forbes Dead Celebrity Earnings Lists

Elvis has been the number one dead celebrity earner in all but three years that Forbes has calculated the list. The first time Elvis was bumped to number two was the year that Courtney Love sold Kurt Cobains’ catalog for Cobains one and only appearance on the list.

Elvis made is lowest appearance on the list in 2009 with $55 million, the year of Jackson’s death – Elvis ranked at number four with Jackson’s debut at number three with $90 million in earnings – shattering expectations of an outrageous lead of a record first place.

Jackson was defeated in the race to number one by the sale of the Rodgers and Hammerstein catalog for a total earnings of $235 million and the liquidation of Yves St. Laurent’s estate at $350 million.

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s earnings were from their catalog sales and St. Laurent’s estate was liquidation of artwork and assets that had been invested and collected – so the earnings, to my mind, should have been credited to the artists who made the sold works, even though the money didn’t flow to their estates.

That brings us to putting 2010 into view. The 2010 list has Jackson as the number one dead earning celebrity and Elvis as the second.

Jackson’s  estate took in $250 million for 2010;  alleged to be largely due to the release of his rehearsal footage for his never given “This Is It” concerts. But, I think a careful review of revenues would show that these earning came from from Jackson’s investment in The Beatles catalog with the Rock Band video game and the final release of The Beatles as a complete catalog box set – in both stereo and mono.

Especially given that in terms of box office, Myles Cyrus’ Hannah Montana concert film had a better opening weekend than This is It.

Elvis holds number two this year with $60 million for 2010. Which is what his estate took in, largely through Graceland Tourism, merchandise and sales of his post 1973 recordings.

What money was earned due to Elvis’ catalog doesn’t get included as part of Elvis’ estate earnings – since all sales of his catalog pre 1973 is Sony’s profits – not Elvis’ earnings – so in terms of what Elvis’ catalog actually earns, this is not reflected in any of the Forbes lists because the estate gets not a penny.

In 1973, Elvis was forced to sell his interest in his back catalog to RCA to refinance his divorce. When Elvis and Priscilla initially divorced, Elvis simply agreed to pay what she demanded – but, Priscilla ended up suing for more money then and spendaholic Elvis didn’t have the cash.

Parker negotiated what he thought was a sweet deal to re-sell to RCA what had already been sold with no thought to the longer term value – Parker simply in his immediate greed for cash, forgot the lessons that they had learned from Elvis sales in the 1950s – that there was no limit to how many times fans would buy re-packaged Elvis.

In 1973, no one suspected that Elvis didn’t have years and decades ahead of him to continue to record more material – but it’s interesting that the urgency of fear that Elvis was just a fad in the 50’s and to get while the getting was good overrode the longer view that Elvis could (and is) endless repackaged and re-sold to fans would be more sustainable income.

Priscilla received a larger settlement, Parker took 50% of the sales and Elvis ended up with a pittance and no back catalog to rely on for future income – it’s no wonder that Elvis would soon be deeper into drugs and not trusting even his longest running friend – Red West.

Elvis the man meant less to the people around him than Elvis the ATM.

Elvis got so little recognition and credit for his work when he was alive that him topping this list is a testament to his lasting legacy – although given that the money is more sourced by Graceland and merchandise than his catalog, Elvis’ placement is a testament to how much he was loved and meant to his fans, who continue to be as disrespected as Elvis in that we are treated as ATM machines and pawned off with ridiculous and tacky merchandise, endless and thoughtless repackages – but, as when Elvis was alive – the marketing of Elvis responds to the market – so the movies got cheaper when we the fans weren’t critical and Elvis became disillusioned – confused why he had such a devoted following, but knowing he was putting out inferior product to his capacity so knew on a level that it was an unearned and uncritical following.

We get the Elvis we deserve, not unlike we get the government we deserve with low voter turnout and disengagement.

It is difficult to quantify subjective things like what a given person’s impact in social and art contributions terms, so we rely on the vulgar measure of money: how much money is generated. Curious then, like with the St. Laurent liquidation that the artists who created the art that he purchased and the estate sold were credited to the investor, not the creator who sold the works for a paltry sum compared to what the investor “earned” for their later sale. – If a painting original sells for a few hundred or thousand dollars it is less impressive than when that same painting later sells for millions or tens of millions.

Charts: Elvis vs Mariah Carey and Glee

A change in technology and the rules of the organizations that maintain charts will always favour current recording artists over decades ago and deceased ones. Which, is rightfully so, since the living should be more important than the dead.

However, it is tricky when you are not giving consideration to the person, but hyping and measuring sales.

In the fifties, a gold record was a million seller and sixty years later,  gold record is a half million seller and a million is platinum.

In the fifties, Elvis was the second artist who ever sold a million copies of a 45 single and he was the first artist who sold consistent million selling singles after million selling singles. So, the fact of assigning gold and platinum records is a result of Elvis’ sales.

So it is difficult to claim that any artist has sold more than Elvis or earned more accolades, when that we even count and measure these accolades is because of Elvis in the first place.

So, how someone else does on a scale that exists because of Elvis compared to Elvis…well no matter how anyone rates on the chart, Elvis will remain the chart itself until some other artist has such an impact as to change how we measure artists against each other.

As for technology, to have a million selling single in the fifties, an artists had to record an A and B side, the record had to have good radio play, the artist had to appear on tv or tour and the record had to sell;which meant that people had to take the time and effort to go to a store and buy the physical record, limited access by number of copies available and distribution and how fast records put be pressed and shipped. Record sales could stall while waiting for more product to be available.

Today, an artist can record one song and put it up on itunes and do an internet campaign and people have to download it. Minimal effort on the part of the artist, the label and the fan.

A download represents less commitment and more curiosity – music is a downloadable and disposal commodity, as opposed to an investment in a physical collection, which requires space and time throughout the ownership of the disc, rather than allocating file space in increasingly unlimited digital media.

Mariah Carey matching Elvis for number 1 hit records, first is not beating Elvis, only matching Elvis – and the market for music is now so fragmented that artists can have a number of huge selling success, but remain largely unknown outside of their specific audience.

Few artists achieve a mainstream/cross over success or even awareness, regardless of how talented or deserving. Mariah Carey is far more known for her diva conduct than her music.

When Elvis started, the music industry was in silos and Elvis broke the barriers of white vs black music – and Elvis recorded any music that appealed to him – he sang country, blues, rock, showtunes, folk tunes from several countries, funk, bossa nova/latin, swamp rock and gospel – Elvis is in more Music Halls of Fame than any other performer – Elvis truly was something for everyone.

While most artists achieve success with a specific demographic and type of music – just repeating the same over and over without ever reinventing or trying new styles.

With the size and ease of music collecting and listening, the audience today is at once cavernous yet still in style silos, as most people tend to be attracted to a narrower range of music.

Although, I find it endlessly hysterical when young people discover the rebellious music that their parents or even grandparents listened to – such was the dismay of the young girl in the late 80’s who, bringing home a cd of the Lost Boys soundtrack was looking forward to freaking out her Mom with this Jim Morrison lead singer of the Door – until it was pointed out to her that Morrison had been dead before she was born and her Mom could probably introduce her to their original vinyl and Janice Joplin besides.

As for Glee – like with Elvis and The Beatles – there was one Elvis who had to have all the appeal for his fans, while there was four Beatles to chose from – so an ensemble cast recording cover tunes of proven hit songs is not at all comparable even to the Partridge Family and The Brady Bunch who at least recorded original songs and are more properly the basis for comparison.

Elvis didn’t have a regular tv show to showcase his performances or songs, like the Monkees did and Elvis, while he recorded covers, did so in a different style as well as original songs – so as fun and good as the Glee cast is – the songs are covers of hit songs that benefit from being a tv show soundtrack and the cast is actors who can sing – not singers who also act. The songs are supported by scripted tv program, not a concert tour, and are not at all comparable to any musical artist, as they are wholly a separate category of repacked and sanitized for increasingly younger audiences.

Glee is to Elvis, as the wholesome and sexually unthreatening white young male teen idol singers that followed the wave of real rockers – Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Eddie Cochrane and other sexually threatening rockers were.

Elvis brought raw black music and urgent sex to the white teens and Buddy Holly make rock n roll into a higher and refined, pure and innocent – Peggy Sue only got laid after Peggy Sue got married – she wasn’t a girl in high heel sneakers or the temptress Woman from way over town.

That it’s that packaged and sanitized music that is downloaded and file allocated today – and its just not comparable either through the effort of acquiring it from the fans or the critical appreciation of music as a force of nature captured for a moment in a raw and unrefined performance of sexual power – but rather, a wall of sound orchestrated, choreographed and controlled to simulate the real thing.

Who’s the King

I’ve been an Elvis fan since I was a kid and was a teenager in the 1980’s.

I was indifferent to Jackson in the 80’s and not at all surprised when The Charges happened.

Aside: Yes, not only did/do I think Jackson was guilty, but had pretty much thought he was years in advance of the first charges.

When Jackson’s “This is it” concert was announced as being a 50 show series instead of a one off, I also expected Jackson to die before the series of shows was complete.

To me, it was clear from his emaciated appearance and years of drug abuse, that any day would be Jackson’s last – especially stressing his system with rehearsals.

Even thinking these things, I found myself rather indifferent to Jackson.

That is, until I began to encounter Jackson fans in the weeks before his death coming onto Elvis forums that were publicly accessible and dumping on Elvis.

It’s okay to think that the singer you like is the best ever, but there’s something particularly childish about going to a forum for a different singer and trolling.

I began to loathe  Jackson fans and Jackson by extension. Particularly the ones who are bashing on Elvis on the net, hijacking various media polls  and the stupid anti-Elvis crusade. These are only slightly more annoying than the ones who were indifferent to or even disliked Jackson prior to death and suddenly became dedicated fans the news cycle proclaimed his death. Sort of a reversal of people who stopped drinking or smoking suddenly being the biggest advocates against those things.

So, who is The King?

Voice, moves, looks, charisma – these are subjective things and what is one person’s turn on is another’s turn off. Subjective things cannot be used for comparison.

Well, really, even measurable things  are difficult. Record sales, charts, TV ratings and  box office are a measure of popularity in a given time frame – but the world that Elvis dominated was very different than when Jackson dominated and it’s different again.

We like what we like because of the emotional connection and nothing will dissuade anyone from their preferences.

But, that doesn’t mean there still aren’t areas that can be compared.

That Jackson had huge sales of his music after his death was not surprising. He had fewer than 10 albums in his active career and with being able to download from your home makes snagging the song or record very easy.

When Elvis died, if you wanted a record, you had to leave your house, get to a store, stand in line to get in, fight your way to the Elvis records, pick through what was left and then stand in line to pay.

Aside: Elvis had 68 albums released during his career, plus a small number of the infamous Camden/Pickwick releases. Ignoring bootlegs, there’s been over 200 different titled official releases, plus almost 100 on the official fan label FTD – add in all the bootleg and international releases, there’s thousands of Elvis releases.

In 1977, it took a lot of effort to buy a record and there was a limited supply. RCA dedicated all their pressing plants to Elvis record runs to keep up with demand.

In 2009, it took no effort to do a few clicks and download a copy of an endless digital supply.

Elvis’s death occurred when there was three TV Networks and a limited number of major newspapers and the news cycle fit into the morning news, dinner news and evening news.

When Jackson died, the news cycle was 24/7 with anyone who wants capable of being a broadcaster or reporter.

When Elvis died, celebrity deaths weren’t front page, it was vaguely unseemly to get into lurid details and the news that didn’t lead with the Elvis story, found themselves caught unawares and stunned by the public reaction.

When Jackson died, the media created a perception of the public reaction as being far bigger than it actually was. Leaving LA paying a huge bill for crowd control for non-existent crowds.

Jackson raised the bar on music videos with Thriller’s output, but Olivia Newton-John had made videos a requirement in 1980 when she made videos for each song for her new album, Physical, instead of touring. Duran Duran also kicked music videos up from in the studio/stage footage with their 1982 Rio album – each video filmed in different exotic locations and videos too risqué for MTV.

Elvis’ movies are largely extended music videos – packed with songs, a fun storyline, exotic locations and pretty girls. Elvis’ star vehicles became a movie sub-genre all their own and his career is still the template that rock n rollers use today.

Put out hit records, tour, do TV appearances and get into movies. Eminem, Bon Jovi, Mick Jagger, Tupac, and many others. Heck, even actors have gone from acting in movies to recording music.

Winner: Elvis – while both built on what came before, Elvis set the career template and changed the way the industry worked. Jackson wasn’t a game changer, he was adept at improving what came before, but refining is not changing.

Well, insofar as “titles” that have no legal meaning or any really weight in the world can be earned.

Jackson wasn’t the king of anything but capitol S Spectacle – and I mean that in the positive sense – think PT Barnum.

Jackson’s 80’s costumes were not military inspired – they were circus performer inspired.

Elvis’s early stage wear was luridly coloured and diverse, he wore a real uniform while really serving in the military and his 70’s comeback was not initially in the jumpsuit, but rather two piece outfits which morphed into the jumpsuits . Elvis wasn’t too shabby at Spectacle, either. He knew how to put on a show.

Controversies:

Elvis’ image was very controlled during his life, so it was very shocking in the 1980’s when Elvis’ drug use became known as well as the extent of the using. Elvis was marketed as a poor boy who made it big but never forgot his roots, even putting his career on hold to serve his country. Elvis went from rebel rocker to family entertainer.

Jackson controlled his image during his life too, but his choice was to go the other direction and present himself as a spectacle. Jackson started as wholesome family entertainment, went solo and gave his life over to being a freakish spectacle.

The bottom line:

Elvis didn’t want to be called the King, but he was anointed by fans, media and even the non-fan public.  Elvis was an industry and social game changer.

Jackson had a PR guy come up with “King of Pop” sometime after his Thriller peak and got Elizabeth Taylor to use it on a TV broadcast. Media was advised if they didn’t use it, they would not be given access to Jackson. Media folded on it and the title stuck, but demanded, not earned.

Winner: Elvis for being classy.

I would imagine that these pro-Jackson/anti-Elvis people weren’t fans of either prior to their respective deaths; kind of like people who go and stand vigil at the site where someone they didn’t know died.

Both groups are attaching themselves to something that’s tragic and larger than themselves.

But a large number number of the  Jackson group are like the sports fans who only turn out for games when the team is winning; it is unlikely that 33 years after his death that Jackson will be a consistent top earning dead celebrity or that people will still gather in large groups to mourn his passing.

The first anniversary of Elvis’ death, many fans went to Graceland and other Elvis locations to hold vigils. Over time, Elvis Presley Enterprises began to organize events and Elvis week is a major tourist draw for the city of Memphis with tens of thousands of fans arriving to participate.

The first anniversary of Jackson’s death, after a year of various family members trying to get tv shows and tribute concerts, there was very little to mark the day.

 

Celebs and Sex Crimes

There’s a weird thing that happens with celebrities – they seem to get a pass on the normal rules of behaviour.

It’s interesting to me that Polanski is treated differently in the 2009 media than Michael Jackson.

With Jackson, the excuse for his obviously predatory conduct to boys aged 11 to 14 as a result of a childhood lost to an abusive father – and proclaim he is innocent as a child himself in all regards – is horrifying.

It is irrational to accept that an abused child would grow up to be an adult who constantly seeks to invent childhood. It is not okay for an adult to seek out companionship from a rather specific age range and gender of children. Especially not children who are not merely offspring of his adult friends – but children who’s families are strangers.

If we took away that he was bold, underlined, italic Michael Jackson – and just look at the specifics – at the time of the first public claims – he was and adult male with no substantial adult romantic relationship, he was already a bit hermity and demonstrating odd behaviour – real or for publicity. He was also already remaking himself over into a Peter Pan of  sorts, talking in a high voice, facial surgeries. And cultivating the companionship of boys 11 to 14.

If this was a man at the end of your street, are you really going to send your son to his house for sleepovers and weekend getaways?

Even without the behaviours, would you allow a non-family member or non-friend this unfettered access to your child?

But Polanski, who’s pregnant wife was murdered a few years before the incident is not given any sort of victim of trauma pass.

Polanski has not surrounded himself with 13 year old girls or trying to remake himself over – he’s been an adult and gotten on with his life – nor has he been accused by any other teen girls or seen in their near social company almost exclusively.

I have always thought the truth of the matter was closer to the casting couch/Lolita interpretation than the version in the court.

Celebrities never get a fair trial like a member of the general public would – it’s either too lightly considered in awe of their celebrity or too harsh so as to set an example for the mere mortals.

Polanski’s crime was with a 13 year old girl over 30 years ago.

Jackson appears to have for years cultivated relationships with other people’s children.

Is it because Polanki worked behind the camera or that he fled the US? So, the anger is less to do with his crime than he thwarted justice?

It’s curious especially, since there is generally more outrage over the sexual abuse of boys than girls.

Or is it because Polanski fits our image of a masculine and sexual man and Jackson does not? Jackson with his high voice, anorexic body, effeminate movements and overall soft and childlike presentation of himself, instead of appearing sexually attractive, he seems instead to be Peter Pan?

Now, I am not one for push for conforming to gender roles or acting and appearing as society thinks you should.

But to my mind, there’s such a sinister rather than sweet aspect to Jackson’s persona that he appears less like Peter Pan and more Pedo Pan.