30 June 2009

The Michael I Remember

It's been a tragic week in the entertainment world. But in the midst of all the furor surrounding Michael Jackson, I'm forced to think back to 1983, when a nine year-old boy and his seven year-old brother would run upstairs after coming home from church to see if "Billie Jean," "Beat It," or "Thriller" was still #1 on the American Top 40 with Casey Kasem.

This is the Michael we'd all like to remember. Some folks remember the child with the beautiful voice who pleaded for us to remember, "I'll Be There." I'm sure all of us will agree that we wish the man with all the issues had remained the incredible entertainer he once was, rather than the cartoon he became.

What I wonder is, how much did that fame and celebrity contribute to his illness? What inner demons drove him to such extreme depths? How did we who once adored him contribute to the brokenness that may have comsumed him?

This is just one of the reasons I'm generally avoiding celebrity anything these days. It's hard to avoid entirely: the media seems to think that all of us want to know the latest about Jon & Kate, who's getting divorced, who's having weight problems, who can't stop drinking/smoking/doing drugs. We may not be able to avoid it entirely, but we can try to avoid feeding the frenzy.

How about we focus more on people who put their celebrity to good use? Like, say, Stephen Colbert's recent trip to Iraq? Tom Hanks' work to honor the veterans of World War II? Matt Damon's recent work with the ONE Campaign? If we must have celebrity, and a media who follows their every move, why not use it for good?

Grace & peace,

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