Monday, June 29, 2009

Jackson's death can shed light on society's problems

I think someone would have to be living in a cave if you had not heard about the recent death of Michael Jackson. I did not hear about the news until late in the evening as I was driving back to Pensacola after meeting Cammy. Btw, Cammy is just as brilliant in person as she comes across in her blog. :-)

Although Jackson's death was an utter shock to me, I really wasn't sure how to react. This
piece in the Washington Post says it well. I was never a follower of Jackson, finding him a bit odd, but I did appreciate his music and talent. Reading the history of Jackson now places the pieces together of his actions and behaviors (though I do not excuse his own share of responsibility for his actions nor think he always made the best judgment), and in some ways angers me too.

I know
bloggers, news outlets, and the world in general are discussing Jackson's death ad nauseam, but to me Jackson's death isn't just about a Hollywood megastar who rose to the pinnacle of stardom and fell to the bottom. It's about the issues of society. Although various theories have been thrown around as to the popstar's cause of death, everything is in a speculative stage. One big speculation is prescription drug abuse. Though preliminary autopsy reports have shown no external, visible cause of death, the toxicology results have not come in yet. Some have said that he was taking a cocktail of 8 different medications, including painkillers, anti-depressants, anti-anxiety, a muscle relaxer, and an antibiotic. These have not been verified, so it will be interesting to see what if anything shows up.

If this is the case, one would wonder what on earth kind of doctor would even prescribe so many potent medications. The truth is probably more than we think, and especially in Hollywood where the number is likely disproportionately high. Even without doctors, people find ways of obtaining prescription drugs. These people can easily become enablers if the habit continues. This could well be the case for Jackson if this prescription drug scenario plays out in toxicology reports.

Another speculation is Jackson's physical health. Headlines ask if he had an
eating disorder or if rigorous exercise and stress played a role in his untimely death. There is no doubt that Jackson was on the thin side, especially the last few years, dealing with the child molestation charges. In this article, Jackson said he knew he was thin and needed to put on weight, especially if he wanted to do the 50 shows he was slated to do in London this July. If this is the case, it sheds more light onto males with eating disorders, an increasing trend lately.

Other issues that I think his unfortunate death bring up are child abuse and its repercussions and the plague of Tinseltown.
Studies have recently shown that those who suffer from child abuse have an alteration in a specific gene responsible for stress responses in the brain. It is known that Jackson and his brothers suffered from child abuse for many years by their father. I often wonder if Jackson ever received any treatment at all for this, and if that might have helped him assuage some of his eccentric behaviors, paranoias, and fears. According to Lisa Marie Presley, she wrote in her blog here how she tried to "save" him from what Jackson considered his inevitable death, dying similarly as her fathe Elvis did.

Lastly, Hollywood. Most of us know of its perils. Everything from underage partying to abuse to eating disorders to plastic surgery to enablers and money-grubbing people. (Reminds me quite a bit of the modeling industry as well) Many of the stars living there may look glamorous outwardly, but inwardly, they are sad, lonely people, desperately seeking approval in some form or another. This fit Michael Jackson well. And really, whether it is Hollywood or not, everyday, we see people like this. It's just that with Hollywood stars, it places a known face to the predicament we all struggle with.

As with any high profile case like this, it will take awhile before a conclusive answer is determined if any. In the meantime, I hope these issues are addressed more as a general society. These issues are all growing problems everywhere, not just in a small spectrum of Hollywood.

I hope Michael rests in peace, free of his demons. He was an icon with a tremendous amount of talent. I hope he will be remembered for this and not the "wacko
jacko" persona which tabloids loved to exploit. As with so many things, it's sad that it is in death, we realize the impact an individual can have, whether it is simply family or an industry.

Note--*In other sad news, Farrah Fawcett passed away. Though hers was expected, it is still sad. I hope she is remembered as an "actress," and not just a pin-up girl of the 70s with great hair.
*Billy Mays, the sales pitch guy for any product, also died yesterday. His death is not yet determined.


Cammy said...

Exactly how I feel about it: he was talented, and I have great sympathy for his crappy childhood, but he still gave me the ickies, so I didn't really know how to react to the news.

I wonder what it will do for awareness about EDs if it comes out that anorexia did contribute to his death. Will it help educate people, or will it just make it seem like another of his freakish flaws?

And it was SO great to see you!!! =D

Tiptoe said...

Cammy, I agree. It will be interesting to see how his death will play out. In the end, it can be an example for a good cause if it is shown that way.