Saturday, July 11, 2009

Michael Jackson-related thought of the day

Since Trend and Erik have done them already, I'm submitting my Michael Jackson-related thought.

Well, really I've had lots of them. But a few of them I spun into an essay on pop and populism for Global Comment, because I'm just a nerd like that. So here: my Michael Jackson related thought.

Which came first, really? Nixon’s “Silent Majority” and the retreat of a real solid progressive movement leading to the Reagan Revolution and faux-populism used to convince people to vote to give their money to the rich, or a fragmenting media culture that killed off the chance for a true mass bond?

It is no accident that the last real pop superstar, Michael Jackson, hit the apex of his popularity in the Reagan years. There was at least an idea of a mass consensus in this country, even though no one really could’ve defined what that consensus was, and yet while we had a white man in office slowly hacking away at the rights of people of color, women, gays and lesbians, and anyone who didn’t fit into a nuclear-family, gender-binary, reactionary ideal of an America that never really existed, our number one superstar was a man celebrated and loved not in spite of his fluid sexuality, racial ambiguity, and androgyny, but because of it.

Michael Jackson: pop superstar, appealing to men and women, old and young, and subversive as hell.

If you want to read the rest, in which I bring in LBJ, leftist elitism, Barack Obama as celebrity, and quote Ellen Willis, it's all here.