Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Left out of the Jackson news avalanche

AMONG THE MANY disadvantages for people of my generation is that we often find ourselves adrift in an alien pop culture from which there is no respectable escape. That has never been more evident than in the days since the passing of Michael Jackson. I was again reminded of my distance from the pop scene when a friend apologetically suggested that he had reached the breaking point from the media's overkilling reports of the event. Another friend tried to put it in perspective for the grumpiest among us. "It's a generational thing," he said. "A generational thing."

With no disrespect for the deceased, one could surely ask at what point would an international pop star's death cease to be a media commodity to be endlessly marketed above all other issues. And after all, it is in fact news marketing. It wasn't until I chanced to learn that Jackson's estate in California was called Neverland that I realized that my generation has been shunted to Washington Irving's Sleepy Hollow, where the common folks walked around in
"continual reverie."

But even as a child growing up in a small town, I knew little about pop culture, unless you count Vic and Sade and, oh...Ma Perkins. I also have vivid memories of the Saturday night wedding celebrations at the Kosciusko Hall where we all foolishly exhausted ourselves by whirling to polkas without the benefit of a standby emergency squad. That was pop to us, even though nobody thought to call it that. The same applied for wakes where my mother made it a point to sit by the casket even though she had never met the supine person in it.

Such were the events that made up our days with no intrusions by cable networks sucking the last detail out of the poppers and only the weekly Journal to report that one hometown couple or another traveled over "hard surfaced roads" to visit friends in another town! My parents would mention it at dinner.

It's terrible now to know that you are missing something that appears to be is colossal but don't have a clue about what you have missed. That's my generational thing, which is what I'm likely to say to the new generation's pop savants who glare at me and begin by saying, "You mean you don't know? You can't be serious."

Honest, I don't know. And I'm serious.


Anonymous said...

My father is eighty-five. I believe his last big record purchases were everything recorded by Herb Alpert. My mother is eighty-one. They were sitting in front of the television this week and Dad asked Mom if she'd ever heard of Michael Jackson, because he had not. She said yes she had. She'd heard him on the radio when he was barely more than a toddler and her own kids were in middle school. And she'd heard he had a famous video way back years before they got cable television. They've been pretty bored by television this week.

Anonymous said...

I am 87 years old, and I do know who Michael Jackson is. His posters hung in my kids rooms in the 80's. I watched the Memorial yesterday, and knew almost all the stars that came to pay their respects to Michael. How could you not know anything about the Jackson's. I was not bored by television at all yesterday. It was a relief from the Sarah Palin news,, and that Gov. from South Carolina trying to decide if he would be able to love his wife again after finding his true soul mate.