Michael Jackson’s Memorial Exploited Emotions And Wasted Taxpayer Dollars

I’ve already said that I love Michael Jackson’s music and am very sad that he passed away at far too young of an age. I think it’s terribly sad that his children, who have already led such bizarre lives, at least out in public, now have lost their anchor. Which is why it was heartbreaking to see Paris Jackson speak at her father’s televised memorial yesterday, saying (with prompts from the Jackson clan to “speak up, sweetheart, speak up”), “I just want to say ever since I was born, daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine. And I just wanted to say I love him, so much,” eventually collapsing into her aunt Janet’s arms.

I agree wholeheartedly with Jessica Grose at Double X, who says that while Paris’ emotions seemed genuine and the Jackson family said it was her desire to speak, they should not have allowed her.

I’m all for public grieving, and for Paris to have spoken at a family funeral would have been entirely appropriate and I’m sure cathartic. But having her grieve in front of the entire world felt incredibly exploitative…. To allow this child to put herself out there in this manner just seemed wrong.

To be honest, I didn’t watch the memorial live, but did catch clips of some of the various performances and speakers on the news. Stevie Wonder and Jennifer Hudson were especially amazing. But it became abundantly clear to me that the memorial was going to be a grotesque display when it was revealed that Jackson’s casket would be onstage. Then when I read how much the city of Los Angeles was potentially going to charge tax payers for it, and that 1/3 of their entire police force was going to be working the Staples Arena for the event, I decided to not watch in protest.

California is my home state. It is in the midst of a major budget crisis — now showing a deficit of $26.3 billion — and does not have the funds to spend on a pop star’s funeral, no matter how beloved he may be. As of July 2, the state has suspended payments to numerous state run vendors and agencies, issuing “IOUs” instead of paychecks. Among those affected are educators, including my mom, who works for a state literacy program. Her employers have been issued an IOU and if they don’t have the funds to cover their employees’ salaries, she might not be getting a paycheck for awhile and would have to dip into her savings to cover her living expenses.

So when I read that the city of Los Angeles could end up using up to $4 million in taxpayer funds to pay for Michael Jackson’s funeral? Well, let’s just say, I stopped crying for the King of Pop.

[Double X]
[LA Weekly]
[Southern California Public Radio]