Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Michael Jackson: The Last Moonwalk

For my part, I am ashamed to admit that I felt no emotion, no outrage at the verdict that was rendered today. I do think four years was a bit scant and that new California laws involving incarceration crippled the severity of the sentence.  As the judge pointed out, he has no jurisdiction to actually enforce a sentence in an involuntary manslaughter case.  According to California law, the sentence will be reduced automatically to two years and the defendant will be remanded to a county jail where it is likely that he will serve his two years under house arrest. 

Justice is served.

What I did feel was a sense of irony that it took this long to bring to a serious courtroom the almost absurd problem of celebrities, their doctors and the issue of recklessly dispensing controlled substances.

The legacy that Michael Jackson leaves us is vast.  It’s fair to say that we grew up with him from the time he was the little boy dancing and spinning to the delight of audiences worldwide, to his groundbreaking video “Thriller” directed by John Landis and with a cameo by the late Vincent Price, to a wonderland that was Neverland, to the ridicule that he suffered as accusations of child misconduct were brought before a court.  He survived the good, the bad and the ugly. This prince of music, this moon dancer, this dream within a dream, survived everything the world had to throw at him until he met his doctors. Drugs and addiction take away one’s ability to make informed and safe self-judgments.

Today’s sentence should be a warning to all doctors everywhere that a precedent has now been set in the courts and that the world is now watching.  Michael Jackson died tragically, yes, but in doing so he may inadvertently save the lives of countless other drug dependent celebrities who, hopefully, will have the common sense to keep a sharp eye on the staff that they have chosen to trust.

Security staffers should also take notice that the job of protecting their charges lie not just in pushing a few hapless paparazzi out of the way.  No. Their new job will now involve protecting a celebrity from his own staff.  Trust is relevant here but taking chances with people you pay to keep yourself is not trust:  its just business as usual.

Still, I wonder. Does Hollywood have the ability to learn from these kind of embarrassing mishaps? I don’t really know but Hollywood is a faux magic land that for so many years depended on “handlers”; publicity people working in cahoots with the local gossip columnists to make problems for the big stars “go away” and while Michael Jackson was not technically part of the Hollywood magic making scene, he was certainly a strong outside influence.

Personally, I feel that there is a need for serious accountability regarding the subjects of celebrities and drugs.  I hate to be a cynic but I have to take a wait and see position on this subject.  A man has died, a doctor tried and sentenced and now as the doctors say in the movies, “we’ve done everything we can. Now, we wait and see.”

I’m just sayin’…

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