05 July 2009

The Piranhas of the Media

John Maxwell

'They ate her alive' was the opening sentence of my 1997 column following the death of Diana, the ex-wife of the heir to the British throne. It continued:
'As she lay broken and covered in blood, as she lay helpless and mortally wounded, they were, as always, professional, shooting fast, furious and careful of camera angle, hoping perhaps to capture her last breath, to profit one last time from her suffering, to take the million dollar photograph which would put them at last on the same level as their prey, enjoying a life of ease and big money.
They always wanted to make a killing from Diana.
Last Sunday morning in Paris, they succeeded.
It is horrible to imagine that Diana's last view of this world might have been the flashing cameras of the cockroaches of the Press.'
Michael Jackson was luckier. He died at home, apparently of a heart attack, although if you read the British newspapers the day after – tabloid or 'quality' – you might believe that Michael Jackson was murdered or died of a drug overdose. There was no more evidence of those things than there is that Jackson was a child molester, but to say that is to court ferocious hostility and hate because there are people in this world who KNOW the truth and are not to be contradicted by evidence unless delivered by divine messenger. Jackson died without permission from the media.
If one looks carefully at the mass media of the western world it soon becomes apparent that the death of Michael Jackson is the biggest money-making opportunity for them since the death of Diana. The Daily Mirror makes it explicit with a tag-line following every Mirror story on the web. It reads:

"Michael Jackson dead at 50. All you need to know about the King of Pop."
And, if like the Times, most of their stuff is second or third or fourth hand, or invented, malicious and libellous, who cares?
Jackson is dead and can't sue, and under American libel standards set by their Supreme Court 42 years ago, were he alive he couldn't sue even if he wanted to, because as a public figure, and a public figure more public than any other in history, it would have been almost impossible for him to sue even if he could prove that his maligner knew that what he was saying was untrue but said it anyway with reckless disregard for the truth. With Jackson surrounded by bloodsuckers of every breed, rank and description, from crooked district attorneys to suborned employees and journalistic moles, there was so much crap in the air that it was impossible for anyone – perhaps even Jackson himself – to disentangle truth from fantasy.
Public personalities and particularly show business personalities are, ipso facto, all creatures of fantasy. Canute, king of England, Denmark and Norway more than 900 years ago faced a smaller but no less intractable problem. His courtiers may have seen the ocean's tides disobeying the king, but that was no doubt because the King was playing a game.

What the Nanny 'saw'

As the old nursery rhyme says

Big fleas have little fleas
Upon their backs to bite 'em
And little fleas have lesser fleas
And so on ad infinitum

I was reminded of this by a bizarre story in the Sunday Times of London. The beginning of the story should prepare you for whoppers to come:

"Grace Rwaramba who cared for King of Pop and his children has shocking secrets of his addictions and bizarre nomadic life."

This elaborate work of art details how Grace the Nanny, fired by Jackson in 2008, was "working through her phone calls to LA on Friday, desperately trying to ensure that the children were comforted after losing their father, she sobbed and screamed and became more incoherent.
"Yes, this is it . . . because (crying) this is it . . . because he started avoiding everything. We were trying to help him and they fired me because of this (sobs)."
Yet, not knowing where the children were and not having spoken to them, Grace
Rwaramba, in a London hotel, informs the credulous Times reporter that –

'the children had been anxious about their father and had been trying to care for him — "he hasn't been eating and the kids have been so scared for him".
'Worried by the endless goings on in the Jackson compound Grace turned to me at the end and said: "The youngest one has been saying, 'God should have taken me not him'."

Clearly, Grace is either telepathic or psychopathic.
Why was the Times interviewing the nanny in the first place? They are silent about this, but clearly the intention was to dish up as much dirt as possible to coincide with what would have been a triumphal return for the King of Pop in 50 concerts sold out almost as soon as they were announced.
It's a dirty job, but hey! someone has to do it.
The Times is owned by the world's voyeur in chief, Rupert Murdoch, who owns the Sun, the News of the World and the New York Post a well as the unfair and unbalanced Fox TV news network.
Other newspapers were not much better except that most of them seemed somewhat more discreet with rumours and hearsay.


Blaming the fans

In the Times the lady who wrote "What the Nanny saw" followed up with a learned disquisition entitled "The fans killed their idol; they always do"
Disingenuously she tries to turn the blame onto the fans and away from the real criminals:
"We know how the stars loathe the paparazzi, smash their lenses, call them — as Hugh Grant did this week — wankers and losers. But what they can't, daren't, say is how deeply they loathe their fans — their pestering, cloying, snatching, the demand for photos amid a private dinner, the sneaky snapping with their crummy mobile cameras while a star is buying a latte, pushing his kid on a swing, their high-horse outrage when a demand is politely refused."
She blames the fans when it's the media voyeurs and intruders who manage the lunacy. She carps at Angelina Jolie whose "fanbase are the reason, as much as great wealth, that Angelina Jolie feels she can demand a no-fly zone over part of Namibia while she gave birth there …" Guess what, the no-fly zone was to protect the mother and child from paparazzi who hired planes to try to peep into the most private moments of a family's life. If one had crashed into the house, obliterating mother child and father-to-be Brad Pitt, it would, no doubt, have been ascribed to the onerous responsibilities due to Freedom of the Press.
Fans don't kill their idols; the murderers are in my so-called profession – now, more than ever – a refuge for pimps, prostitutes, sexually dysfunctional and psychopathic reporters and editors, peeping toms and frotteurs, who are the guys who can gaze at a trembling, shattered human being, on the verge of suicide, and yell "Jump! Jump!" as they make sure their cameras are correctly focused.
I once met Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton and when I told someone at work the next day the girls gathered round. It was Burton they were interested in.
"Did you shake his hand? " one asked.
"Which hand?" she asked
"Why, the right one of course", at which the young woman took my right hand and kissed it.
This happened in the BBC World Service newsroom, not among a gaggle of semiliterate hysterics.
This week Elizabeth Taylor herself, in whose violet eyes I would have drowned given time, declared that she cannot imagine life without her friend Michael Jackson. His ex-wife, Lisa Marie Presley, Quincy Jones, Diana Ross, Oprah Winfrey, Paul McCartney, Dionne Warwick, Beyonce, Martin Scorcese, Donna Summer, Stephen Spielberg, Mariah Carey, Uri Geller, Cher, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jane Fonda, Lisa Minelli, Sophia Loren, Celine Dion, Madonna, and many many others famous and noteworthy, who knew him and loved him, grieved at his death, along with millions more round the world. They grieved because they had lost someone important to them. Crusty steelworkers in Gary,Indiana, his hometown, grieved, as did millions more young and old, rich and poor, famous and unknown, people in prisons and
Nancy Reagan and KIm Dae Jung, former president of South Korea, Imelda Marcos, black, white and every shade in between, and their grief propelled several of Jackson's hits back into top spots on music charts all over the world, causing, among other things, a near 2,000 percent increase in demand for his songs on US radio stations and the slowing down of the Internet itself.
To the imperial media Jackson was guilty of everything of which he had ever been accused, like Jack Johnson, Muhammad Ali and Martin Luther King, Elvis Presley and John Lennon. The problem with all of these and with Bob Marley, Patrice Lumumba and Jean Bertrand Aristide is that they connected in a fundamental way with ordinary people, and that, to the rulers of our world and their servile media , is supremely dangerous.
Lennon said "All we need is Love"; Jackson sang "We are the world"; Martin Luther King, Bob Marley and Aristide preached "Get up, Stand up! Stand up for your rights!"
All of them clearly reckoned without the Imperial Media and the new Lords of the Earth.


Copyright 2009 John Maxwell


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