Michael Jackson's Memorial Service

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Laura Lee ENGL20B Professor Raheja Essay #1 Whether you experience it personally or not, death is a morbid yet fascinating experience. Just as everyday human beings, celebrities and people who are spotlighted in the media also die. The main difference between everyday, normal human beings and celebrities is that the death of celebrities are usually publicized and made known to the public. In my personal experience, the death of the world famous King of Pop, Michael Jackson, has made a lasting impression. Although Michael Jackson’s memorial service was a tribute to the legend, upon reading Caitlin Doughty’s Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, it is seen as a commercial exploitation of Jackson’s death that benefits the business aspect of the televised…show more content…
Even after his death, Jackson became a commodity that is sold and manipulated to sway the public. According to the New York Daily News, more than “31 million people” viewed the event, making it the “second most-watched daytime funeral”. In reality, the funeral is part of a bigger business plan. According to Doughty, the funeral business and the processes, although it is supposed to be a intimate experience of the family, is very impersonal. Publicizing Jackson’s funeral automatically takes away the intimate experience that his family should have while going through the mourning process. Instead, it became a huge production held at the Staples Center, which is ironic as it houses performances and concerts. People actually had to enter a lottery in order to grab a seat to be a part of the audience. Personally, I feel like this brings about a false sense of intimacy. Although I am sure that there were people wanting to celebrate the life of Michael Jackson, there was also people wanting to be a part of the show. In her memoir, Doughty explains a practice in China where people “hire professional mourners for a ceremony to help facilitate grief, to whip the crowd into a frenzy” (Doughty, 62). By evoking excess emotion, such mourners would “promote sorrow” to people who are “emotionally vulnerable” (Doughty, 62). In this situation, I believe that the…show more content…
According to Doughty, families that came to Westward to arrange for services, who were unhappy about the death, were “more unhappy about having to pay for it” (Doughty, 58). I remember watching the funeral and thinking to myself how lavish it was. I do understand that Michael Jackson is a legend but everything was over-the-top and the fact that it was streamed by the media contributes to that fact. According to Time magazine, the whole funeral cost over one million dollars. The casket alone was about twenty-five thousand dollars. The funeral business feeds off of emotions in that they guilt families by making them pay more money in order to express their love for the deceased. This was no different for the Jackson family. It is interesting as Michael Jackson was heavily in debt before he past away. It seems as if the funeral was a way to financially support his family. For instance, according to the Business Insider, the city of Los Angeles had to pay a hefty amount to cover the security, traffic control and other expenses. The Jackson family even had to publicly ask for donations to help cover for the cost of the show. Upon the news of his passing and after the funeral service, there is no doubt that the sales of Michael Jackson’s recordings and albums rose significantly, especially as this event happened just before he was set to go on a worldwide tour. Such memorialization of Jackson
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