Today saw the strange spectacle of a celebrity death getting overshadowed by another celebrity death.
Farrah Fawcett, of “Charlie’s Angels” and the best-selling poster of all-time fame died today at age 62 after battling anal cancer for several years. There’s two words that should never go together: anal cancer. Her death was not unexpected, as her health had been getting much worse lately, but it is still sad to look at the insanely toothy grin on that poster and contrast it to how painful her last days must have been.
But the memorials for Farrah were just barely getting started when word came in that Michael Jackson had suffered cardiac arrest. Not long after several media outlets were stating he had died and later in the afternoon it was confirmed by members of his family. He was 50. This is probably the biggest celebrity death since Princess Diana died in 1997 and I’m expecting saturation coverage to go on for some days. Only a major disaster (natural or man-made) can bump the story right now, which is curious when you think about it. After all, he’s dead and that’s not going to change. I don’t think the coverage will be as excessive as it was with Diana’s because the media is a lot more fragmented these days and attention spans seem that much shorter. A lot of the “coverage” will effectively go unseen, too, by being posted to Facebook or Tweeter or blogs (like this one). There’s also a bit of a difference in terms of where each person was at when they died — Diana was freshly divorced, only 37 and was still riding high in the public eye. Jackson, on the other hand, was plagued by health issues, exhibited increasingly eccentric behavior, fought off charges of child molestation and had a career that stalled out nearly a decade earlier. He was, in fact, only weeks away from a big “comeback” tour that was to also be his last.
That said, there is no denying his musical legacy. Thriller was insanely popular (I didn’t buy it because I was going through that “I’m a teen, anything popular must be crap and I shall shun it!” phase) and for much of the 80s he really was the biggest pop star. But man, what a slide after that. Still, 50 is awfully young to go and who knows what he might have done musically if he had pulled off the tour.
And as usual, dying is a great way to boost your sales. This is the iTunes top 10 album list from the morning of June 26th, less than 24 hours after Jackson died. He holds 8 of the 10 spots: