Michael Trapido
Michael Trapido

Not the Michael Jackson farewell

While Mrs Traps and a billion people around the world watched the Michael Jackson Memorial Service, I was giving consideration to the events taking place around the world which the media, in their wisdom, had decided to put on the backburner. Undoubtedly Jackson was an immense talent worthy of extensive coverage but surely not to the virtual exclusion of what I set out below.

In Moscow the US President Barack Obama has been meeting with Medvedev the Russian president and Vladimir Putin the prime minister. Among other things there has been agreement on nuclear arms reduction and a reassessment of US-Russian relations. While this was taking place China found itself at the centre of world media attention as a result of the ethnic violence between the Han and Uighurs.

In Italy preparation was being made for the G8 Summit with the Pope calling on representatives to change the way they do economics and to base their calculations on a measure of love. In Honduras the exiled President Zelaya was given Obama’s backing and will be meeting with Hillary Clinton. France was warning Iran that they had best release a student while further clerics stood up to the Ayatollah.

In Afghanistan, US forces continue to carry out their operation in Helmand province with very little resistance coming from the Taliban. The only fatality on the day was a British troop who was killed in a helicopter crash.

In the Middle East speculation is mounting as to whether Israel will strike at Iranian nuclear facilities while in Asia the US is planning to furnish South Korea with missiles in order to ward off North Korean aggression.

There were bombs in Pakistan, the Philippines and Chechnya while 200 000 people were displaced as a result of fighting in the Somali capital.

In South Africa we had the resignation of Cope’s second deputy president Lynda Odendaal (who?), the DA criticising the ANCYL’s views on nationalisation, the ANC confirming they are happy to debate the subject and the build-up to more strikes.

The above is merely representative of some of the major events that took place yesterday.

In light thereof I would suggest that even though Michael Jackson was the “King of Pop” and an incredible performer the decision by the media to sideline world events to cover the memorial service was, at best misguided.

I’m sure that those who wished to follow the service could have switched to the music and entertainment channels leaving the mainstream news coverage on world events.

That is called putting things into perspective.

  • John

    As I am reading this (and agreeing with it) on the right hand side of my screen, a rather large ad for a MJ tribute looms. How is that for irony?

  • Spaghetti

    A worthy post, and probably every word of it true.

    However, if I may offer a rejoinder: the global viewership would have voted with their remotes, and every other set would still have been tuned in to the memorial service, leaving the main news unwatched anyway.

    That, too, is called putting things in perspective, of a kind.

  • Madoda


    It is amazing (the contrast in terms of style), how Obama is effective diplomatically in engaging with Russia compared to Bush. Obama has not given an inch about the American intentions of placing anti-ballistic missiles on Russia’s doorstep. However, Russia conceded on Obama’s key agenda points.

    Obama is soft on dictators in Honduras. If it were an African coup, Obama would have been more hands- on in his condemnations, instead of delegating matters to Clinton. Is it because Zelaya is more aligned to Chavez? Is this the same American stance taken by Bush and implemented by Colin Powell in the ousting of Aristide in Haiti?

    What is happening to COPE? Is Setlentse going to organise a COPE memorial service?

  • pamela

    Well at least it’s an optional click-through – it’s not interfering with your news!
    I agree, though – last night all of the major news channels covered the service. Yes, it’s news in a way but I suppose it’s an indictment of where the world’s gone in terms of media quality. Last night was right up there with Sky’s “Pope-Watch” coverage in its inanity. Even when there’s nothing to say, they’ll stick a reporter in situ to give a running commentary on the nothing much that’s “happening” around them.

  • Immortal

    The memorial was a once off incident for the Greatest Entertainer of All Time.

    All the events you have mentioned above are stale and ongoing so there will still be time to show them.
    Besides, the viewership for all events (combined) would not have surpassed the memorial’s viewership.

  • Paulo M (Johannesburg, RSA)

    Thanks for the updates. There were no nuke-you-lar strikes anywhere. President Barack Obama discussed limiting nuclear-tipped ICBM’s to less than 2000 – I think 1700 – each with his counterpart – the day before. The Pope lives on. That unrest in China started days before – and should have made news days before. Maybe not, because history shows that’s typical there – and the government makes a point of quashing it effectively – historical reasons for that too. The North Korean Kim Dump Il has been flirting with red buttons for some time now – ignoring warnings from the White House. See – all of it old news.

    But it did cross my mind this priorities thing. The US media tends to be more celebrity/consumer orientated. So I checked the Facebook updates, and sure enough ‘Liked’ the Time status updates on real world news.

    Yesterday, I made a choice to watch MJ on community SABC 1 – 2 hours late, effectively blocking out old news – or expected news – for the duration of that event. All RSS feeds carried what really interests.

  • KC

    Clearly these media channels felt his was the main story hence the decision. In any event the other events eventually made it into the media pages, screens and airwaves, did they not? We are no different either! Remember the funeral services of Chris Hani, Rev Beyers Naude etc.. would you suggest that these where misguided as well?

  • rob

    I tuned to the Russian channel to avoid MJ. Turns out that politicians everywhere are just the same. Those Kremlin guys squabble like COPE members.

  • http://www.freethinking.co.za Mxolisi M (Joburg)

    I think the fact that MJ got the coverage, and that people bothered to tune in pretty confirms that we often project what is of importance to us as being important to humanity at large. I think the “important” news you’ve shared in this blog is no less important today as it was yesterday, and receiving it today does not diminish its impact. Perhaps it’s an opportunity to reflect on our obsession with breaking news occuring in places that are too far to have an immediate impact on our lives. Breaking news often serves up fodder for conversation, with no real impact on my immediate emotion and course of action. Michael Jackson’s memorial generated a whole range of instant action. The “frivolity” of the product MJ peddled is perhaps no less important than an Obama press conference. MJ had a pretty direct on America and the World’s GDP for decades and will continue. It’s hard to accept that the stuff that’s important to us may just not be that important to most people despite the greater sense of enlightenment we often believe we’ve attained because we can express ourselves more coherently. It’s that inherent superiority complex that stops us seeing alternative truths.

  • Lobengula

    Those who watched the extensive coverage of the memorial are, by definition, either brain dead or living their lives vicariously through the worship of “celebrities”.

    Either is pathetic and shows what is really important to the great unwashed mass of humanity.

    Too bad about your wife Traps, but there it is.

  • http://bizlinks.wordpress.com/ hoh

    One of the many things i found interesting was that in south africa only those that had satellite TV got to watch the creepy kitchy smalzee memorial! [sorry MJ] BBC SKY CNN news channels went live with it for 2.5 hrs! Unbelievable. the Jacksons must have made a fortune on TV rights. The most sincere of the whole lot was the 11 year old singer from the UK. The heap of flowers on the coffin! Do we know what caused his death?

  • http://thoughtleader.co.za/traps Michael Trapido

    Guys – I must tell you that when they sang “Heal the World” and “We are the World” I was incredibly moved.

    I also thought that the Rev. Al Sharpton spoke beautifully.

  • Alan

    He was a great performer both off and on stage, but I would hardly call him the greatest ever. As for American media, you have to go there to see how exclusive and inward looking it is. The Washington Post, a newspaper of 64 pages or more manages to squeeze all of the international or world news into a half page. Their TV news barely acknowledges that there is an outside world at all. I am unsurprised that Michael Jackson’s death attracted so much media hype, its what Daniel Boorstin called pseudo news for pseudo events.

  • http://www.nickvanderleek.com Nick

    Hi Traps, I agree with you…I’d add swine flu and some recession stats to your list too. But I am a humanist and I remember the same sort of thing when Princess Diana died. Know what I think? I think it’s good to pay attention to the dead. I’ve learnt a great deal from Jackson’s since he died. That he had an awful relationship with his father, to what extent his childishness bordered on hysteria, and I think we can actually learn a lot from him. He died from financial stress. Something else caused it, the Diprivan injection, but he used Diprivan because he couldn’t sleep, and he had insomnia because he was $400 million in debt and failure wasn’t an option. Many of us can empathise and understand and see the same in our lives. |So I think it is a valuable exercise and we cover full circle when we undertake it. To dismiss him as a paedofile is an oversimplification. It’s not that it isn’t true. I think we can learn more from being human beings for 5 minutes, than a months worth of news headlines that we feel impotent towards. Know what I mean?

  • M Simba

    I think the point is the ‘newsworthy’ events as you put it are increasingly becoming the norm, we look up from our bowls of cereal just long enough to watch these bombings, blood and gore etc.. and then drop our heads back and slurp some more soggy fruit loops or whatever. We have been de-sensitised to that level.

    And the problem I have is not one solution to any problem in the world is looked from a systems perspective, we keep treating the symptoms – keep prescribing aspirin for someone who continually comes in complaining of a severe headache when they probably have stage 10 cancer…

    So the MJ memorial was actually newsworthy because its not going to happen again. …Oh they’ll resurrect it when all the tests results come back…

  • Dave Harris

    Not observing the significance of MJ’s contributions to millions around the world for generations and opting to watch boring political news is another example of your BAD JUDGEMENT. Somehow coming from you, a self-confessed Mbeki admirer, I’m not surprised.

  • Chuma

    he Chinese will always have their Muslim and other social problems. The Iraqi conflict will continue at least for the foreseeable future. The G20 will always meet. 9/11 could be repeated but there was always going to be one funeral of the entertainer with unprecedented, unmatched universal appeal. It was a wonderful tribute that reminded us that he was also human who sometimes looked like a hounded animal which in many respects he had been reduced to.

    Funny that the motion to honour Michael Jackson will be opposed by a nation that has in the past honoured racists. It explains why the Church in America is divided and why the different racial groups in America have different priorities. And sometimes why we sometimes even though we know that Mugabe’s motivations are far from noble we are moved to vindictively support him. No one is talking about MJ’s vitiligo or the constitutional not guilty until proven guilty, the revelations from the speakers.

    Its significance for the African-American population is best captured by Queen Latifah who said Michael showed her community that there was a bigger world outside of the United States that could be explored. At the same time we note the refrain from Rev Jesse Jackson who once said “where the field is level our people excel”. It was an important moment for the African Americans whose achievements by design have mainly been in the cultural sphere. A black man can be king in spite of all.

  • haiwa tigere

    Heal the world and Al Shapton were well spaced apart Mike- seems Mrs Trapido was not alone.
    Honestly now how many boxes of tisues did you use between the 2 of you-dont tell us it was because of the onions!

  • Sebastian Bodenstein

    By Traps reasoning, our newspapers should have no sports sections, for example, rather filling them with the stories of the murders and rapes happening in our country every day. Or what about the continuing humanitarian crisis in Sudan? Or the DRC? After all, how can a soccer match be more important than somebody’s life?!

    For myself, I certainly view the issue in Sudan as more important than the latest cricket score. But I don’t want to read about Sudan everyday!

    As for Jacko, he touched millions with his music over many years. People deeply care about him, not in the abstract caring of what the G8 mumbles about at their summit or the latest COPE turmoil. These happen every day. Rather, people care in a deeply emotional way about the death of an exceptionally brilliant, and yet deeply flawed human being, who has directly added a sparkle to their own lives with his music. Can the same be said of the G8? That, Traps, is called putting things into perspective.

  • Sebastian Bodenstein

    Alan said: “As for American media, you have to go there to see how exclusive and inward looking it is.”

    This is really silly. Have you read our own nations most popular newspaper, The Sun? You would be lucky to find half a page of world news in a much smaller paper!

    The US has some of the greatest newspapers/magazines on the planet, shaming anything South Africa can offer. Yes, they have their share of parochial local newspapers (as we do), but why not rather judge the US on the likes of The New Yorker, Foreign Policy, Harpers, Newsweek, or even the New York times?

  • RJ

    @Alan, just looked at the Washington Post frontpage, 3 of the 4 lead stories are international. There is also a slew of international stories on the ‘International’ tab on their front page. Likewise the New York times seems to have at least as many international stories as US stories on its front page. By contrast the South African Mail and Guardian and Sunday Times are carrying only one or two International stories – the primary one being the Michael Jackson story.

    It makes you wonder who has the inward looking media!

  • todd kidd

    MJ was the greatest entertainer on the planet. Before there was an Oprah Winfrey, Tiger Woods and Barack Obama, MJ eradicated barriers to make it possible for their dreams to come true. Yes, he had problems but this should not overshawdow his contribution music contributions. I both scorned MJ and admired him. He will be missed.
    todd kidd, new orleans

  • Sankara

    I think that the memorial was a fitting tribute to Michael Jackson and all that he stood for and believed in. That the world stood still for his memorial is testimony to the immense power of love. His memorial eclipsing and sidelining an important event such as Obama in Moscow is significant. The timing was perfect and no man can plan like that. It was time for a time-out, no more business as usual and the planet is dying. The people of the world listened, and we can only hope that the two parties meeting in Russia realise how insignificant they are in the face of life and also how significant they are when it comes to the future of the planet. Lets do the right thing folks, make love not war. Make that change, heal the world and make it a better place. RIP MJ. I will always love him because he was different.

  • http://www.vostok.co.nz Ian Robertson

    I have been living and working in Russia since 1988.The meeting between Obama and Medvedev re scaling down nucleur warheads from a Russian perspective is a joke on the Western worldand shows it’s naievity. It is a known fact that 50% or even more of Russia’s Nuclear Warheads are obsolete, out of date or unusable so it suits there puposes to magnamiously reduce them.

  • Mr. J.A. Nowell Fine

    Isn’t it amazing? Whenever the world is getting itself into truly deep k*k, some or other icon “pops” it, making a sheepish, rubber-necking world population look the other way.

    I can just imagine what is going on on certain hidden quarters: “While the fools are preoccupied with wondering what designer brand suit he’s got buried in, let’s go bomb the Balkans or something!”

  • Enver Mall

    Traps, like you I would normally be watching the (depressing) news of the world. But I think that on the occassion of the memorial service of one of the greatest entertainers of all time, it was worth the indulgence and the destraction from the normal depression of watching “who’s killing who and who’s threatening who” on the world stage. And having sat through it, I am glad that I did. I have never been an MJ fan, but have to admit that he was an innovator and brought more joy and happiness to the world than anyone else who you were watching on the other channels.

  • http://www.thoughtleader.co.za Musa

    Traps, now you know that perspective is an elusive animal.To billions out there it seems to me MJ meant much more than everyday occurances.

    He touched many in a special way, across the globe, and this was his tribute.Why wouldn’t anyone want to share this moment?

    Funny how the British press insist on equating him to The Beatles or even Presley.Its unfair to those superstars because this serves to show their shortcomings in global reach, across coluor, race, religion and culture.MJ had no boundaries.

    This is why some bill him as the greatest entertainer of all time, if not him, who else?

  • Vusi Maupa

    I do share the same sentiments with Michael Trapido’s comment about the effort spent by the media in preparation and broadcast Michael Jackson’s memorial service. Nevertheless, with regard to the broadcast by the SABC 1 of the memorial service, such occasions deserve respect and value from the society. It is not often to hear of a celebrity’s, especially famous like MJ, death, yet we hear of various significant political news which are covered by the media daily, including SABC News. If MJ’s broadcast memorial service is an issue to many heartbreaking South Africans, then they should propose a special show or documentary that would cover broadly all world politics, which would be waste of time, energy and money. Because programmes like SABC News international, BBC, CNN and so on does that.
    If we become ignorant of such brainless comments or complaints, we would pave way for more actions of such nature to occur in the future undesirable state of Madiba’s sorrow (death), he who even illustrated concern about the loss.

  • http://thoughtleader.co.za/traps Michael Trapido

    Musa as Jackie Mason says :

    It’s funny how people see things so differently. To me my girlfriend is the most beautiful women in the world yet to my wife……

  • http://www.webmail.co.za nzs

    I guess that, even if the throngs of media had followed Obama all the way to the Kremlin (and did not cover the memorial service of Michael Jackson – or news of his death, as they did), some would have still complained about the sorely missed opportunity for celebrating Jackson’s music talent, which he sure had.

    I may still support COPE (or live in South Africa, where prurient buffoons advocate a shower as a post-coital preventive measure against HIV infection), but I sure would not want to be bombarded with COPE’s internal ructions or some clueless buffoon going to a G8 summit.

    Coverage of Jackson’s memorial (assuming that, as claimed, it was watched worldwide) must have been a proper response to the broadcasting needs of those who wanted to watch the coverage.

  • Mwenebobo

    As much as I hate all the hoohaa about death etc and as much as I never listen to MJ or any other pop idol, I watched the memorial and was very impressed with the professionalism of it all. What a spectacle! As for the rest of the news. Well, I did manage watch with the five channels I regularly use to keep up with the world – and after that, I wait for my regular report from Stratfor to clear away all the smog that the news channels generate. I can recommend it. By the way – nothing really happened in Moscow of any significance. Check Stratfor’s assessment.