Plenty of folks have written how the late Michael Jackson — wildly rich and wildly in debt at the same time — was the perfect symbol of America.
But nobody nails it like James Howard Kunstler, from his post The Man in the Mirror:
As America entered the horse latitudes of summer, befogged in a muffling stillness on deceptively calm seas, we were distracted for a while by visions of a pale death angel moonwalking across the deck of collective consciousness. Eerie parallels resound between the sordid demise of pop singer Michael Jackson and the fate of the nation.
Like the United States, Michael Jackson was spectacularly bankrupt, reportedly in the range of $800-million, which is rather a lot for an individual. Had he lived on a few more years, he might have qualified for his own TARP program — another piece of expensive dead-weight down in the economy’s bilges — since it is our established policy now to throw immense sums of so-called “money” at gigantic failing enterprises (while millions of ordinary citizens wash overboard, without so much as a life-preserver). Anyway, Michael Jackson was on the receiving end of one huge bank loan after another long after his pattern of profligacy was set and obvious. They threw money at him for the same reason that the federal government throws money at entities like CitiBank: the desperate hope that some miracle will allow debt servicing to resume. Michael could burn through $50-million in half a year. It didn’t seem to affect his credibility as a borrower. When his heart stopped last week, he was living in a Hollywood mansion that rented for several hundred thousand dollars a month. You wonder how the landlord cashed those checks.
Like the USA, Michael Jackson was a has-been. He hadn’t recorded a song worth listening to in over two decades. He had done almost nothing but spin his wheels, hop around the globe from one place to another at enormous expense, and make himself available for award ceremonies to stoke his ego (and give advertisers a reason to promote some televised award show). He existed strictly on image, an anorectic figure nourished by moonbeams of attention, famous for saying that he loved his worshippers when the truth was he merely sucked the life out of them. In his last years, he even looked a bit like Nosferatu, the personification of the un-dead, and his fascination with ghouls was the basis for his biggest hit way back in the last century. A zombie nation deserves a zombie mascot.
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