The Diana Effect strikes again


I am probably one of the least qualified people to write about the death of Michael Jackson as I know little of his music, have never watched his videos and am quite undisturbed by his passing. However, I think that his death has been noteworthy in a couple of significant ways.

Firstly, I think it is fair to say that this time the internet definitively showed what it is capable of in terms of breaking news and keeping up with a story at breath-taking speed. And interestingly, the thing about following a story like this on the web is that you can pick and choose when, where and how often you access the content; unlike MSM where the repetitiveness is mind numbing. broke the story of Jackson’s cardiac arrest and has continued to lead the pack with stories and insider accounts. Indeed, once you start following TMZ, MSM seems like it’s playing hopeless catch up. One feature of the site that concerned me is how ‘citizen journalism’ looks pretty insidious at times like this with every mobile phone an indiscriminate device for recording scenes and sounds. However, despite the indelicate nature of some of the reporting, there is no going back from this point or this method of news collection and dissemination. I have no doubt that we will hear so much more about the response to Jackson’s death over the next couple of days (weeks, months?) but it really was stunning to watch the crowd response to the news. And it wasn’t in one isolated area, we had pictures from all over the globe showing fans appearing to be inconsolable and publicly mourning someone they never knew and who never knew them. In the aftermath of Diana’s death, there was a significant increase in the number of people who consulted their GP for depression directly related to her death. As can be seen from the link, there was also a decrease in road traffic accidents and general trauma events for about 3 months following her death with the cautious hypothesis that people were a little more careful as a result of her accident. I don’t know what Jackson’s death wll do for demerol sales, we shall just have to wait and see. But I have no doubt that the public response to his death is only beginning and he will become larger in death than he could have been in life. His record sales have rocketed since his demise, and ironically dying may have solved his chronic financial problems.

And of course finally, the hypocrisy. As Al Sharpton said ‘”Many ridiculed him, It’s amazing to see how many people are now praising him that wouldn’t go near him in the last several years, and condemned him. Yes indeed, death has that wonderfully redeeming function and we will undoubtedly hear less and less of the peculiarities of Michael Jackson and more of his music and talent. And perhaps that is fitting, only time will tell.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Ralf Hutter, of Kraftwerk, observed during an interview recently that the prevalence of portable audio and video/photo recording devices essentially made everyone like a Stasi agent.

    And it’s a shame the MSM, especially the BBC who should know better, chose to get into the quasi-necrophiliac stuff, showing footage of the body being airlifted out of the hospital, etc. People who really need to see that sort of thing need help.

  • joeCanuck

    Nice to see you back blogging recently Fitzy.

  • Rory Carr

    I had earlier today considered sending Mick a private e-mail congratulating him on resisting the hysterical pressure to comment on Jackson’s death. I had thoughts that Slugger was adopting a policy towards those who were famous for being famous much like The Independent’s policy on minimal coverage of Brit royals.

    However if we are to have comment it is well that it is couched in a debate about the role of the internet vs. the main-stream media in reporting such events and how that might reflect on its advantages on other news coverage.

    At 7.59 am today BBC Radio 4 trailed an item which was to be broadcast later examining “whether coverage of Jackson’s death on the BBC might have been excessive” (as many listeners were complaining). Immediately thereafter at 8.00am the news led off with “Foul play has been ruled out in the death of pop star Michael Jackson who collapsed and….” and went on for some minutes (excessively?) speculating as to the causes of the strange one’s demise.

    However if Slugger wants an exclusive on Jackson to scoop the mainstream bods here it is:

    1800 hrs Today. A source in South Tottenham, London, England has confirmed rumors that pop star, Michael Jackson is STILL dead. Probably.

    In response a spokesman for Farah Fawcett-Major complained, “It’s just not fair. Farah died first. She’s even more dead than Michael.”

  • pith

    If Thriller is the best selling album of all time how come I have never met anyone who owns it? Is it me?

    Has Ralf Hutter re-entered the earth’s atmposphere?

    Are shops going to be playing Michael Jackson songs for the next 3 years like that time Freddy Mercury died and we had to listen to Queen in every supermarket and Mace in the prawvence til they ran out of cheese?

    Did a BBC reporter really wear a black tie? Did Gordon Brown and David Cameron really issue press statements?

  • I feel really at of place at the moment, I used to think that people who interfered with children had crossed the line.

  • Greagoir O Frainclin

    Hysteria, hysteria, hysteria!

    Fuelled by the media as always!

    Whatever about the wall to wall coverage on SKY news, but even the BBC succumbed.

    But gas how folk get caught up with all the hysteria and forget that they are just entertainers (at the end of the day). Although Jacko was a great entertainer!

    However, it’s odd that when such a characters die, their ‘sins’ are somewhat exonerated and forgotton, thus Freddie Mercury becomes a good family man (the coke snorting and orgies are forgotton) Jade Goody an honest working class girl (the racism and general obnoxiousness are forgotton), Princees Diana – the eternal English Rose and Queen of Hearts (the love affairs and ‘slandering’ are forgotton) and Michael Jackson – devotee and ambassador for children (the grotesque child abuse ‘allegations’ will be forgotton)


  • Rory Carr


    …it’s odd that when such a characters die, their ‘sins’ are somewhat exonerated and forgotton.

    Cheer up, mate. That means that when you pop them ol’ clogs your bad spelling will also be “forgotton”. You can always blame Paul Robeson:

    Some plants taters an’ some plants cotton
    An’ them that plants ’em are soon “forgotton”
    But Ol’ Man River he jest keeps rollin’ along

    Meandering Snapper,

    Thanks for the links to the inevitable jokes. I really enjoyed this response to the jokes from one avid Jackson fan:

    ssssssssssss Says:
    June 26th, 2009 at 9:49 am

    thats is like not funny how would you like it you died and people were making rude funny jokes about yoou pall. see when you die am going to make jokes an=bout your death mate.

    See – it’s not just the number of Jackson fans that is so impressive – it is the sheer quality of them.

  • Casual (but protection-wearing) Observer

    Just a quick aside. There’s no comparison between the deaths of Mercury and Jackson in terms of media coverage. A quick flick back through even the tabloids will show you two days of coverage, a few snippets of the funeral and that was that.

    “thus Freddie Mercury becomes a good family man (the coke snorting and orgies are forgotton)”

    Errr…I must have missed the good family man bit. No one would ever have denied that that the lifestyle that Mercury led, ultimately led to his downfall. And I daresay Mercury himself wouldn’t have denied it either, revelling as he did in his own notoriety.

    Funny how memory plays those tricks.

  • Greagoir O Frainclin

    Rory Carr ……Venjince will be mine and I will forever eagle-eye and nick-pick your spalling from new on!….Ha Ha Ha (evil laugh)

    Casual (but protection-wearing) Observer

    …But after awhile there was an emphasis placed on Freddie Mercury’s female partner Mary Austin describing her as his one true love. Jim Hutton, just one of his many male partners pushed into the background.

  • Casual (but protection-wearing) Observer

    Yeah, but that’s cos she got the house, and threw the workers, and Jim, out on their ears. Still no comparison.