It should come to no surprise that death is an important part of life — we all must face it sooner or later, even those who work in the entertainment industry. In this week alone, the deaths of Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, and now Michael Jackson are a sobering reminder of what happens when a popular mass media star’s death can affect more than just the entertainment industry — even though we know that they must eventually pass away, it’s still a numbing shock when it actually happens, catching us by surprise in ways that sometimes can’t be explained, no matter how hard we try.
In the case of Michael Jackson, his personal and professional struggles that would eventually overshadow his many career achievements would cause a generation to remember him more as an eccentric than as the multi-talented entertainer that he should be remembered as. But let’s remember that Jackson, for all his talents, was a mortal just like everybody else — he wasn’t perfect, and he did make mistakes, no matter what size they were. Sometimes when we listened to or watched footage of someone like Jackson, we were so much dazzled by his talent, that we overlooked the man behind the icon — and when we learned of Jackson’s own mistakes and eventual career decline over the past twenty-plus years, we realized that even superstars like him aren’t as infalliable or perfect as we might think.
In the end, the best way that we can honor the memories of such talents as McMahon, Fawcett, and Jackson is to remember them for what they meant to generations of audiences — while not forgetting that they were human, possessing many of the fragilities that all of us are familiar with, yet also displaying the kind of personal strength that helped to define their lives and careers, and one just as powerful as — and perhaps more than — the physical strength that empowered the healthiest of mankind.
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