Over the weekend I was pondering how Michael Jackson was a superstar in a way that was singular in its occurence; there was never before and will never be a pop icon like him. His rise was timed perfectly with the emergence of three major transformations in western culture: an explosion of (cable) television content, the rise of megacorporate sponsorship, and the emergence of brand marketing as applied to individuals. He caught this multifaceted tidal wave perfectly, and rode it with absolute confidence--and capturing the imagination of an entire planet along the way.
His passing spawned millions of spontaneous sidewalk tributes and brought reactions from world leaders, great thinkers, and countless everyday people from across the globe. David Segal at the NY Times captures some of the reasons why fame may never be the same again after MJ.
I know those who were vexed by his eccentric and aberrant behaviors, and those on the other hand who saw him purely as a tragic figure. There are strong feelings on both sides.
I don't think it ultimately matters. Love him or hate him, his impact on the world as a musician, dancer, entertainer, and enigmatic superstar was undeniable and without equal.
The King of Pop is dead. Long live the King!