I think it's a travesty and a crying shame that the media has virtually ignored the passing of one of music's biggest pop icons. What's that? Turn on my television? Check any channel for longer than 30 seconds? Holy media overload!
Just in case some of you readers have been in a coma or not been near a TV, radio, computer or another sentient life form in the past week - Michael Jackson died June 25 in Los Angeles. The gloved one's unexpected death, right before a much-anticipated comeback tour, became the biggest news story everywhere, knocking Farrah Fawcett's passing the same day and other international news right off the radar.
While protesters continued to die in Iran, and supposedly other things were happening in the world, most news stations just played stock footage of screaming MJ fans at old concerts and video clips from his hits for literally hours. Unexpected pop icon deaths attract more audiences than real news, unfortunately.
Nowhere was this frenzy for information more palpable than in good old cyberspace, where Jackson nearly took the Internet with him when he moonwalked into the bright light.
TMZ.com, a celebrity gossip website that originally broke the story, was so deluged with visitors searching for more information than was available on television that it was completely inaccessible for a time. Google News also ran into trouble as the multitudes searched for any Jackson-related stories. According to a CNN story about the effect Jackson's death had online, its news website saw a fivefold rise in traffic and visitors in an hour, receiving 20 million page views in the hour the story broke. Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, also experienced slowdowns as well as a deluge of visits as more than 500 edits were made to Jackson's entry in the 24 hours after his death. Of course, not all the edits were factual. One edit read that Jackson had been savagely murdered by his brother Tito, who had strangled him with a microphone cord - before it was deleted from the site.
Even Twitter crashed as millions of users felt compelled to Tweet about Jacko's demise. Again, this was unfortunate for protesters in Iran who have been using Twitter during that country's communication blackout in the aftermath of disputed elections. From the L.A. Times website (they were the first to confirm his death) to AOL's instant messaging service, the web took a beating that day. Even mobile phone services called it the biggest event in mobile history as millions of people used their phones to keep tabs on the breaking story.
It probably isn't surprising that he garnered all this attention. Jackson always was a curiosity - first as a child prodigy, then as a megastar pop icon and, in the end, as a strange and sad, scandal-ridden recluse. But it is interesting to note that such was his popularity that even in death, he still managed to make world history and grab the spotlight one last time.