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Los Angeles in shock, grief and acceptance over Jackson's death

Los Angeles in shock, grief and acceptance over Jackson’s
death

by Simone Kussatz

When the news came out that Michael Jackson (50) had died
on Thursday June 25th, 2009 in Los Angeles, a Hispanic sales
clerk in a grocery store in Culver City shed tears.
“It’s so sad,” she said. “He was just one year younger than me, “one of her customers replied. About an hour after Jackson’s death was confirmed, news reporters from Eyewitness News, Fox and NBC among others were waiting for details from the press conference in front of the Medical Plaza at UCLA. Meanwhile, throngs of people were standing next to them in a daze, some were singing Michael Jackson songs, others were pushing themselves into the spotlight of the media.

Not even the summer heat could prevent people, mostly
tourists, from lining up on the Walk of Fame on Hollywood
Boulevard to see the side walk “star” of Michael
Jackson, to put down flowers and to speak a few words into
surrounding cameras. A Jackson impersonator gave his usual
moonwalk performance. This was not only filmed from the
obvious cameras in front of the Chinese Theater, but also
from a secret place on top of the Roosevelt Hotel across the
street.

Five days after the legend of pop music died, police
officers are still guarding Jackson’s former mansion,
which is blocked off with police tape, located, just a bit
off Sunset Boulevard, close to UCLA Medical Center in
Westwood. Paparazzi and reporters are still eagerly
waiting to see relatives and others getting in and out of
Jackson's house. Unless VIP, people can only get to a
memorial site on the corner of Carolwood and Sunset, where
his fans left flowers, cards and candles for their beloved
idol.

Yet is this collective grief appropriate, and did Jackson’s death deserve so much media attention?

Opinions diverted. Stefanie Sneed, a UCLA undergraduate
student of Psychobiology and African American Studies
thought that the media attention about Jackson was well
deserved. “He was an icon, positive and theatrical,” she
said. “Being a black person, I felt empowered by
him, but I feel angry that the media is looking for the
negative things in his life.” Javier Arteaga, a UCLA
undergraduate student of Psychology, however, felt different
about this. Arteaga was only a block away from the
hospital on his way towards his friend’s apartment, when
he received a text message, saying “they just brought in
Michael Jackson in an ambulance.” Instead of staying
with a crowd in front of the Medical Plaza that had built up
from 10 to 20 to a 100, Arteaga hurried home to gather
information via CNN. “I feel sad about Michael Jackson’s
death, especially since he died at a young age, but I also
feel that the media didn’t respect his family’s
privacy. I was upset how people were bragging as to
who was the first to set the traffic cone on the entrance to
the hospital. It was unimportant. I feel Michael Jackson
deserved more respect than this.” Lindsay Guzman, a
hairstylist from Colorado who is currently visiting L.A. was
not surprised about Jackson’s death “I thought he was
actually sick for a while, but when he died, they had to say
something.”

From the perspective of the people working for UCLA Medical
Center, Jackson’s death seemed not so much a matter of
grief as it was a matter of inconvenience in their daily
lives. For one thing, their integrity was tested. A
nurse at the Ronald Reagan Medical Center said “I can’t
give you any information. Journalists are escorted out, if
they’re found here.” Another nurse claimed it was too
hard for her to get into the hospital. “For me,
every patient is a VIP,” she said. A staff at Patient Services pointed out that employees of UCLA Medical Plaza are not allowed to give out any information about Jackson’s death, other than referring to Media Relations at 924 Westwood Plaza, a department that seems overwhelmed by the requests of reporters.

People who have been highly involved in the Hollywood
industry and achieved considerable success, stressed Michael
Jackson’s great talent, and put the incidence in the
context of current politics. Film-maker Henry Jaglom, known
for “Hollywood Dreams” a film about a fame-obsessed
person who becomes a tragic victim in a fame obsessed
culture, said “Like everyone in Hollywood I was stunned by
the news, but then with the flood of old videos on
Television and the Internet I was grateful to be reminded
how truly extraordinary he was, how profoundly talented a
dancer, as no less an authority than Fred Astaire pointed
out, how significant and influential an artist in developing
a generation of children who would grow up so free of race
prejudice as to vote Obama in as president 25 years
later. Many of us had forgotten all that in recent years
after being endlessly told about his eccentricities, his
weirdness, his countless cosmetic surgeries and all the
distorted sex stories, according to everyone I know who
knew him well he was the sweetest creature who ever lived,
good-hearted and naive to a fault, never having had a
childhood so being obsessed with being with children and
staying a child forever.”

Composer, William Goldstein, who had scored all the
episodes of NBC’s FAME and was brought under contract to
Motown, as Michael Jackson, said “His death was tragic. He
was a brilliant artist, very gifted, but a troubled soul.
Yet, there seems to be a budding revolution in Iran and it
was wiped out by the media.”

Therefore, Michael Jackson’s death has been perceived as
a great loss by most Americans. The media coverage about his
death will still go on to a great extent, especially with
the upcoming funeral, for which reporters have already
driven up North to Jackson’s Neverland Ranch, according to
an ABC news reporter.

Written by Simone Kussatz. Freelance journalist. Los Angeles.
June 29th, 2009

Yesterday, Friday July 3, 2009, African American pianist Larry Nash of the Larry Nash and The Jazz Symphonics, played a tribute to Michael Jackson during the free Friday Night Jazz Concerts at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Nash gave a beautiful and sensitive performance of Jackson's "She's out of my mind."

The concert was held outdoors underneath palm trees and a gradual sinking sun in front of LACMA's permanent outdoor installation of a large number of Los Angeles street lights, facing Wilshire Boulevard.

Written by Simone Kussatz. Freelance journalist. Los Angeles.
July 4, 2009

http://www.youtube.com/wa...

Interviewees:

Film-composer, William Goldstein:
http://www.youtube.com/wa...

Film-maker, Henry Jaglom
http://www.youtube.com/wa...

http://www.theworldly.org...

More articles by Simone Kussatz can be found under
http://simonekussatz.blog...