#MichaelJacksonRIP vs #IranElection


10:17 pm - June 29th 2009

by Robert Sharp    


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Evenin’ all. I wanted to make a quick point about certain global news stories, and the relative amount of news coverage given to each.

Its fashionable, yet incredibly easy to complain that the Michael Jackson death has crowded out news of other more pressing matters. Shawn Micallef sounded an early word of warning about this attitude:

There is no need to compare MJ & Iran – completely dif, just intersect on same medium, not a social/moral lesson to be learned.

Then (again via Twitter, though the link is now lost in the maelstrom) I came across this MJ/Election mash-up, and it occurred to me that coverage (be it on Twitter, blogs or the international MSM) is not a zero-sum game, and that coverage of one piece of news could promote awareness of another.

If you consider Jackson’s output, there are actually loads of other songs that could fit a revolutionary template. Songs like “Heal The World” and “You Are Not Alone” seemed (to me) quite sanctimonious and irritating when they were released. But with the passing of Michael Jackson, the self-congratulatory element to those tracks seems to dissipate. They’re now ripe for the picking as a backing track to some feel-good montages of the peaceful demonstrations in Tehran. “Earth Song”, “Black or White” and (going back a little bit further) “Man in the Mirror” also carry that We-Are-The-World vibe… as does, of course, “We Are The World”! They could all fill the role of unofficial theme-tune to a non-violent protest movement.

Too cheesy? Not one bit of it: The “Yes We Can” generation of political campaigners are unafraid of such accusations. Meanwhile, tracks like “Beat It” could accompany comedic images of Ahmedinejad and Khameni and Keyboard Cat.

I meant to post this last week, so I feel sure I am behind the curve on this one. Yet a quick search through YouTube doesn’t yield further examples. Let us know your favourites, either in the comments, or via the tips form, and maybe we’ll do a round-up or something.

Update

I just knew there would be a “Beat It” montage out there somewhere:

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About the author
Robert Sharp designed the Liberal Conspiracy site. He is Head of Campaigns at English PEN, a blogger, and a founder of digital design company Fifty Nine Productions. For more of this sort of thing, visit Rob's eponymous blog or follow him on Twitter @robertsharp59. All posts here are written in a personal capacity, obviously.
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Story Filed Under: Arts ,Blog ,Media ,Middle East ,Technology

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Reader comments


nice video!

Forgive me if I’m misinterpreting you but what you basically seem to be saying is that Michael Jackson’s songs are sanctimonious, self-congratulatory crap but there’s a message in them and now that he’s dead, we can exploit him to highlight our social/global issues.

Or perhaps you compassionate liberals are slowly realising that Michael Jackson was also a compassionate person and when the predictable, cheap and judgemental jokes have done the rounds, maybe people will stop and listen – via the songs, the lyrics, the videos,the personal giving, the Heal the World Foundations etc. – that Michael Jackson was a humanitarian. Not Gandhi by far but still, a generous, caring humanitarian. It’s sad that he had to die before people acknowledged that but hey ho, the world is full of shallow people.

Michael Jackson’s songs are sanctimonious, self-congratulatory crap

I could not have expressed my own view more eloquently.

I don’t agree with Shawn Micallef’s premise that the MJ story is a distraction from the Iran situation, Iran continues but the current phase is one of relative quiet and smaller scale demonstrations, not great news.

The Iran story can also be ‘tiring’ upon those people that find such stuff wearisome and the death of MJ is great ‘feel good’ cover for all of that.

As for taking images of Iranians dying and being beaten-up and putting them with terrible music, instead of MJ can we not use Coldplay instead, or Red Hot Chilli Peppers?

…the world is full of shallow people

This is entirely true, and I for one am deeply saddened by their callous and childish response to Jackson’s death. Let us remember that, while he may have been on a major celebrity, he was also a human being.

Mind you, it’s probably a good thing he kicked the bucket rather than his sister. After all, Jacko was obviously a washed up mentalist, but there’s always a possibility that Janet might get her diddies out again.

Well Iran and Jacko are all well and good, and are both actually receiving a lot of coverage. But what about Honduras? I saw about three paragraphs on the coup in the Indie yesterday and not much elsewhere.

Is Obama involved, after all the US has a huge track record in fucking up those in the region?

How violent will it get?

Will Chavez really invade?

What will happen to its antediluvian constitution?

7. Denim Justice

It seems to me that so many people in politics are deeply flawed. They always end up embezzling the system, cheating on their spouses, or being authoritarian in a way that you just know they had an unhappy childhood.

We should heed the words of Michael: if you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change.

@Earthsong (2):

I’m not sure I would use the phrase “now that he’s dead” in such an cynical manner. Its not as if we’ve been sitting around saying “if only Michael Jackson were to die…” More that there’s a zeitgeist here, a confluence of events that impose a new interpretation onto old songs.

@Daniel H-G (4):

As for taking images of Iranians dying and being beaten-up and putting them with terrible music, instead of MJ can we not use Coldplay instead, or Red Hot Chilli Peppers?

First, I was suggesting soundtracks for the more positive aspects of the protests – and there have been uplifiting moments – rather than the violence. Second, I’m saying that the music might be chosen for reasons associated with the aforementioned zeitgeist, than a person’s individual taste. Until Coldplay or the RHCP release a new album or rock a summer festival, its not them.

@ Left Outside: A very good point indeed.

Left Outside: not everything is America’s fault.

Denim Justice: I’m still not convinced about the lyrical merits of MJ’s tunes.

Robert Sharp: I was joking, although some of Blur’s tunes might go well with the footage…

I’m not convinced by the format I think.

11. Denim Justice

Dan HG: fair enough, all music is open to interpretation (although I think we can probably surmise what Gary Glitter was getting at when he would opine “You wanna be in my gang, my gang, my gang?”) and how much you get from the lyrics depends on your own personal taste.

I do think there are some worthwhile things you can get from there. I am not saying for one second you couldn’t get these from other songs or art. But I think there are things in there to be found.

I used to think Heal The World was just one big paedophilic battle-cry, but having listened to it a few months ago I think it is a very simple message of wanting to save the entire world all at once. Not many other songs even bother to promise you anything more than sympathy with how you are feeling, or to paint a picture of the world as it is rather than how it could be.

I just really connect with the bit in Man In The Mirror where he sings ‘Who am I to be blind, pretending I don’t see their need?” I feel that way whenever I walk past a beggar or Big Issue seller, particularly those Romanian women. Indeed, who am I to pretend whatever left-wing activism absolves me of the need to just help support people who rely on my generosity?

12. Denim Justice

@10 “Girls who like boys who like girls to be boys like boys who like girls, all who end up dead under the boot of the Basij?”

Denim Justice:

Liek you say, anyone can find anything in any tune, Lady in Red makes my blood boil and but my friend who works in hospital radio tells me it is a highly requested track for husbands to their wives in terrible death bed situtations. Each to their own but I think the music, YouTUbe video format leaves me cold.

However, I do think you’re onto something with the Blur mash-up.

Is Obama involved, after all the US has a huge track record in fucking up those in the region?

Nope – he denounced the coup as illegal yesterday

Thanks for that Sunny, most useful.

“Left Outside: not everything is America’s fault.”

Yeah, but a lot of stuff is. Given that Obama isn’t revolutionising US foreign policy I think it’s sensible to ask the question.

“Nope – he denounced the coup as illegal yesterday”

He has, which is good. But having recently read Open Veins of Latin America I am a little weary of the US in Latin America.

Some in America do support it. But hopefully Obama will back up his rhetoric and support the people of Honduras.

I’m keeping an open mind. Cynicism is healthy.

A lot of stuff is? Good grief. Great, we have an intelligent liberal in the Whitehouse and it’s still not good enough?

Some cynicism is healthy, but just doubting everything is wearisome.

“A lot of stuff is?”

Yeah, it is! I wouldn’t want to be in the “blame it on America” brigade, because frankly they are idiots. However, I do tend to fall into the “look at the regional hegemon and think ‘hmmmm'” bracket.

I’m not trying to be wearisome but the Foreign Policy of the White house isn’t really about Conservative vs Liberal. If you look at the history of it, its been very consistent despite who has been in the White House (up until Bush, who was a bit of an aberation).

All manner of presidents and parties in America’s history have meddelled in other countries affairs. The US has been involved in inumerable coups and dirty wars in Latin America through the last 200 years (including military deployment in Columbia, bombing Farc, accusing Chavez of helping Farc, assisting a coup in Venezuala etc.), it would be bizarre not to ask questions when US involvement is the rule and not exception.

As things stand, at a very early stage, in a conflict getting very little media attention, it looks like the US is not involved and has actively condemned the coup. Which is fantastic, and is definitely allaying some of the fears I originally had when I saw “slightly left wing candidate ousted in coup in Central American state.”

I will remain cynical but I look forward to being proved wrong.

Anyway, the point I was trying to make was that it does seem odd that this has got so little attention everywhere. Even with MJ and Iran this is fairly big. Big enough to deserve some higher profile coverage.

Left Outside:

I suppose in the brevity of comments it had come across to me, falsely from your explantion, that you were one of the “blame it on America brigade”.

But I do think that far too many in the generic term of Left, are bearing down with eager glee on an administration which is doing many, many things right. As if the 8 horrible years of Bush made the Left incapable of not behaving like attack dogs, which in turn draws us ever nearer to the attitudes and behaviour of the (other generic meaningless term) Right.

But quite what all this has to do with MJ and Iran I’ve no idea but it is certainly an epic drift of topic.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Article: #MichaelJacksonRIP vs #IranElection http://bit.ly/mm6ea

  2. robertsharp59

    RT @libcon Liberal Conspiracy » #MichaelJacksonRIP vs #IranElection http://bit.ly/mm6ea (via @tweetmeme)

  3. Shawn Micallef

    Am tweet-quoted in this article RT @robertsharp59: RT @libcon Liberal Conspiracy » #MichaelJacksonRIP vs #IranElection http://bit.ly/mm6ea

  4. Liberal Conspiracy

    Article: #MichaelJacksonRIP vs #IranElection http://bit.ly/mm6ea

  5. robertsharp59

    RT @libcon Liberal Conspiracy » #MichaelJacksonRIP vs #IranElection http://bit.ly/mm6ea (via @tweetmeme)

  6. Shawn Micallef

    Am tweet-quoted in this article RT @robertsharp59: RT @libcon Liberal Conspiracy » #MichaelJacksonRIP vs #IranElection http://bit.ly/mm6ea

  7. Fabienne

    The MJ/Iran Election intersection http://bit.ly/MtPQh The ‘crowding out’ theory is there 4 everyone 2 see, but hardly new (Burma, Tibet etc)

  8. Roland Ellison

    The #MJ v #IranElection intersection http://bit.ly/MtPQh Somehow the video works (thanks @gift_of_the_fab)

  9. Fabienne

    The MJ/Iran Election intersection http://bit.ly/MtPQh The ‘crowding out’ theory is there 4 everyone 2 see, but hardly new (Burma, Tibet etc)

  10. Roland Ellison

    The #MJ v #IranElection intersection http://bit.ly/MtPQh Somehow the video works (thanks @gift_of_the_fab)

  11. English PEN

    @MalcolmPeat here’s an article on MJ/Iran mash-ups: http://bit.ly/mm6ea





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