MJ Memorial – Circus or Solemn Occasion?

I think that I am one of the few people who did not tune in last night to watch the Michael Jackson memorial service.

A combination of flu, medication and apathy saw me safely tucked up in bed by 8.

However the rest of the world was either there or watched the spectacle, which judging by reports, was probably MJ’s greatest performance.

And the DailyMail reporter was there too…

The tackiest show on earth to send off the King of Pop

Earl do you have the tickets?

Earl do you have the tickets?

There were two circuses in town here yesterday and at times it was hard to tell them apart.

One brought elephants marching trunk to tail through the street. The other brought Michael Jackson’s body.

The King of Pop’s funeral in Los Angeles broke new ground in questionable taste by having his coffin centre-stage of his memorial service.

Joe wondered if anyone would know if he melted down the casket

Joe wondered if anyone would know if he melted down the casket

The world’s final taste of the Michael Jackson phenomenon was a singing, dancing, schmaltzy spectacle that eclipsed anything even this city of make-believe has ever witnessed. And one that underlined how overwhelming the culture of celebrity has become.

Nearly two weeks after he died, Jackson still had the power to bring everything to a standstill. He also had the capacity to shock.

Giant screens outside the Staples Centre broadcast his image ceaselessly to the masses. Police officers joined queues to buy tacky merchandise at inflated prices. One vendor said she expected to make $5,000 from the occasion.

A man in shorts and a flamboyant shirt haggled to tout his two tickets for $2,700, ignoring pleas from organisers not to do so.

Did he care, I asked him? ‘I don’t care now,’ he said, patting the dollars in his pocket. Elsewhere, Jackson impersonators moonwalked, fans sang Jackson hits and danced practically everywhere you went.

Everything about the day was pure showbiz…right down to the end of the service when Jackson’s children came on stage.

His 11-year- old daughter Paris broke down in tears as she told a worldwide TV audience of a billion that her ‘daddy’ was ‘the best father you could imagine’. She added: ‘I just wanted to say I love him so much.’

MJ's tearful daughter gives him a heartfelt send-off

MJ's tearful daughter gives him a heartfelt send-off

As his brother Jermaine so perfectly summarised it: ‘Everything Michael did was so over the top.’ Quite so.

The Jacko extravaganza had swung into action long before the mist had cleared over Hollywood.

His body was driven to the Forest Lawn cemetery and the Jackson clan is believed to have said a personal farewell inside the imposing chapel before returning to the family home briefly.

The fleet of black cars then waited to take them back to the cemetery for a sedate, 10-mile drive along closed highways to sealed streets around the stadium.

Only this part of the proceedings resembled a ‘normal’ funeral. It was, after all, a family mourning its loss and they had repeatedly asked for privacy.

This being America, however, helicopter-borne TV cameras zoomed in on all their tearful hugs and kisses – then tracked the motorcade every inch of the way as if it were an OJ Simpson car chase.

Live commentary was broadcast throughout the 30-minute journey. Away from all the attention, 11 elephants due to take part in an unconnected performance at the stadium tomorrow had been quietly led to their quarters.

The event was being billed as a circus spectacular. It never had a hope of competing with the real thing.

Jacko’s circus was more about glitter than sawdust. But it could certainly boast a great deal of last-minute juggling, and, depending on your point of view, a few clowns.

Someone decided it would be in good taste to punctuate the event with images and soundtracks of the singer as he lay in his coffin. You half expected to see the lid swing back for one last goodbye.

There was a sombre standing ovation for the Jackson family when they arrived, but it quickly turned to whooping and cheering as the ceremony got under way.

Single-gloved pallbearers carried the mirror gold casket to a space reserved between cascading flowers, just a few feet from seated guests, accompanied by a hallelujah choir singing ‘We’re going to see the king…’

Among those who saluted Jackson were his friend Brooke Shields, music mogul Barry Gordy, the Rev. Al Sharpton and basketball greats Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant.

‘This is a moment that I wished I didn’t live to see,’ Stevie Wonder said before his performance.

The singer Smokey Robinson began the service by reading statements from Jackson’s close friends Diana Ross and Nelson Mandela.

In Moscow, President Obama had told a TV reporter that he recalled listening to Jackson from the age of eight.

He said: ‘I think we saw it when Elvis died; in a different way you saw it when Frank Sinatra died; you saw it when John Lennon died. There are certain figures in our popular culture that just capture our people’s imaginations and in death they become even larger.’

And so the curtain came down on Michael Jackson, who can finally be laid to rest, maybe at Forest Lawn, maybe at Neverland and maybe, according to reports, in concrete to deter grave robbers.

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