The World According to M.I.S.S. Bill O’Reilly Debates Michael Jackson and Race.

July 10, 2009

Artwork by David Garibaldi

Artwork by David Garibaldi

Disclaimer: This article was written for online magazine M.I.S.S. Omni Media. All images and words are property of that magazine. If you would like to see the original, please view it via the M.I.S.S. website HERE.

Michael Jackson was an entertainment icon of international status. His fan base spans the world, so it makes complete sense in my mind that his untimely death shook not only the United States, where he found a cultivated his fame, but also every corner of the globe where he was considered by many a legend.

Over the past week, there has been extensive media coverage of the King of Pop’s sudden death, so much in fact that coverage has become redundant. You see the same memorials and tributes remixed and done over several times, the same questions regarding the guardianship of his children being asked and analyzed, and personally I’ve also noticed the ever prevalence of his past troubles somewhat overshadowing his positive contributions to society.

After a week of tribute specials, magazine covers, and documentaries about Jackson’s life, fans and foes from around the globe tuned in to a final farewell in the form of the Michael Jackson Memorial which took place in California this past Tuesday. Coverage of the event was extensive, probably one of the biggest covered events I’ve seen in my entire life, with colleagues, friends and admirers of Jackson all paying their last respects to a man Barry Gordy called “the greatest entertainer of all time”.

Though the atmosphere across the world was somber, Fox News political commentator Bill O’Reilly shared an interesting debate with Columbia University professor, Dr. Marc Lamont Hill about his reaction to the memorial service, and Michael Jackson’s standing as a Black icon. O’Reilly sparked outrage in his tirade against Jackson, calling the outpouring of grief by fans “pathetic in the extreme” just mere hours after the pop star was laid to rest.

“It is basically grandstanding and pathetic in the extreme. Yes, the man was an all star entertainer, but that’s it. Enough with the phony platitudes. His incredible selfishness spending hundreds of millions of dollars on himself while singing We Are The World should make any clear thinking American nauseous. (And) Jackson’s interaction with children were unacceptable for any adult.”

O’Reilly then went on to criticize a plethora of other individuals and groups, namely Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and went as far as to call some American media outlets hypocritical in their coverage of Jackson.

“Why is Al Sharpton making this a racial deal. Jackson bleached his own skin and then chose white men to provide existence for his in-vitro children. To hear Sharpton speak today, you’d think Jackson was Martin Luther King, Jr. Why is he being held up in the African American community as a pillar of Black America when he bleached his skin?”

Guest Analyst Dr. Hill in Jackson’s defense made some very valuable argument, highlighting on the difference of treatment between Jackson and politician Jerry Falwell known for racist politics.

“Now he has passed away. A year or two ago, when Jerry Falwell died, you and I debated this very point. You said, ‘Give him three days to a week and let the people mourn him before you start talking about his racist politics.’ So why are we giving Jerry Falwell something that we won’t give Michael Jackson?”

Say what you will about Michael Jackson’s personal life and struggles, but the man was a entertainment genius. He’s produced countless albums that our grand parents can name, our parents danced to as kids, and that we STILL play to this very day. Believe it or not, he is an icon, and will always be the greatest entertainer of our time, whether we like it or not.

Check out the video below for a portion of the debate!

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