During a highly charged debate on BBC Question Time about the proposed ban on the burqa in France, news started to filter through Twitter and blogs about Michael Jackson. Some newspapers – okay, the New York Times and gossip blogs – declared he was dead long before the mainstream media. In a peculiar way, the argument on Question Time occurring while such headlines were breaking in real time made the whole situation all the more bizarre and unreal. The “prince of pop”, such a troubled and complex man, such an enigmatic talent, taking the headlines and news-time over the discussion and debate to be had today, tomorrow, and in every pub across the land.
Gossip spreads faster on-line, and in this modern age it seems a well worded Facebook status and spam email can heal some kind of mental wound. Bad-taste jokes spread like mould – some phrased well enough to raise a smile regardless of taste.
Celebrity has a certain wealth, a heavy pressure, wiping from the screens death in Iran, alleged fraud in Parliament…The strength of the famous stars, so shocking when they are shown to be as fragile humans as the fans who pay their wages.
And the burqa? Onwards with the debate on freedom of speech and expression. For the time being the headlines sidestep any forensic debate while they focus on Michael Jackson…