...who was bigger, Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, or the Beatles? Intriguing question to be sure, but the truth is that there is no answer except to say, "We can't possibly know."
They're are a LOT of reasons that we'll never have an answer to that question but the biggest is the media. They have skewed things so badly that you just can't answer it so it's really a stupid question to even ask.
For all of the similarities that Michael's death has to the death of The King, there are just as many differences.
The afternoon that Elvis's death was announced, I was in California, pregnant with my first child, watching the old Match Game with Gene Rayburn. It was shortly after 2:30 PST. Across the bottom of the screen, a simple message scrolled along, beginning with..."The King...". That's all it took before I realized that Elvis Presley had died. The rest of the message confirmed what I had guessed and then I went back to watching the Match Game and waited for the evening news so that I could find out what happened to the most famous solo entertainer of my youth.
Back in that time, they wouldn't have interrupted programing for anything less than the death of a president or an impending weather disaster. At one time, it wasn't odd to hear the following statement when a favorite show was broken into by a news flash..."Somebody better be DEAD!" We knew something then that has faded into time, you can survive without having news available to you 24/7.
I've heard it submitted that JFK wouldn't have been as much of a legend if he hadn't died and Oswald hadn't been shot going into a weekend. That left the young medium of television and the handful of networks free to dissect the assassination for an entire weekend, something unheard of in 1963. Even with the death of JFK, the networks wouldn't have broken into weekday programming. The constant weekend coverage convinced a nation that this relatively average president was more than just that.
It's certainly easy to see how they can exalt Michael Jackson to some sort of saint status by the constant and consistent coverage of his untimely death. We are being manipulated into considering Michael something more than he was, a talented yet tormented young man who was the victim of an abusive, overbearing and greedy father. We all got an idea of just how despicable Joe Jackson truly is recently.
Ordinarily, I wouldn't kick a man who just lost his youngest son but hell, it doesn't seem to bother Joe, why should it bother me? He opened himself up to such comments when he walked the red carpet at the BET awards last Sunday. As if that alone wasn't in bad enough taste, he proved himself a true piece of trash when that hideous quasi-human was asked about his family and the recent death of his son. On Sunday, we could still count in hours the time since Michael was pronounced dead and yet life was business as usual for this freak. He answered the question about his family with a a quick and terse non-answer, mumbling how they're all fine and then he followed that brief comment with a comparably lengthy commercial for his new record label which I will not glorify by naming here.
My father was abusive by today's standards. But 40 years ago, parents spanked their kids often. Of course, very few of them forced their children to be their meal tickets as did Joe Jackson. I can't imagine what Michael went through being raised with such a non-feeling SOB for a father. Joe is only one person in a group of people responsible for the sad life and recent death of this tragic figure.
Michael is gone now and it would seem to me that the one last decent thing we can do for him is to assure that his children do NOT end up in the home of the man who has destroyed the lives of far too many children already.
When JFK died, and even when Elvis died, there was no Joe Jackson around to ensure anymore of a circus atmosphere than usually accompanies such an event. There was no news coverage for 5 days (with no end in sight) which seems to be assuring that we will all remember this man for more than he was.
Michael was not a saint, he was not even a man of any character. He was a great entertainer to be sure. But a lot of great entertainers are never aggrandized the way the press is hyping the life and death of Michael Jackson. So...is Michael Jackson REALLY more famous than Elvis and the Beatles? We just won't know until future generations who have been untouched by this insane media coverage that is skewing the life of Jackson come around and pose the question in a more objective time. Hopefully, more dispassionate minds will answer that question with an answer that can be given some credence. In the meantime, we'll just continue to hear how wonderful Jackson was and how he is now "bigger in death than he ever was in life".
I guess there are millions more "yes people" than those in Michael's immediate circle. Shame on them all.