I wasn’t going to follow up my contentious Michael Jackson blog with anything similar. Angry MJ fans who were pissed off with the previous piece would only question my motives by saying that I am seeking publicity. And I didn’t particularly want to get slammed again.
Besides, I’ve already offered my opinion (which is the eponymous if egotistical reason for this blog). I’m not even that interested in the subject of Jacko. So, from here on in, I’ll be keeping my head down and doing my best to avoid the long, inevitable MJ media circus that will be in town for the foreseeable future.
More importantly, I have learned my lesson and will never again mess with MJ fans. Those guys are serious! I would be kidding myself if I said that I didn’t expect some kind of negative reaction from my little blog (which was uncomplimentary towards the Gloved One) but I was genuinely shocked at the virulence of the fans’ anger towards me.
Not that I have a problem with being abused. I can dish it out so I should be able to take it. In fact, the experience became strangely compelling. You know how a puppy can’t distinguish between good attention and bad attention? That was me! I found myself rushing back to the computer every few hours to see what new piece of vitriol had been hurled my way. I’m even more embarrassed to admit that I got a pathetic jolt of joy every time I read a response that supported my point of view.
I got so involved in the whole thing that I started surfing around to find out what other people were saying about MJ. There was this one site where the comment chain was staggeringly aggressive, with Jackophobes and Jackobites flailing at each other like hysterical children (with potty mouths). It made me and my humble string look like a bunch of pussycats.
Then, at three in the morning, I suddenly realised that I was reading a blog about how Elizabeth Taylor and MJ’s dermatologist were part of a plot to fake MJ’s death so that the King of Pop could live anonymously in peace, just like Elvis. When I got to the third page of comments, which alternated between gleeful ridicule and grateful support for the theory, I realised that I had gone too far. I had to pull back from the precipice. Enough was enough.
So, I’ve snapped out of all that MJ stuff. I’m switching off. An abusive relationship is never healthy, even when it’s mutual. Instead, I’ve decided to move on to less controversial topics. Like Sarah Palin. Mark my words, she’s going to get her own talk show very soon. Or a sitcom. They could call it ‘Bulldog With Lipstick’. She’d be great on television – as long as they give her a script.
Speaking of Sarah Palin, I love Tina Fey in 30 Rock. The show’s snappy, goofy, intelligent – and Alec Baldwin is The Man. He used to be such an arsehole on-screen but now he’s brilliant. It shows you how a person can thrive if they have a sense of humour about themselves.
How am I doing so far? Did I offend any Sarah Palin fans out there? Or does anyone still hate Alec Baldwin because he called his 11 year old daughter ‘a rude, thoughtless little pig’?
Hell, I don’t know anymore. You can’t say anything even remotely interesting without offending someone. After all, there’s no accounting for taste. And that’s a good thing. It keeps things fresh. If everyone enjoyed the same stuff, the world would be terribly boring, like Canada.
Nevertheless, it’s quite difficult to be tolerant of other people’s predilections. Those who love olives simply cannot understand anyone who hates the taste. ‘But how can you not like olives/coffee/asparagus/Michael Jackson?’ they will ask in uncomprehending amazement.
Most people would leave it at that – a bit of friendly banter about olives. But not the fans. Oh no. Fans are prepared to fight for their olives. They stand strong and true in their belief that olives are good and, consequently, tend to be blind to any of the fruit’s faults.
More than that, a true believer will try to tempt you, convince you, convert you. Anything to make you come around to their way of thinking; to join their group. And if you refuse, they will damn and curse you for rejecting their offer of salvation.
Admittedly, we all have a bit of ‘fanboy’ inside us. Everyone has personal favourites they will try to push on others, while simultaneously attacking enemy positions. It’s usually done in a sense of fun but the impulse can easily turn deadly, as history has repeatedly demonstrated.
Some say that we behave in this way because we like to belong to clubs. Societies of like-minded individuals that provide a sense of communal identity can be comforting, especially in our rootless, post post-modern world. We also find it self-affirming when other people back up our decisions – however petty they may be. In other words, it feels good when your taste is validated by others, just as it feels bad when one of your personal passions gets dissed.
But here’s the rub. Dissing is essential. Fans need an opposing force in order to define themselves. Where would the Mods be without the Rockers? Where would Smokey be without the Bandit? Where would Bill Gates be without Steve Jobs?
Yes, detractors and supporters need one another, just like America needs Iran. You can’t fight it. Polarity is a force of nature and sticking to the middle ground is exhausting. It’s much more fun to pick sides. Have you ever met an entertaining moderate?
So that’s why I will continue to state my opinions boldly, even if it does sound a little too forceful at times. People may get offended because they think I’m being arrogant. But just because I can be definitive in my tone, it doesn’t mean that I don’t respect the opinions and tastes of others. I may not like olives (which I don’t) but that doesn’t mean I think everyone who eats olives is stupid.
Celine Dion, on the other hand, is another story. She’s a line in the sand which cannot be crossed. IMHO.
[Originally posted 15/07/2009]