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June 25, 2009

Your Turn: In Passing


How does a photo editor come up with one image to lede the death of Michael Jackson? The NYT delivers the above with its story this morning. (And then, for comparison, here’s the choice leading off the Hollywood-centric which was originally posted above.)

(revised 9:38 am EST. h/t: lq)

An Outside Look At Neverland (BNN)

  • lq

    I thought the photo the NYTimes first used (before slide shows), of MJ at the XXVII Super Bowl was stunning, evocative, and the very embodiment of his life. Caught in a whirlwind, fog/smoke whirling all around, stripping him, and him singing his heart out. Now that told a story of a complex person.

  • Michael Shaw (The BAG)

    Good call. The LAT lede that I posted originally isn’t nearly the image the NYT chose. I’ve since switched them in the post (with a link to the LAT photo leading their on-line front page). Speaks to just how good the photo editing is at the NYT – as well as the power of this art in communicating character, emotion, pathos, irony and, yes, complexity. Thanks

  • the littlest gator

    The Superbowl shot is an awesome summing up of his life and mystery of his scandals and demise

  • Serr8d

    Oh. I gave up on MJ after the MBL thinger.
    This pic…?

  • Karen H.

    It’s interesting what photo choice can say about a particular photo editor….given a life that ended after so many incarnations (and probably more to come). We’ve seen photos of the little boy, the “Thriller” comeback Jackson, Jackson on Trial, Mutilated Face Jackson, Jackson hidden behind surgical masks.
    When I clicked the link to the 2005 Bag Post, I noticed Jackson’s photo, showing a late incarnation made up, hidden, and coiffed on the same page as two other hidden figures: Laura Bush and the woman in a Burkha. All masked people captured on camera.

  • donna

    The dark humor begins… I was joking with hubby this morning about everyone hoping the tour continues with the “Thriller” comeback…
    I like the Superbowl image. Certainly the iconic king of pop there.

  • Tena

    I think the NYT picture does the best job of capturing everything it’s possible to capture about Michael Jackson, his persona and his affect on millions of people. It also makes a more universal statement about his talent. The LA picture focuses on a certain aspect of his style, whereas the NYT picture is timeless.

  • Kris T

    The NYT shot is fantastic. An embodiment of flying high, singing with all his might, arms stretched wide as if accepting all that was at the height of his career. Just thinking of his death brings a wealth of complex thoughts in my own head, which likely speaks to the complexity of his own turbulent ride in life. May his spirit fly free.

  • g

    Certainly the NYT photo shows him in a moment when he must have been experiencing pure joy.

  • camel

    I liked his early music. After seeing the Martin Bashir interview I felt disgust. Not about the trials or accusations, he openly admitted that sleeping in the same bed with children (children not his own, children he was “friends with) was normal, and couldnt understand why others had a problem with it. He was so so inappropriate. His delusions and drug addictions and I guess maybe posting that picture with him, Liz Taylor, and Liza at her wedding might be a truer picture of the person he became after his greatest artistry was behind him. Im finding the orgy of worship now, very hypocritical. Where was all this love and regret a week ago?

  • mcmama

    I think it was hiding. His last years were so dreadful, and yet so clearly rooted in his troubled childhood, that we could only watch in horrified silence as he slid towards self-destruction. Now that he’s gone, we are free to go back to the Michael we liked best and wanted most – the incredibly beautiful and talented King of Pop.

  • Progressive Mom

    We all were voyeurs in Michael’s life, with his encouragement, I guess. This photo sums that up. You can hear him saying, stripped of the flashy clothes, saying, “Here I am; take a good, long look.” Stripped, you see the talent, the artist, the power, and the fragility.

  • Victoria

    Someone emailed this to me this morning: “I feel relief for Michael Jackson. Now he can go back to whatever planet he came from and rest. It always felt to me that he was from another world. It must have been hard to remain here.” She meant this compassionately.- The two pictures capture the “not of this world” aspect: One a golden space man. The other a black and white full performance shot which makes it easier to gaze at his later self, a self that didn’t play well in the mundane, natural color world of daily living.
    Somewhere – Huffington? – they have a collection of his music videos. I clicked on just one: the child performer. Then I wondered what the click count might be on each of those videos over these next few days. How do we want to remember him?

  • thomas

    He spent so much of his life playing make-believe, dress-up, pretend and fantasizing that he was somebody else existing somewhere else he must have been very surprised to find himself a middle-aged man dying of heart failure.

  • the littlest gator

    I always felt that even the “sleeping in bed” with other kids was some kind of weird regression. I think he hit adulthood, and freaked, wished he had never grown up and tried to get back to being 12-13 years old. He created this fantasty of being peter pan and playing with the lost boys. It was so terribly sad. But that never took away from his talent. The music he gave us was truly incredible. But the torture he felt both inflicted from outside and inside must have been horrible.
    Beyond the sexual scandals, a true sign of how crazed and crazy he was– was the constant self mutilation, cutting, carving and coloring himself because he hated who he was. What a sad sad statement.

  • Clem Guttata

    Another performance shot that captures him well:

  • Reece

    I think that Michael Jackson, just like many of his own psychiatric analysts have said before, never stopped being ten years old. Ten year olds have no concept of money or time. Ten year olds insist on getting their way, even to their own immediate detriment. Ten year olds are still conflicted about their sexuality to the point of being unable to do anything but mimic what they see. To act like MJ was a pedophile is to, first of all, assume guilt, but second of all to treat him like something he wasn’t. In the end, his death (and the posted picture) was a symbol of his desire to be seen for what he was and what he wanted to be. The most child like thing of all was his desire to be seen truthfully and with an open heart.
    I often wonder about his odd behavior, but quickly realize that I am judging him from the perspective of a grown man who has always had to pay his own bills and live the “normal” life. What if, from the age of 5, I was managed onstage by my father? What if the only love I got from him was when he was proud of my performance? Would my life even resemble something normal? These questions go on and on… then I finally get to a point where I can hear that little boy’s perspective.

  • Andrew

    I think you summed it up beautifully.

  • matt

    jesus on the cross?
    sacrificing his privacy, his childhood, himself for “we are the world”?
    calculated prohpet?
    did he die for our sins?

  • Apple

    I am so glad you wrote this. It’s something I will hang on to while the discussion of his death veers off into tabloid-speak. We never cared who he was inside and he knew it. We wanted glitter and stardust and that’s what he gave us – beautifully I might add.

  • legalpad

    What’s the matter with you people? You’re all mourning a lifelong pederast. I’ve got news for you: when he was in bed all those years with the 9 year olds, he wasn’t doing much “sleeping.” THAT’S the man you choose to celebrate. You’re the ones who need to look in the mirror.
    Jackson was a proven sociopath who belonged in jail. And, he would have been there but for the millions he used to pay off a succession of claims (dating back to the 90’s) for his recidivist sexual predation upon young victims more deserving of your focus than this one man freak show.

  • Chris

    Crucifixion pose.

  • DennisQ

    All of the allegations you mention were made by people with an an atypical incentive, usually money, but not always. That Santa Barbara sheriff seems to have made a personal crusade to bring Michael down.
    I don’t presume to know Michael’s motives in surrounding himself with children, but that in itself does not speak of pedophilia. Perhaps he sought the company of children because his early celebrity deprived him of his own childhood. There isn’t any need to assume the worse unless of course, you didn’t like Michael Jackson to begin with.
    As you say, it’s a question of motives. However, since we don’t know who you are, “legalpad,” we don’t know your reasons for calling Michael a sociopath, a recidivist, a freak and a predator. Are you one of those who couldn’t stand Michael’s success?

  • thomas

    His excuses were his own.

  • Mona

    crucified… for the sins of his father. Reese summed it best, thank you.

  • legalpad

    I begrudge neither his success nor his ability. Many people have that and don’t ADMIT to sleeping with young boys when they’re in their 40’s. Name me ONE other person who does that and is NOT a pedophile.
    The recent trial–at which he was every bit as guilty as oj simpson–was just the latest of his “incidents”. You forget that he paid off accusers in severn figures back in the 90s, and paid 25M to the mother of the his more famous victim. No one pays that kind of money to silence false accusations, because to do so is tantamount to admitting their veracity. He was nailed and he knew it.
    Stop using strawman arguments and stick to the merits. We don’t know who YOU are, either, “DennisQ”, and we don’t know YOUR reasons for defending this pedophile. Are you one of those who wishes he shared some of his “success?”

  • DennisQ

    Maybe one of the reasons Michael liked being around children is that you can’t hold their attention by trying to impress them. He found them to be more sincere companions than adults.
    Something important has been lost when liking children is suspicious in itself. It implies that children are of no interest in themselves. This is worse than 1950’s fear of Communism because it isolates children from the company of adults who are not their immediate parents.
    Your statement that Michael was an unusual man suggests something wrong with that.
    If Michael knew there was something abnormal about him, you imply, he should have done something about it.

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