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A star flames out

Nothing quite brings home the utter and complete sadness of Michael Jackson’s life like the audiotape of a phonecall [1] in which the massively drugged-out performer slurs his fantasies about being the greatest performer in the world and building a children’s hospital. Anybody who dreams of pushing their children into show business ought to listen to this pitiful thing, which was played today in the Los Angeles trial of his doctor.

I would rather my children become ditch-diggers than pop stars. Seriously, I mean that.

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10 Comments To "A star flames out"

#1 Comment By Roberto On September 28, 2011 @ 5:58 am

I completely agree. I’m struck by how many of these pop stars start out in Christian homes, raised by Evangelical parents who delude themselves into thinking that their kid will be the exception: they will not only avoid making a train wreck of their lives but they will also remain true to the Faith.

#2 Comment By Tikhon On September 28, 2011 @ 10:33 am

Diggin ditches will keep ya humble. Having thousands of people scream for you, idolizing you doesn’t do anything positive for one’s pride.

#3 Comment By Dave D. On September 28, 2011 @ 12:09 pm

The hell with being humble then; it isn’t worth the frustration, envy, inability to afford things you want and dreams you have, and physical destruction of your body. Can we please quit the whole upper-class romanticization of manual labor as something spiritually pure please? You can fall just as bad as MJ did being a ditchdigger-you just don’t accomplish anything and die in poverty wasting your talents.

#4 Comment By Rod Dreher On September 28, 2011 @ 12:16 pm

Of course ditch-diggers can go to hell as well as a pop star can. But we are told on good authority that great wealth makes it harder to get to heaven. There are good reasons to believe it’s true. The illusion of invulnerability. The psychological and emotional addiction to fame. The fact that when you are rich and famous, you are surrounded by hangers-on who never tell you the truth about yourself or anything else.

I used “ditch-digger” as a metaphor for “humble nobody who does his dull work and lives a life unnoticed by the world beyond himself.” Who wouldn’t rather have their child live that kind of life than run the risk of becoming Michael Jackson? Is your kid more likely to ruin his life as a factory worker or a file clerk, or as a world-famous celebrity?

#5 Comment By James Kabala On September 28, 2011 @ 2:09 pm

I definitely agree with the basic sentiment, yet at the same time I wonder – if we really believe that, aren’t we obligated to withdraw completely from the surrounding culture? Otherwise, every time you buy a CD (or I guess these days a song on iTunes), you are providing an occasion of sin. “I denounce these people that I made rich” is a form of self-righteousness – but I admit I am no more prepared than you to drop out entirely.

#6 Comment By scotch meg On September 28, 2011 @ 8:21 pm

I don’t watch TV, I frequent the movies rarely, and I hate pop music.

But it’s still hard – I have family in “the business” in LA. It’s hard to be supportive, and I’m not willing to cause a rupture by being frank about what I think of what they do. And I see the effects: emotive thinking, melodramatic reactions (IRL), excessive concern about personal appearance… it’s hard on people, that show biz stuff.

Ditch-diggers, gas station attendants, any kind of honest work. Much better.

#7 Comment By Thomas O. Meehan On September 28, 2011 @ 10:20 pm

When was the last time anyone here saw another human digging a ditch? Backhoes have replaced even the humble ditch digger.

#8 Comment By Dave D. On September 29, 2011 @ 2:08 am

Rod, no, it’s not. That’s Thoreau’s life of quiet desperation. MJ for all his faults and flameout did what he wanted, and was known for it. He enjoyed a standard of living few in the world will ever touch, was honored by many famous people, and participated in experiences few will ever do.

I’m sorry, you aren’t going to convince me that giving all that up for 30 years of grey life toting up numbers or unloading boxes from trucks is better. Show business is hard, but so is a life outside of it, and it has it own dangers. Like writing, right?

#9 Comment By scott craig On September 29, 2011 @ 5:13 am

Most celebrities are either hopeless neurotics or absolute screwballs. M.J. was both! His doctor, enthralled with the god of
mammon, is now going to pay the price! Will any one learn any thing from this? I doubt it, just watch “Americas got Talent”. I’ve never seen so many strange and clueless people in my life. But for a few exceptions the show is absolutely tacky.

#10 Comment By Conradg On September 29, 2011 @ 9:58 pm

Celebrity life has the obstacle of narcissism to overcome. But every kind of life has its obstacles to overcome. Don’t imagine one can ever find an obstacle free life where there is no temptation or ego to overcome. It’s merely a question of overcoming that. And many celebrities do, just as many ditch-diggers do. It’s just that when celebrities don’t, they become object lessons for the rest of us. Which is kind of good also. But you’re learning the wrong lesson if you think it merely means “don’t become a celebrity”. The real lesson is, “don’t become a narcissistic tool”.