Michael Jackson’s Hair Is On Fire 25 Years Ago
I was just getting a little more comfortable, now that Michael Jackson Media Madness is (for the moment) stabilized.
Then three things happened.
Last week, Michael Jackson’s hair caught fire filming a Pepsi commercial in 1984. The news hooks for the video being shown continuously are that this is newly uncovered footage, and that the pain killers he used during his recovery started him on the road to addiction that led to his death.
Yesterday, Howard Kurtz of CNN’s Reliable Sources had Nightline’s Terry Moran as a guest. Kurtz asked Moran why Nightline had opened with Michael Jackson stories on 13 of 15 shows during the past few weeks. Kurtz wondered if the story could possibly be the most important on all of those nights. Moran hedged a little, then admitted that the most important stories are the ones that viewers think are the most important stories. Kurtz stopped pushing the point, and I’m still pondering.
Also yesterday, Don Henley’s song Dirty Laundry came on the radio. Not great art, but it is a good example of pop music as social commentary. No doubt informed by the Eagles’ years in the spotlight, the song sure seems to fit some of the Michael Jackson coverage:
I make my living off the Evening News
Just give me something–something I can use
People love it when you lose,
They love dirty laundry…
We got the bubble-headed-bleach-blonde
Who comes on at five
She can tell you ’bout the plane crash
With a gleam in her eye
It’s interesting when people die
Give us dirty laundry…
Dirty little secrets
Dirty little lies
We got our dirty little fingers in everybody’s pie
We love to cut you down to size
We love dirty laundry
Now here’s the interesting connection: When I went looking for those lyrics, I discovered that Lisa Marie Presley covered Dirty Laundry on her second album in 2005. It was the first single released from the album. If anyone knows something about media airing dirty laundry—particularly the posthumous kind—there are few others I can think of who are better qualified.