On the subject of the under reported, hardly talked about coverage of Michael Jackson's death, I will add one sentiment I haven't heard expressed: Relief.
Not for his children, of course. For them I am sad.
I'm sad that Michael Jackson named each of his three children Michael Jackson, including his daughter.
I'm sad that he dangled one of them, dubbed "Blanket," from a 4th story hotel balcony for the shock and pleasure of the paparazzi below.
I'm sad that his children will grow up never truly knowing their father, but rather trying to piece together and comprehend this supremely talented superstar turned bizarre victim of a fame obsessed culture.
No, the relief I feel relates to the laying to rest of the cognitive dissonance, the ambivalence that I, and millions of others, have felt over the years watching this premiere performer morph from a cute and irresistable little boy into a disaster of a middle-aged adult.
Cognitive dissonance because his singing was perfectly nuanced, his dancing was dazzling, and his looks (skin color, even) were ever changing but his psychosocial development was stunted.
Cognitive dissonance because his worldwide fame grew at the same rapid rate as his disturbing behavior.
Because the more mesmerized we were by his complex and stylized entertainment, the more embarrassed we were for him and his off camera persona.
Because we felt the sizzling allure of his onscreen sexuality while reading about his seemingly asexual lifestyle.
Because he told us in his child-like voice that it was perfectly innocent and reasonable for an unattached adult man to hold sleepovers for pre-pubescent boys. He couldn't have been that naive. Could he?
Because the more we admired him, the more we were repelled by him. And if you're like me, perplexed and maybe even disgusted by your own admiration given his potential danger to children. Maybe even his own.
Because you couldn't help love him and you couldn't help loathe him. And you simply had to watch him.
Who could turn the channel, afterall, when the news showed yet another clip of Michael doing his signature moon dance? Or the one where his fancy footwork mixed with fancy fingerwork aimed at keeping what remained of his surgically mutillated nose in place? (How do these surgeons keep their licenses?) How about Bubbles, his pet chimp? His secret marriage and divorce to Lisa Marie Presley? (He reportedly harbored an Elvis obsession). To his dermatologist's nurse? His court testimony? His hair on fire?
A fellow psychologist at Couch Trip (wish I had thought of that blog name) put his ambivalent feelings into words this way:
"I was fascinated....And there was also a sense that his troubles are over, which allows the genius and the music and the dancing to come to the surface again."
So yes, I'm relieved that as time goes by and as the media obsession dies down, so will the discomfort of our collective cognitive dissonance.
In it's place will be left the memories and music videos of a man who, though tragically flawed, was amazingly fun to watch.
We will no longer have to worry about his sex life, his substance abuse, his nose falling off his face.
We'll just be able to listen to his music, smile, and try to remember where we were when we first danced along to Billie Jean.