In this essay, I am going to analyse, review and comment upon how the media have reported on Michael Jackson’s funeral at the Staples Centre, LA, on July 7 2009. The media I will cover are: The Daily Star, The Sun, The Sunday Times Magazine, The Guardian and The Times. This first section will be about how the media present their title page and what their views seem to be at first glance. The Sun uses a picture of Paris, Prince, and Blanket. In this highly emotive, almost inspirational picture, Paris is looking up towards the heavens with a tear running down her face as if she was looking for her father.
Prince Michael has his arm around Paris and a protective hand on Blanket’s shoulder. He looks very grown up and is wearing a smart black suit. His eyes, however, show how sad he is. Blanket’s face is half hidden behind a program for the event. He has clearly been crying as you can see the tear tracks on his face. He is clutching a half-naked doll of his father, as if he does not ever want to let go of him. He looks exceptionally young and vulnerable. They all look like a small tight-knit family.
This picture is highly unusual as Jackson focused a lot of his energy on hiding them and protecting them from the media. It is ironic that in his death they should finally be pictured, particularly like this. There is a quote down the side, under “Jacko Daughter’s Tribute”. This title seems an unusual choice for a report on a memorial because it comes from the nickname, “Wacko Jacko”, but it also shows a form of respect, as they have dropped “Wacko”. The quote reads, “Ever since I was born, Daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine and I just wanted to say I love him so much”.
This quote immediately gets rid of any nonsense. It is completely human. It also suggests a high level of love and devotion to the father that she has lost and it presents evidence that he was to her a nice, caring person despite his problems and the opinions of the press. When Paris said “you” in this quote, she automatically included everyone watching in her overwhelming grief over his death. The fact that she uses the word “Daddy” is also interesting as it shows yet more devotion to him, and more care and love. At the bottom left of the page is a picture of Michael Jackson. Read about the management of Grief symbolism
This happy picture serves very little purpose except that it shows his great resemblance with Blanket and reinforces that Blanket is his son. The tone on this page is very sympathetic. It was designed to make you feel sorry for the children. This is very unusual for The Sun, as it generally has a very negative tone and can be very nasty to the people it is reporting on. This differs greatly from the Daily Star. This has a picture of Jackson’s coffin, and the title says “Jacko RIP” which seems sarcastic, unoriginal, uncaring and over the top. Jacko” is slang and only part of the nickname “Wacko Jacko” which they previously used for him because of his strange ways. This is unsympathetic although they have dropped the “Wacko” which shows a little respect. The “RIP” bit of the heading is crude, disrespectful and ironic. It is an abbreviated version of “Rest in Peace” however, this was hardly true as millions of people were watching the entire memorial, and therefore it was not in peace, in fact, it was far from it. It is also disrespectful to have abbreviated the words.
The main picture seems like a bad choice as it does not invoke emotion from people, does not show anything of what the memorial itself was like and it just looks like a coffin. There is a small picture of Michael when he was still black in the top right which does not seem to serve any purpose. Altogether, because of its unsympathetic tone, the Daily Star seems like a less caring newspaper and one that did not really like Michael Jackson and his “Wacko” ways. There is also a small insert of the picture used in The Sun of his three children. Read also music concert report essay
However, the Daily Star did have a more respectful sub-heading, “Memorial to the King of Pop”. This has several meanings. Firstly, is the reference to Michael’s highly popular music. The second is to his role as a father to Paris, Prince Michael and Blanket. In her highly emotional and unscheduled speech, she told the world that Jackson was “the best father you can imagine”. While reviewing the Daily Star I noticed that there were more adverts than coverage of the story.
This, to me, seems disrespectful, as if they are implying that his death is less important to them. Next, there is The Sunday Times Magazine. This is very different to both the tabloids. It has a picture of Michael Jackson, standing with his hands together as if in prayer with white angel type wings. He is standing over a satanic type figure and seems to be portrayed in a similar light to Jesus. It is a very religiously symbolic picture. The caption to the side reads “The Sins of the Father” which seems cruel and unfair to the children.
It is, in my opinion, unkind and disrespectful to mention his problems so soon after his death when they have plenty of kinder, more respectful material they could use such as his rise to fame or even reporting on his actual memorial which is what most people will want to read about. In the title, they are clearly referring to his drug problem, of which the children were never told, a fact which is elaborated greatly upon inside the magazine. The front page of The Guardian consists mostly of text with only one picture. The photo shows the Jackson brothers carrying the coffin.
Everyone looks upset, although it is hard to tell as all but one was wearing dark glasses. The heading in the Guardian reads “Jackson Farewell Showbiz, schmaltz and not a trace of the Wacko Jacko” In this heading they use alliteration to make an effect. They use the nickname “Wacko Jacko” which is very disrespectful. It would have been kinder if they had not mentioned his problems at all. In the text on the page, they are very disrespectful, mocking and quite harsh. They were of the opinion that the memorial was just a big show.
This is implied in the section that says, “They came not to so much to lay Michael Jackson to rest, as to ease him gently into a warm bath of adulation, hyperbole and showbiz razzle-dazzle tinged with more than a hint of religious symbolism. ” In the text, they said that the show was “very far from the headline grabbing, lawsuit happy eccentric with the multiply plastic surgeries, the sporadic addiction to painkillers and the endless gossip about pre-pubescent boys. ” It was very disrespectful to mention all of this while reporting on his death. Rather,” the reporter continued “it was Jackson the great entertainer, the musical genius, the gift to the world who has all too suddenly been taken away. One by one, speakers and singers alike lavished praise of a sort that might have seemed excessive, or even absurd, in any setting other than a giant sports arena packed with Jackson worshipping fans, his family members, friends and assorted well-wishers. ” This is mocking and harsh. After reading all this it was clear that Andrew Gumbel (the writer) thought that the whole memorial was one massive overblown show.
He mentions how some of the speakers made indirect references to Jackson’s troubles and then he listed them. This was very unkind, disrespectful and insensitive towards the family. After reviewing all of these title pages, I think that The Sun has been the kindest and most sympathetic; it also showed the most respect. The Sunday Times magazine has portrayed him as a very angelic figure which is respectful but it has mentioned his dubious past in the Title and subtitle. The Guardian is easily the least respectful and sympathetic. It was mocking and insensitive.
Now I will consider the text used in each of the media pieces. In the Daily Star, there isn’t a lot of text. What there is tends to be quite emotive although not very sympathetic. There is a small caption, next to the picture of Jackson’s brothers, which says “We are Family: the sombre Jackson brothers arrive”. This refers to the song “We Are Family” and the true nature of the event, a memorial service (where the mood is generally sombre). This is the first reference they use (either in text or images) where the Daily Star tells us about the mood of the memorial.
At the very top of the page there is a line which says “Michael Jackson: The Final Show” this refers to his showy nature when he performed, which was very famous. In the text on the page, the authors have used lots of disrespectful slang such as the nickname “Jacko” and “Pals” which do not fit in with the type of language common at funerals. In the text, however, there is also lots of emotive language and metaphors such as “a river of tears” and the quote from Berry Gordy “The more I talk about Michael Jackson, the more I feel the King of pop is not big enough for him.
I think he is simply the greatest entertainer that has ever lived”. This is very emotive and more suited to the types of things people say at funerals. The Daily Star has also used various statistics, such as the facts that there were 17,500 people in the Staples Centre arena, 300 relatives attended his private 40-minute service and 35 limousines were needed to drive them to the memorial service. The paper also used a time phrase (“only days before”) to show how little time had passed between the memorial service at the Staples Arena and the time in which Jackson had last been rehearsing there for his planned London concerts.
A final thing that I picked up from the text on this page was the quote from Sharpton, which summed up why Jackson was famous, “He put on one glove, pulled his pants up and broke down the colour curtain”. On the next couple of pages, the main heading, which is very bold and takes up lots of the space on the page, reads “Tears and Laughter for Hero Pal Jacko”. This refers to how Shaheen saw Jackson. It is a bit mocking though as although Shaheen saw Michael as his hero and inspiration, and Michael thought he had an amazing voice and wanted to meet him, neither of them actually met so they were not “pals”.
It is also hard to see how you can have a friend who is your hero. The Daily Star has used the nickname “Jacko” again, which is quite disrespectful when covering his death. The main text on this page is again full of impolite comments and language that is more suited to a party or concert than a funeral. They used phrases such as “Raised the roof” and “Brought the House down”. They also say, “Michael Jackson’s amazing send off was the greatest show on earth. ” This is crude and disrespectful to say that the greatest show on earth was when he was dead.
However, people might read it as a compliment to the star that his funeral deserves such attention. Again, in the text they use metaphors such as “A thousand police threw a ring of steel around the venue”. In The Sun use lots of emotive, sensitive writing in their text. They used many quotes from the public to get their emotions across in the paper although some of them are a bit over the top (“It was like watching a young Michael on stage”). They added extra detail such as the “street hawkers flogging hastily cobbled together RIP Michael T-shirts” outside the staples centre.
The writing on the first page is all written in first person by a reporter who was there, so this brings the reader closer to how it was. The Sun likes to use exaggeration it the text as well, such as saying that billions of people were watching the service. There is a title on the second page that reads “The King of pops” this is a kind title with a sting in its tail. The Pops bit can refer to lots of things such as Him being a great dad (as Paris said in her speech) but it also refers to poppers/drugs. This is not nice at all and is disrespectful to mention it when reporting on his death.
The Sun use lottery ball type section to put facts about the service in such as “1. 6m people applied for tickets for the public memorial event”. I think these have been used because of the lottery type way of applying for tickets. The Sun devotes an entire page to Shaheen’s performance, something which the Daily Star did not. However the guardian also wrote quite a bit about Shaheen’s part in the service. On page 6 of The Sun there is a sub-title which reads “Like a Macabre Circus”. In this section Gordon Smart gives his view on the memorial.
Like the Star he thinks it was just a big show not commemorating Michael at all. He said that “This wasn’t a memorial for a pop icon or the world’s greatest entertainer the world has ever seen. It was a reminder of why Michael Jackson became an unhappy, lonely man living an utterly bizarre existence. It was a Macabre Circus. ” Now, I will examine the use of pictures through the media pieces. The Sun and the Daily Star mainly use pictures that are actually from the memorial. Most of these show the children being upset, or comforted by their relatives, as well as pictures of the relatives and other celebrity performers.
In the Daily Star, when they are writing about Paris’s tribute they use three picture of her when she is breaking down and crying. This is a bit excessive as one would have been sufficient. They also use pictures of all the celebrities singing which doesn’t show much. It would have been better if they had taken pictures of the crowd to show the mood and reactions to various parts for example when Paris was speaking. On the other hand, by using mostly pictures of the event this shows that they were focusing on it and not just speculating about Michael Jackson as The Sunday Times Magazine did.
In the Sun they used lots of pictures of the family. They have written with a very sympathetic tone and seem to have decided that most people will want to read about the memorial while thinking mostly of the better bits of Jackson’s life. The Times has used only two pictures. The first is of his “sisters Rebbie and Janet, brother Randy and the four remaining members of the Jackson 5: Tito, Marlon, Jackie and Jermaine” All of the brothers are wearing a single, white, rhinestone glove as a tribute to Michael as it was his trademark in the 80’s.
The second picture they use is of Shaheen Jarfargholi, the British kid who was in the Britain’s Got Talent Final. They do an entire section on him and how he felt about performing at his idols memorial service. In The Sunday Times Magazine they use only pictures of the family. They used lots of them with the children very young and with Michael. I think they did this because they wanted to approach the story from a different angle, the family angle. In the Daily Star, there is a little picture of the elephants that are parading past the venue.
These elephants are part of a circus, which was due to use the arena later that day, when the memorial service had finished. On their heads is the slogan “The Greatest Show on Earth” which is how the service was described by the Daily Star. This is extremely offensive. In this Essay I have analysed, reviewed and commented on the media coverage of Michael Jackson’s memorial service. The general tone of the newspapers was unsympathetic, although they seemed to change this when talking about Jackson’s children. The Sun seemed to be the most sympathetic overall and the Daily Star was the least.
The Sunday Times magazine would be good if you wanted to read about Jackson’s children and how they are adapting to life without their father, but it offered little information about the service. I think that each of the papers was very opinionated, following the view of their editors and the reporters. I think that this should be changed, should the media show their own interpretation of the news and try to bring you around to that view? Or should they stick to the facts? These are questions that someone, sometime, somewhere should look at.