This Is Exploitation

When Michael Jackson died over the summer, my life wasn’t exactly turned upside-down; I didn’t really learn to love his music until high school. So maybe I’m not the right person to say this, but This Is It, the film that is basically a release of behind-the-scenes footage of Jackson’s preparations for what would have been a farewell tour, feels a lot like exploitation.

For $60 million, Sony purchased the rights to the footage from concert promoter AEG and at midnight showings alone, a public that wasn’t mourning all that long ago paid $2.2 million, which yes, is a record. Who knows what other records will be broken come the box office estimates on Sunday. Sony will be turning a profit and then some.

And I thought I was usually the first one to make completely inappropriate jokes at the expense of a dead celebrity.

Ok, maybe that’s extreme; maybe all is fair in Hollywood and Michael Jackson; maybe I’m still peeved that I finished second to Josh Weis in the Mr. DHS 2005 competition because he did the entire “Thriller” dance while the video played in the background. All these things are possibly true, I won’t deny that.

But in the age of the Internet, entertainment comes at us faster and faster and we don’t seem to care. For example, it took awhile for World War II movies to hit the screens, whereas Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center came out less than five years after 9/11. What’s happening with This Is It would be akin to ten years ago there being a film released called Princess Died. Can you imagine that?

Sure, there are differences between Di and MJ, namely that one is an entertainer, and there’s the theory that he would’ve toured the country and racked in all that money anyway, but there’s something about Sony paying money in order to make a fortune off the fact that one of the biggest names in pop culture died more or less yesterday.

Maybe this is AEG’s fault too. They had the ability to decide what would be done with this invaluable footage. I’m not aware of Sony saying the profits were going anywhere but into their pockets, but think of how much good the money that will be made on this film could have done in the world. Michael had his causes, why couldn’t they find a way to arrange that or organize a giant tribute concert/showing of the footage and televised it and made it stand out in the collective conscience of the world. No, we get a movie instead.

The reviews have been very favorable so far and I don’t doubt that it’s well done, but I don’t go to the movie to see these kinds of things. In my opinion, it’s not the place or the venue. Michael deserved something bigger and more special, not something that will be remembered in the form of DVDs in people’s living rooms come another 4-6 months from now.

I’m not going to argue that you shouldn’t go see this movie, especially if Michael Jackson was part of who you were growing up, but just because it was made and it’s a good movie doesn’t make it the best tribute to the King of Pop.


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