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Remembering Michael Jackson, remembering to care

    There’s a look on Janet Jackson’s face after she paid tribute to her late brother Michael at the MTV Video Music Awards last year that seemed odd.

    It wasn’t the look of someone mourning his loss or of someone grateful for the world’s support. It was a look of defiance, bordering on rage. Janet Jackson, like nearly all her family, has been nothing but gracious and polite when discussing Michael Jackson’s death last year.

    But if that look could talk, it would say, “How dare you  How dare you clap and cheer for my brother now that he’s gone. Where were you last year, when he was alive, when he needed you? You should be ashamed.”

    Considering everything that has come in the year since his death, that look was right on target. Yes, Janet, we should all be ashamed. And some of us still are.

COMPLETE COVERAGE: Michael Jackson remembered, 1958-2009.

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     Michael Jackson was, by no means, perfect and there were plenty of legitimate reasons to criticize him – ranging from his refusal to recognize that sleeping in the same room with children who weren't his was probably a bad idea to the fact that his most recent albums weren’t very good.

    However, everyone deserves a certain amount of respect a bit of a benefit of the doubt. Jackson, either because of his celebrity or his odd behavior, often didn’t get any. Media outlets ran the gamut of bad ideas after his death, from alleging everything under the sun about the circumstances of his death and looking to rank the “hottest moments” from his funeral, as if it was some sort of "American Idol" tryout than a ceremony for a man who had died.

    It turned out that Michael Jackson died from a cardiac arrest triggered by the improper use of the anesthetic propofol. He died because he was desperate for a good night’s sleep.

    His agitation came from his financial troubles and all the pressure from the 50-show comeback tour he was about to start in London. Judging from the strength of the “This Is It” documentary, he was poised to succeed. Unfortunately, he never got to see it.

    Yes, Jackson’s death has been, according to a Billboard analysis, a billion-dollar bonanza when sales of his back catalog, movie rights, licensing and music publishing are added together. And that will likely grow once all the new material he was working on before his death is completed and released.

    That Jackson died in the midst of a comeback is a tragedy, compounded by the fact that his death was so unnecessary. To make matters worse, the lessons that could have come from his death have already seemingly been forgotten.

    Somehow celebrities like Lindsay Lohan or Lady Gaga or Kate Gosselin or Heidi Montag or Miley Cyrus are sometimes treated with less respect than accused murderer Joren Van Der Sloot. If Jackson’s death taught us nothing, it was that no matter how big a star is or how odd they may seem, celebrities are still human, with people who love them and feelings that can be hurt. We should remember that, just as we should remember the look on Janet Jackson’s face.


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