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Published: Friday, 6/26/2009

The sad life and times of Michael Jackson

"...as human beings we are capable of making sense of situations based on the thinnest slice of experience."

Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink and The Tipping Point.



GOODBYE: Michael Jackson was his generation's Elvis Presley: a strange, larger-than-life persona who, by virtue of an unerring knack for catchy melodies and superb stagecraft, became a pop cultural phemonenon. He also was a divisive figure because of the child molestation charges against him. Even though he was acquitted, his multi-million dollar settlements with the alleged victims cast a dark shadow over his presumed innocence. Now he's gone and this much is safe to say: he will be just as strange in death as he was in life. This is going to get weirder. Here's a bunch of tributes, but if you really want to explore Jackson -- what happened to him and what he caused himself -- check out Margo Jefferson's excellent On Michael Jackson, an intelligent, dispassionate essay that connects the sociological dots that made Jackson the icon that he was. (RL)


WOW: Those Real Housewives of New Jersey really know how to heat up a scandal. There are X-rated tapes, cocaine busts, name changes and all kinds of sleazy details. It's a wonder they ever have time for a face lift. Although it's not like celebrity sex tapes are all that unique. (RL)

OSCAR CHANGE: The folks that run the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences are revamping the way Oscars are handed out, opening up the Best Picture category to 10 films as nominees rather than five. Hollywood is agog. (RL)


DOG DAZE: Pardon us here at Thin Slices if we're a little weary of celebrities acting bad. Sure Kate Gosselin is whining (yes, Kate, you did), Miley Cyrus is posing provocatively again (but she's not doing it for the publicity, nosirree!!!!), and that annoying Perez Hilton is just being annoying. No, we're intrigued by South Carolina governor Mark Sanford and his little four-day out-of-pocket road trip in which he told everyone he was going to hike the Appalachian Trail and then ended up in... Argentina? We think that's kind of cool in a weird way. (RL)


SHE KNOWS BEAUTY: Jessica Simpson is back with a show that looks at The Price of Beauty that purports to look at how various cultures define beauty. Hmm. Isn't there something ironic about someone whose entire career is based on being beautiful doing a show called "The Price of Beauty." How about, "Profiting from Beauty"? Wouldn't that be a more appropriate title? (RL)

CLASH OF THE TITANS: If Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am called Perez Hilton what Hilton called him, then it's safe to say that Will would be forced to go into sensitivity counseling, attend a 12-step program and apologize profusely. Hilton says it and whines about how Will went after him like a "heat-seeking missile." Perhaps Hilton needs sensitivity training, a 12-step program and apologies across the board. Can you say "double standard"? (RL)

OUR POINT EXACTLY: So Jon and Kate Gosselin are getting divorced and another family is messed up by a reality show. Enough said on that. And if either one of them ever says they're doing what's "best for the kids" pardon us if spit up our coffee. Please. If you cared about your kids, you wouldn't put them on television. Time to get a real life "grown-ups." (RL)


SIGN OF THE TIMES: Perez Hilton claims he was beaten up. OK, that's too bad. He said will.i.am of Black Eyed Peas did it. That's not cool. Except will says he didn't do it and Hilton had time after the alleged beating to sit around Twittering about it, including this gem: "I'm going to try and nap a bit." Weird. Surely we'll be hearing more about this. Oh, and Tila Tequila is involved. (RL)

BIG BOYS STRIKE OUT: Given that the director was Steven Soderbergh and the lead actor Brad Pitt, the movie version of Moneyball seems like it would be smooth going. But the studio pulled the plug on it, apparently because of script problems, proving that even big-name Hollywood commodities like Soderberg and Pitt sometimes get shot down. (RL)

Rod Lockwood


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