Michael Jackson – The King of All Traffic

On July 8th, 2009, I wrote a post connecting Michael Jackson’s death to an uptick in traditional media (read: How Michael Jackson Brought Back Traditional Media). Since then, a bunch has happened (including the release of This Is It), so I wanted to reexamine the theme. This is the resulting post, which is a story of apology, reality and thanks – maybe even some SEO advice – I’m not really sure myself, but here goes…

First, a reality check and an apology… The death of The King of Pop was a monumental media frenzy event that lent eyeballs for ALL types of media, not just the fledgling print and broadcast. So, while my original assertion was right that he helped bring back traditional media (even if for a short time), the reality is that even if a true rise in readership/viewership occurred, it would never be enough to bring back traditional media against its new, online counterparts. I will now apologize for making these exaggerated claims: I’m sorry my readers, I really am.

Second, the real reality (meaning as it impacts me)… I shudder at the thought of calling my ‘work’ with Iron Mountain in a Concrete Jungle new media, but it literally is just that, a blog, if you will. Having said that, what really made me switch gears on my original assertion was the traffic that Michael Jackson generated for this blog… for me, it’s unprecedented (sure it’s my first true blog, but that’s semantics).

Finally, the thank you… Since July 8th, I’ve received over 100 clicks on this post through search engines alone. In fact, “Michael Jackson” is THE most popular search engine term which was used to find my blog. Furthermore, my top 3 are: michael jackson, michael jackson clip art, google michael jackson… just for my lil ol non-blog-like blog…Mind blowing… which is exactly why I wanted to write this up and thank all those people for finding, visiting and reading my blog, as well as to offer them an update (and more things to search for).

Maybe now the spotlight will finally let Michael rest, I’ll try to take care of that at least in this particular media… then again, we’ll see how many clicks this will generate in 5 months. One can only guess…

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Woodstock: Then NOT Now (or why not everything relates to Obama)

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You can say I’m a huge Woodstock fan; I own the inevitable (necessary) poster with an authentic ticket, signed books (Artie Kornfeld), a photo collection and personal drawings (above)… to name just a sampling. I’ve made annual, sometimes quad annual, trips to ‘the site’ at the intersection of Hurd and West Shore roads in Bethel New York. All this years before Bethel Woods Center for the Arts was built. In some ways, I feel like I was there, or should have been.

I first saw the Woodstock movie as a 7 year old in Moscow. I think it was on network TV to showcase the ‘American perversion and result of brute capitalism of the US’ or something like that… I vividly remember standing in the middle of our living room and watching the mud people, and Joe Cocker doing the most memorable (and spastic) version of “with a little help of my friends”… and that was it, I was hooked, I was a hippie-dude. Anything American was always overtly intriguing (as an antiestablishment statement), besides they were playing in mud and I’m 7!

Years later I found myself in New Jersey, and well within driving range of the site where it all went down. My first time there was as a road trip during college… This reporter from a Sullivan County paper let us know “it wont be there for long” and that millionaire Alan Gerry is going to “develop the holy bowl” and gave us a few copies of a local newspaper. She also let us know about the Woodstock Preservation Alliance… and again I was hooked, and tried to help out as much as a distracted college student could. I wasn’t going to get arrested for trespassing though, and so ‘we’ lost and Bethel Woods was built (though the bowl was never developed).

Long story short, I’m a huge Woodstock fan, and I feel as if that empowers me in one way or another … Ok ok, before I completely go off the charts with the sobbing clichés, let’s get something out of the way… Yes, I know I’m 27, and of course I was not there. But none of you reading this were there either, or anyone you know. Only four to five hundred thousand people were, but they did not include President Obama, or his parents.

Last weekend was the 40th anniversary, and I was up at Bethel Woods seeing the Heroes of Woodstock and DVR’d “Woodstock: Then and Now” documentary on the History Channel… mostly a great account of the event, but as a person who, per the above, considers himself rather knowledgeable and involved in the ‘spirit of Woodstock’ I was genuinely disappointed by the 5 minute cockamamie editorial ending comparing ‘my’ event to the Obama inauguration.

I don’t seem to be the only one to think this is absurd, and fully discredited the documentary and quite possibly the History Channel as a whole (check out this board discussion, twitter search and blogpost)… Even as an Obama supporter and voter, I fail to see how on earth Obama turned into Forrest Gump, in the sense that he’s become the cause for and the result of every possibly imaginable major event in recent past.

Obama was partly elected by the flower children but his inauguration was NOT a love in, it wasn’t really even a happening… so why did the History Channel fall into that trap, and why didn’t anyone stop them? How can a serious editorial and producing team connect the biggest counterculture, anti-establishment event ever to the biggest ever government orgy known as the presidential inauguration? The swearing in of the government’s top official, regardless of its size or social magnitude is still just that… a political event. Woodstock it was not.

This obsession to connect everything back to Obama, or his inauguration, or his ‘path’ (whatever that means) or his this or his that has me bonkers… he’s a man, he’s just a man, and you’ve known so many men before, in very many ways (aptly quoted from Jesus Christ Superstar). I think this type of crap takes away from Obama’s accomplishment, his drive, and frankly, from his responsibility and onus of the problems at hand… which are numerous.

Woodstock was a place where credit was disregarded, the focus wasn’t even on the music, promoters were screwed, the people were dirty and hungry, the bands were rushed on and off without schedule or fully working equipment… everyone suffered and everyone owned up to it, that’s the magic. A Presidential inauguration is the epitome of political soapbox chest thumping madness, and revolves around one person, on this one day (the king is dead, long live the king!).

Sure there were a lot of people on the national mall, but I don’t see much else.

To me the 40th anniversary show of Woodstock at Bethel Woods was closer in every way — see sepia image from last weekend below — We were surrounded by tie-dye shirts, some political slogans, my fellow man; plus Canned Heat, Ten Years After, Jefferson (Airplane) Starship, and Country Joe McDonald. And they ran out of food at the end…

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Woodstock was nothing but a moment in time, and unfortunately it was gone as fast as it came to be. And if you ask its true alumni, they’d say no other major event will ever take its place, nor was anything major the direct result of those 3 days of fun and music, and nothing but fun and music.

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How Michael Jackson Brought Back Traditional Media (for now…)

MJ Photo Via Cinie World

“The media is dead, long live the media!”

Coupled with recent ZDNet op-ed from Google’s Jeremy Allison with the same headline, this tweet from Tom Foremski for #mediatalklive forum got me thinking… has the recent wave of exorbitant Michael Jackson coverage in traditional, new and social media alike brought the dueling mediums closer together? Or again, pit them one against the other?

It’s no secret that it wasn’t just the tabloids that loved anything and everything Michael Jackson, undeniably making all media have a hand in the draining of his celebrity in one way or another. The last few weeks were no different, with one exception… the role of social media in the three ring circus that is ‘Jacko’ coverage.

However musically talented he was, the sheer fact that the gloved one took over every form of media imaginable for over a week (indeed the true king of ALL media, sorry Howard) is already more unparalleled than Thriller ever was… the media’s in-sync chorale around the life and death of Michael Jackson may have brought back traditional media, even if only for a little while.

While the story did break on TMZ.com, ‘Jacko’ coverage always lived in print and broadcast. For more than a few days, I saw more people watch TV in homes and offices or read newspapers on NYC subways and buses than I ever have. Social media seemed to discuss various news and late night segments while linking to commemorative print editions… sounds like a gasp of relief for traditional media to me.

I understand that this could all be a perception and observational mistake on my part, or maybe it’s just the world’s way to show appreciation for a talent that’s gone… but I will say this, the ‘filter’ of traditional media props up the old medium against its newly minted counterparts online, specifically in situations as controversial as the life and death of Michael Jackson…

To me, the grieving fans and the tasteful homage paid to the King of Pop by traditional media was something to behold… however even when watching the CNN/Facebook broadcast of the memorial, the sidebar was peppered with rough and distasteful commentary from ‘the public,’ also being echoed in the trending topics on Twitter (read: Michael Jackson Memorial Takes Over Twitter), as much adoration as hate present. And when New York Rep. Peter King wanted to air his angst against the media orgy where did he go? Fox News? CNN? No, Youtube (see the rant here).

To paraphrase a quote from 140TC, “crowdsourcing ruins everything, because not everyone has good taste”… this mega event is no exception; editors, producers and filters of traditional media showed the last few weeks why they are still relevant, if anything by showing the very real possibility that the masses can be so cruel, if just given the chance.

If not for a moment, Michael Jackson brought back old media… and gave them a breath of fresh air as it continues to move further and further underwater.

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