Fact: Michael Jackson was pronounced dead at 2:26 pm on June 25, 2009.
Fact: The Los Angeles County coroner’s office has come out and declared that the cause of death is likely homicide, caused by a lethal cocktail of drugs administered by Jackson’s personal doctor, Conrad Murray.
Fact: The deceased have a history of staying dead in a nonfictional setting.
Taking these truths into account, there is little to no wiggle room to think that anyone could possibly believe that the recently departed King of Pop actually faked his death and was involved in elaborate hoax.
Unfortunately, there are about a million or so YouTube viewers who do not appear to subscribe to this theory, instead choosing to explore the possibility that Jackson is alive and well.
In a grainy video posted on Aug. 25, a man who bears an uncanny resemblance to Michael Jackson is seen jumping out of the back of an official-looking white van emblazoned with “Coroner” and into the rear entrance of a building the audience assumes is the actual coroner’s office.
The original copy has spawned countless iterations of the same footage, with detailed analyses both for and against the theory, rivaling the level of scrutiny given to the Zapruder film, the silent home video that is the most complete visual recording of the assassination of former President John F. Kennedy.
Alas, before the world reached full-scale pandemonium, a German news station came forward to claim responsibility for producing the clip, which was revealed as nothing more than a viral video aimed at dissuading the public from believing the many rumors seen in the media. And in case this disclosure wasn’t enough to put the kibosh on any feverish discussion among vigilant skeptics, the original video clip was revealed to have been posted by a user named “michaeljacksonhoax.”
But while viewers may never recoup the one minute spent watching the clip, the reaction to the video serves as both a valuable and interesting look into an unexpected area.
Among the throngs of comments left on the now-infamous hoax video are those who find the video an insult to the memory of Michael Jackson. Others, while less offended by the makers of the video, still feel that it’s much too soon to be toying with people’s emotions in this period of grieving.
Granted, it’s understandable why some would deem it too soon to even think that it would be acceptable to joke around about the possibility of a resurrection in light of the recency of Jackson’s death.
But along the same lines, when is it ever really OK to make passing comments about someone’s death? Is it any more tactful to make conspiracy theories about Princess Diana’s death now than it was a decade ago?
The answer is no. Anyone who would venture into the gray area to contend this notion need only to imagine themselves making snide comments in front of the friends and family of the deceased.
Clearly, the “too soon” argument is a moot point.
And as for those up in arms over the caricature-esque portrayal of Jackson in the video, anyone who’s stopped by the checkout aisle of Superior or Ralph’s recently knows that there’s far more salacious, and perhaps even fallacious, material headlining the supermarket tabloids.
What then is the real reason for all of the negative attention garnered by this amateurish Jackson sighting hoax?
The fact of the matter is, while there is much abuzz over the video, it’s not an ethical issue. The only reason this video has received such a rise is because the public let itself become upset.
Though the intention of the video was to shed light on the gullibility of the mass media audience, it appears to have instead shown that we’re a group of sore losers.
Would there have been nearly as strong a reaction, let alone viewings, had people dismissed the probability of the resurrection video?
Collectively, we should have had enough logic to ignore any inkling of belief that Jackson was still alive. Those who bought any part of the minute-long clip should very well be embarrassed.
Any negative reaction to the experiment is borne out of a bruised ego, not rational thought.
This is not a controversy.
This is a travesty.
Soojin Yoon is a junior majoring in public relations. His column, “Boy Meets Word,” runs Thursdays.