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Jackomania - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Here’s a simple question: have you been gripped by Jackomania? Think about this carefully before answering.

Michael Jackson passed away recently and his death, even his admittance to hospital, was breaking news on most international television channels and news websites. If you are one of those who was surfing the net in the hope of finding out more about Michael Jackson’s state of health then you probably were gripped by Jackomania. An image emerged immediately in which the world had united and showed its concern for this man specifically.

Michael Jackson was a walking commercial industry. He was surrounded by an army of personal assistants and specialists in the fields of music, public relations, visual images, media, production, make-up and sports as well as bodyguards, legal experts and accountants simply because once upon a time he represented a major source of income bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars for many of the world’s countries.

Over time, Michael Jackson became the number one international superstar, proving that globalization exists even in the world of show business. There was an element of engineered magnificence in everything he did from the release of his studio albums and the frenzy and excitement that accompanied this to the production of his music videos and concerts. The remarkably perfect and calculated timing of the release of his albums in every part of the globe was no coincidence; Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, Buenos Aires, Cairo, Rome, London and Munich were always just as ready as New York, Chicago and Los Angeles for that occasion.

Michael Jackson’s music transcended borders and he won the hearts of millions of people around the world, further reiterating what Professor Galal Amin once said; we are living in “the age of huge masses.” The dominating consumer ideology led to the creation of an absolute allegiance to any transatlantic registered trademark such as Starbucks, Adidas, Coca-Cola or McDonalds to name but a few.

Michael Jackson represented the same idea but in the field of entertainment. He continued to do so even after news on Michael Jackson was no longer related to his music but to lawsuits and plastic surgery. His looks were distorted following the countless plastic surgery operations that he underwent, making it hard to believe that the man we were looking at was the same man who launched his music career with his brothers from Gary, Indiana. Michael Jackson, along with his eccentricities, was the talk of the town from day one and remained so until he breathed his last.

With reference to the Arab world, I am surprised at these continuous attempts since Michael Jackson’s death to prove he died a Muslim. I don’t know exactly what kind of added value we would gain if the world is told that Michael Jackson was a Muslim. His death has proven one thing, that man as an individual and the world as a village are both capable of “creating” a legend and fusing it with cultures that do not relate to it at all.

Towards the end of his life, Michael Jackson was no longer black, or American, or Afro-American; he had turned into an international icon and belonged to all people regardless of nationality and geographical borders. He was a product of globalization par excellence. Therefore it’s only right we ask this question again; have you been gripped by Jackomania?

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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