I recently found this piece that I wrote about Michael Jackson’s death. Thought I would post it here.
Michael Jackson Drugs copyright Victoria Mary Clarke 2009-
I did not sleep last night. A thunderstorm kept me awake, the loudest I have ever heard. I cant function without sleep, and all day I have been wandering around in a daze, anxious, irritable and exhausted. Luckily for me I will be so tired tonight that nothing will wake me up. But I have suffered from insomnia and I deeply sympathise with anyone who has ever had several sleepless nights in a row and got to the stage that they cant sleep no matter what they do. Even prescribed sleeping pills stop working if you take them for an extended period. Eventually you feel that you would kill for a decent nights sleep. And this, apparently, is what happened to Michael Jackson. He needed such strong sedatives to knock himself out that he was knocked out for good. And so he has joined the roll call in the sky of ultra famous, ultra talented people whose lives have been cut short by medication. Medication to help them sleep combined with more medication to wake them back up again, so that they could get on with the business of being ultra famous and ultra talented. People like Elvis Presley, and Marilyn Monroe, who had started out as ordinary human beings and turned themselves into gods and goddesses, icons of perfection worshipped by millions.
It is not an easy business just living up to the virtues that are expected of the everyday common or garden human being. And so one can only imagine what pressure you come under if you set yourself up as an icon. I often boast that I am lucky enough to be friends with Johnny Depp who is widely regarded as the handsomest man on the planet as well as the most talented actor of his generation. And the other night at his premiere party, I was extremely jealous of him, because the thousands of adoring fans and the huge kerfuffle that surrounds his every public appearance highlighted for me just how insignificant I am, by comparison, and made me feel entirely inadequate. But I had one advantage over Johnny which was that I could be as rude and cranky and unhelpful as I liked and nobody would even notice, whereas there was never a moment when he could stop smiling and posing for pictures and signing autographs and answering stupid questions, not even when we were at the private party for those who are supposed to be his friends. It is a full time job, being adored by millions, because in order to be adored, you have to stay adorable. Johnny just happens to have the perfect temperament to go with the job. But unfortunately for the very famous, only a tiny handful of them get to be completely adored, all of the time. Most of them get hoisted up onto a pedestal only to be unceremoniously dislodged and sent crashing into the depths of despair, the minute they show any signs of being flawed human beings. And if, like Michael Jackson did, they show themselves to be weird or eccentric and they begin to behave in ways that are socially unacceptable, then they can turn from icons into freaks. And the adoration turns very easily into ridicule.
There are times in all our lives when we need a little help to be perky or positive, or to calm down and deal with stress. But when you have to deal with the normal ups and downs of life while at the same time maintaining an image in the eyes of the media and the masses, when you have to put on a public persona every time you step outside your house, the stress can be completely intolerable, as was recently proved by Susan Boyle. And if the consequence of this stress is that famous people often take drugs to help them cope, than it is hardly news and it is hardly surprising.
Cherilyn Lee, one of Michael Jackson’s nurses was quoted as saying that in the days before his death Jackson has been asking for an extremely strong drug called Diprivan, which she had warned him was not safe to take. It is not yet known whether it was this particular drug that contributed to his death, but whether it was this drug or another drug is not really the point. The point is that as a very famous person with an image to uphold, Michael Jackson would most certainly have been able to get any drug he wanted. Because he was rich and famous and people generally indulge rich and famous people more than they do ordinary people. It is hard for even the very nearest and dearest to resist the anguish of an addict who cries out for the drink or drug that will give them temporary relief from anxiety. So the likelihood of the members of a famous pop star’s paid entourage of yes men and women being able to deny him what he wanted is slim indeed. And if he wanted a strong sedative then a strong sedative is probably what he got.
It is sad to think that such a talented man as Michael Jackson will be remembered as another of those tragic icons who have succumbed to the pressures of their own fame, who have ultimately sacrificed themselves for an image. But what is sadder is that he may be dead, but our appetite for icons is undiminished, and is unlikely to ever be assuaged. More and more people will rise above the masses to become special and important and will ultimately fail to be anything but human beings. And in spite of all their pain, the rest of us will more than likely envy them their immortality.