There is almost something indecent about how the media have embraced the death o Michael Jackson. Not too belittle his artistic stature but the cynic in me cannot help but wonder if that demise was not welcome as a way to dump Iran from the front pages. After all Iran is going nowhere. As expected repression is taking place, manifestations seem to be going down, foreign news services have been expulsed and we are not seeing anywhere a possible reaction, international condemnation or anything of the sort.
Indeed, what can we do? Iran has more people than most European countries, difficult terrain, neighbors that probably look forward internal decomposition of Iran and who think that repression is the best way to usher an era of profitable instability. Not to mention that the electoral mess will tarnish the image of democracy in countries like Saudi Arabia: “see? Elections solve nothing! Look at these dumb Iranians, all the trouble they got into!”
After having embraced the Iran mess so wholeheartedly mass media suddenly found itself in trouble: they were expelled, they had people hooked on the news and this news came from the streets of Teheran, not from the correspondents. Soon enough I am willing to bet that many an information director started getting worried…. Covering Michael Jackson suddenly must have seemed so much more predicable, and controllable.
At least the most important thing was made clear from Iran: the Islamic Republic was never a Republic. In fact it was a theocratic monarchy and we did not really know about it. Khameini was the real and sole power and Ahmadinejad for all of his figuration was simply taking the line dictated by the Theocrat. The presidency of Iran was just an errand boy position. The good thing is that we all know, inside or outside of Iran, that the Iranian Islamic Revolution was not any better than the Shah era. The “democracy” we saw was just a dispute among factions within a single political structure, a little bit as if the Mexican PRI had forbidden any opposition but allowed to or three PRI officials to run for the people to chose. Except that this would have been way more democratic than Iran because Mexico was at least a secular state which downgraded severely the reach of the Catholic Church.
And as for Michael and me, the news leaves me cold. He was a deeply flawed individual but that is the case with many great artists who did change things for the long term. I did not like his stuff much anyway, though Billie Jean was a favorite of mine. So yes, it is momentous but hardly worth the excitement. At least it will be more difficult to impersonate him than Elvis.