The existence of symbiotic, even parasitic relationships between tabloid journalism and arbitrarily appointed “celebrities” can perhaps best be indicated by professional strumpet Paris Hilton and her ilk. The fame with which her contemporaries are met is a direct result of the economic reward given by the “journalism” that created them. These walking self-fulfilling prophecies exist only to be famous, and their notoriety comes from their notoriety, making a strange Mobius strip of press releases and “leaked” sex tapes.

Michael Jackson was not this sort of celebrity. A musical prodigy, Jackson was famous since he was a young child for his vocal command and musicianship, which exceeded that of those several times his own age, shooting him to magazine covers and megastardom. As the years went by, his genius in the studio and on the stage began to be overshadowed by his eccentricities; rumors of Peter Pan obsessions, odd purchases (like the bones of the Elephant Man) and a bizarrely compelling marriage to the daughter of Elvis all fueled the fire.

This furor reached its pinnacle when Michael was accused of pedophilia, and overnight, the media that once proclaimed him the King of Pop turned him into a carnival attraction: half dunk-tank and half laughingstock. Although the first lawsuit against Jackson was settled out of court, a result often mistaken for an admission of guilt, his reputation was forever cemented, despite no conviction and all criminal charges dropped due to lack of evidence. A subsequent lawsuit in 2005 again accused him of sexual abuse of a child, and Jackson was found — again — not guilty on all charges.

Michael Jackson was a genius. His influence on popular media is unmatched by anyone since The Beatles or his late ex-father-in-law, but this is all cast aside based on accusations that never proved to be of any merit. Why do we as a society tear these people down? Is it because we are terrified by the notion that someone can be so different, can see things in such a different way as to change the way that everything is done? Why are we so offended that giants walk amongst us?

What it comes down to is that we are responsible for Michael Jackson’s early death and tortured life. Anyone that bought a magazine that mocked him on the cover, anyone that made him into a child abuse punch line, anyone that chuckled at a mean-spirited Saturday Night Live skit is responsible. We wouldn’t allow a man that was obviously mentally ill and underdeveloped to be so superior to us in some ways when he was so dramatically underdeveloped and inferior in others, so we destroyed him with every joke about the pigment of his skin, the shape of his nose, or his naive innocence.

You can keep your sad Facebook statuses, your depressed Twitter posts, your ineffectual blog tributes and your tired YouTube links because it’s predictable and hypocritical. Weep and wail all you like. Brag about how you tried to do the Moonwalk in tube socks on your parents’ waxed hardwood floor when you were five years old. Buy the tribute magazines that exploit the innocent genius that you so ruthlessly mocked during his darkest hours. We’ll never have another like Michael Jackson. He offered everything he had and placed it at society’s feet. He put a song in our step and a smile on our face and we killed him for it.

Pull Quote – “Anyone that bought a magazine that mocked him on the cover, anyone that made him into a child abuse punch line. is responsible”