Many American media outlets considered the possibility that the King of Pop’s death could have been a media stunt designed to promote the “comeback” concert scheduled for this summer in London. But what could have been a media stunt later became a possible homicide. In order to prevent further speculation, the media went to work correlating and double-checking the putative cause of death. Few went so far as to accuse Michael Jackson’s personal doctor of causing his patient’s untimely death by administering the wrong medicine; most decided to investigate the side effects associated with common drugs. Tylenol, the most widely used drug worldwide, was at the center of these media investigations (the stronger varieties of Tylenol contain Codeine, and have a long list of serious side effects). Other news networks followed developments surrounding the death of a forty-year-old woman, reportedly due to a Tylenol overdose. Michael Jackson’s sudden death needed a culprit in order for it to be justified in peoples’ minds, and Tylenol provided the perfect suspect due to its reach and ubiquity.
Meanwhile, the same media outlets that looked upon Jackson’s death with suspicion treated Neda Agha-Soltan’s death by the hands of the Basij in Iran as a fact. The Basij are known to be first-rate killers, and Neda is but one of their many victims, yet the Basij do not roam the streets of Los Angeles and New York City in search of their next kill. Who, then, is responsible for the death of Michael Jackson? It could only have been Tylenol: a lawless murderer, out of control.
Why is it so difficult to believe that Michael is dead? This question is intimately tied to his career. As is always the case with the death of a legendary figure in art or politics, the difficulty people have in accepting such death contributes to the immortality of the person in question. There are countless reasons for someone who has made it to the top to not take his own life, and Michael was at the top. Doctors were at his disposal the whole time, and he had unlimited access to medication. If there is no good reason for Michael to have died, then what could have killed him? The ultra-realists have a quick answer: he knew his grip on fame was slipping, and his creditors simply helped him off the cliff. He lived a life of abundance and spent more than he earned, even though he produced so much.
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