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King of Pop Michael Jackson Dies; WCU Students React

By ShelHarrell
On July 17, 2009

  • Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Dr. Sam Miller goes over proposed Western Carolina University tuition and fee hikes at a recent forum at the UC Theatre. Kalen Quinn

Michael Jackson, who's classic American tale as a celebrity took him from musical boy marvel to worldwide pop star to tragic figure haunted by accusations, paparazzi and failed plastic surgery, died suddenly on Thursday June 25, at U.C.L.A. Medical Center after suffering from cardiac arrest.

He was pronounced dead at 2:26pm Pacific Time. The singer was rushed to the hospital, shortly after noon by the paramedics of the Los Angeles Fire Department. Jackson was 50, having spent 40 of those years in the eye of the public.

It would be difficult to judge the full effect Jackson's death had on the world, but students at Western Carolina University, for example, offer a variety of reactions to his death and the recent media display that immediately followed.

WCU junior Marley Cunningham was willing to share her opinion on the matter.
"I think at one time [Michael Jackson] was truly the king of pop. But when he started messing around with children, I lost all respect for him. Frankly I was more upset to hear about the passing of Farah Fawcett and Billy Mays," said Cunningham. "Their deaths have been overshadowed by the loss of a pedophile. What has the world come to?"

Samantha Crotty, another junior attending WCU, feels differently.

"I don't care about his past, I loved his music," said Crotty. "What Michael Jackson did in his own time never affected his music. In my opinion, the music industry will change drastically now that he is gone. We have truly lost someone great."

Jackson's death triggered a form of media frenzy throughout the country. News shows such as CNN have continuously updated Jackson's affairs since the moment the bad news was revealed.

"I think all of the media hype is just a reason for networks to get ratings," said current WCU junior Chris MacMonagle. "They don't really care about Michael, only the fact that they can use his death as a cash cow by talking about it for weeks."

While students may not think highly of the current media, they are still able to sympathize with Jackson's family.

"I think it is a horrible thing to constantly show that someone has died because every time a family member will turn on the T.V. they will have to see [it] over and over," said MacMonagle. "It is just not a great thing to do to the family of someone that has recently passed away."

"Anytime someone dies of course you feel remorse or empathy for the family," said Cunningham. "However it doesn't excuse past actions."

Michael Jackson's impact on pop culture is everlasting, yet his biggest legacy will always be how he changed the music industry. Jackson had sold over 750 million records world wide, leaving him with the reputation as the "King of Pop."

Jackson's albums filled the top slots on Amazon.com and Apple's iTunes only hours after he was reported dead. The No. 1 disc was the 25th anniversary reissue of his 1982 hit "Thriller."

Radio stations across the country reacted to his death with marathon sessions of his songs. MTV, which grew successful partly because of Jackson's revolutionary videos, rehashed its early days as a music channel by showing his biggest music hits.

Jackson had been rehearsing for his first major concert tour in 12 years, scheduled to begin in London next month.

A preliminary autopsy has been done but will not be finalized until the toxicology reports are returned in mid-July.

Jackson's death seems to have upset some students, while not fazing others.

"People die each day," said MacMonagle. "Why should the day he died be that special? People shouldn't worry about death, it happens to everyone in any shape or form."

"They started bashing him before he was even in the ground. They need to just let him rest," argues Crotty.

The Michael Jackson Public Memorial Service took place on Tuesday, July 7, at 10:00am Pacific Time at the STAPLES Center in downtown Los Angeles, California and simulcast inside to Nokia Theatre L.A. live across the street.


 


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