Michael Madness

The Superbowl—It's America's annual town meeting. The overflow crowd is so large that it spreads like a blanket across the foothills surrounding the Pasadena stadium. Around the country, so many households tune in that a few years ago in Buffalo, fans literally blew the sewer system as thousands jumped up simultaneously during the first commercial break to visit the bathroom. Since then, municipal authorities have asked fans to please space out their trips to the bathroom. With so much of the country's population focused on their television sets, advertisers pay millions for a few seconds of commercial time. And Superbowl organizers have top pick of anyone they want for the half time show. And whom did they choose this year? Who did they think would keep football fans glued to the set? None other than Michael Jackson, the boy/girl singer who appeared in a technologically marvelous spectacle, with dazzling choreography, ending with an appeal to "Heal the World." It was such an extravaganza that the Washington Post wrote, "To heck with the game, Michael's the real show." If this was the real show, what a sad commentary on the state of American culture today. First of all, it was obscene. The androgynous Jackson strutted across the stage in an open shirt and wide-legged pants, somehow managing to thrust his pelvis and grab his crotch at the same time. The dancers who accompanied him on stage were arrayed in the leather and spikes of sadomasochism. Even worse, the show was filled with mystical and religious imagery. The stage was shaped like a cross; Jackson seemed to appear and disappear in a cloud. At one point, he ascended into a cloud as overwhelmed fans stretched out their hands, chanting "Michael! Michael!" Jackson offered himself as a messianic figure who would "heal the world"—if only we would help by sending money. He even offered an 800-number for potential contributors to an organization called "Heal the World." A giant Band-Aid emerged from the stage to symbolize universal healing. It was a great humanistic symbol: We can heal the world, we can solve our problems. Jackson embraced his audience with a call to "remake the planet into a haven of joy and understanding and goodness." Michael Jackson's forever-young face was surrounded on stage by 3,000 children. And one of the Superbowl advertisements promised that people who drink Pepsi "Stay Young." But real children don't stay young; they don't even want to stay young. They want to become adults. Little girls play with P.J. Sparkles because they dream of being mothers; little boys play with G. I. Joe because they dream of being soldiers. The Bible tells us to grow up-to stop feeding on milk and learn to eat the solid food of our faith. Michael Jackson with his adolescent dabbling in sexual and religious imagery isn't the role model I want for my children. And I don't think he is for the millions of Americans who tuned in for the Superbowl—and were treated to this obscene and blasphemous parody.


Chuck Colson



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