Friday, June 26, 2009
The demise of an icon
The last defining act of an icon is an iconic death. The word spread so quickly and all of a sudden everybody's facebook status has something to do with it. I can't say I am a huge fan of Michael Jackson, but I still took a moment of silence, mourning the loss of a talented figure, mourning the end of an era.
It is a strange sensation that when someone died, you feel a piece of your childhood died with him - it has really become history. Perhaps the most known man in the world, Michael Jackson represents the entire cultural phenomenon of the 80s. I still remember listening to him on cassettes at my cousin's place. He was such a symbol of Zeitgeist of the western world! Pop is about the general public - the people. Low had become the new high. No matter how controversial he got in the last few years, his contribution to popular culture is enormous. He changed the definition of music, entertainment, media, publicity, and even social identity and spirit of humanity. The name transcends the person, transcends race, gender, state boundaries, politics, religion, and art genre. The legendary icon turns culture into a cult, and this is greater than life.
Sometimes I feel these icons are just like aliens (also think about Marilyn). They come and stir the world with their superhumanly performances (the happy-birthday song or the anti-gravity lean?), and then they just leave before the humanly process of aging.
[Added on June 26] Measurements of an icon
1980s & 90s:
Sale of 750 million records worldwide. Thriller (1982) has remained the biggest selling album of all time with reported sales of 109 million.
13 Guinness World Records, including one for "Most Successful Entertainer of All Time."
19 Grammy Awards, with a record 8 wins in 1984 and the "Living Legend Award" in 1993.
22 American Music Awards, including "Artist of the Century."
40 Billboard Awards, with 13 No. 1 singles in his solo career
13 MTV Awards.
12 World Music Awards.
According to Akamai's Net Usage Index, Web traffic to news sites increased by about 50%, peaking about 6:30pm EST. Keynote Systems, another website performance monitor, reported that beginning at 5:30pm, the average speed for downloading major news sites doubled to almost 9 seconds from less than 4 seconds.
Google's list of top 100 search trends in the hours after the news broke was composed almost exclusively of MJ-related phrases, ranging from "Michael Jackson died" and "Thriller lyrics" to "Neverland ranch." The computers running the news section interpreted the fusillade of "Michael Jackson" requests as an automated attack and responded to the related requests with squiggly letters known as a "captcha."
Wikipedia temporarily experienced technical difficulties and crashed at 6:15pm reportedly due to excessive edits and user overload.
On YouTube, increasing traffic flowed to music videos of Michael Jackson, while thousands posted videos of themselves sharing thoughts on the superstar.
There were twice the normal tweets per second generated on Twitter, topping 100,000 per hour. By the time the Los Angeles Times got credit for confirming the pop icon's death, "RIP Michael Jackson" was already at the top of the Twitter trends list. It is the most tweets per second since Barack Obama was elected president in November.
On facebook, the number of status updates during the hour after the news emerged was triple the average. The two RIP Micheal Jackson pages have more than 328,000 fans combined within 18 hours. There are also hundreds of MJ-tribute events posted on facebook. One in London has more than 100 confirmed guests.
Within a few hours of the news, the 1982 album "Thriller" was the No.1 album on iTunes. Several of his other albums were also in the top 10 of the digital store.
A statement from AOL yesterday: "There was a significant increase in traffic due to today’s news and AIM was down for approximately 40 minutes this afternoon."
at 1:57 AM