There are probably, oh, 50 or more posts that could deal with fascinating territory about Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett and their place in American culture.
My guess is that the barrage of media coverage yesterday (Thursday) has obscured something simple: Our connection to Michael Jackson was complicated, extremely divided and not very warm, while our attachment to Farrah Fawcett was far more heartfelt.
I'm not saying that legions of fans weren't deeply fond of Jackson. I'm talking in sweeping generalities -- relevant, I think, to how they'll ultimately be remembered -- and I think Jackson's baggage is far greater than the immediate flood of media coverage conveyed. I heard at least half a dozen reporters refer to his weirdness over "the last few years.'' Please, the bizarre and alienating stuff was a loooong-running saga.
And what really counts about celebrities is whether we end up feeling close to them, as if we've bridged the gap between the distance that's inherent in observing a performance and the bond we value with friends and family members. Some so-called stars seem to walk right at our sides, touching our lives in treasured ways, even as they move across an international stage.
In that sense, I think it's Fawcett who leaves behind the only kind of legacy that really counts. An admiration for Jackson's immense talents and a respect for his path-breaking career aren't enough to overcome the many barriers that frequently made him a remote and obviously troubled figure. At least to me and, I'd guess, millions of others.
RIP, Michael. RIP, Farrah.