07/08/09 — Jackson finale: King of Pop, OK, but there are more lessons to learn from star

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Jackson finale: King of Pop, OK, but there are more lessons to learn from star

Some commentators called it the "elephant in the room" at the blowout memorial service held Tuesday for pop icon Michael Jackson.

They were talking about the circumstances that stained Jackson's life -- and the mystery surrounding his death.

Now that the accolades have finished, it will be time to get to work uncovering the mystery of the singer's death -- and exploring the complexity of his life.

So far, the investigation seems to indicate that Jackson had a serious addiction to painkillers -- and was using a dangerous drug on his own, without the benefit of a doctor's prescription.

And, of course, there is already an indication that Jackson, like almost every other drug-addicted celebrity, used his fortune to buy the services of doctors who would give him whatever sort of drug he wanted.

And his story is not the first tragic tale of celebrity gone wrong -- and a life cut much too short.

There is a tragic side to being famous -- a lonely and destructive path that can often end in lost lives and stars who just are never quite right.

There are lessons to be learned from Michael Jackson's story: First, that drugs cannot cover up pain, no matter how many you take; and two, you should never take them in the first place.

There will also be debate over who is really responsible for Jackson's death: Is it the family who saw the signs but who did not intervene; the doctor who signed the prescriptions; or the singer himself, too weak to realize that he was killing himself.

The answer is all three -- and possibly, a little bit, all of us who turn regular people into demi-gods on a pedestal and then spend the next years of their lives delighting in their downfall.

Perhaps we can learn a little perspective from the story of Michael Jackson -- and leave his children alone as they try to grow up in the soap opera that is the Jackson family.

Michael Jackson's music will live on long after his death. Perhaps how he died will help others -- celebrities and non-celebrities -- figure out better ways to live.

Published in Editorials on July 8, 2009 11:04 AM