Thursday, June 25, 2009

Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson in the same day?

It's hard to think of losing both of these illicit icons of a '70s-'80s American childhood in the same day. Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson... what's next, the entire cast of Family Ties or (less wholesomely) Revenge of the Nerds?

I could write much on this, as someone who grew up surrounded by the sights of one and the sounds of the other. (I bet my blogging contemporaries, the Renegade Rebbetzin and Jack, could do so as well.)

For me, Farrah and Michael didn't matter so much in and of themselves, but they symbolized "fitting in." Those of us who knew about them were part of the gang; those who did not were automatically on the outs. (I'll let you guess which side I occupied.) Funny, that people we had never met and would never meet should be the barometers of social eligiblity, but so it was.

My derashah is going nowhere this evening. I've gone through several ideas - העיני האנשים תנקר vs והיית לנו לעינים, for example - with no success. I'm sorely tempted to try to tackle this for the derashah instead...

I could go the harangue route and talk about the world of gashmiut (the material world, to quote another '80s icon), and condemn the stars whose fame is the barometer of success for the rest of the world;

Or, I suppose I could talk about the relative merits and negatives of exposing children to the world of popular culture, and the question of how such exposure influences their future lives;

Or, I could discuss the way each dealt with fame;

Or, for a parshah-related twist, I could talk about jealousy, as in the jealousy we felt for these larger-than-life stars, and the jealousy Korach felt for Moshe and Aharon...

Or not.

I haven't thought about Farrah or Michael in years, other than to notice one headline or another. But there is a definite feeling of loss that comes with seeing the big names of your youth pass on. It's like seeing athletes your age retire from sports, or hearing that the once-young teachers of your youth have retired.

I'm rambling here, just to avoid working on the derashah. Time to hang it up and get back to work.


  1. FWIW, I very much enjoyed this post. Have a great Shabbos Kodesh.

  2. I hear you. I grew up in Encino quite near the Jackson compound. During the early '80s people used to spend hours standing outside the gate hoping to catch a glimpse of him.

    I saw Janet a few times around town, but never did see Michael.

    And let's not even mention school, there weren't many who weren't fans of his.

    Tonight I have been a bit conflicted about whether to blog about him.

    And Farrah, well I never did have that poster on my wall but many of my friends did. She was married to Lee Majors, the Six Million Dollar man. What else can you say.

    Strange times.

  3. What about Ed McMahon?

  4. Have a good Shabbas, Rabbi. Regards to the rebbetzin.

  5. former allentownerJune 26, 2009 at 4:12 PM

    i remember your predecessor talking about a particularly bad week of "suicide bus bombings" in israel and saying that is what we should be mourning, not the particular british princess who died that week, or the prominent(charitable) nun who died the previous week. who were all over the press that week.

    although i will remember ed mcmahon.

  6. Neil-
    Thanks! I almost pulled the post after publishing it, but your comment made me decide to keep it up.

    Poster? What poster?

    Anonymous 11:15 AM-
    I wasn't really old enough to appreciate Ed; I learned about him through Publisher's Clearing House and Weird Al's "Here's Johnny."

    Flying Bubbie-
    Thanks, and I've passed it along.

    What many of us are remembering is the life we had back in the day when they were popular, the mental associations and parts of our lives that connected to them.

  7. Blogging about media things is always iffy in a very non-TIDE way. (not shabbos yet, don't worry)

  8. Rabbi -

    Yeah, was kind of dissapointed that in the end you did not speak about michael and farah. They were both icons of our youth that really changed the current world we live in - in many ways.

    besides, there is so much to talk about - letting fame corrupt you, media circus - and so many ways to tie that into parshas korach.

    i was waiting for it! guess you'll have to cover that in the next 6 weeks now that you can ad infomercial man.