Wow, what a classy show they put on. All involved deserved the utmost praise and kudos for being able to pull off an event like this in such short notice while not turning it into a circus. I’m the first one to admit I generally try and not watch stuff like this because it always feels forced and stagy. At about 11 today I tried to watch the coverage but all the commentary from the MSNBC pundits just drove me crazy. All they kept talking about was the molestation charges, not about MJ or his legacy. I got so frustrated I turned it off. At 1pm when it was time for the memorial to start, they were still yammering about nothing. So at that point I turned off the TV and was determined not to watch it. Eventually I did turn it on, towards the end Stevie’s performance. I felt emotionally drained after watching it.
I loved the personal moments like Magic Johnson’s story about MJ liking Kentucky Fried Chicken, or Brooke Shield or Usher’s breakdown it puts to rest a lot of those tabloid stories that his friendships weren’t real. Then the ending We Are the World, Heal The World and Paris’ speech at the end, had me. I was balling like a baby during the last 1/2 hour of this. The Reverend Al’s speech was really moving although I do think he gives short shrift to the people who came before Michael Jackson (Nat King Cole, Sammy Davis, Chubby Checker, Little Richard, etc. Who helped open doors before Michael was born.) Loved his comment about MJ not being strange, but his situation was. There were a couple of weird moments namely the Britain’s Got Talent kid, he was really good but for some reason the moment seemed so out of place and kind of forced, especially coming after Usher’s genuine breakdown. I felt the same way about Jennifer Hudson as well. She had a strong performance but I don’t know it didn’t feel like she was emotionally connected to the song.
As far as coverage goes, I spent a lot of time trolling the Huffington Post forums and for the most part the posters there were respectful and good. MSNBC’s coverage of the entire day was just awful, as I said in the beginning it was all about their analysts and anchors and not about the event. They would do the "We’re not going to talk about the molestation, or the fact that he’s weird, this is about the man…" way too much. It was mostly crass and I’ve lost what little respect I had for MSNBC today. I generally hate CNN since they decided a few years ago to become "Fox News" and refuse to watch Fox, what little I watched of CNN felt more genuine to me. They showed full songs, talked to friends of Michael Jackson and people who were there.
Everyone involved should be really proud about how well this event came off. Of course there will be an eventual DVD/Blu-ray to milk this event later, but I don’t think it’ll have the same impact as watching this live and being in the collective moment.