Two out of three Americans are so totally over Michael Jackson news coverage. Well, that’s according to a Pew Research Center survey.
But if you checked out the social networks on even a day before Jackson’s public memorial at Staples Center in Los Angeles, this one fact becomes obvious: A whole lot of Internet users — American or otherwise — sure aren’t sick of discussing it themselves.
By the time those who won lottery tickets to the memorial had taken their seats, Jackson’s official Facebook fan page closed in on almost 7 million members. Prior to the self-proclaimed “King of Pop’s” death, the page hosted only 80,000.
Now Jackson is the most popular public figure on the site, beating out President Barack Obama as the most popular personality on the social network. On YouTube, hits on the original “Thriller,” video skyrocketed over the past week, Jackson-related news or tribute videos continue to occupy each of the site’s most popular categories.
In the hours leading up to the ceremony, Twitter, the microblogging site where many first heard the news last week, began to slow ominously. Jackson-related topics made up the majority of Twitter’s top 10 trending topics, including MJ, MJ’s Memorial, RIP Mj, Staples Center and michaeljackson as many posted to remember, commiserate, commentate or complain. And the comments are coming from both regular Joes and famous alike.
“Our view from our seats, Row 19 Center http://twitpic.com/9lrs9,” tweeted “Reading Rainbow’s” LaVar Burton at about 1 p.m. Star Trek’s own “Jordi LaForge” continued providing coverage until the ceremony began. “Why, today of all days, would Corey Feldman dress up like Michael???” the the actor and educator added about 20 minutes later.
Indeed, while both broadcast and cable networks rolled out nonstop coverage, and fortified their Web sites against a predicted onslaught, some of the more interesting reporting came from those citizen journalists on the social networks.
MySpace offered live streaming video of the event and allowed others to comment in real time.
“Im not really ur fan Michael but lots of members in my family r ur fans. They r in vietnam so i just want to say goodbye!! i love u. I remembered when the first time i saw u i asked my uncle 'Is that a man r a woman??.' I will never forget that!!!” posted one member.
By the end of the service, Twitter's top 10 trends were completely occupied by Michael Jackson memorial themes. Soon after each speaker or performer hit the stage, their name would appear as viewers discussed the events. At one point, both John Mayer and the song he performed, "Human Nature," appeared at the No. 1 and No. 4 positions respectively, reflecting the his tweets approximately 20 hours earlier.
“I'm honored to have been asked to play at MJ's memorial service. I will be representing all of us who can't be there,” Mayer tweeted the night before. Later he added, “I also want you to know that I'm going not to 'perform' but to contribute... Proud to be a musician.”
Another interesting trend emerged. While "Crying" did not occupy the top trends, a search revealed thousands of tweets reflecting the memorial. Some people quoted the Charlie Chaplin song "Smile," a favorite of Jackson's performed by his brother Jermaine.
Others reflected the emotions of the viewers, such as this one that echoed what many wrote after Michael Jackson's daughter spoke: "Wow, that Michael Jackson memorial was intense. Started crying over 'We Are the World' and just plain LOST IT when Paris spoke."
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