The debate is on about whether the death of Michael Jackson or the fall of Tiger Woods should be the top AP news story of 2009. Michael had it in the bag until November 27 when news broke that Woods had crashed his SUV into a tree and was found lying on the ground bleeding and passed out in front of his home. The accident was the tip of the iceberg for squeaky clean Tiger, as skeltons started jumping from the closet with reports about extra marital affairs, one longer term extra marital relationship, sexy text messages with his girlfriend, his backing out of his own golf tournament, and now his taking a leave of absence from golf, with the loss of some of his major sponsors.
For celebrity obsessed Americans, the literal and figurative deaths of two icons in one year is almost overwhelming. With Michael Jackson, the overdose of the surgical anesthetic Propofol gave overindulgent partygoers a moment of pause, as the search for the "big buzz" cost the King of Pop his life. The subsequent media coverage surrounding his funeral, the paternity of his children, the charges of murder against his doctor who injected him with the drug, and the settlement of his estate have created a frenzy that will have the sharks circling in the water for years to come.
Now, a new A&E reality series featuring the other four members of the Jackson 5 (brothers Jackie, Tito, Jermaine and Marlon) is a shining example of how even your own family will turn against you if money is the God they worship. Debuting last night, the show basically proved to all, that Jermaine is an egomaniac, Tito should be named Joe Jackson Junior, and Marlon, who seems to have it the most together, is the one who cracks jokes, seemingly to save his sanity. It's sad that a group who once was the shining star of Motown has allowed themselves to fall to such a low point. Maybe Neil Young was right when he said that it's better to burn out than fade away.
So, who should be the top story? Poor drug addicted Michael Jackson, or poor promiscuous Tiger Woods? Some have said that both stories are an example of how those involved were simply human, and we should forgive them and move on. Others have reminded us that no athlete or musician should be held up as an idol of worship. That position belongs only to God. While both points of view have merit, the main thing that ties the Michael Jackson death scandal to the Tiger Woods scandal is that both men handed their lives over to excess.
For one it was drugs and death,for the other is was women and career suicide, but sadly the ultimate outcome was the same. King Solomon spoke about excess in the Book of Ecclesiastes, summing up a life filled with indulgence as meaningless, if it doesn't include God. When one turns their life over to the insatiable desires of their humanity, too much is never enough, and Michael Jackson and Tiger Woods are both examples of that profound truth. Too many drugs, women, friends, too much money, or anything that our culture urges us to use as a substitute for God leads to destruction which will ultimately lead to a physical or spiritual death. While it's too late for Michael Jackson, hopefully Tiger Woods will learn a lesson from his sin, and will spend his time off getting his life back on track. He's been given a second chance whether he realizes it or not, and hopefully he will be smart enough to take advantage of it.
So top story, best story, worst story, who knows? Is it Michael or Tiger? I suppose we won't know until the dawn of 2010, but one thing is perfectly clear. The stories of Michael Jackson and Tiger Woods are essentially the same, and they tie for the most tragic of 2009.