And in the center ring……

The final verdict is in. Michael Jackson was found not guilty on all counts against him. While most of America shrugs its shoulders and returns to the daily grind, our justice system is putting away the costumes and clown make-up it drags out when celebrities have run-ins with the law. With entertainment magazines still in hand, zealous fans, along with the more sane on-lookers, slowly disburse as newscasters feverishly summarize what we have all just witnessed.

What exactly did we witness? It certainly wasn’t justice. It’s more like pageantry. Everyday, suspects and criminals filter through our legal system. They don’t all have recording careers, entourages, pet monkeys, sensory depravation chambers, or plastic surgeons who hate them. The legal process which is already subject to human error now has even more layers added to it. Fame of the accused, Notoriety of the counsel selected, Greed of those even peripherally involved in the investigation, attention-seeking fans, and the media are all weighing in; each with their own influence. Soon, the bill for the whole event reaches into the 6 digits and nearly two months have gone by since charges were leveled. The finality of the verdict is overshadowed by speculation of whether Michael is able to parlay this into an income. In addition to finding out Michael was innocent, we also found out he is nearly broke. Having $300 million in loans against the Beatle’s song collection he owns sounds rather ominous. News reports also speculate that he typically spends $20 – $30 million more than he actually makes doesn’t bode well, either. The rule that you shouldn’t live beyond your means must not apply if you are Michael Jackson (I am guessing the Federal Government doesn’t adhere to this either).

I really haven’t been following the case all that closely. Much like the draw that a car accident gets, you can’t help to even casually wonder what is going to play out. Also, I think it is natural to compare yourself with others. When things get stressful, it’s nice to think that you are really still just “normal.” Few things can really reaffirm your sense of reality than comparing yourself to either eccentric celebrities or to people from California. Like any average Mid-Westerner, I scratch my head in disbelief at the California version of reality. I think it’s one of the few places you can get a breast augmentation, face lift, tummy tuck, and nose job AND still be comfortable just being yourself. Identity being so malleable is an intimidating concept to those of us closer to the east coast. We also tend not to trust states that don’t have all-you-eat buffets, too. That’s just TOO weird.

For all the times I think that I have lost my grip with reality, I should also remember how good I really have it. I can look in a mirror and recognize the older, yet still similar face from my childhood. I also can’t imagine having such a mental push to turn myself into the human version of Area 51. I think we all can face the fact that change can be scary. Speaking of which, it’s only a matter of minutes before the next celebrity case turns our legal system again into something we don’t recognize either.

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