For a story most people I know profess not to care about, the death of Michael Jackson is still delivering in terms of structure, character, spectacle and narrative complexity. This week alone has brought Michael's enigmatic will [pdf], father Joe Jackson's impromptu record label promotion, the revelation that the King of Pop's apparently motherless and fatherless children came to Earth directly from Planet Sedna, and the curious twist that celebrity attorney Londell McMillan (who previously served as Michael's lawyer) is representing both of Michael's parents, although mother Katherine is named as Michael's executor and Joe is excluded from the will.
I kind of feel that Big Joe is the most compelling Jackson. It may be that I just have more sympathy for abusive fathers than I used to, or that, even if you don't believe this tale of Quincy Jones' full-contact producing technique, Michael's discography suggests that he tended to flail without a strong male presence in his life.
But who will speak for Joe Jackson? Who is the globalization-age Shakespeare able to comprehend a figure so rudely stamp'd that dogs bark at him as he halts by them?
Peter Bagge, that's who! Complete Reason's hat trick of Bagge celebration by watching Murray Wilson: Rock 'n' Roll Dad, the animated epic about the Beach Boys' rageaholic paterfamilias that Bagge and Dana Gould cooked up back when Thomas Edison was first experimenting with web video. Along with Fred Lennon and the title character, Joe Jackson gets a chance to stand up and speak for underappreciated producer/fathers everywhere: their fury, their foiled dreams, and their tireless search for the next big thing that will be "driven by Blu-ray technology." Watch the Joe Jackson parts on Youtube or at the original Icebox.com site (still up after all these years).