ABSTRACT

Michael Jackson was the subject of consistently negative portrayals in the mass media, with allegations of sexual abuse, financial troubles, eccentric public behavior and a constantly changing physique becoming the focus of his media persona. This chapter navigates how and why, upon his death, the mass media jettisoned Jackson's tabloid image focusing instead on the cultural impact of Jackson's creative work, his iconic status in the 1980s, as his historical significance and legacy as "the greatest entertainer of all time." Months after Michael Jackson died, Madonna opened the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards with a heartfelt speech eulogizing Jackson. The chapter examines the recuperation of Michael Jackson's reputation following his death. Michael Jackson's death is thus an exemplary moment of the increasing interrelation between traditional mass media and user-driven social media online, both of which operate as apologetic discourses working to restore Jackson's public image.