Michael Jackson’s Death as a Social Event

This article was written by Aneta Ostaszewska. Institute of Social Prevention and Resocialisation (IPSiR) Faculty of Applied Social Sciences and Resocialisation University of Warsaw, Podchorążych 20, 00-721 Warsaw email: A.Ostaszewska@uw.edu.pl

From anthropological and sociological points of view the case of Michael Jackson’s death can be analyzed as a social event, a contemporary ritual, the collective experience of the hero’s farewell. The most significant issue is that at this very moment, when Jackson died, popular culture was deprived of its biggest illusions: the immortality of its heroes.

Essay by ANETA OSTASZEWSKA, author of Michael Jackson. An Anthological Perspective (2009).  She currently works at the Higher School of Pedagogy of Rehabilitation, “Pedagogium” and her research focus is the category of childhood and child image in popular culture.

Reference as

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Michael Jackson’s Death as a Social Event
by Aneta Ostaszewska

The dead have no power to guide – let alone monitor and correct – the conduct of the living . . . their own lives could hardly teach; to become lessons , they first have to be made into stories. . .2


From the media’s point of view, it seems that the death of the King of Pop turned out to be more spectacular than his life3. Michael Jackson’s death, even more distinctly and clearly than his career – especially, the trial for minor sexual abuse (2003-2005) – became the realization of the pop culture phantasm.

The main aim of this article is the reflection upon the people’s reactions about Michael Jackson’s death and the media coverage of this event, especially, coverage of the memorial service that took place on 7th July 2009 and was widely transmitted. I suggest, there are two perspectives of analysis of the case: as a social ritual and as the media spectacle.

Mourning Jackson’s death was grieving for the idol who, so far, was distant, untouchable, and who made an impression of being unreal. Jackson’s death was a decisive moment. It became an individual realization of the pop culture nightmare; it was due to the fact that someone so far appearing to be indestructible as well as unreal in many ways – died. Although Michael Jackson sang that he was unbreakable, he died after all. He passed away in a very human way; his heart simply did not withstand, it stopped working. His body proved to be destructible, fragile, vulnerable to injury, to death.

The clichéd statement that death is inevitable and unavoidable loses its self-evident nature in the context of Jackson. It seems that this death “enabled” us to perceive him as someone else than the King of Pop. Moreover, it appears that just (and solely) when Jackson died, he transformed himself from the idol into a man. At the same time, he explicitly confirmed his own humanity (according to Horace’s adage: Homo est animal mortale). Death “humanized” Jackson in the sense that it gave him back – for a short time – the public status as a man of flesh and blood, as a mortal and, therefore, real human being indeed.

The spectacular nature and, at the same time, significance of this event lies not only in the temporary return of humanity to Michael Jackson, but also, which seems to be the result of the above-mentioned aspect, in an attempt to expose the illusion of the modern hero’s immortality. Popular culture was deprived of its biggest illusions at this very moment – when Jackson died. The idol’s death ostentatiously revealed that the pop culture’s heroes are mortal (they are not so much well remembered by the society, but rather they – in fact, their wellgroomed and stunning bodies – are naturally decomposed) and that no attributes such as renown and glorification of youth do guarantee anyone the triumph over death. Popular culture, based on the desideratum of an insatiable desire for life, may conceal or ignore the truth but it will never save anybody’s life; therefore, in a strict sense, popular culture is a delusion, it is made by a man.


Michael Jackson’s public funeral took place on 7th July 2009 at Staples Center, Los Angeles4, where few days before the idol had the rehearsals for the scheduled concert tour – This Is It! It was a memorial service5. For the ceremony – like a concert – the organizers had prepared special passes due to which over 17.000 fans directly took part in the farewell to the King of Pop6.

Did you believe in crying over Jackson? That question – assuming, a priori, distrust of the shed tears when the message about idol’s death spread – was already posed, by implication, during the transmission of the ceremony. The memorial service almost immediately became the subject of the numerous comments7. It was pondered whether what had happened in the hall filled to the brim with people (mourners?) that evening was authentic and sincere, or it was thoroughly executed with the intended drama, created for the purposes of the media spectacle8. In my opinion, Michael Jackson’s public funeral can be analyzed from these two perspectives: firstly, as a social ritual, the collective experience of the hero’s farewell; and secondly, as the media spectacle (pseudo-event)9.

News of Jackson’s death and then his public funeral explicitly revealed skepticism about the media images. Distrust of the media coverage appears to be the significant problem that is essential to understand the interpreted event as well as the very essence of contemporary culture. Although such culture explicitly makes use of the aesthetic of kitsch in its popular creations10, it treats the symptoms of emotion in a distrustful way by examining them for false, created, even worked out elements of the social game. That is implicitly Goffman’s perspective on social interactions from which each communication process, institution or form of social behavior may be interpreted in terms of manipulating the impressions11. Therefore, distrust of the media images may be the result of both selfknowledge and the demands of contemporary culture which assigns its participants the roles of performers/actors. According to Goffman, challenging the received impresions is a natural reaction of the audience: “So common is this doubt that, as suggested, we often give special attention to features of the performance that cannot be readily manipulated.12” The body is an element which is especially subjected to manipulation techniques13. Mike Featherstone claims that “in consumer culture individuals are asked to become role players and self-consciously monitor their own performance. Appearance, gesture and the bodily demeanour become taken as expressions of self, with bodily imperfections and lack of attention carrying penalties in everyday interactions14.”

Skepticism about the media events as well as about social rituals may be also the result of a breakdown of sense of security, lack of trust in social institutions increasing in the conditions of progressing individuation. Karen Horney points out that “the general feeling of insecurity is increased by the fact that for the most part neither tradition nor religion is strong enough today to give the individual a feeling of being an integral part of a more powerful unity, providing shelter and directing his strivings.”15 The crisis of trust in the media was created, after “disappointment” with tradition and religion, in the next stage of the social process. The widespread distrust of television (suspicion with which the events presented on television are treated not only by the audience but also by journalists and commentators) appears to be particularly significant in this case.16 The boycott of the media, however, is not the result of the crisis. It is the general decline in the authority of the media which manifests itself primarily in the dismissive attitude toward consent to decorative and entertaining role/presence in everyday life rather than stricte informative or social one17.

Questioning the “authenticity” of the memorial service for Jackson is intriguing owing to several reasons. First of all, the question about the authenticity of the event was posed by the journalists, that is, people – ex definitione – responsible for the media coverage. The (excessive) media interest in Jackson’s death was not the topic of the discussion. However, perversely, the attention was paid to members of the public and their reactions. The very organization of this kind of event is the subsequent and noteworthy thread. The public funeral of Michael Jackson was one of few public funerals organized on such a large scale and widely transmitted18. For several days, starting from 25th June 2009, Jackson was one of the main (if not the main) topics of the media – on television, on the radio, in the press as well as on the Internet19.


Attention paid to Michael Jackson’s death astonished the very media20. The inquiry about the causes of the universal and global interest in Jackson – about the interest which was de facto generated by the media – was an important question at that time. According to Elias Canetti, the living reluctantly let their loved ones go away. He claims that “the loss weakens the living and, if it is a man in his prime, is particularly painful for his people.21” Jackson, at the moment of death, was 50 years old. In the commentators’ opinion, it was a “premature”22 death and, for instance, it might result in the universal attention and be felt as a painful loss (Jackson was many commentators’ peer23). Philippe Ariès points to another – public – aspect of death due to which death has always been a social event experienced collectively. Ariès states that “not only did everyone die in public like Louis XIV, but the death of each person was a public event that moved, literally and figuratively, society as a whole. It was not only an individual who was disappearing, but society itself that had been wounded and that had to be healed24.” Ariès claims that although “the society expelled death” in the twentieth century, it comes back “through the window.”25

Currently, the public nature of death gives way to death experienced privately, in isolation26. However, death becomes a collective event primarily when a famous person dies and that can be explicite proved by the case of Jackson. His death was a social act in the sense about which Ariès writes. It gathered people directly at Staples Center in Los Angeles as well as in front of their television sets and/or computers’ screens in order to watch the ceremony and/or participate in the funeral of Jackson. The public funeral of Jackson made, for some time, participants (the media’s audience) withdraw from their daily routine causing that their attention was turned to this one event27. Therefore, we deal with the structure of the ritual act. Margo Jefferson, the author of the book about Michael Jackson,28 points out that in the case of death of a famous person the media and its audience immerse themselves in the “hectic” ritual which consists of “true grief, a certain relief (we won’t have to keep worrying about his life), and pure voyeurism.”29 The last one manifests itself in the pursuit of details and rumours about death of a deceased. Nevertheless, Eric Rothenbuhler claims that “people – both as individuals and as institutions – are inventing rituals and traditions all the time, or at least they are ritualizing, that is, accentuating the ritual aspects of things.30

“Ritual”31 is a term which, after Rothenbuhler, I will treat as “the voluntary performance of appropriately patterned behaviour to symbolically affect or participate in the serious life.32” It mainly concerns primordial/final matters and makes “use of the most deeply encoded logics of our sign and meaning system, based on the most basic beliefs and values, most of these structures lost to consciousness from the earliest stages of our socialization.33” On the other hand, Richard Sennett emphasises that “the crux of each ritual, when it is celebrated, lies in the fact that people enter the dimension which is established, and at the same time, beyond their reach. The magic of ritual depends just on the illusion that everything happens outside the sphere of volition.34

Ritual does not so much represent the world as it is; it presents the ideal (mythical) world as it should be, as the participants and audience would like to perceive it. At the same time, it is “subject to vagaries and vicissitudes of human volition, of efforts and choices, of interpretation, of attention, bias, and misunderstanding.35” That gave rise to multifaceted and varied public perception of a ritual act; it distinctly emerged during the public memorial service for Michael Jackson. Thus the funeral of the King of Pop may be treated as a ritual performing a diversified and significant social function. The question may be posed here as well; what image of the world, to be precise, of the idol, emerged at Staples Center on 7th July 2009?

A combination of a ritual and the media pageantry of the public memorial for Jackson is interesting. It is a sui generis mediated experience, that is, as Anthony Giddens claims: “the inclusion of distant, in terms of time and place, events in the sphere of a man’s sensory experience36.” In that way, the media’s audience become the audience for the events happening somewhere else.

Two significant categories, liminality and communitas, should be considered before starting to analyse the features of the media event as a ritual. Victor Turner suggests considering a man’s social life as a process, to be precise, as the processes in which one phase differs from the other ones. He claims that “social life is a type of dialectical process that involves successive experience of high and low, communitas and structure, homogeneity and differentiation, equality and inequality. The passage from lower to higher status is through a limbo of statuslessness37.” Turner, after Arnold Van Gennep, equates such a state with liminality to which he ascribes ambivalent attributes as it falls outside the classification scheme. Liminality joins commonness to sanctity; it occurs simultaneously in and outside time: “may be the scene of disease, despair, death, suicide, the breakdown without compensatory replacement of normative, well-defined social ties and bonds. It may be anomie, alienation, angst, the three fatal alpha sisters of many modern myths38”.

Society is deprived of its structure and becomes a community, communitas, in the liminal phase. “Communitas breaks in through the interstices of structure, in liminality; at the edges of structure, in marginality; and from beneath structure, in inferiority39.” Then, according to Turner, symbols, rituals or works of art are produced in the liminal, marginal and inferiority conditions. “These cultural forms provide men with a set of templates or models which are, at one level, periodical reclassifications of reality and man’s relationship to society, nature, and culture40.” Such changes are made during rites de passage. People, freed from the range of structure, create communitas, experience existential values, form intense, real or imaginary relationships. Finally, recognition of (often transitory) social bond occurs to, owing to experience of communitas, return to the structure and subsequent phases of social life.

In case of death (the event which impedes the status quo), a need to organize (and quieten) the emotions obtains its solution in a farewell ritual, a social ceremony, during which communitas (coexistence) is created and then experienced; thus the social bond is experienced as well and, consequently, normalization of the cycle of public life occurs. The public service for Michael Jackson may be treated as a liminal phase in which the limbo of the structure as well as the individual communitas (a community of people jointly participating in and experiencing the crisis, to be specific, death and, then, trying to overcome it) were created.

Émile Durkheim points to the genesis of a social nature of a farewell ritual according to which participation in a farewell ritual becomes implicite an expression of social solidarity: The foundation of mourning is the impression of a loss which the group feels when it loses one of its members. But this very impression results in bringing individuals together, in putting them into closer relations with one another, in associating them all in the same mental state, and therefore in disengaging a sensation of comfort which compensates the original loss. Since they weep together, they hold to one another and the group is not weakened, in spite of the blow which has fallen upon it. Of course they have only sad emotions in common, but communicating in sorrow is still communicating, and every communion of mind, in whatever form it may be made, raises the social vitality. The exceptional violence of the manifestations by which the common pain is necessarily and obligatory expressed even testifies to the fact at this moment, the society is more alive and active than ever.41

Philippe Ariès notices a general strategy of man’s battle with nature in the very ritualization of death. Death as a biological process is not subjected to man’s control; it is, therefore, the opposite of culture. A man tries to “take control of” death by cultural forms. Ariès states: The ritualization of death is a special aspect of the total strategy of man against nature, a strategy of prohibitions and concessions. This is why death has not been permitted its natural extravagance but has been imprisoned in ceremony, transformed into spectacle. This is also why it could not be a solitary adventure but had to be a public phenomenon involving the whole community.42

In the case of the public memorial service for Jackson, the “imprisonment” of death in a form of a ceremony, mentioned by Ariès, appears to be particularly significant. The elements typical of a ritual as well as of the media spectacle per se can be distinguished. There are several elements which appeal to the ritualization of Jackson’s funeral. Firstly, the farewell to the King of Pop had the specific (to rituals) features, for instance, the origin and end of the ceremony, clearly religious in their forms, and the appointed commentators as well as presenters of the individual parts. The artists-performers as well as speakers of farewell speeches and posthumous tribute acted as if they were taking part in an event of the special and solemn position, almost in a mystical experience. The praising references, which were similar to religious hymns and prayers in the form and content, to the deceased also occurred in the lyrics and speeches; similarly, scenography often appealed to religious aesthetics. The audience reacted in a specific manner; applause and shouts (“Michael, we love you”) were the repeating gestures. The figure of the idol was at “the center” of the ceremony; his photographs were shown on the screen during the whole ceremony.


  1. This article is based on my book: Post Script. After Michael Jackson’s Death, cf: Ostaszewska, Aneta. Post Scriptum. Po śmierci Michaela Jacksona (Post Script. After Michael Jackson’s Death). Warszawa: Tauro, 2010. The book is a postscript to my former book: Michael Jackson jako bohater mityczny. Perspektywa antropologiczna (Michael Jackson as a mythical hero. An anthropological perspective). Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Akademickie i Profesjonalne, 2009.
  2. Bauman, Zygmunt, Does Ethics Have a Chance in a World of Consumers? The United States of America: Harvard University Press, 2008. 92
  3. f. inter alia: Dargis, Manohla. “The Pop Spectacular That Almost Was.” Accessed October 29, 2009. http://movies.nytimes.com/2009/10/29/movies/29this.html?hpw; “Przeżywanie śmierci Jacksona staje się ważniejsze niż śmierć Jacksona” (“Being affected by Jackson’s death is becoming more and more important than Jackson’s death” – trans. Marta Łątka). Gazeta Wyborcza. Interview. Accessed October 29, 2009. http://wyborcza.pl/1,75475,6798120,Przezywanie_smierci_Jacksona_staje_sie_wazniejsze.html
  4. Jackson’s private memorial service, in which the closest family of the deceased participated, was held at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park’s Hall of Liberty (Los Angeles) couple of hours before the public ceremony of farewell to Jackson. Cf. : Caron, Christina. 2009. “Fans Receive Notification About Memorial Tickets, Jackson Family Plans Private Ceremony”. http://abcnews.go.com/US/MichaelJackson/story?id=8000680&page=1 (Accessed October 21, 2009). Information about the course of the public funeral was also provided at the special website: http://www.michaeljacksonfuneral.com/ (Accessed November 11, 2009).
  5. : http://dying.about.com/od/glossary/g/memorial.htm (Accessed November 29, 2009). In this book, the term “memorial service” is treated as a public farewell, a funeral. I will use it as a synonym of the terms: ceremony and memorial ceremony.
  6. f.: http://www.rmf.fm/fakty/?id=158185 (Accessed August 28, 2009). In total, about 20.000 people took part in the direct memorial ceremony of Michael Jackson – quoted after the CNN television commentators: http://www.desivideonetwork.com/view/bkx9j3c2o/michael-jackson-memorial-service-staples-center-live-cnnpart- 1/ (Accessed October 26, 2009). On the Twitter website, the special site devoted to Jackson’s farewell came into being. C.f.: http://twitter.com/MJfuneral (Accessed October 20, 2009).
  7. Such comments were made not only by music journalists but also by artists (representing various musical genres) and people often loosely connected, by profession, with the entertainment industry.
  8. The behavior of the members of the Jackson family, including the outburst of tears of Michael’s daughter – Paris, was primarily interpreted. C.f. among others: Schmidt, Veronica. “Michael Jackson memorial divides opinion.” Accessed October 28, 2009. http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/music/article6667307.ece
  9. Who is Michael Jackson today? How will he be remembered? Those important questions, on the day of his death, were posed by Jon Pareles, c.f.: “Tricky Steps From Boy to Superstar.” The New York Times. Accessed October 20, 2009. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/26/arts/music/26pareles.html?scp=1&sq=Tricky%20Steps%20From%20Boy %20to%20Superstar.&st=cse
  10. About the category of kitsch: Moles, Abraham. Psychologie du Kitsch, l’art du Bonheur. Denoël-Gonthier: Paris, 1977. C.f. also: Osęka, Andrzej. “Prawo kiczu” (“Right of kitch” – trans. Marta Łątka). Wprost. 18 (2005). Accessed October 22, 2009. http://www.wprost.pl/ar/76124/Prawo-kiczu/
  11. Additional information about Goffman’s perspective: Goffman, Erving. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. New York: Overlook Press, 1973.
  12. Ibid. 58.
  13. Vladimir Jankélévitch claims that “man’s self-expression, however, is possible just due to the fact that something restricts it” (trans. Marta Łątka). C.f.: Jankélévitch, Vladimir. Penser la Mort. Liana Levi: Paris, 1994.
  14. Featherstone, Mike. “The Body in Consumer Culture.” The Body: social process and cultural theory. Ed. Mike Featherstone, Mike Hepworth and Bryan S. Turner. London: SAGE Publications Inc., 1991. 189
  15. Horney, Karen. New Ways in Psychoanalysis. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & CO. LTD., 1947. 174.
  16. f. inter alia: Twardowski, Maciej. “Medialna kultura przeinaczeń” (“The media culture of distortions” – trans. Marta Łątka). Accessed November 20, 2009. http://www.racjonalista.pl/kk.php/s,6310/q,Medialna.kultura.przeinaczen
  17. f. inter alia.: Makowski, Jarosław. “Media głupot pełne” (“The media is full of nonsense” – trans. Marta Łątka). Gazeta Wyborcza. Accessed November 21, 2009. http://wyborcza.pl/1,75515,6506406,Media_glupot_pelne.html
  18. Before Jackson’s funeral, the memorial service for Pope John Paul II was transmitted by the media with a similar involvement. It is, however, completely different (strictly religious) in nature; c.f. inter alia.: “Media w żałobie po śmierci Papieża” (“The media is in mourning for Pope” – trans. Marta Łątka). http://www.press.pl/lewa_strona/pokaz.php?id=30 (Accessed November 20, 2009) . The memorial ceremony for the idol was transmitted not only by TV stations but also by the Internet. The New York Times, American daily newspaper, presented Live Blogging on its website where it recounted and commentated on Jackson’s memorial ceremony live: http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/07/watching-the-jackson-memorial/?ref=global-home (Accessed November 02, 2009).
  19. Television and the Internet will be mainly focused on in this book. The majority of the Internet services prepared special websites devoted to the idol (inter alia, NYTimes.com: http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/j/michael_jackson/index.html?inline=nyt-per, Accessed October 28, 2009), TV stations, however, prepared the occasional opening credits (TVN24: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhFh0fVz7b8&feature=related; MTV: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3oCkhkBuo0&feature=related. Accessed October 26, 2009).
  20. f. inter alia: Steltel, Brian. “Blowout Ratings for a Farewell, Online and Off.” The New York Times. Accessed October 28, 2009. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/09/business/media/09rating.html
  21. Canetti, Elias. Crowds and Power. New York: Viking Press, 1962. 66.
  22. f., inter alia: “Blog Ireny Szafrańskiej” (“Irena Szafrańska’s blog” – trans. Marta Łątka). Accessed January 10, 2010. http://szafranska.redblog.dziennikwschodni.pl/2009/06/26/michael-jackson-zmarl-przedwczesnie/
  23. Man in his, the so-called, prime is often the centre of attention of film (like American Beauty), literature (like Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice or The Magic Mountain ) as well as of social sciences (c.f.: Smoczyńska, Barbara. “Obraz polskich mężczyzn w średnim wieku na podstawie autoprezentacji w randkowych portalach internetowych” (“Image of Polish men in their prime based on self-presentations on online dating sites” – trans. Marta Łątka). Męskość jako kategoria kulturowa(Masculinity as a cultural category – trans. Marta Łątka). Ed. A. Radomski and B. Truchlińska. Lublin: Portal Wiedza i Edukacja, 2008.
  24. Ariès, Philippe. The hour of our death. New York: Vintage Books, 1982. 559. C.f. what Huizinga writes about a funeral procession: Huizinga, Johan. The Autumn of the Middle Ages. Trans. Rodney J. Payton and Ulrich Mammitzsch. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1997.
  25. Ariès, Philippe. Człowiek i śmierć (Images of Man and Death). Trans. Eligia Bąkowska. The above-mentioned quotation was translated from the Polish language by Marta Łątka. Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, Warszawa 1989. 550.
  26. Geoffrey Gorer in the article entitled “Pornography of Death” from 1955 (The Encounter) presents the thesis that drawing up the subject of death may be compared to popularising pornography since death, like pornography, appears as indecency. Nowadays, however, Gorer’s thesis appears to be outdated; pornography ceases being a taboo subject. C.f. Gorer, Geoffrey. “Pornography of Death.” Death, Grief and Mourning. Doubleday: New York, 1965. 192-199.
  27. f. inter alia: Stanley, Alessandra. “Funeral of a Superstar as a Media Moment.” The New York Times. Accessed November 23, 2009. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/08/arts/television/08watch.html?_r=3&hp
  28. Jefferson, Margo. On Michael Jackson. New York: Vintage Books, 2007.
  29. “What’s Driving the Michael Jackson Mania?” The New York Times. Accessed January 11, 2010. http://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/07/whats-driving-the-michael-jackson-mania/
  30. Rothenbuhler, Eric W. Ritual communication: from everyday conversation to mediated ceremony. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications Inc., 1998. 51.
  31. Ritual, one of the key terms in cultural anthropology, was thoroughly presented in the literature on the subject. Therefore, in this book, I draw on the selected definitions precisely referring to the discussed problem.
  32. Rothenbuhler, Eric W. Ritual communication: from everyday conversation to mediated ceremony. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications Inc., 1998. 53.
  33. Ibid. 59.
  34. Sennett, Richard. Ciało i kamień : człowiek i miasto w cywilizacji zachodu (The Body and the City in Western Civilization). Trans. M. Konikowska. The above-mentioned quotation was translated from the Polish language by Marta Łątka. Gdańsk: Marabut, 1996. 70.
  35. Rothenbuhler, Eric W. Ritual communication: from everyday conversation to mediated ceremony. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications Inc., 1998. 54.
  36. Giddens, Anthony, Nowoczesność i tożsamość. „Ja” i społeczeństwo w epoce późnej nowoczesności (Modernity and self-identity: self and society in the late modern age). Trans. Alina Szulżycka. The above-mentioned quotation was translated from the Polish language by Marta Łątka. Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN, Warszawa 2002. 117-118, 314 (a term in the dictionary of the basic terms).
  37. Turner, Victor, The Ritual Process: structure and anti-structure. New York: Cornell University Press, 1969. 97.
  38. Turner, Victor. From ritual to theatre: the human seriousness of play. New York: Performing Arts Journal Publications, 1982. 46.
  39. Turner, Victor. The Ritual Process: structure and anti-structure. New York: Cornell University Press, 1969. 128.
  40. , 128-129.
  41. Durkheim, Émile, The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life. Trans. Joseph Ward Swain. London: George Allen and Unwin, 1976. 401-402.
  42. Ariès, Philippe. The hour of our death. New York: Vintage Books, 1982. 604.
  43. “Such teleparticipation in a ceremony is possible due to electronic media and it is the example of the specific and modern form of a ritual” – trans. Marta Łątka. C.f.: Rothenbuhler, Eric W. Komunikacja rytualna. Od rozmowy codziennej do ceremonii medialnej (Ritual communication: from everyday conversation to mediated ceremony). Trans. J. Barański. Kraków: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego, 2003 . 98.
  44. Ibid., 100.
  45. Currently, the emphasized by Rothenbuhler element of a controversial nature of this case may be abandoned. More information about television as a modern (American) religion: ibid., 109-111.

ANETA OSTASZEWSKA, author of Michael Jackson. An Anthological Perspective (2009).  She currently works at the Higher School of Pedagogy of Rehabilitation, “Pedagogium” and her research focus is the category of childhood and child image in popular culture.

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