The King of Pop's doctor: The Right prescription for the right time?

When I ask people their opinion on Conrad Murray’s innocence or guilt in the case of Michael Jackson’s untimely death, I find very little sympathy for the man as if his guilt is prefigured as a given. It’s something like the Casey Anthony trial where most agreed the defendant did something wrong, but no one could say for sure what that thing was.

Conrad Murray

Dr. Conrad Murray was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter Monday in the 2009 death of Michael Jackson. Watch the verdict in the first video and the King of Pop singing "Smooth Criminal" in the second video, an appropriate song in the wake of the news.

It is perhaps the job of the defendant’s lawyer to make sure that this uncertainty is paraded before the jury as loudly as possible. The jury, however, didn't buy it as he was found guilty in short order -- after a couple hours of deliberations Monday. Murray faces up to four years in prison.

When I see pictures of Conrad Murray, I often see a sullen man whose eyes are both tired and nervous. Notice I said nervous, not guilty, but I wanted to say guilty. Sometimes he just looks guilty, like he knows he did something wrong.

But really, who wouldn’t look like that if they were in his position too. I’ll give him that. During the Casey Anthony trial, I felt that I was able to piece together the most likely scenario in my head from the given evidence and I felt fairly certain about my conclusions. Young single mother, torn between motherhood and lusty youth, thought she’d found the perfect solution to her problems in discovering a surefire way to put her daughter to sleep in such a way that she would not wake up while she was out.

The plan worked all too well. The rest was damage control. This situation feels much the same to me and the likely story seems pretty clear to me. Conrad Murray had the best of all doctor jobs. He had one patient: the King of Pop. He had a salary of $150,000 a month, that’s right, a monthly salary, and his job was to see to the health of Michael Jackson during the time of his great comeback.

This apparently involved the surprisingly difficult task of helping the pop star get to sleep at night, which astonishingly required the use of the powerful anesthetic propofol along with a cocktail of other sedatives. This highly unorthodox nightcap would eventually lead to Michael Jackson’s overdose and death. The rest was damage control.

The question I have to ask first is, how could this doctor, or any doctor for that matter, ever think using an anesthetic this way would be a good idea? It seems fairly obvious to my untrained mind that this sounds like a bad idea. But who knows? I’m not getting paid $150,000 a month to be Michael Jackson’s doctor. I do know this though, bosses, no matter who they are, have this funny way of getting what they want no matter what it is. I feel it must have been much the same way with the King of Pop.

I imagine Murray probably was nervous and attentive the first time he administered this powerful sleeping agent. Perhaps he even read the pop star a bedtime story, like Peter Pan. As with anything, familiarity often breeds complacency. This is the same stuff that car accidents and infant pool drownings are made of. There is an inherent danger in letting risky business become routine.

I think Murray looked away too long for whatever reason, and I think he will regret this for the rest of his life. We were all forced to think about Michael Jackson after the pop star died. Some personalities are so big, with such an immensity of footprint, that it often takes their deaths for us to even begin digesting their legacy.

I think Murray looked away too long for whatever reason, and I think he will regret this for the rest of his life. We were all forced to think about Michael Jackson after the pop star died. Some personalities are so big, with such an immensity of footprint, that it often takes their deaths for us to even begin digesting their legacy.

I was just coming out from under anesthesia myself the day the news of his death broke, having just undergone a brutal tonselectomy, and so I too, along with the rest of the world, was forced down the jagged path of reflecting on Jackson’s life from my hospital bed in Halifax Hospital. Dazed and drugged before endless footage on the hospital TV, I felt a strong, deep sadness for the person that was Michael Jackson, and mind you, it’s hard to be sad on morphine.

The monster in Shelley’s Frankenstein also elicits sympathy. Being referred to throughout the tale by his own creator as the “wretch” who hated and feared him, the monster in this classic tale often shows very clear signs of humanity and intelligence that serve to call the narrator’s own credibility into question.

At the very least, the reader of Frankenstein is often made to feel conflicted. Conflicted is exactly the way I felt whenever I reflected on certain moments of Michael Jackson’s life, like when he dangled his baby out the window before reporters or when he sat in a tree talking like a child during that famous Dateline interview. Who created this monster, this King of Pop? Or should I say perhaps, what created him?

When I reflect upon the pop stars life and times, it seems that his destiny was written in stone. There was no better time, nor would there ever be, for the King of Pop to rise. He was there at the same time that such a space in culture was there, and he was the perfect fit. Or at least he was made to be. It’s obvious that he did everything he could to secure this legacy.

Michael Jackson's marriage to Lisa Marie Presley was more than a publicity stunt -- it was a statement. His mass purchasing of song licenses within Beatles catalogue was more than a smart business move -- it was a victory. The strange currents and culmination of cultural convergences coalesced in such a way at such a time as to give rise to a king, and Michael Jackson wanted everyone to know that king was him. Everything about him was perfect for the title. The prevailing image we will forever have of Michael Jackson will always be that of an androgynous, ageless and raceless entity whose face and actions seem to be an indistinct and incomprehensible blur.

Michael Jackson's marriage to Lisa Marie Presley was more than a publicity stunt -- it was a statement. His mass purchasing of song licenses within Beatles catalogue was more than a smart business move -- it was a victory. The strange currents and culmination of cultural convergences coalesced in such a way at such a time as to give rise to a king, and Michael Jackson wanted everyone to know that king was him. Everything about him was perfect for the title. The prevailing image we will forever have of Michael Jackson will always be that of an androgynous, ageless and raceless entity whose face and actions seem to be an indistinct and incomprehensible blur.

Just like the mass of people focusing all their attention on him, he became the individual reflection of an emerging bi-racial, bi-sexual America. It’s as if he was a composite sketch, the perfect incarnation, of all of the expectation and intent of this new, mass-culture audience focusing all their million eyes on him. We created this monster. And we feared him.

Here is a link to the official Michael Jackson fan club: http://www.michaeljackson.com/us/home

History gave us the King of Pop and there will never be another. No one will ever sell more wax than Jacko. No one will ever sell more singles, or albums, now that we have entered the age of the mp3. He was the biggest there will ever be as far as entertainers go, and history looks forward and backwards at him as if his presence was a great peak that could only happen once.

I can just see the ghost of Michael Jackson flipping his hat into the air and looking in the camera just in time to say “Beat it.” Nope, not possible. It would have seemed anti-climactic and uncharacteristic if the great King of Pop hadn’t died a tragic and early death. How strange that the title of his last single and production was called “This Is It.”

It was as if his fate was written in the cards.

You could not write a more coherent script. We created this monster. Conrad Murray just happened to be the Doctor Frankenstein who pulled that fateful lever. Picture the mad scientist staggering back in horror with lightning flashing all around, the endless montage of images of Jackson’s life playing for weeks after his death, a perfect legacy reflecting the frenzy and madness of pop culture itself, of which Michael Jackson was the indisputable King of Pop.

You could not write a more coherent script. We created this monster. Conrad Murray just happened to be the Doctor Frankenstein who pulled that fateful lever. Picture the mad scientist staggering back in horror with lightning flashing all around, the endless montage of images of Jackson’s life playing for weeks after his death, a perfect legacy reflecting the frenzy and madness of pop culture itself, of which Michael Jackson was the indisputable King of Pop.

This perfect legacy will forever be immortal, with the good doctor recoiling in its wake screaming: “It’s Alive!” 

NSBNews.net, also known as VolusiaNews.net, provides Volusia County 24 / 7 Internet newspaper coverage, 100% free with breaking news, news of record and investigative reports from New Smyrna Beach, FL, for a 21st-century digital world.

Jim Hathaway

About the Blogger

Matthew Wall's picture

Strike A Chord
By Matthew Wall
Matthew Wall, 27, is the pup culture blogger for NSBNews.net. He lives in Daytona Beach and works in Ormond Beach. He received a B.S. degree in language arts education from the University of Central Florida in 2007. He plays bass guitar in his rock band "Radon Moon." Besides music, his interests include reading, writing, philosophy and spirituality.

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