“The media has affected everybody’s consciousness much more than most people will admit. Because of the media, the way the world is perceived is as a place where resources and time are running out. We are taught that you have to grab what you can before it’s gone. It’s almost as if there isn’t time for compassion”.
Thus the words of George Michael, who has died all too soon at the age of jut 53. He was talking as far back as 1990 of the way in which the media manipulates people into being cruel and showing a lack of compassion. That same media, certainly the print kind, is now grabbing as much of his memory as they can before it’s gone. That they either ignored him, or slagged him off at most other times, has miraculously been forgotten.
Top of the amnesia pops this time is the Murdoch Sun, which produced a truly puke-making front page splash today, with “Pop Legend’s Last Christmas … You were someone special, George” before making sure readers knew “Lover found him dead in bed … Star in heart failure aged 53”. That sounds almost considerate.
Or rather, it does before you turn up Michael’s Twitter feed from 2011, when the phone hacking revelations were beginning to gain traction. Then, he reminded his followers “Forget that the Murdoch rags referred to me as 'poof' and 'pervert' several times in response to my campaign against the bombing of Iraq”. You want an example? Matthew Black rounded on Piers Morgan’s “tribute” to Michael, scolding him “Was it part of your Christian belief when you wrote the ‘Poofters of Pop’ column (outing gay musicians) for the Sun? And you talk of respect”. The Sun used that term until very recently.
Over at the Mail, a hatchet job has been ordered on the star’s memory. We know this as Guy Adams is the name on the by-line of an article which suggests Michael was a hypocrite for not coming out as gay earlier than he did. Two things here: one, the Mail is the last newspaper to call hypocrisy on anyone, and two, even when Michael did come out, he had to endure a barrage of abuse from, er, the popular press.
The increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph, now little more than a shadow of its former self and trading very much on its brand, has put a photo of Michael above the masthead title, to the probable bewilderment of many readers who will be far too old to have noticed him much. It’s only when you get to the i that you get the real story.
Yes, what the Sun ignores, and the Mail’s front page merely mentions, is summed up by the i with “George Michael’s secret millions to charity”. He gave millions to Childline. After seeing a contestant on Deal Or No Deal who wanted to raise money for her IVF treatment, he paid for the treatment himself. He volunteered at a homeless shelter.
George Michael never lost sight of the real world - or of his humanity. That, and his ability to bring happiness to millions, will not be forgotten. All the two-faced creeps and wannabes trying to score a few more sales off his memory not only don’t get that - they never will.
Sadly, he never did enjoy his Last Christmas. But you can. For ever.