"Too Soon?": When is it okay to start making jokes about Michael Jackson?
For the past few years, if you've spent your entire day, or at least a few hours of it, glued to the internet when a noteworthy individual passes away, you're sure to find among the sea of respectful tributes, lamentations, and (perhaps most disturbingly) apathetic shrugs a series of tasteless jokes. What's interesting, though, is that now those jokes have become so expected that it's now becoming one of the first things some people think about when they hear news like this. One friend of mine pointed me towards this image that was presumably created shortly after the news came down of David Caruso in character as Horatio Caine from CSI: Miami delivering one of his patented quips (neither of us knows whose handiwork that is, so apologies for not crediting you properly). I saw someone post a status update on Facebook wondering aloud if it was a bad thing that she had already searched for a Keyboard Cat video (several did eventually get posted, this was the first). Comedian Eugene Mirman tweeted "Last night at a
bar a woman yelled, "Who cares MJ is dead? He fucked little boys!" Not
true — he simply cried if they didn't blow him." Deadmichaeljacksonjokes.com already exists.
Some of you right now are probably horrified by all this stuff, and some of you are probably laughing. People react to things differently; I'm not here to condemn or endorse any of this material. My only observation is that it seems like the concept of "too soon" has been rendered obsolete these days. (I recall similar sentiments coming up around the death of Steve Irwin, as addressed in an episode of South Park).
When is "too soon?" Does it matter that, for some people, it seems like making light of the situation actually helps them with whatever they're feeling at the time? Does it matter that several of these jokes aren't even at the expense of the deceased? Or is it just never okay? These are questions I don't think I have a definitive answer to, but I'd like to know what others think.