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Michael Jackson: Genius? Yes. Government-sanctioned 'icon'? No.

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So now there’s a 1,500-word resolution before the House Foreign Affairs Committee to declare Michael Jackson “an American legend and musical icon” and a “global humanitarian.” It was introduced by Representative Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, who also spoke at this week’s Jackson memorial.

Now, I’m really glad Jackson is getting the credit he deserves as a musical genius. But I don’t like the casual use of the word “icon” for the same reason that a former Managing Editor of Entertainment Weekly didn’t: As he used to say, “An icon is ‘an object of uncritical devotion’ and usually a religious image. Stars aren’t either of those things.” In fact, he banned the use of the word “icon” from EW for a while.

I think the government has a lot more on its collective mind right now than having to pass a resolution about Michael Jackson. I say, let Michael continue to be lauded; let the rediscovery of his music flourish. But having the government declare him an “icon”? Not necessary, distracting, and maybe even a bit embarrassing. What say you?

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