Every so often I feel compelled to signal the end of a long-running comedy trope that I feel has long worn out its welcome in the mix of popular culture. I don't mean to be a killjoy. The declarations I make are not intended to hurt others who may find themselves experiencing some sense of enjoyment from making jokes that have been thoroughly exhausted for all of their comic potential; they are merely meant to protect us from staleness, from being caught in an infinite loop of recycled cultural detritus that inhibits our ability to create anything new.
Past nominees for extinction have been Elvis (the only people allowed to get a laugh out of elvis now are advertising agencies and the mentally retarded, and any overlap between the two) and Carrot Top (no fair!). I think my policies for selection are actually generous, never cutting something off before its potential for future laughter. For instance, I'd love to say Anna Nicole-Smith is off-limits but, really, who knows what surprises she has in store for us this holiday season?
That aside, here are my two nominees for 2003:
Guess what? Waiting for a rap song to come on at the party is a terrible waste of time when we all know the only reward from that wait will be your smirk-filled Robot Dancing. Yes, you think robots are funny - and, by proxy, Robot Dancing must be even funnier. Certainly, the faint "wink" sound emitted by each exaggerated, stiff movement of your arms and head would lead us all to believe this. And maybe, just for kicks, you'll even try to implicate others in your joke by starting one of those top-rock wave circles where you all lock fingers and pretend an invisible worm has possessed you for a brief moment, using your body as a medium to move to the next soul. And you'll laugh and you'll laugh and you'll laugh. To some people, that's actually a real dance. To you, it is a sort of barely concealed expression of your complete self-consciousness about dancing. (and possibly your contempt for hip-hop and, in some rare cases, even your own latent racism. but i am not here to get all oberlin college on you.)
My point is, enough! We've seen your robot dance. We've all probably been there, too. It's not a crime. It's just about time we all stopped and either learned to like moving our bodies without fear of repercussion, or just leave it to the experts. And we know that, somewhere in your silly little soul, as you robot the shit out the place, you're thinking, "I'm actually really good at this, aren't I?" You're not. Sorry. And it's still not funny.
I can imagine a small, but collective gasp rising up at this announcement, especially given his latest bouts of insanity, but that's precisely my point. You cannot touch MJ because he is always sure to checkmate whatever attack you've prepared. He's on that next-level type of shit, seeing the playing board seventy-three moves in advance. Michael Jackson has done everything in his power to fortify himself against ridicule by stacking the deck too high. While you're busy making fun of his white glove, he busts out a gas mask. If you think that's funny, he'll make sure someone gets a picture of him in a traveling iron lung. Go ahead and make your jokes about his chimp because he's so far past you that he's having tea parties with the elephant man's bones. See how good he is? And even when everyone gives him shit about being weird and white and no-nosed and molesting children, Michael is throwing up the "W" and throwing towels over his kids' heads. You cannot catch up with him. I'm sorry.
Michael Jackson is, to me, like Las Vegas. He's so aggressively otherworldly that he sort of defies analysis. Try to get your Irony Face on in Las Vegas and you'll have so many opportunities that you'll be paralyzed and speechless within the first ten minutes; at the craps table within the first half-hour; drinking a pina colada out of one of those weird, tall plastic cups that girls like so much within an hour; and shopping for a fanny pack to cart your chips by dinner time. MJ is the same way. And no more of this "remember when Michael used to be black" stuff, please? Because think about it for a moment. I don't think anyone really does remember when he was black anymore. I grew up on the Jackson Five cartoon and I am still pretty sure MJ's character was played by Johnny Quest. So leave him alone. Stop joking about him and just sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. There's bound to be a new one every six months.