If Michael Jackson nearly broke the Internet, Princess Di would have killed it

Image from Virgin Media Online. HRH Princess Diana.

Jackson Funeral Service. Image from Screenshot via CNN.

Recently, I had a “we agree to disagree” discussion with a friend over who was bigger – HRH Princess Diana or Michael Jackson?

I don’t suppose you could guess which side I was on. But in case you cannot – I was on the side of HRH Princess Diana.

The reason?

The mere fact, that if Michael Jackson nearly broke the Internet, 9-11 or the death of Princess Diana would have surely killed it.

I guess, the meat of what I was trying to get at was the impact, or lack thereof, of social media.

Image from Virgin Media Online. Flowers for Diana.

I remember when HRH Princess Diana died, I was 14-years old, and I recall the world, in my eyes, being brought to its knees in mourning. I don’t recall reading or seeing anything like it before then, or since. Michael Jackson did come close…but not quite.

In 1981,  750 million people did watch HRH Princess Diana’s marriage to HRH Prince Charles afterall.

Image from Virgin Media Online. HRH Princess Diana & HRH Prince Charles at wedding.

Image from Virgin Media Online. HRH Princess Diana & HRH Prince Charles at wedding.

Social Media & the would have been Diana Effect

Think about this – back in 1997 there was no Twitter, no TMZ, no Facebook, no PerezHilton.com and roughly 2.5 (some say 3.7) billion people traced Princess Diana’s funeral (John Urry. Global complexity, Wiley-Blackwell, 2003 p. 134) around the globe. This is in contrast to the 1 billion said to have traced Jackson’s.

Image from Screenshot via CNN. Michael Jackson's three children.

It is said, according to Neilson Media, that 33.2 million people watched the funeral of HRH Princess Diana, while 31.3 million watched Michael Jackson’s service.

One news service, put it into better words than I could have:

In terms of massive global reaction, Michael Jackson comes closer to the levels of Diana than anything in the years since. But when Diana died, we didn’t have Twitter. Or Facebook. Or TMZ.

Some thoughts comes to mind –

  • Was Michael Jackson as big as we are led to believe, or is it the media’s influence?
  • What factor did social media play in the event(s) after the death of Michael Jackson?
  • And really – if we had the same access to the tools of social media as we do today, in 2001 or in 1997 – what would have been the output?
  • What does this mean in reference to the status of “celebrity?”

It did cost the Princess her life.

 

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Sasha Muradali runs the ‘Little Pink Book’ . She holds a B.S. in Public Relations from the University of Florida (’07) and an M.A. in International Administration from the University of Miami(’08). She loves Twitter and all things social media, so you should find her @SashaHalima.

Copyright © 2009 Sasha H. Muradali. All Rights Reserved

Comments

  1. clarebrown says:

    Thank you for the lovely blog comment, pretty! And i wholeheartedly concur. Princess Diana wins this one. I think people were more fascinated and shocked by MJ's death. But as you can kind of already see, his passing is becoming as transitory as any other media frenzy (which is quite unfortunate). However, people truly mourned Princess Di, I think many people still are. The response to the death of Princess Diana certainly had a more genuine quality to it.

    Great post!

  2. Thank you Clare 🙂

  3. A well thought out post Sash – thanks!

  4. great post

  5. great post

  6. Christian Trianz says:

    I remember when I was a baby I was dancing to Michael's songs. My dad's fave song was Billie Jean. He loved that song so much he wanted to call me Billie Jean but my Mum wouldnt let him. Christian Trianz

  7. Thanks!

  8. nope Di would have done the same or less

  9. If you read the statistics correctly — she ALREADY out did Michael.

    Therefore, had she been in the same situation later — it would have been
    MORE.

  10. nope Di would have done the same or less

  11. If you read the statistics correctly — she ALREADY out did Michael.

    Therefore, had she been in the same situation later — it would have been

    MORE.