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Date of Award

Spring 2011

Document Type

Restricted Thesis: Campus only access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Rhetoric & Comm Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Paul Achter


On July 7, 2009 family, friends and admirers gathered at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California to honor pop music legend Michael Jackson. The service took place twelve days after the star died at age 50. Airing on television for over three hours, the service featured several performances by renowned musicians, from R&B star Usher, to illustrious singer- songwriter Stevie Wonder, to pop diva Mariah Carey. Interspersed between the musical tributes were readings and eulogies by Jackson’s family, close friends, and religious figures that played a crucial role in Jackson’s life. One billion viewers worldwide watched the three-hour service on the major networks and via the Internet. In the United States, 31.1 million people viewed the memorial on live television. This was an audience comparable the funerals of President Ronald Reagan and Princess Diana and just shy of the audience count for President Barack Obama’s inauguration and the opening ceremony of the 2008 Summer Olympics. Michael Jackson’s talent and fame as an entertainer placed him in the company of idolized leaders, heads of state and royalty, a categorization that demonstrates the power of his worldwide influence. The service was grandiose, a vast and intricate spectacle to mourn and celebrate a global entertainment icon.