Thursday, August 13, 2009

Remember the Time?

What is it about Egypt that makes people so crazy? I am not talking about Hosni Mubarak (at least not at the moment) but rather the special, mystical craziness that seems to attach itself to Egypt in the western mind. The only other place in the Middle East that comes close is Israel, which if we were to believe reports, is a cross between the Emerald City and the lost city of Atlantis. I am talking about the way that otherwise normal people will look you right in the eye and tell you they believe space aliens built the pyramids.

That's right kids, the only possible explanation for advanced science/technological achievement in a non-Western culture is... the intervention of men from outer space.

So, when someone noticed the resemblance between a long-dead ancient Egyptian woman, captured in the bust pictured above, and the recently deceased King of Pop the only logical conclusion was reached: Michael Jackson is a cosmic being who once lived in ancient Egypt. The following exchange in the comment thread of this blog typifies the confluence of obsessive fandom, orientalist fantasy and old-fashioned nuttery at work here:

Tom, "It remains to be seen, but MJ was involved in some radical things. Things that go back centuries. I know I sound like a nut but I’ve looked into them and they appear to be true. He even said some of it on video. IDK this seems to be more than coincidental."

Sondan, " I do not think you are a nut. I am glad that someone actually has *LOOKED* at the photo and has given it some thought, as you obviously have. I agree that this is more than coincidence — because IMHO there is no such thing as coincidence: everything happens for a reason. So glad to have your input. If you have time to send me some links I would be very interested and appreciative in being able to check out the video(s) you are referring to."


For our purposes I am sure there is something in there about beauty standards, orientalism and racialized constructions of masculinity/femininity... but I just don't think I have the energy.

Please, discuss amongst yourselves:

Courtesy of al-Arabiya

"An ancient Egyptian bust on display at the Field Museum in Chicago has been the focus of interest since Michael Jackson's death as visitors double-take at the eerie similarities between the 3,000-year-old statue and the singer.

The limestone statue, which depicts an unidentified woman, went on display at the museum in 1988 and was carved during the New Kingdom Period, dating from between 1550 BC to 1050 BC.
Like Jackson's surgically-altered face, the carving has a distinct, upturned nose and rounded eyes.

And like Jackson -- if rumors of the singer's prosthesis are to be believed -- the statue's nose has partially disintegrated.

Museum curator Jim Phillips said staff had been "inundated" with inquiries from Jackson fans since the star's similarities to the bust were pointed out in a recent newspaper article.

"We've had people coming to the museum and asking 'Where's Michael Jackson?' So we have to tell them that he's not here, but there is a bust that looks a lot like him," Phillips told AFP.

Phillips said while it is doubtful that Jackson's physical startling image may have been inspired by the statue -- the singer was not believed to have visited the museum -- the resemblance between the two is undeniable.

"I have to admit it, there are a number of very striking similarities," Phillips said. "I don't follow all the permutations of Michael Jackson's physical appearance, but they do look a lot alike."

The statue has been named "The Pharaoh of Pop" by media.

The King of Pop died aged 50 of a heart attack at his home in Los Angeles on June 25."


  1. honestly, the fact that some people think this is Michael Jackson... is insane. I feel like this is out of a SIMPSONS episode. remember the old episode where everyone thought they dug up the fossilzed remains of an angel? and Lisa kept insisting it wasn't an angel.

    turned out it was just a publicity stunt to open a new megastore mall. *rolls eyes*

  2. Huhn. Kinda not surprised at all this. It all sort of follows Michael Jackson's bizarreness continuum, doesn't it? Having said all that, co-signing on your annoyance at the whole "extra-terrestrial intelligence" thing. Anthropogenesists have illustrated - more than once - that for the most part human civilations evolved equilaterally. Duh. That's why there are also pyramids throughout Central and South America. You don't have to be a science dork to understand that the red thread here is the employment of higher math...NOT little green men. (BTW, I really, REALLY like science. A lot. Like, more than a friend. When Carl Sagan died I cried like a baby.)

    Oh, as a semi-related aside: A few years ago National Geographic did an issue where they reconstructed the face of Tutankhamun. The Discovery Channel did a special on it later, and I remember that several of the comments on their message boards seemed shocked that the boy king looked so much like a modern day Egyptian (read: Arab). As absurd as it sounds, I truly believe that some folks were honestly expecting to see a young Laurence Olivier...anyway, here's a link:

  3. @Abu Sinan
    For some reason your (insightful) comment didn't publish--when you get a minute, can you re-submit it? I didn't want you to think I rejected it.

    I remember that episode! Oh damn, you are right.

    @atlasien & Fiqah
    Off to check your links. Will report back.

    I tell you guys, it is stuff like this that makes "Jury or your peers" the scariest phrase in the English language...

  4. @atlasien
    Obama was born... with a tail? What, no horns? This is fascinating. I have been planning to write something about the orientalism that surrounds Barack Obama (in addition to the fairly obvious racism) and this fits right in to my argument: that the reason the Birthers won't go away is because he represents foreignness on so many registers at once that he has overloaded their circuits. The idea that he had a physical manifestation of that Otherness (beyond brown skin I mean) is a perfect realization of that fantasy. Someday stuff like this will be funny. But, uh, not yet.

    Wow. I hadn't seen that. I usually avoid those Ancient Egyptian Secrets Revealed-type shows because they seem so much like a pop-colonial exercise. But I have to admit, that reconstruction of Tut's face is amazing.