No, really. I'm serious and here's why:
Current events like the King of Pop's death are lessons in plot and characterization. I'm not using names, because I don't want to call attention to the fact that I'm going to dissect this media circus and turn it into a writing lesson. (I was going after a politician but he's been forced into the background. Pity. Cheating husbands are so much more fun to dissect.)
What we are working with is the following:
A disfigured, tormented, King of Pop - a man as talented as he is addicted, dies under mysterious circumstances.
His bitter, shattered father who was powerless to save him comes off looking like a villain because he can't face decades of pain. (Okay, I stand corrected on this one, but – hey – I just wanted to give everyone the benefit of the doubt.) Still he's the bitter father who lost his cash cow, he's got to be pissed off.
Cowering toadies who would do anything to curry favor – including supply endless amounts of drugs – scatter as the police swoop in to sort through the wreckage. Including someone who may have been a doctor or may have been a glorified drug pusher.
Media sharks in a feeding frenzy – knocking legitimate news off the small screen for ratings, Ratings, RATINGS! as the blood pours from the wounded survivors. The lawyers come in to town in shining jets like cleaner fish.
That's a great plot. It proves that fact is far stranger than fiction would ever be. No one could have sold this as a book deal, not even Jackie Collins or Nora Roberts, until after it happened. (Stay tuned. The whole thing will come out in print in about six weeks.)
Now for the characterization part of this disaster, watch the media. We will see bits of character in all of these people. Very little, since it is television – a media that conceals more character than it reveals – but if one looks for the clues and hints we can pick up on who the major players were in the singer's death.
The poor addicted soul who is the center of this – hmm, I don't have a polite phrase for it – media feeding frenzy will have to do – Has been portrayed in the tabloids far less kindly than I shall handle him or his family. There are hints of his character in back issues of every magazine.
To me, inner conflict is the difference between what a person says and what they do. There is a huge contrast between the famous singer the media saw, and whom he thought he was. This is inner conflict in its most blatant form.
Take the statement: "I love my family." Apply it to every member of that family. Should anyone care to write down the difference between those words and a person's actions in the following months a pattern will emerge.
Wow! What a conflict!