General Question

SuperMouse's avatar

Who was better known, the late Michael Jackson or the late Robert McNamara?

Asked by SuperMouse (30785points) July 6th, 2009

I do understand that this is (to say the least) an apples an oranges comparison, but I when I heard today that McNamara had died I couldn’t help but wonder that. Which will have a greater lasting impact on the world? Do their deaths deserve equal news coverage or does one deserve more coverage than the other?

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40 Answers

Supacase's avatar

Since I had to click on the link to find out who Robert McNamara was, I’m going to say Michael Jackson.

ratboy's avatar

Robert who?

cak's avatar

I’m sure more recognize the King of Pop than the man that had an integral part of the Vietnam War.

SuperMouse's avatar

@cak, do you think that might be a generational thing? I mean when I hear the name Robert McNamara I know exactly who is being spoken of. I’m guessing that as many people in my father’s generation that know McNamara’s name as those in our generation that know Jackson’s.

cwilbur's avatar

I think McNamara had a much greater impact on the shape of the world, but more people have danced to Jackson’s oeuvre. Ask superficial people, and you’ll get a superficial answer.

Facade's avatar

lol@superficial
anyways, I have no idea who the other guy is.

Grisaille's avatar

Jackson, as bass ackwards as that may seem.

The guy’s music is known worldwide. Asian prisons choreograph massive dances to his songs, for Christ’s sake.

Only person that may be more “known” than Jackson worldwide is probably Bush.

cak's avatar

@SuperMouse – I think so. I don’t think it is really discussed (the war) lik it should be discussed in schools, in fact, my daughter has yet to learn about it, in school; however, we have made sure she learned about it and key players.

It is also a society thing, I think. I’m trying to think of a way to say this without lumping all people into the category. I can’t, so I’m just saying it. It seems to me that the general public is far more interested in Celebritites and who they are with or not with, than how we got to where we are now, as a country; and, what impact have we had on the world. I guess I’m a dork. I prefer to learn about our impact on the world and things that have happened in the past.

My reaction on MJ’s passing – I’m surprised he made it to 50. It just seems that he was a troubled soul and am shocked something didn’t go wrong before now. With McNamara’s passing – “Wow. Someone that was a key figure in one of the most controversial wars died. Wow. I think I was more dumbfounded by that later.

janbb's avatar

I can only feel that McNamara had a greater impact on the world whether people today recognize his name or not. How many thousands of young men died because of “his” war? What was the effect of the protest movement of the 60s on so many people’s lives and thinking?

Even though Michael Jackson’s music is known and loved world-wide, he was still only an entertainer. McNamara changed history.

cak's avatar

@janbb – Lurve. I wondered about the reaction of families that lost someone in Vietnam.

Darwin's avatar

In a hundred years, McNamara will be more remembered I suspect.

For those of us who were teenagers in the 1960’s McNamara and Jackson were both names we know. However, McNamara wasn’t currently affecting most people, so those with short memories or recently born won’t have heard of him.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I know who McNamara is, but I was almost a poli sci major at uni. I took a lot of history too. I’d have to say Michael Jackson was known by the widest number of people, though.

Most people under, say, 55 or 60, unless they were political wonks, would have any idea of who McNamara was.

Arguably, though, acceptance of Michael Jackson from his boyhood on paved the way for wider acceptance of black people in roles other than domestic or criminal in the United States, at any rate. Not just tolerance, acceptance. I think a case could be made that in the social sense, Michael Jackson had a big role to play in putting Obama where he is today. It’s the generation that grew up on Jackson that voted for Obama. Many of them, if not most. None of what happens in the wider society occurs in a vacuum.

But that’s a term paper for some interdisciplinary major in the class of 2025.

Cinqo's avatar

Who the hell is this Robert guy?

jamielynn2328's avatar

I don’t know McNamara and I hope that doesn’t make me superficial. Jackson’s death has had such a large impact on everyone, including myself. It is touching to see how he affected his fans, and I have never in my lifetime seen so much coverage on a death. Of course I am 30, so did not live through other popular deaths like Elvis, JFK or Lennon. The attention and interest makes me believe that his music lives in the hearts of so many people.

Darwin's avatar

@aprilsimnel – I suspect a few other folks had an influence on racial acceptance, too. People such as Martin Luther King, Sammy Davis Jr., Sidney Poitier, Michael Jordan, Condelezza Rice, Colin Powell, and a bunch of others, too many to mention here, all had an effect on the white perception of African Americans.

cak's avatar

@jamielynn2328 – No, it doesn’t make you sound superficial, it makes you honest. There is a generational thing going on in this, too. I learned about him through studies and through teachers that were very involved in protest movements. My family also lost members in the Vietnam War.

It’s like I said earlier, I don’t want to make a generalization; however, my brain isn’t working today! Some of this will be generational.

aprilsimnel's avatar

@Darwin, I totally understand what you’re saying, but none of them had Michael’s level of worldwide success, except arguably Martin Luther King, though it wasn’t the same arena. Maybe I have a bias because of my generation.

Darwin's avatar

@aprilsimnel – Perhaps you do have a bias, but to many people Michael Jackson was strange, not black. He was only black when he was a kid.

tadpole's avatar

you said better known….was there anyone better known than michael jackson period….maybe half a dozen to a dozen alive today….never heard of the other guy….even if i had it’s no contest in terms of what the global populous think….is this meant tongue in cheek?

Elerie's avatar

Well… I along with 70% of the people in the United States are force fed pop stars, movie stars, etc. We are barely taught (at least i wasnt) about history, government, etc. We must teach ourselves about this outside of school, away from t.v. I’m actually ashamed that i dont know who McNamara is. :(

jamielynn2328's avatar

@Elerie I also feel a bit ashamed, but I will now look him up and make sure that I know about him next time he comes up.

whatthefluther's avatar

To know McNamara at all, you either lived his period in the Cabinet or were subsequently a poli sci or history student in college (as @aprilsimnel points out), or at least, so it seems. He was an astute businessman who thought he was doing the right thing and had the support of the Administrations but in retrospect realized how very wrong his approach was…58,000 Americans dead and many more wounded, later.

whatthefluther's avatar

I actually shed a few tears when Jackson died. I’m shedding much more this time…not all for McNamara but for friends who lost brothers or brothers that lost everything from limbs to their minds…...............

janbb's avatar

I guess I was reading the question as who had a greater impact on the world rather than literally who is better known. Michael Jackson’s name is definitely better known in the world today, but for the reasons stated above, I believe McNamara had a much greater impact on people’s lives. And I don’t see Michael Jackson, while he was no doubt a talented entertainer, as a standard bearer for African-American equality. He had surgery to make himself look more white!

SirBailey's avatar

Jackson made a lot of people happy for a lot of years. That’s a hard act for ANYONE to follow. People WANT to remember someone that makes them happy and someone that had amazing talents.

kerryyylynn's avatar

Did McNamara have a catchy nickname that included the title of King, go through a full body transformation, and have world renowned rumors and accusitions made about him? If so, Jackson might have some competition.

janbb's avatar

@kerryyylynn One of McNamara’s “catchy nicknames” was “Babykiller.”

SuperMouse's avatar

@tadpole this isn’t meant at all to be tongue and cheek, I am 100% serious. Robert McNamara had an incredible impact on the entire world. We lost approximately 58,000 troops in the Viet Nam war. He was one of the chief architects of the first war the US lost. He was also one of the best known people to discuss the Communist Domino Theory which helped shape US foreign policy clear through the Reagan years.

I would tend to agree with @Darwin when she said that McNamara will be better remembered 100 years from now. Many more people know the name Franklin Roosevelt or Winston Churchill than the name Paul Robeson.

FYI, I am 43 and not a political science or history major, and I knew exactly who McNamara was when I heard the story. Also, my children were not the least bit familiar with Michael Jackson until they heard the story of his death, they are a quarter dozen by themselves, so that kind of rules out the theory that only half dozen to a dozen people not knowing who Jackson was.

filmfann's avatar

Jackson is more famous, but McNamara had a greater impact on everyone’s lives.

Darwin's avatar

Michael Jackson did get more coverage in the gossip mags than McNamara ever did, but then McNamara never wore sequins or one glove at a time. He appeared on the front page of multiple daily newspapers many more times than Jackson ever did.

Famous is as famous does.

mzdesigns's avatar

note just because we as a society might not know who the other person is off the top of our head , does not discredit their accomplishments. or are horrible media coverge of “what is important” makes money for them. think we need to look at why they getting coverage which also is a part of why the man is not alive today unfortuatenly like him or hate him sadly enough.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

Who is Robert McNamara? Apparently Michael Jackson was better known.

mzdesigns's avatar

read above ^^^

Jack79's avatar

good question actually. Yes, my first reaction, just like everyone else, was “who the #$%*%^$ is McNamara?”. I am sure even Americans don’t know him. But his role in world history was probably more important.

The world of music would have been different without MJ, but we’d still have everyone else and I don’t think anything would change in the long run. Maybe TTD’Arby or someone would have been bigger instead. And maybe Janet would be a star in her own right, or completely unknown.

But if the Vietnam war hadn’t happened, the whole Cold War dynamics would be different, and it could have a different outcome. Perhas we’d even all live under Communism now (which might even be a good thing, who knows?). Or maybe it wouldn’t make any difference in the long run, and things would end up where they are now, sooner or later.

tadpole's avatar

@SuperMouse no what i meant there is that there can only be a half dozen to dozen people who are/were better known than jackson, in comparison to your other other guy…..i didn’t mean there were only 12 people in the world who had never heard of mj….

i was taught to answer the question at school…history…..and the key to this question is better known…i cannot seriously believe, bearing this in mind that more people in the world knew of your guy than of mj….in fact i cannot seriously believe it comes anyway close….i appreciate the effect McNamara had on the US, but think of the global population and the info that they have access to….pop stars are so big these days anyway…was not Jackson a short way off Presley…..afterall he did marry Presley’s daughter at one time…then you have the beatles and lennon, madonna…...certain film stars….certain politicians and presidents….and certain others like lady diana, the dalai lama…is McNamara any way near any of these…..as i said, it’s all in the question….if you were saying who was more historically important, well actually i think Jackson is still quite important, but yes it’s far closer…..

….it’s all in the wording of the question…..and in truth, as much as i love you guys, and i hope you believe that, because i really, really do, maybe some of these answers reflect how you can be a little over interested in things that happen to you in the us and not quite as well up on the overseas news as you might…so you say it was the first war you lost…well is that something to be proud of…you do fight an awful lot of them….admittedly because you see yourselves as the international peacekeepers and yes, you probably are and need to be….yes jackson was also american, yes Vietnam is overseas….i simply cannot believe that if you were thinking like an average citizen of the world you would know more about McNamara than MJ…

Strauss's avatar

I knew of both MJ and RM while growing up in the ‘60’s. When I was in boot camp for the Navy I heard of VietNam referred to as McNamara’s Marina”. After I left the Navy I didn’t hear or think of RM much except the rare occasions when he made the news, or in historical references.

MJ, on the other hand, has been pretty much a constant in popular culture for the last 40 years.

desiree333's avatar

Um Robert who? I’m guessing Michael Jackson, there probably isn’t a person in the world who doesn’t know who MJ is.

filmfann's avatar

@desiree333 is right. Everyone knows MJ was the greatest basketball player of all time!

desiree333's avatar

@filmfann Uhh, I didn’t mean Michael Jordan, clearly…

filmfann's avatar

@desiree333 sorry, bad attempt at humor. Clearly.

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