From Neverland to Atlantis: Jacko’s Meltdown

“Meltdown” is still hot after all these years!

Pop icon Michael Jackson leads us to another in our continuing citation of atomic-age metaphors. Neither the originator nor the deliverer, Jacko was the poor target of this disastrous metaphor.

In an article in the New York Daily News, December 8th, 2005, an unnamed source is quoted as saying:

“It’s a meltdown – Michael’s life is on the line, physically, and his finances are in ruins because he has listened to the wrong people…”

This sprightly young metaphor really got its first big break from the Three Mile Island disaster in 1979, as foretold in the movie The China Syndrome, released weeks prior to the catastrophe.

A “meltdown” happens when the controlled fission in a nuclear power plant becomes unruly and the consequent heat becomes unmanageable. This is paralleled in the metaphor version, with controlled “power” (authority, stardom, etc.) falling into chaos, ending up with a “meltdown“. It’s hard to tell whether or not the metaphor implies a potential for repair, perhaps because the popular understanding of a nuke plant is pretty much limited to rhetoric rather than core fact, being a hot-button political issue. Compare this to the metaphor “breakdown“, which, for anyone who drives, implies the chance of being repaired that a “writeoff” doesn’t have.

Maybe Jacko hopes that the meltdown of his life in Neverland will follow the course of the China Syndrome, melting clear through the Earth and reappearing on the other side. The coordinates of the Neverland Ranch are approximately:

34.44 North
120.03 West

The corresponding spot on the other side of the world is in an underwater earthquake zone, deep in the Indian Ocean near Madagascar. Seismic records show that only days before Jackson’s meltdown, this geological hotspot quivered with antici…..pation for the possible arrival of the star and his assets. Said one apocryphal seismologist, “If Neverland becomes the new Atlantis, it’ll be Jacko’s own fault.”

One Response to “From Neverland to Atlantis: Jacko’s Meltdown”

  1. J.K.Kelley writes:

    Just wanted to thank your thoughtful reply to my email. I had asked your opinion about a title for a short piece of fiction. I decided, per your advice, to keep the original that I had suggested. Many thanks,


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