- While global media attention certainly played a role in driving the crisis and motivating the demonstrators, dissident mobilization does not depend on whether or not Americans (and I have seen little evidence to suggest that the media glut about Jackson was going on anywhere except the US) are paying attention. This is an Iranian struggle that is going to be determined largely by Iranian and regional dynamics. The notion that the Iranians are doomed because Americans apparently don't care about them anymore reminds me of this classic post by Julian Sanchez on the "Care Bear theory of foreign policy."
- Twitter is not central to the movement as a mobilization tool. Word of mouth and classic street organizing techniques as described here by Al Giordano play a more important role. So the service shutting down under the weight of Jacko-related tweets is not exactly the body blow to the Iranian protestors that is commonly portrayed.
I can certainly sympathize with people who feel angry about the shallowness of celebrity-focused news. I loathe it too. But is it very realistic to expect that we're all going to put down our People magazine and close the TMZ.com screen and limit our news consumption to the BBC and CNN? That's simply not how it works, especially when it comes to events happening in far-away lands that most domestic news consumers will never have the opportunity to visit or substantially influence.
We also have to face up to the fact the media spectacle has become dominant. UCLA Professor Douglas Kellner defines media spectacles massive dramas that puts societal values, fantasies, and fears on public display. Jackson's death is a textbook example of this, as his life and death is a compelling narrative that lays bare social pieties and anxieties about the role of the entertainer, race, sexuality, and the modern media. While the financial interest of media organizations in satisfying the lowest common denominator and the increasingly infantile mentality of many "infotainment" journalists is also at fault, the public is attracted to media spectacles precisely because they are larger-than-life stories with the narrative sweep of cinema.
If people are planning information campaigns in the future (and the Iranian uprising has no dedicated media planners, only a mass of media producers), they are simply going to have to take into account the risk of media spectacles (which occur in a manner very similar to that of Black Swans) in their campaign planning.