Michael Jackson butter statue churns debate in Iowa

When officials announced that a butter sculpture of Michael Jackson would feature at next month’s Iowa state fair, they churned up such a fierce debate that they’re now trying to, well, moonwalk their way out of it.

“We’ve had a lot of feedback, mostly negative” since an announcement on the fair’s website a week ago that the traditional butter statue of a cow would “share the spotlight this year with a salute to the late Michael Jackson,” the fair’s general manager Gary Slater told AFP.

“Butter sculptor Sarah Pratt… plans to honor Jackson’s extensive contributions to the music and dance industries through a butter sculpture of the pop icon,” said the announcement posted on June 30, five days after Jackson died suddenly in Los Angeles.

The reaction was immediate, and people were obviously whipped up, said Slater.

So the following day, state fair officials posted another statement stressing that this year’s butter sculptures would celebrate the 40th anniversary of astronaut Neil Armstrong becoming the first man to walk on the moon on July 20, 1969.

Jackson would be featured, the statement said, because he was “the first pop-star to perfect and popularize choreographed moonwalking.”

“Because we were already doing a celebration of the 40-year anniversary of the moon landing, and since Mr Jackson died, the moonwalk would coincide,” Slater said, not too convincingly.

“It’s a stretch, I guess, with the lunar landing,” he acknowledged.

But the reactions continued to pour in, and Slater said organizers decided to put it to a vote.

Starting Thursday, those whose blood is curdling over the idea and those who think Jackson should feature in the refrigerated room in Iowa alongside an astronaut, an American flag, “a buttery rendition of the surface of the moon” and this year’s featured cow, a Jersey, can vote online at iowastatefair.org.

Results will be announced July 17, around four weeks before the fair opens in mid-August.

The tradition of having a butter sculpture of a cow at the Iowa state fair goes back to at least 1910. — AFP

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