Michael Jackson is back in the news thanks to his dad and the pending trial of his doctor. It reminded me of the post I made, following his death:
The major buzz has died after Michael’s death. MSNBC, TMZ, Twitter and Google have fully recovered from their crashes after TMZ first broke the news and TV stations are no longer airing “the latest breaking news” and have returned to our regularly scheduled death and corruption. There are still at least a few months of rumours and speculation to go through, what with the fate of his children, estate and of course, the coroner’s report still pending.
Oh and the jokes. Comedians perhaps gave a momentary pause out of respect, but his death has brought a whole new source of fodder. Did you hear the one about the Lego?
Did the media overstate the international interest in Michael Jackson, thereby being presumptuous with their extensive coverage of his memorial and various homages to the icon? Or should we ask, “How many media representatives were fans, thereby indulging their fandom with these over the top presentations?”
My building reaction to his death and the subsequent outpouring of love and hate has surprised me. I was a fan when I was a child, and, despite intentions to pick up his rerelease of Thriller 25 years later (which I guiltily picked up this week), I thought my adoration had faded. (Not that I am or have ever been a shrieking idiot kind of fan. For me, fandom means appreciating that the person is still very much a human being like me, and wanting to meet them to find out just what they are like outside of the spotlight.)
Last night, I managed to skim through Tuesday’s memorial and again watched Al Sharpton’s speech, which I think was the most poignant of all, especially when he singled out MJ’s children and told them that there was nothing strange about their father. The only strangeness was in the way he was treated by the rest of the world. It brought a tear to my eyes because it was true. As was what he said about MJ continuing on despite everything and everyone that stood against him.
MJ will continue to be vilified by many because of his eccentricities. Sadly, most people who do so will never take the time to consider what might have made him what he became. The horrid irony of that is that MJ himself has always openly explained himself. He’s put it all in his music which has always been written and delivered from the depths of an obviously tortured soul. I’ve also been reading Macleans commemorative issue, which includes several very objective articles detailing various aspects of MJ, including the initial biography of his life. One article ends with a statement that couldn’t be more pithy:
“Michael Jackson never stood a chance.”
It is the curse of genius, it seems, to delve into madness far deeper than us normal folk. And MJ was definitely a genius. His mother describes him as a learning to walk baby who had none of the balance issues toddlers normally face. He was already gifted with rhythm and a pure voice. When he took to the stage at five years old, he was undeniable. He went on to pioneer so much for the music, dance and video industry in general and for Black people within these industries and more.
He wanted very much to heal the world and is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the celebrity with contributions to the most charitable societies, including his own. He wanted to save the children. Because above all, he loved the children. They represented that which was stolen from him (again, he explained this through song:”Have you seen my childhood?”) His desire to have children of his own was clearly to live vicariously through them (as it is for many parents, though many of us don’t realize it). Unfortunately, his “Peter Pan Syndrome” was his greatest flaw, and it’s what was used so often to drag him down.
Was he a pedophile? Well, to me, a pedophile is someone I would (irrationally) despise, more so that I have children of my own, and probably not permit an opportunity for redemption based on crimes committed. Was MJ a pedophile? No. I don’t think so. I think he was a child star who, unlike other child stars, didn’t merely get lost in drugs and alcohol, but actually became a child as he grew up because he didn’t get to be one before. I think a large part of that was due to the utter fear instilled in him by his father’s abuse and pressure to succeed. The latter became part of Michael as well. He became a shrewd businessman, but he was still, ultimately, a child in the end, expressing that in many forms, including childlike extravagance, megalomania, and of course, his desire to be surrounded by children, whom he said he was more comfortable with because they did not wear masks. I don’t deny that he probably did things with the children that we’d consider inappropriate, like run around naked. But I don’t believe that there was ever a sexual nature to these actions, not even the allegations of showing porn to the children. It reminds me of 12-year old boys finding their parents’ porn stash. Not dirty in his mind. He somehow retained (or gained) the childlike innocence that we all lose when we grow up and so when he said in a “shocking” interview that sharing his bed is the greatest act of love, he truly meant it as simply that. Not the dirty thing our minds twisted it into. An attempt to nationally recognize Michael Jackson was turned down by the Senate yesterday because, while his achievements and genius are great, far too many view him only as a “pervert,” though I wonder, if perhaps we aren’t the ones who are truly perverted because we have so lost our innocence that we can only see dirty sex in everything.
The changes to his appearance, some speculate, were also an attempt to get away from his past, or more specifically, from his father. Image generation suggests that he’d look just like his father at this age, had he not undergone all the plastic surgery. He apparently wanted to be beautiful. Evidently, to him, this meant more White features, right down to skin colour (attributed to a rare disease). His children and his choice of brides indicate this, and yet, despite an apparent physical move away from being Black in appearance, he remains a pivotal part of Black History [in America] and clearly, based solely on the representation at his memorial, he is still considered precious to the Black Community.
The memorial itself was a true tribute. It was a bit chilling that some of his own songs, sung in his honour, so accurately represented him in death and the tragedy of his life (no one chose to sing “Gone too Soon”). Some referred to it as “macabre.” Yes, it was, a bit. In fact, I think it was his greatest stage show ever. The 50 planned concerts that ultimately overtaxed his already depleted body and mind and unsurprisingly led to this moment would not have compared. The coffin being brought in to the hymned chorus of “Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King” was a fitting tribute to his megalomania. In death, he quite likely surpassed the goal that had eluded his perfectionism for so long: to create and market something even bigger than Thriller. I almost wouldn’t put it past him to have faked his death in order to achieve the ultimate in infamy and the ultimate opportunity for escape from those who continually hunted him.
As I said before, I am sad that he is gone, but happy at the same time because it means he now has some chance for peace that he could never find while alive. I am glad that the concerts never took place, because, while I do believe they would represent “the greatest comeback since Lazarus,” it would fail to subdue all the negatives that are attached to him, because of just how firmly those negatives are attached. I am sad that he didn’t get to show his children what he used to be (and even sing with his youngest son, as he’d hoped), but it’s probably better this way. They have already lived with the negativity surrounding their father’s life. And they are set for far more of it now in death. I hope they can make it through.