My mind can’t help but be full of Michael Jackson. His death is everywhere I hang out – mostly the internet. I’ve been reading other people’s comments on Twitter – the good, the bad and the tasteless. And I have formed a few of my own opinions about the whole ordeal.
First: I am not mourning Michael Jackson’s death. I was surprised by it, certainly. I feel sad for his family. But I am not emotionally effected by his passing.
Second: I am not mourning the death of Michael Jackson’s music. His music rode the waves of fame and martyrdom over the years. How else can his high record sales numbers be explained? His “hit” songs were not that great, and today, pop hits are made by The Suits anyway. Doesn’t mean the songs are any good. Jackson’s best musical years were way behind him and they were way behind me, too.
Third: Michael Jackson’s contributions to black history were hidden because of Jackson himself. Hearing that he broke down racial barriers was a surprise to me and I don’t think it is because I am unaware of recent historical African American breakthroughs. I imagine that the press touted Jackson’s contribution to breaking down racial barriers through the years, but over time talk about his important moments was overshadowed by his strange activity.
Fame’s everlasting question “But what have you done lately?” gets answered one way or another. A smart celebrity (ie: Angelina Jolie) learns that question quickly and manages the answer. Jackson wasn’t one of those celebrities. Or perhaps he wanted it both ways – he wanted to do whatever he wanted, act however he wanted but with total forgiveness by his fans and the press. The more his sanity was questioned, the more he blasted against the reality of fame. Meanwhile, he allowed the media and the general public to answer the question, “What have you done lately?” with the term “Wacko-Jacko.”
Fourth: I feel sad for his kids and I believe that they think he was the best dad. But he wasn’t a great father because he didn’t take care of himself. His death was clearly due to self-induced starvation coupled with high levels of prescription medication. His death wasn’t an accident, like falling off a ladder. He didn’t have his kids in mind with these choices and I find that inexcusible. He is not martyr.
Fifth: I have respect for Jackson the Artist but none for Jackson the Person. I am good with those two worlds being separate. I will never know an famous Artist as a Person. Normally, I have respect for one while knowing the other is out of my orbit. Sometimes, I have respect for both because the Person becomes known through philanthropic activity, for example. With all I learned about Jackson the Person (multiple plastic surgeries, whitening his skin, multiple and brief marriages, close relationships with young boys, owning a pet chimp, wearing masks in public, hanging his baby over a balcony, and the list goes on) the less I respected him.
I believe he had a difficult life. His father seems to be a real ass. Being a child star is difficult – adults putting all of their dreams into him, not knowing who was telling the truth, world adulation with no one else who can relate (no wonder his best friend was Diana Ross) – and I don’t blame him for that difficulty. But as an adult, he knew what a normal reaction to all the stress was and what was absurd. Outside of the box is one thing – outside of reality is another.
Ultimately, I believe (and mind you I am not a professional, um, anything) that Michael Jackson didn’t know who he was. He was lost – all that talent but not able to connect at a human level with anyone because he couldn’t connect with himself. That is why I think he had these “close” relationships with boys (I use quotes because how emotionally close could he be with an 8 year old? And I am not accusing him of being a pedophile since he was acquitted of the charges). He was trying to get to know himself as a child since that part of his life disappeared with his rising fame. And if he could know himself as a child, maybe he would know himself as a man. That never came to pass, and now he is dead.
After saying all this, I could say that I’m ready to move on.
Only, I moved on from Michael Jackson a long time ago.