Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Michael Jackson, History

So I was going through some old folders on the hard drive and found this thing I wrote the night Michael Jackson died. I never posted it because it's self serving garbage, but I re-read it and I kind of like it through the scope of 6 months. So I'm posting it.

Michael Jackson is dead.
That cute as a button kid who danced in front of his brothers and kicked out some funkiest shit known to earth in the 70's, the young man with a scowl, moon-walking in a red leather jacket and studded glove through the 80's, the increasingly pale fellow who started donning masks, married Elvis' daughter, dangled his baby off a balcony, and had painfully uncomfortable encounters with children whether he touched them or not, all those guys are gone.
There is surely an avalanche building as we speak of horror stories that will start coming out over the weeks, months and years to come. Books by those close to him. Lawyers, Doctors, Agents will all have stories about the complexities of this man as well as tales of weirdness on an epic scale.
I mean the stuff that got out while he was alive, like the Jesus juice, the oxygen tanks, and bigger than life Peter Pan complex, was weird enough, but there is surely some buzzard just waiting to expose the dirty secrets of this poor bastard after the initial grieving period is over.
Right now everyone fondly remembers Thriller-era Michael.
Michael Jackson was the 80's just as much as Elvis was the 50's. In the end the King of Rock'n Roll and the King of Pop might have turned out to be a little more alike than originally thought. While Elvis might have been more extroverted, even in his declining years playing shows and making light of his appearance, Michael amidst court cases,controversies and mutations, hid in his ranch/amusement park until the government took it away. Both of them were on top of the world, and indisputably the best, and most innovative in their field in their prime, and both saw their creativity and popularity wane in later years and began showing signs of erratic behavior. Elvis shot television sets and filmed young girls in their underwear having pillow fights, Michael had slumber parties with kids and fed them wine. And of course was accused of other daliances.
So why are there people crying in the streets doing bad accapella versions of his songs? Leaving flowers outside of the Apollo Theater? Why has a cynical bastard like me, who can't remember the last time I even thought about Michael Jackson beyond maybe blasting Billie Jean or Thriller should I hear it on the radio care? (I should also confess that I always really liked The Way You Make Me Feel off Bad too, that would probably be my Top 3 not including Jackson 5 material Michael Jackson songs). Alright maybe I might have done the Thriller Dance (badly) at Halloween parties.

I think some of it comes down to age. I can remember 1984 a little. Not vividly but enough to know that certain things burned themselves into my psyche: Ronald Reagan was President, and Michael Jackson was the biggest musician in the world. It's why, even though I later learned shitty things about Ronald Reagan I felt a little sad when he died. It wasn't so much being sad for the man, maybe just a sick realization of "that was fucking 20 years ago". Some people suggest it might have something to do with a part of your childhood being gone, and I think I bought into that for about 10 minutes, but in the end that is probably just neurtoic armchair psychiatric bullshit. I think I do buy into the "realization of one's own mortality" neurotic armchair psychiatric bullshit much more.
So I don't want to watch the news or any of the entertainment shows that will surely keep this feeding frenzy going for the next 20 years, beating us over the head with unearthed EXLCUSIVES. Surely the following sentence will be uttered in the next week: Michael Jackson "What you didn't know!" And who would be suprised if this turned out to be some kind of elaborate hoax? It won't be long before the "Michael faked his own death and is living as a waffle maker in Belgium" rumors start spinning.
But there's bigger things going on in the world than the death of a pop star. Iran is shooting protesters and North Korea is claiming they want to reign down hellfire on everybody. There's big things going on.
But Michael Jackson was big. Big enough for the networks to clear their schedules for the evening, big enough to block out news that Farrah Fawcett and Ed McMahon died this week too. I mean the title of this thing is a lyric from a U2 song. That's pretty big.
Ultimately he was a great entertainer who turned into great entertainment. He morphed from the biggest pop star in the world into a rolling punchline for hack comedians and an endless blood supply for vampiric pseudo-journalists and while I'm sorry he died I have no intention of drinking a beer or lighting a candle or spouting some kind of over-earnest sentimental garbage about the man. He was a singer who was also obviously damaged, who may have had the best of intentions but couldn't help but come off creepy over the last 15 or so years. The real sad thing is that he may have never even realized it.

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