Thursday, June 25, 2009
Exit The King
It's very strange to me that Michael Jackson is dead. It's also very strange to me how deeply sad that I feel. I think so much of his life had become such a media circus, such a tabloid freakshow that I had not consciously thought of him as an artist for years. But now that he's gone, what immediately rushes to the front of my brain is the artist and his contributions to the world through his music. All the craziness is still there: the child molestation charges, the strange marriages, the baby-dangling, the surgeries, the skin-whitening, Neverland's money issues, the hordes of people constantly following him everywhere. It's just not what's on top right now. It's not the main thing. The main thing is the music and what he has meant to generations of people across the world.
There are so many moments from my childhood that leap to mind musically in connection to MJ. Thriller, of course, is really unlike anything. I was so terrified of that video, except during the dancing. The dancing was amazing and joyous. Billie Jean is amazing. Beat It is amazing. Man In The Mirror is amazing. These just scratch the surface. That's not even to mention all the Jackson Five songs that are total classics thanks to MJ. His Scarecrow in The Wiz was HUGE to me. I still think about the Leave Me Alone video in my daydreams. Then there's We Are The World. And The Free Willy song! Moonwalker! Captain EO in 3D in EPCOT! There's just so much that influenced and impacted me growing up. SO much.
And truthfully? I don't even consider myself a huge Michael Jackson fan. I didn't own all his albums, I didn't dress up like him as a kid at Halloween. I have friends for whom MJ was CRUCIAL to their lives growing up, and I know their shock and loss this evening is much greater than mine. But even as a casual fan of his music - look at all the things that I can immediately come up with that are memorable and important to me that he created! He was an undeniable component of pop-culture, and not in some bullshit way like current talentless reality stars who try to push their way into our lives in, offering nothing of substance in return for celebrity.
It's sad that he's gone at 50, right as he was prepping for a performance comeback, so that we might refocus on him as an artist and not some tabloid oddity. There could have been much more to his story. At least we are left with some truly incredible music and memories from his decades worth of work. What an impact he made on the world while he lived. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, especially his young children, and all of his true fans who have loved his work for their whole lives. He will not be forgotten.