Friday, June 26, 2009
Michael Jackson Is Dead... And We Killed Him
Everyone is talking about it, and I do mean everyone. It's the biggest news of the decade practically, even bigger than Iran's slow burning revolution. The King of Pop is dead.
There was never a time in my life where Michael Jackson was not a figurehead. By my birth both Off The Wall and Thriller had been released and his dance moves already ingrained in the world's collective unconsciousness. I grew up with Jackson being a larger than life and completely unreachable figure. And I guess that's one of the problems I'm having with all of the coverage of his death. How does one really talk about someone who is known all over the world? How do you report on the most famous person ever?
I know some people may argue with the idea of Michael Jackson's at this uber-popular figure, but those people are bullshitting themselves. Even his exes have admitted there is no place with even slight public access that he could go without being mobbed, literally. Think of how much attention the media gives (or is claimed to give) our current president. . . now imagine having that same amount of attention since age 11 and it increasing exponentially to the point where you have to have more on hand bodyguards than the President of the United States while still in your early 20's. And now do that for almost 30 years straight.
Michael was famous amongst famous people. I remember watching MTV, the station he once had a symbiotic relationship with, and seeing that the stars of the evening, N*Sync (during their heyday) were trembling at having briefly performed with Jackson, and backstage tried to get his autograph.
Look at the reports on his life and his death; No one can really get a grip with who he was as a person. They either focus exclusively on his music or his eccentricities, and they have a hard time reconciling that he had a life. He had children, he had marriages, he had friends, he had numerous pets, he gave to charities, he took up world causes, he was influenced by religion, and shit and eat and breathed just like the rest of us. But in our minds it just won't compute. The figurehead of Thriller can't just be a real person can he?
We made him a recluse. We didn't give him our empathy while he was alive unless he was on stage. He retreaded to his own massive world when he wasn't performing; A world that by all accounts was not based in reality. So we let him be alienated and preyed on him for it, a person whose self esteem was already precariously low by all standards.
Look at how much love R. Kelly got during his pretty unambiguous criminal allegations. Look at how we tolerate all sorts of crack addictions among our other entertainers. Michael was only good to us when he was singing and dancing, that's what we implicitly said and that's what the news has all but stated as we remember his life. It's a sad sad thing that we let one of the treasures of the 20th century die much before his time, but i guess this is just one more reminder about how humanity in general and America in particular treat the things that matter to us and add to our lives.