I’m still feeling at odds over the recent, death of Michael Jackson. With the way the media has blown his entire existence out of proportion you just don’t know who or what to believe. Regardless of his sins or personal demons one thing is certain in my mind. I feel so sad that he had so much pain inside that caused him to do the things he did. I couldn’t imagine living the life of lies and anguish as he must have. His demise is so deeply disturbing on so many levels.
When Thriller came out I was 13 years old and the album was completely life changing to me. Michael Jackson was a true phenomenon. That summer at camp, Thriller was the most often played cassette tape in the boom box and everyone was learning the moonwalk and the “Thriller” dance. The kids who knew the whole choreography were the envy of camp. Girls loved him and guys wanted to be like him. Michael changed pop music and the impact was overwhelming. I was raised on Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac, Elton John, CSNY and The Allman Brothers then BOOM! the cult of Michael Jackson invaded the world. What quickly followed was a musical brainwashing that transitioned my record collection to an embarrassing cacophony of innumerable, awful 80’s pop groups. None of which could hold a candle to Jackson. I loved everything about him. I had the glitter glove like his, and when I started high school in the fall I bought the sparkly black jacket. I recall at least 5 other students wore the same jacket on the first day of school.
Fast forward 5 years to college and the girls on my hall were melting Michael’s shirt tearing in the “Dirty Diana” video. Michael was cool and sexy in an androgynous and can’t-put-my-finger-on-it kind of way. He was still going strong in my book too.
Michael Jackson even gave me Christmas spirit. Each year, as soon the weather turned cold and the days grew shorter, Christmas spirit would fill the atmosphere sparked by the first annual playing of “We are the World” on the radio. To this day, it is still one of the songs played on the radio to kick off the season and is always the one that gets me into the true spirit of caring and giving.
What followed in the years since then were many bizarre, scary, weird and unfortunate events that earned him the name Wakco Jacko. We now know that drugs, and perhaps mental illness, played a large part in his behavior. That doesn’t make his actions right but it does help make some sense of the senseless things he did. So sad. I suppose when you spend your entire life with people bending over backward to kiss your butt you quickly learn how to get what ever you want whenever you want it. Chances are he would be here today, healthy and successful if not for all those people who enabled him just because he was famous. Some people just have no conscience.
So again, I simply don’t know what to make of Michael Jackson’s life and death. People often become sanctified in death. Everyone seems to forget one’s faults after they die and they become these perfect people. He was not perfect. Still, I want to remember the way I felt at 13 years old when his songs and videos played. It’s become hard to look past all his tormented years and still see him for what he was; an innovator and genius. But I will allow myself that right because he is now at rest. He is healed.
Like other tortured artists such as Van Gogh and even Elvis, his fame will become even more evident after his death. One would bet that record sales will continue to skyrocket. This Halloween at Costume SuperCenter we expect to see an abundance of sparkly black jackets, red leather, glitter gloves and Thriller costumes flying off the shelves. Regardless of his surgical metamorphosis, Michael Jackson remains one of the most recognizable ever figures in the world. His talent was rare and his legacy is undeniable.