Tuesday, June 30, 2009

In Memoriam

Michael Jackson 1958-2009

What a shock the sudden death of this great artist has been. He was only 50 years old and suffered cardiac arrest, which I learned is much worse then a heart attack, since with cardiac arrest there is no blood flowing at all. The full story of what happened won't be known for a few weeks, but already has transpired that he had a few health issues that required him to take several medications and that too many might have been administered to him, although no foul play seems involved.

My feelings about Michael Jackson are mixed. I think he was an incredibly talented musician, a good singer (although his cherubic voice, interesting as it might have sounded when he was in his 20s, could sound creepy now that he was a mature man), a cool dancer (although I often found his dance routines to be quite repetitive), and a great self-promoter and marketer of one's image.

I am ambivalent about such image as well. Born African American, Michael Jackson was now whiter than myself and had lost any resemblance to the cute guy who sang timeless hits like "Beat It" and "Billie Jean." He obviously underwent countless plastic surgery procedures, and yet always denied having had any, which only attracted more speculation and curiosity, the same curiosity he would often attack as unfair.

And then there is the whole issue of the child molestation accusations. Investigations were launched twice. The first time, he ended up settling to avoid a trial. The second time, his trial became a total circus and he was portrayed like a freak show.

Was he guilty? I don't know, but I do think there was something to the accusations. Yes, some accusers might have done it for the money, but I just saw clips from interviews done with Jackson and what I saw only confirmed my feelings.

In the first, shortly after the huge settlement was paid out, Jackson was asked if he thought there was anything odd for a thirty-something year old man sleeping in the same bed with tween boys. He replied no, it was all innocent, and his wife at the time, Lisa Marie Presley, was sitting right next to him saying she saw it and saw nothing weird. And I thought, Shouldn't you be sleeping with your husband instead of some kid who is not related to him? Furthermore, only deepening my uneasiness, when asked if he'd promise not to do it again, Jackson refused, and pretty much admitted he would continue engaging in that kind of behavior.

In the second, now a 44 year old man, he was asked about the behavior again, and Jackson again said he didn't see anything odd in a man his age sleeping in the same bed with very young teens. He insisted it was all innocent, and some kids confirmed his words. But what I thought was, What about girls? Why only boys? If you're simply attracted to the innocence of children, why the gender selection? And that's what makes me think that there was indeed something shady going on.

Regardless, now the guy is dead and his secrets died with him. At least those that won't come out in future tell-all interviews with former employees now safe from retaliation or from autobiographies of kids who want to cash in on their chance encounter with a star.

So Michael Jackson is dead, and now all we have is his legacy. Is it a good legacy? Overall, I think so, because he created ingenous music and was a great artist, but the oddity of his transforming physical appearance (a clear sign that he was greatly uncomfortable in his own skin) and the accusations of impropriety with children will always tar it a bit.

In the end, I think Michael Jackson was a great artist and a very tortured soul. A man who never had a childhood, which brought him to forever try and recapture it from other kids. A kid at heart, who never fully grew up because of how he was raised, always shoved in the limelight, handled by many, adored by hordes of fans, but who ultimately felt misunderstood and probably alone and even removed from a world he saw at times as cold and unwelcoming.

Rest in peace.

No comments: