Monday, July 13, 2009


The other day I was driving home from somewhere when I heard Michael Jackson had died. In a weird way I was sort of surprised by my reaction. First of all I found that I was not all that shocked by it. Second, I sort of didn't feel like I cared very much. I came home and flipped on the TV and everyone seemed to be sort of caught up in this thing that had just happened and I started changing the channel to find something else to watch because...well, I just didn't find the fact that he had died all that compelling and frankly I couldn't work myself up to care about it all that much.

And over the past few days/week or so... (how long has it been since he died? see I don't even know) - I just haven't really thought about it all that much. It's been on the news, he's on the cover of practically every magazine. You'd have to be living in a cave to not know that it's been widely reported that he was likely on heavy doses of prescription medication which, in all likelihood contributed and/or caused his death. I've seen several version of a chart that shows the changes of his face over the years. I didn't watch the memorial or pay all that much attention to any of the details. I saw some photos of his children and remarked that they are very pretty kids. It was sort of heartbreaking to see that youngest one (Blanket...seriously, I will never get over that name...I've come to accept weird celebrity children names like "Apple" and "Inspector" and even "Kal-el" but I will never get used to "Blanket" as a name...I think Michael made that up when he was being interviewed on that one documentary because he didn't want to give out the real name...I still refuse to believe that is the kids name) holding a doll of his father during the memorial. How seriously sad is that? And I thought his little girl talking about her father was also heart wrenching. But otherwise, my emotions have just been...well, nonexistent really.

Some background. I grew up never remembering a time when "The Jacksons" didn't exist. They were on lunch pails and Saturday Morning Cartoons when I was kid. They were all over the place. And Michael, was a cute as a bugs ear. By the time I hit Jr. High I had a crush on him. One of my first 8 tracks was "Off the Wall" which I listened to over and over again. I even had a Michael Jackson poster on the back of my bedroom door. By the time High School came around (Junior Year to be exact) Billie Jean was all the rage and Michael was about to astound us all with his moonwalk. Honestly, there wasn't much cooler than Michael Jackson long about 1984. Around this time Michael also seemed to be getting a little bit paler and his nose seemed to be getting a little bit more narrow. I remember him saying in an interview that he was just losing all his "baby fat" and I sort of bought into that version of reality for a while. I loved Thriller but his narrower nose and lighter skin were even more apparent by then.

It wasn't long before he was "Bad" and a "Smooth Criminal" and I sort of started to loose interest. Bubbles the Chimp? And why did his nose keep disappearing? I liked the old black Michael better and I wasn't too sure about this new white one. Then Neverland Ranch got all weird. And then the accusations started. He just seemed to get more bizarre by the year. Every once in a while he would intrigue me again. I really liked the "Scream" video he did with Janet. I thought "Remember the Time" was a catchy song. And the music video he did with Naomi Campbell for the song "In the Closet" was gorgeous. Every once in a while I would catch some footage of him dancing and realize, he was still amazingly talented. But his talent seemed to be eclipsed by his strangeness. Lisa Marie? Kids with Debbie Rowe? The Martin Bashir documentary? Hello? The man seemed to lose all sense of reality.

So when I saw some old footage of him from the Off the Wall era the other day I remembered why I had liked him so much in the first place. He had so much energy and vibrancy and everything he did seemed cool. He was talented. Really, really talented.

So today, I bought a few songs on itunes that I remembered fondly. And sometime in there, while listening to all these songs that made me feel happy back in 1979, I shed one single solitary tear for Michael. Which suprised me, because up until that moment, I just had not felt anything about him dying. But I realized that I was sad for that Michael. For lost potential. For all the things that can go wrong in a persons life. For all the little things that add up to big things.

I don't pretend to know what all went wrong in Michaels life and how much of it was self-created problems and how much of it might have been mental illness, or drug addiction or a multitude of other things. All I am saying is that it's complicated isn't it?

Did he molest all those young boys? I have no idea. It didn't look too good did it? Either way it's tragic. It's tragic if he did and it's tragic if he didn't.

In our celebrity obsessed culture we seem to have an appetite for chewing people up and spitting them out. So many talented people seem to be ruined by their own success don't they?

What am I even saying? I don't know. I guess what I'm saying is that I'll always really like the late 70s early 80s version of Michael. Listening to PYT will probably always put me in a good mood. And it will be a long, long time before someone with as much raw talent as Michael will come along again.


Cynthia said...

I had lost most of my interest in Michael Jackson due to his oddness in past years. But when his name came up, I had to confess I was always a fan back in the day. 'Off the Wall' came out when I was graduating and I LOVED that album. I think I still have it. I really still like his older music and videos. I missed out on much of his music after the mid 80's as I was heavily involved in Sesame Street music during those years.
I have been oddly drawn to the new stories and footage since his death. He has some adorable children. I hope they find some normalcy in life.

I Am Boymom said...

It is amazing how complex life can be and how easy it is for us to screw it up, isn't it? I had the same reaction that you did, didn't really have any feeling about his death one way or another. Then it hit me a few days ago...the dude (?) is still a person with a spirit and how sad and tragic that such a talented person suffered so much mental and emotional anguish in his life. Whether it was self-induced or because of all the weird, mitigating circumstances that came with being Michael Jackson, he was definitely a conflicted individual. I hope he finds a measure of peace in the after life and that his kids get a shot at having a functional, emotionally healthy life as they move on without Dad.

You are right about the raw talent. In his day (Off the Wall)he was the shizzle! Totally took the music world by storm and changed music videos forever with Thriller.

Anonymous said...

First of all, Michael Jackson was a pervert and mentally ill. It really doesn't matter how talented you are when you are molesting children and paying off their parents.

Secondly, anyone who would take the time you obviously did, to write such a moving tribute, really needs some introspection and a different hobby.

Good grief!

Bandanamom said...

Ummmm...yeah. These "anonymous" blog comments are always interesting.

Why is it any worse for me to write a stream of consciousness blog post (which took me maybe 10 minutes tops) any worse than you spending your time reading it at 2 am? AND then taking the time to comment. Anonymously...because apparently you are too cowardly to just let us know who you are and let us know what you have to say.

I think you sort of missed the point of my post entirely anyway. But whatever.


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