Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson, RIP

I had originally wanted to start blogging again next week, but I feel compelled to say something about Michael Jackson's life and music as we head into what is certainly a perfect media storm of bullshit.

I heard that semi-literate, speech-impaired token named 'Sway' on MTV call Michael's death a "tragedy" yesterday. Perhaps, in addition to a much needed haircut, someone should get that brother a newspaper because no one with the depth of a rain puddle would call the (natural?) death of a 50 year old man with the influence, power, wealth and popularity Michael Jackson had a tragedy. In light of events elsewhere pretty much anywhere else around the world, this ranks somewhere in the "damn, that sucks" range of emotion.

That said, I was admittedly saddened by his death.

Michael became a freakish embarrassment over the past 15-20 years and to those in Gen Y and after, I can fully understand their air of dismissal about his music and their surprise of the general reaction to his death. But anyone alive in the early 80s, at the pinnacle of his career, understands exactly how huge he was. He was a superstar of the highest order--he was, after all, simply "Michael."

Jokes about his skin-lightening and hair straightening aside, Michael was racially transcendent well before Barack Obama's candidacy brought in the pundits' half-assed search for words to describe a "post-racial America." People of all races knew and wore his red leather jacket, tried to emulate the moonwalk, and danced jubilantly to his songs. He was a musical ambassador to the world before Bono appointed himself the patron saint of musical philanthropy. There wasn't a politician, musical artist, or sports superstar who would refuse Michael anything. Put simply, whether some like to admit it today or not, Michael Jackson was indisputably the coolest man on Earth.

The allegations surrounding his more recent personal life are well-known and just add to the awfulness of what I believe Michael's image became--whether they were true or not. I think he was a tortured man, for reasons I never will understand and, as far as I'm concerned, those reasons died with him. The media circus that is already underway will be sickening to me and anyone else who fondly remembers what Michael used to be.

I was talking to a friend and mentor last night, via IM, who was most definitely touched by Michael's death. She said:
I get that it's silly to a lot of people and I know people think he was a bad person...[but] for him, the pain is over. But I think he was a beautiful soul and his music has brought me incredible amounts of joy, has moved me to tears, [and] has made be boogie my ass off.

Michael's music made my friend, me, and millions of others smile nearly any time one of his songs came on a radio or jukebox. To this day, I can barely keep from dancing when I listen to 'Billie Jean' or 'Beat it' or a half-dozen other songs that immediately bring back memories of my childhood and happy times.

I will choose to remember him as he was at the Motown 25 celebration when he debuted the Moonwalk, and am glad that now, at least, the media can't hound him anymore and he will finally be left alone.

RIP, Michael.