Of course by now everyone knows about the sudden passing of Michael Jackson. I myself found out at work from a customer who’s son works for High Noon. This was before CNN et al had confirmed everything, since a co-worker who had just came in claimed it had to be a rumor since otherwise it’d be “all over the news”. I remember as I was walking toward the exit I could hear people telling each other “Did you hear? He died”. There was no need to wonder who “he” was, and it was pretty amazing to see word spread like wildfire through the store. By the time I got home it was all over the news and I was tempted to call work and be all “Yo, Rick, guess you were wrong!”
A part of the the rather excessive news coverage I found poignant was this exchange:
REV. AL SHARPTON: I think that Michael Jackson grew up on stage. He loved the stage. He loved the — and I think that my last conversations over the last couple of years, he was hurt by a lot of people. Debra is right, that he trusted a lot of big names, that he went out for and stood up for that he felt didn’t stand for him….But I think a lot of people that you will hear saying a lot of great things over the next couple days, they broke Michael Jackson’s heart way before it gave away today.
ANDERSON COOPER: Yes, I know. I’m having that thought, seeing all these people putting out statements. Wonder…
SHARPTON: Where were you yesterday?
DEBRA OPRI: Where were you yesterday? Well put.
It is incredibly true. He was surround by enablers and vampires who wanted the fringe benefits of being around a mega-star. I do not think all of them meant ill, simply because I know that if I were in that position it would be difficult at best to tell Michael Jackson “no”. However, there were signs ages ago that he was a lonely and troubled man, so where were his “friends” and family then?
The most obvious sign of his inner demons was his plastic surgery fixation. Now, his appearance has always been a strange thing for me, and not in the way you are probably thinking. I was born in 1984 so the Michael Jackson of the Bad ear was Michael Jackson for me. Since I was a child I just accepted what he looked like and that he had appeared different in the sixties and seventies. Such is the beauty of childhood. Eventually I grew up and began to recognize that he wasn’t normal looking, perhaps aided by the fact that he continued to edit his face. There was a TV program that showed what he would have looked like had he never had any surgery. I was disturbed; that was not Michael Jackson. So, even though as an adult I can see that what he was doing to himself was horrifying, my inner child still accepts his “freaky” nature. Although I have seen a much better “projection” since then, but still….it’s not Michael. :\
His relationship with children, both the boys he had inappropriate relationships with and his own offspring, is a chapter of his life I don’t even know how to process. I sickly hope that now maybe some light can be shed on his kids and what their lives have been like. I hope they can have some normal upbringing now, but that depends on who gets custody. In my dream world I’d want it to be Tito, Marlon, Rebbie or Janet. I’ve never really believed he molested anybody, because I cannot imagine as a parent taking money from someone I honestly believed touched my child. (I think his giving money was a stupid move and someone should have been there to say “no way in hell”.) I’m not saying I would have left my kid alone with MJ at night, but I wouldn’t live my kid alone at night with any strange man, period, no matter how rich he was; and considering Michael’s debt I’m not really sure how “rich” you could call him.
I have always felt, and always will, that he had a heart of gold and wanted nothing more than to be loved. He never had a childhood, never learned what a healthy relationship was, never had a real circle of friends. Even while thinking he was acting foolishly or was just being plain weird, I still thought what he really needed was plain help. Someone (a professional) to sit him down and help him confront his issues. He never got that. Instead he got “doctors” who peddled pain meds to him and “friends” who turned a blind eye to his self-destructive nature, family who were both bitter about his success and yet wanted to live off of it.
I will choose to remember the Michael Jackson of my kid years, the icon, the bigger than life force I saw moonwalking on TV countless times, the man so popular network TV would preview his newest music video.
In related news, I hope Sony finally releases a US version of the Moonwalker DVD. I used to watch the VHS all the time and no way in hell am I paying $400 for a bootleg. I don’t have too many issues with the various companies putting out stuff to monetize his death, because I’m hoping that money will go to his kids.