Monday, June 29, 2009

I'm Not Sure If You've Heard...

But Michael Jackson has passed away at the age of 50.

The media frenzy (reminiscent of Princess Diana's funeral) is at once baffling, in the face of much more important issues--Iran, North Korea, Afghanistan, Iraq, U.S. health care, etc. But the constant coverage and over-the-top spectacle are certainly predictable, if not understandable. It was a bit of a shock, and aren't we all just the tiniest bit curious? What made this strange, sad man suddenly drop dead? Are we finally going to get the exclusive, tell-all details? Of course, it's all none of our business, and the tabloid-consuming public is complicit in many ways in his ultimate madness and downfall, I'm sure. But if you're my age, Michael Jackson most likely meant something to you at some point in your childhood. And you may find it's still possible to love the old hits while watching in dismay as his face corroded and he was accused of molesting CHILDREN, for Christ's sake.

I am of an age where Michael Jackson was one of my first celebrity crushes--I was about seven or eight years old when "Billie Jean" and "Beat It" were all the rage. My best childhood friend--the neighbor boy next door--had Michael Jackson albums that we would listen to religiously after school. He was grounded once when a nun caught him trying to moonwalk out of church. I remember being at the baby shower of a family friend when the "Thriller" video premiered and how everyone at this baby shower--young and old alike--stopped everything just to watch this video. I remember watching MTV for hours, waiting for Michael Jackson videos to play. ("Darn it, it's just Prince again.") I loved his infectious pop songs, his dancing (before all the crotch-grabbing), his singing (before all the interjections of "SHAMON!"), his sense of style that had everyone looking insane in the 80s, emulating him with single white gloves and "Beat It" and "Thriller" jackets. So much childhood can be conjured up just by listening to those songs.

And then there was the realization that my peers and I had left childhood behind, but Michael never had. This man grew older and stranger-looking and clung to tree-climbing and amusement parks and petting zoos, which I guess wouldn't have been so awful if it weren't for the "slumber parties" that were frankly sinister. He had been robbed of his innocence long ago and didn't understand that you can't recreate it. He didn't understand that LOTS of people are robbed of an idyllic childhood yet turn out okay, because he had lived his *entire life* in a narcissistic celebrity bubble. And although I can't say for certain what went on behind closed doors, he may have damaged some children along the way. Or even damaged them by association...once molestation charges are levied, how do you think other kids and adults would react by finding out you hung out at Neverland...even if nothing had actually happened? I certainly hope that none of it was ever true, but his legacy will never shake those suspicions.

A lot of the tributes and public mourning are totally hypocritical. All of the current stars wailing about Michael Jackson's music and legacy--I don't remember a lot of them sitting at the feet of their master in recent years. All of the news stations covering his death and funeral arrangements 24-7...these were the same media figures that reveled in his bizarre antics.

When I think of Michael Jackson, I reflect on the sadness of his life...a young boy abused, a great talent exploited, a beautiful black face willingly mutilated. But I can't give myself over to hysterical mourning because well, a) I never knew him and b) I feel uncomfortable lionizing someone who may have left child victims in his wake. I guess the kindest thing to do is to try to remember the good about him, to remember him in his prime, when he really was the King of Pop, when I thought he was totally, totally cute.

Remember him like this:

24 comments:

Lisa_OMS said...

He will be missed by many. I hope the children don't go through a horrible custody battle.

pleatherface said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
pleatherface said...

I still remember when Thriller debuted on MTV. (Considering the amount of drugs I've done over the years, that's pretty fucking remarkable.) I'll always love his early work. The duets with Eddie Murphy and Paul McCartney, not so much. RIP Jacko.

Maise, I'm still waiting for my haiku submissions. Rumor has it you're a master.

(above comment deleted for containing multiple typos)

maise said...

Thanks, Pleatherface! I think I feel a bit of performance anxiety! I'll see what I can whip up for you...

Isabel said...

I've had a crap few days as my baby has tonsilitis and I have spent a few sleepless nights nursing him, poor thing. It's horrible watching a baby suffer and being unable to communicate with them to tell them they will be OK soon.

Anyway RIP Michael Jackson, I remember watching the Thriller video when I was 9 at a school thing and running out of the room I was so scared.

Anyone got any ideas for new music to get into ? I commute to work 3 days a week with a 2 hour round trip so have 6 hours a week to listen to new stuff. JR if I was to listen to Gaffney what do you recommend as a starting point?

Iris said...

And Isabel! You're TRENT REZNOR? Well slap me silly! It was great to meet you but you could have said SOMETHING to let us know it was you. No wonder we have the inside scoop here. Even if "Jeff"'s other comments get deleted eventually, that one is staying. Almost got myself in trouble laughing at that one. Phew.

Hope your baby starts feeling better soon. I can't imagine having a sick little one is much fun.

New music recommendations...hmm...been listening to a bit of InnerPartySystem, Eagles of Death Metal, and a whole lotta blues on Blip.fm. Street Sweepers Social Club's new album is definitely worth a listen or two.

Iris said...

Back to the point of this post though, MJ was a strange and extremely gifted guy. It seems odd and way too abrupt that this was his end.

I'm a couple years too young to really remember when Thriller came out but on the next album I remember loving the song "The Way You Make Me Feel" and being fascinated with the girl in the video. Later, my brother hated me when I stole his Dangerous cassette tape. Used to listen to that album back to back to back.

It was just a bad week for celebrities last week. You guys heard about Billy Mayes too, right? I'm sure he's still yelling product pitches wherever he is now.

Isabel said...

iris, funny you mention Eagles of Death Metal, I went to see them last week, they were really fun.

This morning I listened to some of David Bowie's Outside. I just love the percussion / piano combination on A Small Plot Of Land.

maise said...

Jesus Fucking Christ in a Handbasket.

"Jeff" (although I'm pretty sure I know who you are), this is a GODDAMN FANSITE. It is our blog, and we can write whatever the hell we want. If you're so upset by our point of view (aka, "we're not THAT fucking obsessed with Trent Reznor that his choice of a bride makes us foam at the mouth"), then don't read. It's that simple.

You keep going on and on and on about the "terrible" things Trent has allegedly done in your mind. But you're the only person on this entire thread being nasty, going for laughable personal attacks. In fact, because you've violated our rules like 1000 times over, all this shit is going to disappear. Abracadabra!

JR said...

Isabel, I bet your baby would stop crying if you would just stop respecting Trent Reznor...

As for Gaffney, I recommend Sebadoh III (in particular, my favorite Gaffney tune "Limb By Limb" as well as "Scars, Four Eyes" "God Told Me" "Supernatural Force" and "As The World Dies..."), or perhaps my most favoritest Sebadoh record, and the one with which I fell in love with the band, Bubble And Scrape (and on that, in particular "Bouquet For A Siren" and "Elixir Is Zog").

He's got a ton of solo stuff, plus a bunch more with Seb, but I think the stuff he has on these two records is his most accessible and a good starting point (not sure how familiar you are with Seb, but they were really a songwriting collective with Lou Barlow/Eric Gaffney/Jason Loewenstein, though frequently Lou Barlow got the lions share of the credit, undeservedly).

Keep me posted - I'm curious to know if/how it grabs you.

JR said...

(P.S. Bubble and Scrape was also produced/engineered by my latest hero/crush Bob Weston - who is now in Mission of Burma - who I am going to see next week...so...)

Anonymous said...

http://wavegoodbye.foren-city.de/

Isabel said...

Thanks JR - I'll look them up and give them a listen, I didn't know of Sebadoh, but I did know of Dinosaur Jr, my brother-in-law is a bit of an indie boy and went to see them last year. I'm beginning to plough through some Radiohead at the moment, finding it quite hard to get past some of the vocals though

Isabel said...

About TR though, I don't think respect has much to do with it as a person, I just love his music and have done for 18 years and he has never let me down in a 'live' sense before so I'll make my own judgement when seeing them later this month.

I think I've made quite a few comments on this blog that suggest I have some issues with some aspects of TR and some of the things he's done which is why I get annoyed at being called a stupid worshipper!

I couldn't say it better than Diedre though!

maise said...

When it comes to Trent Reznor, no one says it better than Dierdre!

Anonymous said...

Except a US court judge who will decide on who really came up with Year Zero!

Isabel said...

the same old few people making the same old comments.

I don't think they realise that TR really isn't famous enough in the scheme of things for that many people to get so worked up about it!

Anons - just carry on twittering among yourselves slapping each other on the back - enjoy

maise said...

Ha, looks like Trent isn't ready to totally wave goodbye just yet.

Does this mean that the Places Parallel Girls will get to go to their NINTH NIN show? Wish us luck because tickets at the Aragon in Chicago will sell out in a heartbeat!

Isabel said...

Just 1 day to go before seeing my last NIN performance!

Trent - PLEASE don't wear the white trousers, or terrible shorts even if it is hot in London, black jeans and t-shirt will suffice thank you!

maise said...

Yes, Isabel, you must report back here and tell us all about it!

I don't mean to put us on permanent "moment of silence." I just haven't had the time or inspiration to write something new...will do so soon, though!

Chatter away!

Isabel said...

OK WOW what an amazing gig! Not quite our last as we have Sonisphere in August. BUT Trenty only did what I had asked him in a tweet and brought on GARY NUMAN to play Metal and then Cars - it was genius. Too tired to properly comment but both bands have meant so much to me, it was quite an emotional moment actually

Isabel said...

Hey there - I put up a blog about the 02 gig last night in a live journal entry if anyone wants to read it, too long to put in a comment : http://isabel3.livejournal.com/

WOW - Trent wore just black, no white trousers (does he read?). Still not recovered from witnessing Trent Reznor and Gary Numan mooging out together to Metal and Cars - it was just adorable and brought tears to my eyes. Also he just seemed really kind of chirpy and happy - Still reeling from the performance of Hurt too, just lovely.

Anonymous said...

hey


great forum lots of lovely people just what i need


hopefully this is just what im looking for looks like i have a lot to read and then a lot to wright

Anonymous said...

Shalom

This is my first post here.. Hello to everyone!

Cheerio