Saturday, June 27, 2009

Michael Jackson R.I.P.

Michael Jackson is dead at fifty. And the reaction to his death is fitting. Every cable news and entertainment channel, and most every radio station, is running (or at least was running—it has been more than twenty-four hours since Jackson died) wall-to-wall coverage of his death. The death of Michael Jackson is a lucrative business—aside from the monster television ratings to be had, Jackson’s albums are selling again—Thriller hit #1 on Amazon.

This orgy of profit is appropriate, given Jackson’s career arc. He was deprived of any sort of childhood by his abusive father, forced to practice singing and not much else. His success as a child star condemned him to a sort of eternal childhood—his handlers injected him with female hormones to preserve his youthful voice, and he was encouraged to live in a Peter Pan, never-grow-up world.

Jackson bore some responsibility for his increasingly eccentric actions—but he never really had a chance. No one could do much given his circumstances—instant fame, but incredible pressure and dreadful and sometimes abusive authority figures. His fame would have nigh-impossible for even the most balanced person to handle. In Michael Jackson’s case, the results were horrible.

He went a little mad, ruining his face with plastic surgeries, allegedly molesting children, and going from riches to rags, dying a poor man. Michael Jackson was an icon, a legend, one of pop music’s greatest figures—but also an American tragedy.


At June 27, 2009 at 12:41 PM , Blogger Z-man said...

If anything from what they're now saying it may be another cautionary tale about the abuse of prescription drugs. I don't know if it was his intent to look the way he did after all the plastic surgeries, I mean did Joan Rivers mean to look the way she now does? Amy Winehouse does crack and is still alive, go figure.

At June 29, 2009 at 7:55 AM , Anonymous The way I see it said...

Your BLOG precisely expressed what I've been internalizing for the past few days while listening to sniffles and RIPs from co-workers planted in front of the break-room TV.

As far as having to respect "the generation that grew up listening to his music" - ah, no, that's OK. I'm old enough to qualify and am doing just fine, thanks. MJ lost me when he cut off his nose and slept with boys (oh, I'm sorry, but I'm sure that he paid off the families of young boys)
Just because millions of people desire to live vicariously through some other person, doesn't mean that other person is flawless. He was a freak, plain and simple. At some point in your life you take responsibility for your actions, no matter how abused you might be. People's fascination with freak doesn't make it any less freak.
Then there was the "bizarre factor", which may have even been promoted by his press machine. But consider the many artists who tout their eccentricity which may call attention to them aside from their art, eg, Boy George, Prince, Marilyn Manson, Ozzie Osbourn and clan, etc.

The stuff with the children was weird, to be sure as well as the plastic surgery and all the rest.

At June 29, 2009 at 1:06 PM , Blogger Z-man said...

Well he WAS acquitted in '05 on very overblown criminal charges by an obsessed DA trying to make a name for himself but I guess nobody around these parts agrees with that verdict.

At July 3, 2009 at 10:45 AM , Anonymous Gary said...

He was a childs worst nightmare.

Don't make any excuses for him Z Man

At July 6, 2009 at 2:09 PM , Blogger Z-man said...

Clearly he was a polarizing figure but I just tend to agree more with the jury's decision and that's where I'm coming from.

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