Michael Jackson Died for Our Sins
This week we lost one of the greatest musical talents of the past fifty years. While he had his critics and his … peculiarities, one cannot deny the massive influence that Michael Jackson had on American popular music and culture. While it is a sad day for music lovers everywhere, some people are crass enough to have started taking pot shots at him and his memory before the body was even cold. I usually don’t get all butt hurt over people making light of celebrities but for Michael I make an exception. I do this firstly because he released Thriller, easily the most influential record of all time*. Secondly, and this is the biggie here, I do this because those that criticise and deride him the most are the same type of people that made him what he is today. It’s the same celebrity obsessed lookie-loos that cracked him and skewed his world view. Read after the break for more.
I’m going to try and keep this short, as I am liable to vent here and go on and on and on.
< rant >
The man grew up in a fishbowl, thrust out into the public by a horrible excuse for a father, one Mr. Joesph Jackson. While one might say that the pressure that Joe Jackson put on his sons was part of what drove them to success, it takes no great leap of the imagination to connect the physical and emotional abuse endured by the Jackson children to their difficulties later in life. Lets be honest here. Michael never had what could, by any leap of the imagination, be called a childhood. He was on the road performing from the time he was five, isolated from other children and the necessary experiences that people need durring their formative years to make them well ballanced mentally healthy adults. He grew up as a performer in the media spot light and suffered because of it.
As he grew older the pressure and attention intensified. Albums, singles, music videos, celebrity endorsements, getting his hair set on fire on the set of that Pepsi commercial shoot, all of it made him fodder for the tabloids. As the outside world pushed further and further into his life, Michael did what anyone could be expected to do, he withdrew further and further into his own world, first to his mansion in Encino and then further removed to Neverland ranch. If ever there was someone that needed to have a safe social environment, it’s the dude that had no childhood, suffered emotional abuse through out his developing years, and thought that he was Peter Pan. But how are you going to find that when everyone either wants your money or to make money off you? Wacko Jacko stories and pictures sold papers so the outside kept closing in.
I’m not one that tries to appologize away the creepy man-child aspect of his personality in his later years. The fact that he basically stopped aging emotionally at like age 9 is way freaky. Under the circumstances though, it is understandable. Here was a man in the postition to buy anything he wanted, to make any dream he had come true. Mansion? Done. Amusement park? Done. Pet monkey? Done. The publishing rights to the bulk of the Beatles catalog? Done. But the one thing he wanted and needed most, the one thing that would have made everything else bearable, was impossible to buy. A normal childhood isn’t something you can find for sale.
So let’s review where we are so far shall we? Incredibly traumatic childhood + further isolation + more money than god = recipe for celebrity lunacy not seen since Howard Hughes. Good to see you’re still with me.
As he continued to withdraw from the world, he started to lose touch with his audience and the tastes of mainstream culture. While his later efforts were pretty solid showings (even 2001’s Invincible has some good cuts on it) they still have that certain “this is just a little off” quality to them. You could tell that he was no longer on the same page as the public at large, he no longer had his finger on the pulse of the times. So what happens? The critics tear him a new one as the tabloids continued to swarm around looking for blood in the water (or on the dance floor as the case may be) and he withdraws even further.
The final nail in the coffin, the thing that pushed him over the edge? The child molestation charges. Even though he was acquitted I’m not going to hazzard a guess as to whether or not he did touch those kids. It is documented that he began having troubles with perscription pain killers as a result of the stress from the trials. Both the case in ’93 and the case in ’03 had the tell tale signs of opportunistic extortion. The tape recorded comments of the kid in the ’93 case definitely point towards that. And the ’03 case? I’m sorry but any parent that would let their child spend the night at the home of a rich middle aged man that had previously been charged with molestation is either criminally neglegent as a parent or trying to cash in bigtime by dragging their child through a nasty legal procedure.
It wasn’t a heart attack or pills or whatever the toxicology report will reveal that killed him, it was the world at that wouldn’t leave him alone.
I’m sorry to be harping on this but it’s been disturbing me since his passing was confirmed Thursday. Like so many of my peers, his music was the soundtrack to my childhood. It has an important place in my life that no amout of scandal or criticism will change. I watched Moonwalker last night and I still get a little choked up at the end of the Smooth Criminal segment when he comes back from outer space. No matter how sad I am to hear that we’ve lost a great musical genius, I am somewhat relieved for Michael’s sake. The long, hard journey is over and he can finally rest in peace.
*You doubt me on this? Bullshit. Show me another album that’s sold over 28 million copies. I’m intentionally not counting Eagles: Their Greatest Hits here, that’s a compilation, not an album. You don’t equate sales figures with influence? Bullshit. You’re just pissed off because your band is too underground to get signed.
< /rant >
In: Music · Tagged with: Jackson, Michael, Michael Jackson, MJ, Thriller