Off the Wall and Beyond Comprehension – Remembering Michael Jackson
I was eating dinner with my significant other when I heard of Michael Jackson’s death and like so many other events involving the proclaimed King of Pop, it was at first hard to believe.
Much will be written in the days to come of Jackson’s confounding charisma, incredible talent, and groundbreaking musical endeavors. With that, of course, comes all the talk of the controversy he generated both by his own volition and his existence. In recent years I’ve come to doubt so many of the allegations of criminal conduct in regards to children, but I think that right now my personal position on such matters is neither decided or relevant.
As I write this, people are piling into the streets in Los Angeles where Jackson was pronounced dead just hours ago. Outside the Apollo Theater in New York City, a large crowd has gathered. Whether people are gathering to legitimately mourn his death or simply to be part of a happening – a common occurence whether he was performing a sold-out concert or rumored to be staying at a hotel – is moot. Because no matter what occurred during the course of his lifetime and no matter what the headlines read, Jackson always drew the attention and fascination of literally billions of people merely by existing.
While those that believe the allegations of child abuse and molestation would label him a monster, others have equally strong convictions that he was simply a victim of a post-television media and populace that could neither understand or sympathize with him. Either way, and regardless of what he may or may not have done, there’s no denying that Michael Jackson was a unique spirit. He didn’t seem real and it often seemed as if he deliberately went out of his way to make sure that was the case. Yet there was a strange dichtomy in the fact that unlike so many others after him, his presence and presentation was not the careful creation of a corporation desperate for a quick buck and a hit. Rather, he was an overworked, abused, and painfully shy child who became the biggest musical star in the history of the world despite a mountain of emotional and mental obstacles.
In the days to come, various people will debate, write, and blog about the surgical self-mutilation, eccentricities, and the legitimacy of the child molestation allegations. On the whole, though, most will simply celebrate the music, mourn the passing of a large presence in the pop culture landscape, and reflect fondly on memories brought forth from their childhood.
Michael Jackson was a lot of things, and volumes of books could be filled with the opinions and observations one could make of a man who, if fictional, would be criticized for being too obvious a metaphor for pop culture and the artificial personas forced on performers by bored masses yearning for a fantastic figure to take them out of their lives, even if it’s only for a handful of minutes. For now, I’ll simply say this: the single most talented man in the history of this planet has died. That, and that alone, deserves pause and consideration.