Tuesday, July 7, 2009
As the Lights Dim - Michael Jackson
The stage lights are fading. The memorial has closed and the media is slowing. This is why Michael will always mean something to me, even as the curtain closes on his life.
This Adulation is Ridiculous?
He was neither a prophet nor a saint. I understand the complaint that the media coverage has been excessive for Michael’s death. Nobody’s death coverage should supersede news of current violence and the economy’s crises to this level.
What I understand less is those who blast the massive outpouring of emotion that has taken place after the death of Michael. Perhaps they don’t identify with the concept of connecting with a person one has never met…let alone a celebrity-musician. But music, and the human voice, has the potential to touch souls in a way that few other forms of communication can. And Michael did just that.
The memories are copious. My brother and sister were fans before I was born, so his music was playing before I could speak. I remember being enchanted with the premiere of Bad with my family when I was about to start Kindergarten. I remember dancing my heart out to songs on the album multiple times with a dear friend that has now passed. I remember that amazing feeling he communicated: anything is possible, everything is magical. Suspended Reality. Four years later, my family and I sat around the television again for the premiere of Black or White. My cousins and I wrote an entire screenplay for Who Is It, to try to win a contest to go to Neverland. We didn’t make it but the smiles endure forever.
And those are just some of the memories. As I got older, I was able to appreciate his words. I still remember that his call for world peace in his liner notes and lyrics inspired me to create artwork that won past states to regional level. His perfectionism was infectious. I’m one of thousands of people that have this type of MJ story.
But He Was a Freak
Yes, he was very strange as depicted by the media. But for the most part, fans accepted him as he was, similar to how you would truly love a family member even if they went mad.
I never believed the child molestation accusations. Details behind the case clearly illustrate the scheme behind it, and the credibility of the prosecution was dismal. It was smart, easy, and pleasurable to those who felt hurt by him in some way to see him suffer and pay big. Perhaps they are happiest now as he is being buried.
The excessive plastic surgery was very upsetting. I felt betrayed by him, as silly as that sounds. It seemed to go against his soulful attitude and beliefs in respecting nature and in loving everybody and everything. But it became apparent it was due to an addiction to constantly change, to "improve", to never be satisfied with the face in the mirror. Even through all the facial reconstruction, the wounded and vulnerable look inside Michael's eyes never changed.
One of the biggest things Michael did for me and for millions of fans as we grew up was build a space for escape. Through certain tribulations of my own, where I did not have an emotional pillow, Michael’s art was able to cushion the thorns of hurt. Turning on his videos or audio was like jumping through a secret door where you were taken away to a fun, fascinating and magical world. He helped the world cope.
As I grew spiritually, I became disgusted by the growing intensity of the idolatry of Michael’s image. I feel that in some ways, what sustained him also killed him. As he grew older, like Benjamin Button, he grew younger. And his very own need to escape seemed to ultimately destroy him.
Too bad we can’t really run away from sharks around us. And too bad we can’t escape the erosion of abilities and beauty as we age. Although Michael tried to escape certain aspects of life repeatedly, he also fought back to recover over and over, however futile the attempt. We cried as we watched.
Like so many have already said, I too feel as if a piece of my childhood has died. I know in time that will change and memories of Michael will be vibrant and happy. I think that many of us who have been longtime, perceptive fans knew he would likely pass at a young age. Still, anticipation doesn't dampen feelings of loss.
True, he was a man of mystery. But much more importantly, he was filled with love. I do not believe there is a single MJ song I have heard which he didn't feel deep within his heart and soul. The lights never dim for the soul.
Thank you Michael for your inspiration, for your humanitarian work, and your unabashed love to heal the world of those around you. May God have you in His healing hands now, finally.