Saturday, November 28, 2009

Long Live The King of Pop

Surprisingly, since Michael Jackson's recent death, not much has been blogged about him as a literary figure.

It's a classic fairy tale, the rise of the youngest brother in the group of five, dedicated to overcoming the abuse he suffered as a child, and how that dedication ultimately led to his demise. The fortune and fame of being a world superstar were no consolation to Jackson's invisible demons. He may have transformed physically. He may have had everything in that dark, cluttered mansion, but he struggled with basic human needs: love, acceptance, identity.

He could change his face. He could change the entertainment industry. He could impact world poverty. But Jackson couldn't fix the damage done to him by his own father.

Only through drugs could the Man in the Mirror escape his past, and his future of having to grow up. He tried desperately to create a family and a home. Although the world was at his feet, the icon ironically died empty and alone.

I was never a fan. True, Jackson was the emblem of my generation, but the moonwalking/ crotch-grabbing/teeth-clenching, the falsetto interjections, even the epic music videos were just not that appealing to a California girl who just wanted to have fun with a certain rainbow-haired vocalist from Queens.

Like all great artists, however, once the King of Pop proved his mortality, he became significant
--even to me.

I suddenly saw the innovation and expression of his work. I listened, really listened, to his lyrics: "You Are Not Alone," "Scream," "Cry," "Unbreakable"; and I began to understand his suffering. We may have all grown up with the boy, but no one ever knew him.

The tragedy does not lay in this effigy's death. It was in his life.

3 comments:

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I echo your words. I really loved the Thriller album in high school, but other than that was never much of a real fan. Yet, since his death, I have come to appreciate the sorrow of his life and some of what he left behind.

Sharon Mayhew said...

Beautifully said. I was a fan of his music, but not so much of the crotch grabbing. If you've watched the movie about his life, it's easy to see why he was messed up and why he relished in childlike behaviors as an adult. He didn't really get that chance when he was a child.

Great topic. Very thought provoking. My first visit to your blog. I'm a former teacher and current writer...I'll be back to check on you.

I hope you had a nice holiday.

Jennie Englund said...

Why do we do that, Shannon: come to realize and appreciate talent when it becomes finite?

Welcome, Sharon. And welcome back sometime, too.