Friday, June 26, 2009

through the eyes of a new fan.....

Let me fill your heart with joy and laughter
Togetherness, well that's all I'm after
Whenever you need me, I'll be there
I'll be there to protect you,
with an unselfish love that respects you
Just call my name and I'll be there
The Jackson 5

Sometime during the winter, my 11 year old son began to discover the music of Michael Jackson. This is the same age I discovered him. Max was mesmerized by the dance moves and the music from the Thriller and Off the Wall albums, intrigued by the enormity of Jackson's success and full of questions about the weirdness of the man's lifestyle. He was in awe of Jackson's voice and his ability to move like he had the power to defy gravity. The style and swagger.....the energy and magic of the music which washed over this globe, created by a brilliantly talented human being was alive and well, captured for a new generation to discover. His music was uploaded onto an 11 year old's I-pod to savour.

Personally, I had stopped listening to the stories and bizarre activities surrounding Michael Jackson, had completely stepped away from even paying attention to him because of his behaviour and over the top weirdness. To me, it felt like a carnival freak show, created for the most part by an unrelenting fan base and a media which would never let go. The man/boy in the bubble choked on his extravagant success, turning himself into a distant recluse locked away from reality, surrounded by a hoard of handlers who treated him like an alien. It was like watching a slow motion train wreck that took 35 years to reach the point when we all watched him shuffle into a courtroom in his pyjama pants. Are there words to capture his demise? Sad? Pathetic? No, it was more mind boggling than words could convey.

My son hadn't heard all of the stories yet.......the ongoing accusations and acquittals the millions of dollars spent in "settlements," the flamboyant spending on everything from Elephant Man remains to renting the top floor of luxury hotels in Vegas, and the strange reclusive behaviour. Photos and videos however, revealed Jackson's transformation from a handsome young man with a gleam in his eye and a talent that knew no boundaries to a hideous looking shell of a human being whose hair draped a face that was otherwordly....whose sunglasses and veils hid him from light.

Like every single one of us, Max had many questions, most of which remain unanswered. What happened? Why did it happen? Who in their right mind would perform over 50 plastic surgeries on another human being who obviously was mentally ill and live with themself ? Who are these doctors who wrote numerous prescriptions for pain killers turning Jackson into a zombie like addict? Where the hell were his friends? Were they all living in their own pathetic fame filled bubbles that they didn't feel they could approach him, arrange for help.....?

My son and I talked occasionally about Michael Jackson.....I told him stories of how amazing the Jackson 5 were, how huge Jackson's albums were when they were first at age 11 I was a huge fan! I tried to explain what I thought had happened to him in the ensuing years, but how do you explain to someone such mystery? Still, the music prevailed, and overshadowed the wacko jacko-ness of one very disturbed sick man. My son became a fan.

Last evening, Max came rushing upstairs.......his eyes popping out of his head and a look of shock on his face to inform me that the King of Pop had been rushed to the hospital and was in a coma. At first I didn't think it was serious. I figured maybe Jackson fainted or something from exhaustion prepping for his London concerts. It didn't surprise me....the most recent photos revealed a man who seemed to be a walking thin shell of himself, not the high energy consummate performer who always looked completely "in the zone" happy on stage. But, within minutes, the same media who helped turn Jackson into an untouchable were announcing his death. In the middle of what we all know will be an unstoppable barrage of stories, accolades, interpretations all stemming from the phoniness of Hollywood...... I heard a new 11 year old fan say....

"I think I will remember this day for the rest of my life." I believe he will. It is one of those moments when an event outside of your own realm interupts and leaves something indelible in one's memory. Like Elvis. Like Diana. Like RFK. Like JFK. Like Martin Luther King. All for different reasons.... but a stopping before and after recognition that you will remember where you were when you heard the news. For my son. For many I imagine.

Michael Jackson, the most famous entertainer in the world whose behaviour and secret life far outshines any head shaving meltdown Britney could throw into the tabloids..... the man whose arrested development shackled him to Neverland and a life of relating to Lost Boys.... was a true genius. Painfully, his orbiting success and his deep wounds left from abuse and never being able to know what normal is, ate at his soul and left him behind a veil. No doubt we will be living it and reading about it all.... hearing it dredged up on talk shows and news shows until we want to vomit.

Looking out across the morning
The city�'s heart begins to beat
Reaching out, I touch her shoulder
I'�m dreaming of the street .......

Can you imagine never having a chance to walk down a street all by yourself with a sense of smiling anonymity? Jackson's song Human Nature captures his desire to just be normal..... to walk on the street, to "take a bite of an apple....." So , so sad. For all of his success, Michael Jackson was the loneliest human being on the planet.

The eternal Lost Boy? May he rest in peace. May he find the freedom his life never offered him. Let his music transcend this craziness and sadness of his life and the predictable dissection of it after his death. Let his music be discovered through the eyes, ears and heart of a new fan for years to come.


kenju said...

Dana, this is, by far, the best post I have read on the subject. Bravo!

Awareness said...

Thank you Judy! I'm thrilled I was able to pull it together and make some sense. :)

Selma said...

I agree with Kenju - an excellent post.

I've been watching some retrospectives about MJ on the news and found they filled me with an indescribable sadness. Not because I was a huge fan but because of who he was and what he became. A shell of a man.

As you say, where were his friends looking out for him? And what doctor in his right mind would perform 50 plastic surgeries on someone? It's a sad, sad end for someone who was such a shining light. RIP, Michael.

BlazngScarlet said...

I too have always been a huge fan of The Jackson 5 and then Michael when he branched out on his own.
It was heartbreaking to watch his decline into some serious mental health problems.
The saddest man indeed.

Excellent post Dana.

Marja said...

Beautiful post Here horrible text message jokes are going around
His life is a sad story but he was indeed a true performer and great singer I grew up with him, danced on his music went to a concert when I was young and was in awe
He was a perfectionist. My he rest in peace indeed

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

One of the things that I find so very dismaying about our world today is the insatiable 24/seven news cycle that must be fed over and over and over like a HUGE always-hungry Monster....And all for Greed. So we never get the true story of anything and rumor becomes fact, etc., etc., etc.
That your son discovered Michael Jackson's true talent says so much about what will ultimately be his true Legacy---His greatness as an Entertainer/Musician/performer.
All the rest....well, we won't ever really know....The sadness of Michael Jackson's stolen childhood is part of what created the performer he became but also the strange person he became too...

I think your post is quite wonderful Dana, and I thank you for putting into words much of what so many feel....
As to his demise....Very Very Sad.

Awareness said...

Selma...I agree with you.... I was incredibly sad yesterday morning especially when listening to the interviews on the radio with hip hop dancers and young singers who have been so influenced by Jackson's work. I guess I hadn't realized the tremendous impact he had had on their art/craft. It just made the whole bizarre unraveling that much tragic.

Ultimately that's why I decided to write a post about Michael because his brilliance touched me again.

Scarletina....When I was 12 I attended an Osmond Family concert at the CNE in Toronto. I grew up with both "boy bands" in my life... Both he and Michael were only a year older than me. The next night the Jackson 5 were performing and I would have LOVED to attended that one too, but it took a lot for my poor mother to take me and a couple of screaming fans to the one concert let alone a second one the next night! :)

So, I never saw Michael Jackson perform live though my younger sister did when he went out on his own. She was a huge "Off the Wall" fan

Awareness said...

Marja...I'm sure there are lots and lots of jokes flying around here too, but I've been home on vacation so am out of that loop.

Naomi.... Welcome back!!! And Happy Birthday!!

I agree with you....the incessant news feeds! They are enough to make one's head explode. And with all the titillating stories happening in the States this week, including Gov. Sanford's Argentine trysts, they are on a feeding frenzy. Time to turn off the news and put on some tunes! :)