When I first heard that Michael Jackson had died it was on Twitter. The news ran rampant online before the news media even picked it up. First they said he had a heart attack, but 5 minutes later they said he was dead. Wow! The news stunned me and hit me like a ton of bricks. I remember exactly what I was doing when the Tweets started, and probably will remember for the rest of my life.
Now let me clarify. I am by no means what you would call a “Michael Jackson” fan. I never went to his concerts or even spent one dime on his music. The only way I related to the man was with my childhood. I remember the Jackson 5 and this young kid singing his heart out. They were cool. They even had their own TV show for awhile and I remember liking their music. It would be many years later that Michael would branch out on his own. So to me, losing him, was like losing a piece of my childhood. Another chapter closed.
It was a different era back then so unlike the hostile cold world we live in today. People watched out for each other. Neighbors kept an eye on the neighborhood children and everyone said hello and called out your name. I don’t think they have “neighborhoods'” anymore. People are so transient and move so much, people don’t even know who their neighbors are anymore let alone speak to them.
Still there was something so sad and strangely moving about this man dying. Why did I feel so strongly about someone I never was a a fan of? A piece of my childhood went with him I guess. I’m sure this will date me, but there’s something sad about watching the people you grew up with slowly dying. It’s as if you realize your own mortality and know your time could come next. When you’re young you think you’re going to live forever. As we age, we start to worry about things you never thought about in your youth. Things like dying and death.
Michael Jackson was a master marketer. He fashioned his own life after PT Barnum who founded the Circus. Which we know of today as Ringling Brothers. They say he read PT Barnum’s autobiography and even told his PR people to read it as he wanted to fashion his life after the book. A lot of the strange stories that ran about him over the years actually were put out there on purpose by his PR people. Michael thought any publicity was good. The problem is unlike PT Barnum who promoted “freaks”, Michael slowly became one. I think he had the best of intentions, but somewhere along the way his “plan” backfired. Somewhere along the way his marketing message got skewed and like a runaway freight train once it started moving in the wrong direction, he was powerless to stop it.
There are many that “think” he molested children. I for one do not. I do think he was like a child himself and had a strange fascination with kids since he never got to be one himself, but I don’t think he ever would molest one. He just wanted to be a kid so badly he got wrapped up in the fantasy. When you think about it, it’s really sad. Sad that he never got to be a child. Sad that he was forced to grow up in the public’s eye. Sad that he never knew what “normal” was. Yes, he had a rough childhood and he said his father was strict, but back then parents were strict. My own mother spanked me with belts and paddles. Back then it was acceptable, today she’d be serving 10 years in prison for child abuse. Oh, how times change. What’s acceptable today is not tomorrow.
I know everyone is sick and tired of hearing about Michael Jackson. At least that’s what I hear from those around me. But let us not forget the sheer talent this guy had over decades. He was a master entertainer and a great humanitarian. Let’s try to focus on the good and forget some of the bad things we read in the press over the years. You can’t believe everything you read. He really did a lot of wonderful things and gave to many charities. Even in death he left 20% of his estate to charity. How many people do that?
I watched his memorial on TV which was only suppose to be 2 hours that ran almost 3. It was so touching. I could not stop watching it. I was literally glued to the screen. I’m not a softie and this type of thing generally has no affect on me. But this time it did. If you’re a human being, this service reminded you of what it means to be human. I hate to admit it but it brought tears to my eyes a few times. The powerful people who had such kind things to say about the King of Pop was mind boggling.
To the public he was “Wacko Jacko”, but to his family he was a loving father, a brother, a son. Let us not forget when we idolize people that they too are human and make mistakes just like everybody else. No matter if you hated the man or not, his death marked an end to an era and the world will probably never again see such a talent. It was a tragedy that came about way to soon.
Goodbye Michael, I hope now you can rest in peace without the media hounding your every move. May you find the peace in death you never knew in life.
Photo above courtesy of : http://www.flickr.com/photos/buda_fabiomori/sets/72157604002969010/