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Long Live the King

July 7, 2009

michael-jacksonFor all you “under-rock” dwellers I hate to break the news to you, but Michael Jackson has passed away. Today, as I’m writing this, thousands are gathering outside Staples center here in LA getting ready to remember and further immortalize the King of Pop. During his lifetime he was an extremely controversial figure. He was a pop icon, yet accused as a child molester. He struck onto the public scene like a lightning fire, then became recluse in his later years. He was one of the top selling artists in the history of music, yet was millions of dollars in bankruptcy at the time of his death. But no matter what your views were on this man, no one can deny his gigantic impact on music, culture, dance, and style over the last forty some years.

In the most recent Batman film I felt the theme spoke more towards celebrities than super heroes, “You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” Imagine if Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, or James Dean grew past their prime, would they become the same “weirdos” that Elvis, Britney Spears, and Michael Jackson became? But I think a sadder story is the loss of innocence that entertainment steals from its children. Michael Jackson was a childhood star, and because of it I think something was forever stolen from him. I think growing up in the spot light can be blamed for a lot of his personal demons. His unhealthy obsession with children, his abstruse view on reality, and problems with his personal identity. Many people are so quick to point him out as a weirdo, but given his upbringing in entertainment I can’t help but feel sorry for him at points. He was born with such incredible talent, and by the time he was done it was all but picked away by the vultures of the media circus. Granted his own actions brought about the torment. In a biting NYC flavored article Dennis Hamill blasts Michael Jackson, claiming if it weren’t for his talent and California love for its celebrities Michael Jackson would have died in jail. Harsh, and perhaps true words.

But I think a memorial should be more about gratitude than grief. And while history will ultimately decide what type of light to shine down on this artist, today I want to remember him for his musical legacy. A legacy that is not one of grief over a lost childhood, contempt over shady past actions, nor his racial ambiguity. Michael Jackson should be remembered for the incredible influence he had on music (and dance) during his lifetime, and the countless instances of musical influence he gave to countless musicians for many generations. He dubbed himself the “king of pop”, and he was right. Between his music and dance moves, he helped shape and influence pop music more than any other single artist in the 90’s. His music is stuff of legends. Everyone has some innate dance move they feel inclined to pull out when “Beat It” comes on. I think just about everyone has tried the moonwalk at least once in their lifetime. And even the biggest and toughest of men can’t help but break into a falsetto voice when “Billy Jean” goes over the air waves. I know for myself I will always think about driving across country in an RV with my family as we listened to the “Bad” album over and over again. Love him or hate him, he’s been such a huge artistic force you can do anything but deny his importance as a musical artist.

I remember I was reading the New York Times when I first heard about Michael Jackson being hospitalized. I then logged into Facebook and discovered that he actually passed away. That first trickle of news soon turned into a river, then a deluge. Outside of the Obama Presidency I can’t think of a single more unifying moment I’ve witnessed on Facebook. Days later on iTunes i noticed he occupied 8 of the top ten spots for songs sold. And today during his memorial I’m sure he will garner record breaking television ratings. There is no doubt he was a peculiar tour-de-force. His life was filled with controversy and unsolved mysteries, but more than anything it was filled with uplifting music. I’m not going to say negative actions can be out-shined by catchy tunes and flashy dance moves. But for a single day we should remember the good that MJ gave to this world. The world is filled with enough bad news these days. Is it such a crime to commemorate a man who gave music that inspired, enlightened, and moved  the world thousands of times over?

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One Comment leave one →
  1. July 7, 2009 10:21 am

    I loved smooth criminal from that album.

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