Michael Jackson: I know this story has already blanketed every single media outlet in ever single corner of the world and also been blogged about by everybody and their talking parrots by now, but I cannot not mention him, especially as I have a bunch of news-clips about him running in the background on msnbc.com as we speak. Most of it is just a bunch of very excited reporters in the midst of a feeding frenzy yammering on and on about whether or not his death should be viewed as suspicious and going through every imaginable disaster scenario (you can practically see the drool dripping down their chins). This information overload right now is to make up for the fact that I only emerged from under my rock this evening apparently, which is when I found out that he had died. I was shocked. Almost as shocked as when I found out Lady Di had died, only there were no tears this time. Lady Di was a big sister figure to me. I suppose Michael could also have fit the big sister role, had he been into wearing dresses (as “Queen” of pop maybe), but if he ever did don pretty frocks now and then, it was far from the preying eyes of the media and cell phone cameras.
I can’t say I was ever a fan to begin with. I can’t say I ever liked him or his music either, not even just a little bit, though his videos were impossible to ignore, but whenever I’d see his most rabid fans on t.v. I’d always wonder who was nuttier—the King of Pop himself or his devotees. I do remember, about one year after Thiller came out, being a very angry teenager sitting in front of a juvenile hall television set being disgusted by that ‘commercial trash’ whenever one of his videos came on, which was way too often to my liking. Him and Boy George and Nena shared the airwaves that year as I recall, which fed into my hatred of everything that didn’t involve getting high and listening to Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, or Mötley Crüe, among others. During this particular phase I happened to be moving into even harder, angrier and faster heavy metal music, so Michael’s high pitched voice and hee-hee’s! and crotch grabbing just made me want to puke, strangle his scrawny neck and bash his brains out at the same time.
As years went by, I mellowed out somewhat and became vaguely interested in him the way most other people were: as a pop star/media curiosity/freak show. But no matter how strange his behaviour or his looks became or how scary the incindents and the accusations got, mostly I felt sorry for him. It seems to me like his time came too early. But then again, who knows? Maybe he’d just been biding his time before his grand Marilyn Monroe-esque exit. Maybe for him it was the end of a lifetime of suffering. Everything about him called for a tragic ending (I say this while waiting—like the rest of the world—for his autopsy results) and it is tragic that he died just before embarking on a huge world tour which was designed to relaunch a stronger, better, trustworthier version of the star. He was some 10 years older than me, but I considered us contemporaries and his death seems to mark the end of an era, the era when I was young and not so innocent. I suppose many familiar faces will go on fading away with increasing frequency in future. I don’t know if you ever get used to that sort of thing, at any age. For better or for worse, Michael Jackson was an icon, and for reasons I can’t begin to fathom, as of today I like his music—and especially Don’t Stop ‘Till You Get Enough—more than I ever did when he was alive. Whether I’ll start building up a Michael Jackson collection on iTunes remains to be seen, but he’ll live on in my memory. Consider that my tribute to Michael Jackson.