Not speak ill of the dead, you say?
You can speak ill of the dead if they have done “ill” while they were alive. And there isn’t anything much more “ill” than molesting a kid.
To those who claim Michael Jackson was exonerated of the crime of sexual molestation of a minor, I would ask a simple question; would you allow your teen or pre teen son to spend a night at Jackson’s home unchaperoned?
I thought so.
Perhaps if you are eager to bestow such an honor on your son, you too wish to use your child for a gigantic payday as apparently some parents over the years did with their children, allowing them to stay with Jackson and being paid to keep quiet about abuse.
As for Jackson’s impact on the world, it says something truly awful about us that so many people would become rabid fans of this man of little talent. As a child with “The Jackson Five,” Michael had a nice little voice and was very cute shaking his hips like an adult (The sexualization of children Michael’s age when he performed with his brothers is another article entirely.). But as an adult, Jackson’s voice - OK for pop but no great shakes for any other milieu - was thin as a reed with an annoying false vibrato and a squeaky “hiccup” that supposedly drove female fans nuts.
His “dancing” was unique but repetitive. And I find it incredible that some would actually compare him to people with genuine talent like Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire. It goes without saying that neither of those two giants had to grab their crotch on stage to excite their fans.
Gregiry Hines was a superior dancer. Just about any Motown artist of the 60’s and 70’s was a superior singer. Michael Jackson, the total entertainment package, was a good showman but hardly an earth shattering talent. The outpouring of tributes to him today is a fascinating exercise in wishful - perhaps delusional thinking. Proclaiming anyone “King of Pop” and waxing lyrical about how his talent impacted the music world is a misnomer. It wasn’t Jackson’s “talent” that affected future pop artists but rather his “style” - a completely different kettle of fish altogether. It certainly was original but worthy of the kind of encomiums we are reading and hearing today? Not hardly.
In short, he was not a “no-talent” but rather a performer of limited gifts who, through savvy marketing, a recognition of trends (such as producing music videos that went far beyond concert performances that was standard fare for most MTV selections), and an eccentric personality, hit the world of pop music at exactly the right moment in history.
A comparison to Elvis Presley is useful here. Presely was also a performer of limited ability but hit America at exactly the right time in history when his shockingly unique style (and having Tom Parker, a man ahead of his time, managing his career), brought unusual success. Elvis was also a great showman and his later career was sustained by his aging female fans who never tired of watching him grind out the old favorites on a Las Vegas stage.
Perhaps it is the nature of pop music today to elevate these performers to heights undreamed of by real talents like Sinatra, Garland, Sammy Davis, Jr., and others whose pop stylings will last forever - even beyond the lifetimes of their fans. I say this not out of spite because I genuinely enjoyed Thriller, Billie Jean, and Beat It as well as other pop music of the day. Although limited in their artistic success, performers like Jackson reflected their times perfectly as all good pop music does. But does this mean that we should elevate Jackson to an artistic pedestal. Not hardly.
I sympathize with many in Jackson’s family today. Losing a brother or a son is always a tragedy. But I don’t sympathize with Jackson’s rabid fans. Losing oneself in the doings of someone who is deliberately manipulating your emotions is a form of narcissm. I suppose like most, I will mourn Jackson’s passing as I have many icons of my youth who have left us. Farrah Fawcett, who also died yesterday, elicits the same yearning in my heart to return to what in my misty memory were simpler times when responsibilities were few and I had the optimism and confidence that the whole world was before me for the taking.
I really wish the media weren’t making such a big deal of Jackson’s death. Other, more vital stories like Iran, health care, and the continuing power grabs of the Obama administration are given short shrift. But covering Jackson means a big audience so one can hardly fault the media for trying to cash in. They’d be crazy not to milk the story for all its worth.
In 100 years, will historians be amazed at the popularity of people like Jackson? Hopefully by then, we will have outgrown our compulsion to place these people on a mountaintop and all but worship their every move.