Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Farewell to the King

Today is the memorial service for Michael Jackson. The King of Pop passed away on June 25 (in case you haven't heard) and will soon be interred, although the embalming process actually began in late 1988.

Jackson's career began as a child, where he upstaged all of his siblings in a vain attempt to escape his father's physical and mental abuse. With young Michael at the mike (of course the pun is intended, what a silly question) the Jackson 5 exploded onto the charts. Their talent was immense. So great, in fact, that I will forgive them from enabling follow-up child acts such as Hanson, The Jonas Brothers, New Kids on the Block, and all the other lame kid-bands that have had unfortunate influence over the nation's youth.

Jackson's success carried on to his young adult years, where he shattered numerous records with the release of "Thriller" and, among other things, he inspired yours truly to learn to moonwalk - a talent I retain to this very day.

Jackson's success helped him tear down racial barriers on MTV, and his string of music videos continued his path of wanton destruction of records (the Guinness kind, as opposed to the musical kind) as he solicited top filmmakers to the director's chair and drew millions of new viewers to the fledgling music video network to watch Beat It, Billie Jean, and that other one about the zombies, I forget the name. (NOTE TO YOUNGER READERS: The MTV network once played music videos. Really, they did!).

His collaborative efforts fused his genius with other artists, ranging from Eddie Van Halen's guitar work on "Beat it", to Paul McCartney's song about the dog-gone girl that was his, his, his. Michael's music gave us such hits as Eat It and Fat. Weird Al owes Jackson his career; without the aforementioned parodies, he would still be playing an accordion version of "My Bologna" on the Dr. Dimento show.

Jackson's new-found fame and fortune was not without its drawbacks, as he pretty much went insane in the decades that followed. But the depths of his madness will never overshadow his genius. He was a gifted singer, dancer, and songwriter, and it is clear that the world will always carry his tune.

May he rest now in the peace that avoided him in his latter years.

And may the TV networks eventually revert back to their regularly scheduled programming.

17 comments:

Sharon said...

very well written!
But I guess that is the point - huh?!

Crimogenic said...

They say (who exactly, I'm not sure) that there is a thin line between genius and insanity. Another good example with the King of Pop

Rick Daley said...

When I first wrote it I thought, "Too soon?"

But I read it back and it's not that bad. As a kid I was a total Thriller fan, and I have a lot of respect for his talent as an artist.

I find his regression from reality sad. The allegations levied against him are most likely true (in my opinion) and I'm not trying to justify or condone what he was accused of, but I do not think he ever meant to harm anyone in any way.

The pathology for his psychological issues runs deep into his childhood. Some may argue - with valid point - that he never really had a childhood. He dealt with a life none of us will ever be able to understand, and I think it's sad.

Of course, I am me and that means that I offer no restraint in a smart-ass commentary on current events.

Scott said...

I think he was a victim, to a degree from the things you mentioned. That said, it doesn't absolve him from things that he did later in life. It's hard to separate his talents and work as an artist from his poor decisions.

Alexis Grant said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog... Now I'm checking out yours!

Laura Martone said...

Hi, Rick.

I think this was a very well-written piece... funny and poignant all at once, which is not easy to do. I can tell that MJ meant a lot to you at one time, but I have to agree with Scott. It's difficult for me to remember the fondness I used to have for Jackson (especially in his "Thriller" days), in the wake of such strangeness and, most significantly, the accusations of child molestation.

Although I think his childhood (or lack there of) affected him greatly, it simply does not condone his ill-advised behavior (which I suspect, given the huge settlement he doled out, he was guilty of). To some extent, we are all tainted by our upbringing - some certainly worse than others - but eventually we must all decide what kind of person we want to be - and put the past behind us.

Instead of breaking away from the abusive legacy, MJ seemed to have kept the cursed cycle going. I do feel sorry for him, to an extent - he is ultimately a very tragic figure - but the ridiculous news coverage has turned more than just my stomach... it's turned my heart, too. And now all I can think about are the little kids he left behind.

Anonymous said...

WOW... what a pleasure to read something positive about MJ... like what was said at his celebration of life... he wasn't strange... what he had to go through to please us was...

Anonymous said...

HEY... stop and think what YOU would do if at FIVE years old you were the most popular kid in your town,,, then in the USA,,, then eventually in the world!

Now think of all the people that would take advantage of you and your kind heart AND your $$$.

Now also think,,, you didn't have any type of role model... AND now you have all the $$$ in the world... so you buy all the dum stuff you would as a kid.

AND the only people that like you for YOU and not your fame or your $$$ are kids... and you never had any friends... so you are still a kind heart and a kid @ heart... so you gravitate towards KIDS....

Cauze KIDS are honest and loving and make fantastic friends... when you were growing up - you always wished that your best friends were your brothers and sisters and could all live together...

BUT all these honest and loving best friends have money-grubbing low-life parents that only want to get something they didn't work for... something that wasn't theirs... they wanted all the $$$$ they could get their hands on - that they didn't deserve... so they "whored" out their kid.. to get $$$ for things that never happened....

How would YOU be... if your best friends,,, those warm, loving, honest friends turned on you and said horrible things that no one could prove...

It tore his heart... and he's was never the same...

SO shame on you for thinking and judging.... when YOU walk a mile in his shoes... then you can judge... until then -> let GOD do it....

Rick Daley said...

Anon,

I can respect your opinion that Jackson was innocent of the allegations and that they were levied out of pure greed, there is a degree of merit to that.

However, in the same vein I think there is reasonable circumstantial and anecdotal evidence to validate the opinions of those who believe the opposite: that Jackson is guilty of the alleged acts and that the settlement is not extortion leveraged by the families of the accusers, but rather "hush money" paid out by Jackson to have the charges dropped.

There is no way I can support this statement: "SO shame on you for thinking and judging"

Thought should be encouraged at all levels. Even in your post you encourage people to "think" three times. Why are you so open to thought and empathy regarding your position, but close-minded to alternate lines of thought?

Even his own family has expressed their concerns:

*1993 - In Tel Aviv, Israel, LaToya Jackson said "I can't remain silent. I love him bu I cannot and will not be a silent collaborator (in) his crimes against small innocent children. You tell me what 35-year old man is going to take a little boy...and stay with him for five days in his room?" Jackson was referring to the current child-molestation allegations surrounding her brother Michael.*

For more information on the specifics of the charges, go to:
http://www.snopes.com/legal/jackson.asp

There is no form of conclusive proof for this type of allegation aside from DNA evidence or video footage, so we will never know. But as I see it you have no greater than 50% chance of being right. Which means others have the same odds in their contrary viewpoints.

Rick Daley said...

Oh, one other thing:
"when YOU walk a mile in his shoes"

Do you mean moonwalk? Because I can do that.

Elaine 'still writing' Smith said...

People make choices.
Lives and values are shaped by either nature or nurture. You work through your issues, either in private with the best therapists you can afford or in public like Eminem.
The saccharin hypocrisy must end soon, surely?!

Anita said...

RICK: I think we need video of you moonwalking.

Rick Daley said...

Elaine,

Here in the US we thrive on hypocrisy. We get it from our politicians (left and right), they set the precedence and the country follows. It's candy-coated because, as a population that is among the most obese in the world, we eat that shit up.

Rick Daley said...

Anita,

Is this a want or a need?

My camera does take short videos, so it can be arranged...

Scott said...

Okay, Rick, where is our next installment of your story? I'm getting a little antsy!

Rick Daley said...

Just posted it, at your request! I have another 1,300 words written that follow what I've posted so far.

Anonymous said...

OK,,, I get your point... but LaToya Jackson ? ? ? come ON!

LaToya has always been a crack-pot... now she validates it by saying she thinks her brother was murdered!

Walk a mile in his shoes... and judge NOT lest you be judged!

We have no business judging cauze we weren't there... and the media blows things out of proportion as they see fit... it's only THEIR opinion - and like A$$HOLES... everyone has one...