A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Praise and Perspective: Michael Jackson

I can’t decide which is worse: Michael Jackson’s premature death at the age of 50, or the media coverage of his passing. It will be Michael Jackson life, times, and tragic end 24/7 for the foreseeable future. I can’t help thinking that somehow all the media attention on his personal life contributed to his untimely end. He was a talented singer and dancer who gave his all to bring joy and love to the world, and my God, what did we do to him?

No one will dispute that Michael Jackson died long before his time on June 25. Yet we should consider that, given the Bohemian culture of the art and entertainment industry, he outlived many of his contemporaries. His career began alongside people like Presley, Hendrix, and Joplin, and he remained popular as people like Kurt Cobain and Tupac Shakur came and burned out. None of these people lived to be old enough to qualify for membership in AARP. Jackson did live long enough, but his comeback ambitions resembled the drive and energy of a much younger artist.

The scandals and downright weird rumors of his personal life will gradually fade into the background as people will remember his talent and accomplishments. In this regard, we can see a parallel in Charles Chaplin, another iconic entertainer dogged by a scandalous personal life. I believe the same will happen with Jackson’s legacy.

Simply put, he was one of the greatest performers in the last 40 years. He used his talent wisely, lending it for such charitable projects as We Are the World, the 1985 celebrity effort to battle widespread famine in Ethiopia. Here he demonstrated that he was a caring, giving individual who seemed immune (at that time) to the trappings of fame and stardom.

Still, some aspects of his life invited intense media scrutiny and ridicule. The rollout of his compilation HIStory brought unfavorable comparisons to Leni Reifenstahl’s Triumph of the Will. The later allegations against him for child molestation seemed to bring out just as many detractors as he had fans. There’s no doubt that at times like this Jackson was the darling of tabloid papers all over he world.

It is tragic that Jackson left us at this juncture in time. There is a revolution sweeping the world now. It started with Obama’s election last November. The embers of change were fanned last week with the political protests in Iran. Surely, Jackson would have contributed to this global movement of change, but from now on we can only ask ourselves, “What if...” and speculate what those contributions would be.

Or perhaps Jackson did start this revolution years ago when he recorded the song Man in the Mirror. I know I’ve alluded to this performance before, but I’ll reiterate my argument here. He told us then that change can happen, but it has to start with each one of us, with me, with him, with every individual looking at themselves and challenging, “What can I do to make myself and my world better?”

For all the scandals and unflattering tabloid headlines he endured, Michael Jackson got this one right.

Thank you, Michael, for all that you gave us. Rest in Peace.


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