Monday, July 13, 2009

My say on M-J

It's been almost three weeks now since Michael Jackson passed away. In the beginning, I was trying to listen to or see any news information I could find. I was shocked. But I was also shocked about my reaction - one of shock! - because, well, I'm no avid fan. Mind you, I hasten to add that whenever I do a music playlist, at least one of his songs (the early ones or The Jacksons or Jackson 5) has always been included. I do love much of the music he delivered us.

After the first week had passed, a huge sadness came over me about it all. This culminated in me feeling like I really needed to .... well, quite frankly, pay my respects. I sat down last Saturday night and watched the public memorial from start to finish. After the rather uncomfortable (to me) duet with Mariah Carey and Trey Lorenz singing their cover of Jackson 5's "I'll Be There" was out of the way, I was swept up in the sentiments. The things the speakers said. I have read about all those who say it was a 'typical' grand performance and the family should be ashamed of themselves for 'cashing in' on Michael Jackson again and .... rah rah rah.....

My observation has also been that those who have said it was either distasteful or extravagant or otherwise just ghastly... didn't actually watch the whole thing!

Anyway. I'm not writing this post to those people. I don't think it requires an answer, for it is simply another (somewhat collective) opinion. Another misguided, ill-informed opinion about that family and their most famous brother.

Isn't that what we've all mostly been guilty of? Misguided, ill-informed, media-assisted opinions? Four years ago, when I saw MJ during that trial of his life, I thought ill of him for the first time. I wasn't sure. I did NOT want to believe he could be guilty of those things. I highly doubted he was. But I wasn't sure. Until I saw him speaking directly to the TV in that global-style address he performed. And by then, I had just become so confused and saddened by what he had done to his body and face that I was distracted by those judgemental thoughts of mine and didn't really hear anything he said. So indoctrined was I by this time, that year, that I went with the majority and just thought of him as "off the rails", "weird", "strange", "eccentric" and all the rest.

I sat and watched that memorial and I cried. Like a little, sorry kid, I cried and cried and couldn't stop. I sat and listened to beautiful memories, I saw the majority of those people get up there and speak from their hearts. And what I saw, most of all, was a fierce defending of MJ. How could so many different people have gotten him "wrong"? No, no, it was us who had him pegged wrongly. And how dare we assume? It was as if these people, mourning him and speaking about him, had finally been given the opportunity to tell "all those bastards" how wrong they had always got it. It seems that with even a world FULL of supporters and fans, he couldn't turn that media tide against him that portrayed him as so strange.

I have been listening to his/their music quite constantly for these weeks. The LGBB has "always" (if you can count 18 months of her 3 year old life as "always") loved him - another testament to the man's genius. I have said to Steve many, many times over the years that there is "something about Michael Jackson and I don't know what it is, but kids LOVE him." I first noticed this when I was working in child care about 18 years ago - kids adored him, I noticed then. I had a stint working as a babysitter - the kids I looked after also just loved him. I remember sitting in yet another house where children lived, these ones were about 8 and 6 (a brother and sister), and I sat there and listened to that bloody Black or White song about a trillion times as they perfected their "Concert With Michael Jackson" they were determined to put on. That was the first time, in 1992, that I really noticed this allegiance to him in youngsters.

As I said earlier, I have always really enjoyed a lot of MJ's music. I guess I am a fan! I don't know if I was really comfortable admitting that before - I did not know enough about him to consider myself justified in that label - and this says more about me than anything. That I probably didn't want to "go there" because I didn't want to read anything that made me not like him. And I didn't' want that to happen because then, I naively and ignorantly thought, I wouldn't be able to enjoy his music with as much free abandon. How narrow-minded have I been on the subject of MJ?

So I sat and I cried. I cried for him, for his family and his kids. I cried for those people who cried for him, knowing what turmoil and lockdown he was in - both inside his mind as well as physically, in the world.... he never led a "normal" life. He'd never have been able to go down the local shops for a carton of milk and some bread, now, could he?! Not even as a teenager or a ten year-old. There are very few people who would truly know what that would be like, and even then, those people would have some places in cities around the world where they are not recognised. He was a global phenomenon, in that regard alone.

Most of all, I cried with the guilt of allowing myself to level judgements at him that I had no right to make. I do not, will never have, all the facts about this man's life. Nobody will. They have died along with him. No, the most I have are these words from these people (Brooke Shields in particular had me really thinking, I thought her speech was divine), paying testament to their friend, their brother or associate.... they knew better than most. So I have taken those words and it has helped me form a more unbiased opinion of what I saw. And all I really saw was filtered through the media until now.

I have also these past few weeks let the words of Michael Jackson's songs be my guide to understanding him a little more. I realised what a humanitarian he was, listening to the sum total of those people speaking at his memorial. Watching his music videos as a young woman in the mid-90's, I remember thinking how self-absorbed he had become... Oh my God! How wrong could I have been?!? I had not been listening to him. I had been seeing him and then listening to what was being said about him. So very, very short-sighted of me.

And now, I am left with this feeling of heavy sadness and quite a lot of sheepish guilt. That I formed these assumptions without letting him and his lyrics be the proof and do the talking. Yes, of course, there were his fun songs - the songs that always kept him in the charts whenever he released an album. But the fame they brought were used by him to give back out.

This is what I would hope anybody would do. Just like with my experience of neonatal death and recurrent pregnancy loss - you cannot sit on that sort of ride and not give back out, whichever way you can, what you have learned. And so on and so forth, for all of us - this reaching out, this sharing of what we have (and MJ had money, so he also used that to give out), is what will keep this world from falling in on itself.

I am very humbled by the huge lesson I've learned from a most unlikely source: a person who was gifted and quietly generous (sometimes not so quietly), who burned bright and fast and left at the most gloriously timed moment in this Earth's history.

I will continue to think about MJ and all he did/tried to do. I focus on that and not on these slants and slights against him. I've done that already, for too long. Now it's time for me to responsibly accept the gifts he gave the world, using his crafts, instead of focusing on how he looked or allowing myself to continue to be caught up with other opinions (which are mostly hearsay anyway).

And above all, I will continue to love that music. Damn, he's good. Although, this morning was the very first time ever that I shed a tear while belting out Blame It On The Boogie in the car, turned up to 11. I hope in time I won't feel so heartsore about it all when I listen to his songs. But one thing is for sure, I will continue to enjoy them*. As I have always done.

* and now also with LGBB, my little boogie partner with me - I taught her the actions to "don't blame it on sunshine, don't blame it on the moonlight, don't blame it on good times... blame it on the boogie" and she thought that was great! Her favourites are the early Jackson 5 stuff and, for the moment, she is really loving Earthsong, which is beautiful - she is enraptured by the film clip (more humanitarian efforts by MJ).

Archived Posts


Related Posts with Thumbnails