July 7th 2009.
There are those attempting to make it less of a sad moment, recounting news flashes about others dying in wars and drones, hunger and disease. True, that happens every day. Neglect is the cause of many unnecessary deaths; the sheer futility of life is astounding and its brutality crushes anything remotely resembling human spirit – This was the very significance of the Michael Jackson I knew, his songs from, We Are The World, They Don’t Really Care About Us and Heal The World are deeply politically astute and inspirational songs.
His impact on the African American race as the first Black singer to break into the MTV culture and his loyal fan following around the world resonates with his synchronous performances, alluring presence and love for melody. He was the one who opened up the West to the rest – From Africa to China and to Pakistan, Michael Jackson was a forever brand.
He was not very different from any other artist except in the exaggerated level of controversy and allegations of child molestation, which may or may not be true, but for the sake of fairness the man should only be judged for what he most certainly did.
He allied himself with causes that were worthy, most of his stage performances had sign language instruction for the deaf, and his charities toward causes of poverty alleviation, AIDS awareness and child health go far beyond the $500 million he currently owes.
He is credited for clever business in his purchase of ATV and being one of the first artists to get steep royalties for music played anywhere on the airwaves.
But his cleverness was soon to be replaced by bad financial management, a freakish and obsessive nature, marriages gone bad and a wacko case of dangling a child from a balcony. Like him, his music became aimless and soulless. His fans waited, others faded into a growing hysteria of spectator comfort – it was much more entertaining to call him out as a misfit, which he was, no doubt– especially as he decided to open up his personal life to Martin Bashir, a Briton of Pakistani Origin who won the trust of Michael Jackson, and got him to approve a live show called Living with Michael Jackson.
Falling into the trap of a deranged social climber like Martin Bashir, Michael Jackson made the typical mistake of a profile low self-esteem case. He thought by opening up honestly to the world of TV, with the help of Martin’s cleaver editing, he will become redeemed for the bad press he’d been getting. As Martin Bashir giggled under his breath at the star’s psychobabble, and gasp at his spending 6 million on a shopping spree, and sneer as Michael Jackson got cozy with a young cancer patient he was assisting, the world got an editorialized cut of the episodes that were clearly skewed to stage nothing but a freak show. Shame on Martin Bashir!
And shame on a world that was too narrow for someone as sad as Michael Jackson to not fit into, so he grew into his own skin.
While there was a part of him that fought back, the revolutionary enraged by the terror of the world, spreading a message of hope; there was also a part of Michael Jackson that was a victim.
Abused by his father, beaten and told he is ugly, particularly because of his big (African) nose, he was working hard to reinvent a person more acceptable to his world view.
His constant sense of rejection and abandonment from family haunted him, pained him greatly, and he fled that pain by internalizing his protection from it by conquering the physical, changing his face, his nose, his skin, his demeanor. In the process of reinventing himself in the face of watchful paparazzi, he got addicted to pain killers.
This is what killed him they say, overmedicating himself with painkillers. Why should we discriminate between crying for a broken heart and crying for general pain and misery of the entire world? Does not the seashell cry the ocean’s tune?