Friday, June 26, 2009

Like A Sunset Dying With The Rising Of The Moon...

It may seem both opportunistic and churlish to resume my bloggage with a delineation of my thoughts surrounding the death of Big MJ.

It is.

Yesterday, at 2:26 PST, Michael Joseph Jackson died following a cardiac arrest. He was 50 years old.

Following this, the internet all but collapsed. Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter suffered severe server issues upon being inundated with messages from around the globe. The world's media have discussed it at great length already. The world, it seems, has gone ever so slightly mad.

Is this justified? Entirely.

Few figures of our time have provoked such strong and divergent reactions from the populace. For every one obsessive fan clamouring to lick the sweat from Jackson's malleable face, there is one vocal opponent who decries him as a scheming paedophile. He is revered and vilified in almost equal measure. He instilled hope and wonderment in many, but cynicism and revulsion in others. So reactions to news of his death are bound to be as dichotomous as they were to news of his life.

Jackson was endlessly fascinating. His transformation from cute black prodigy to grotesque white "King of Pop" happened gradually - and frighteningly - before the public's eyes. Never before had a celebrity's rise and fall been documented so publically - and visually. His mental disintegration was reflected in his continually decomposing face. He was ripe for parody because of this, with people revelling in his ever-degenerating look. Sympathisers willed him to stop, but to no avail. Procedure followed procedure followed procedure. Yet the most fascinating aspect of his mutable appearance was his continual refutations of cosmetic surgery. What was apparent to the world at large was not to Jackson himself, and this, sadly, was a motif that would recur in his unfortunate life.

Ironically, for someone so blatantly in the public eye, Jackson was notoriously mysterious. Fond of masks and disguises, MJ seemed intent on keeping something of himself hidden from view. Perhaps to retain some semblance of self amongst the preposterous cavalcade of interest that surrounded him. Perhaps for some darker reason. We'll never know. But whatever Jackson's reasons, his desire for a degree of opacity was well-founded. Indeed, when we were offered glimpses into his secret world (notably 2003's difficult-to-watch Living With Michael Jackson), it became apparent that he had severe mental issues that the media were all-too-glad to exploit for the ravenous public's consumption.

Which brings us to the most unsavoury aspect of Jackson's anima: his disturbing self-infantilism. Jackson's refusal to be a grown-up was easily construed by the more misanthropic as disingenuous. When his childlike nature and fondness of the company of young boys became apparent, naturally, people talked. Was he a child molester? In my opinion, probably not. Whilst I generally take any innocent verdict with a pinch of salt, and sundry allegations were stacked against him, it is my view that despite his wealth and fame, Jackson lacked power. I feel that his early fame and relationship with his tyrannical father truly did inhibit his mental growth and stability. Therefore, he was easily manipulated and fooled into trusting those who sought only to discredit him (and win a few Neverland carousels in a healthy out-of-court settlement).

He wanted friends of similar mental age. Instead, he gained status as a predatory bogeyman, luring kids in a Caligariesque manner to his sinister fairground. Therefore, the Jackson fiasco (or "fiJackso") is both a cause and effect of our overvigilance today regarding children's safety. Whilst I applaud the desire to shield children from harm, I feel that forbidding parents from recording their children's nativity plays in case they decide they'd like to chug one out over one of the Wise Men may be somewhat gilding the lily. But I digress. In short, I feel Jackson was, for the reasons noted above, an easier target than a limbless Nazi. He posed no great threat to the safety of the world's children. Well, unless he felt like dangling them over a balcony...

Sorry, couldn't resist. NB: sad as all this is, people are perfectly entitled to joke about it. Spirit of the gallows and all that. Lay off the Haterade.

For all the mentions of disintegration and decay in this post, one thing remains untarnishable, and that is Jackson's musical legacy. Whilst by no means a rabid fan, I am fully aware and appreciative of the influence Jacko had on shaping pop in the seventies and eighties. His blend of disco, funk and soul paved the way for countless other artists, and will continue to do so for generations. Today, his big crazy ghost has well and truly possessed the airwaves, and d'you know what? I don't hate it. In light of his death, the secondary and tertiary aspects of his life and work should be sidelined: his contribution to music history is unquestionable.

Therefore, it is both tragic and appropriate that his death should fall when he was on the brink of a comeback. It is the final sad grace note on a life lived bizarrely. There are those who will say that the stress of the upcoming concert dates was what killed him. That may be so. But he lived long enough to see tickets for his concerts sell out insanely quickly. Despite everything that happened, his fans were still clamouring for his eventual Messianic return. This time, thought, it wasn't just his disciples that were intrigued. We all were. The world was ready for him again. We wanted him back. Perhaps, therefore, he had finally found what he sought in life: simple, guileless acceptance. And that, my friends, is fitting.

I realise that this post has been, at times, maudlin, trite and downright unfunny. Fear not, underlings. My cuntishness is merely being MOTed. It's coming back from the garage very soon, and it's gonna have some bitchin' alloys. So I'll be round your house to give you a lift in the next week or so. With my cunt. Or something. Clearly I didn't think this metaphor through.

To finish, here's the most appropriate send-off I can imagine to the bad, dangerous, (almost) invincible mothafucka we all knew and...had an opinion on. Ladies and gentlemen, Ms Liza Minelli!

Chamone, you crazy diamond.

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