A legend died yesterday.
Michael Jackson was one of my favorite performers when I was younger. I can remember watching the Thriller video, the first video I had ever seen, and being blown away...and pretty scared, lol...by it. I also remember being moved by the Black or White video. And shocked by the accusations of child molestation that happened later.
Let me segue here to say that I don't think that MJ was a molester. I see him more as, like, Willy Wonka as played by Johnny Depp...socially awkward, a little disturbed. I believe that he was most comfortable around children. And I think that people looking for some quick cash preyed upon that to call some oddities of his into question.
Now that that's taken care of...the music.
One of my friends has been putting up random quotes of MJ songs all day, and I could recognize all of them. Some musicians I listen to all the time don't have that distinction. I love the Ting Tings, but when a friend Tweeted a quote from a song by them, I totally didn't get it. Micheal Jackson's songs are as well known and recognizable as he was.
He was an icon. Some of the people who count him as an inspiration include Ludacris, Chris Brown, Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Miley Cyrus, Kobe Bryant, Pete Wentz, and millions more. He shattered walls for black artists. And he was an artist who was truly concerned with making art. His Thriller video, more of a short film, was scrutinized by him...he was honestly worried about how the zombies danced, getting them to look authentic and scary, but having them also bust out some badass, not funny, dance moves. He worked with Martin Scorsese on one of his videos. He was concerned with his art as an expression, as an outlet, as something people could relate to and be touched by.
He was an enigma, but also...down to Earth? Seems odd to say that, since he was pretty much one of the least normal people ever, but it's true. At the peak of his fame, people occasionally found him knocking their doors, witnessing for his faith. He was friends with a number of the ultra famous, and they all remember him fondly as just a really nice guy who would happily talk and listen to you.
But nice, famous people die every day. Pioneers. Legends. So why is this such a big deal?
Michael Jackson epitomized an era for me, and for many others. His music spoke to you, he was larger than life. Having him die...especially at a relatively young age...reminds us all of our mortality. We're not just crying because the music died, but because the fall of his star reminds us mere mortals that we're not only getting older, we're getting closer to the end. Our childhood is behind us, (and, if you grew up around the same time as me, MJ was a large part of your childhood) and we don't quite know what's ahead. But we can take solace in the words of a legend...
“If you enter this world knowing you are loved and you leave this world knowing the same, then everything that happens in between can be dealt with.”
Rest in peace, Michael Jackson.