I’m sure you’ve had a complete media overload with everything Michael Jackson since Thursday. MTV playing classic videos, radio stations doing MJ countdowns, everyone online expressing their condolences. Michael Jackson was probably the greatest performer of all time. He made epic records and will forever be the King of Pop. There’s no doubting his effect on pop culture and the impression he made on fans across the globe. But, with all of the outpouring of positive emotions from everyone this week, are we just supposed to forget Michael Jackson’s last 15 years?
This is more of a cultural phenomenon than something specific to Michael Jackson. As soon a celebrity passes away, regardless of the circumstances, people automatically go into the honoring and praising mode. It’s like once a person has died, it is illegal to bring up any wrong doing in their life. No one can say, “Hey, that guy was a real asshole. He treated people like shit and was a selfish prick.” because if they’ve done one good deed in their life like sell 40 million records or donate to cancer research, the slate gets wiped clean. So while people are still in shock about MJ’s passing, it seems naive to only celebrate him. By all accounts, he was a weird dude. The plastic surgery, the strange marriages, the kids, the baby over the balcony, the molestation charges– after Dangerous, Jackson was a public punchline.
He hasn’t had a hit since “Black or White,” but there was still obvious demand for him with the booking of 50 sold out shows in London planned for later this summer. In the later years it was clear he had more approval abroad. With news of Neverland Ranch going into foreclosure, it wasn’t long before things turned to the worst. Rumors speculate that Jackson had a toxic combination of pain killers in his system when he was rushed to the hospital. I don’t think we’ll ever know the real truth, despite what the autopsy reveals. Maybe I’m too young to really get it, but as history has proven, legends only grows once you have left the earth. I think now that MJ’s gone, people will only celebrate the good times and all the trouble he encountered will slowly be repressed. The real question is where were all these “fans” the past 15 years? Of course celebrities come out of the woodwork to “support” Michael once he is gone, but what about when his back was against the wall in legal troubles, and it was career suicide to associate with him? The whole out-crying seems a little hypocritical to me. Culturally, there’s no way to measure Michael’s positive impact on the world but it’s even sadder to think people only care because he’s no longer here.
Michael will always be the little kid in the Jackson 5, the icon doing the moonwalk and the zombie in “Thriller”– and it’s probably best that way. R.I.P Michael. HeeHee.