Michael Jackson – the king of pop and the king of weird

8 07 2009

Michael Jackson’s death did quite a number on people.

There was crying, shock, unbelief, hysteria, gnashing of teeth (okay, maybe not the last one). But I was quite unfazed when I first heard the news while in the LADN newsroom.

Michael Jackson's star on Holleywood Boulevard

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’m a cold person and don’t care about humanity (though people around the world die all the time), it’s just I didn’t grow up with the whole Michael Jackson phenomenon. What I knew of Michael Jackson was who he was the last 10 to 15 years – an eccentric guy who did eccentric things. From the  child sex abuse controversies to his nose that looked scarier and scarier as the years passed, I came to see him as just plain weird.

When he died, I didn’t understand what the big fuss was about. Why people were getting teary eyed and talking about him like they grew up together. Even after the media over-coverage (which is a total understatement) to the zealous Michael Jackson fans (who were equally as outlandish as MJ) I met at the Jackson family home and Memorial event, I still didn’t totally get it.

But here is one theme I heard consistently when I asked fans about his significance  and why he mattered:

His music broke both the color and genre barrier – he transcended all.

The Jackson 5 was one of the first African American talents to gain notoriety in the world of television and Michael Jackson’s elaborate music videos were the first of it’s kind (while most music videos back then were usually footage of rock concerts Michael Jackson’s offered story line and a breath of fresh air). He also didn’t just stay with his signature pop sounds. For many, he was a one-of-a-kind performer.

Avid Michael Jackson fan Jules Sanchez put it this way for me – “If you love [contemporary musicians today], you love Michael Jackson.”

I could see what he was saying – popular artists like Madonna, Usher and Chris Brown have copied  Michael Jackson’s moves and sounds on occasion.

Another way I realized the scope of Michael Jackson’s significance was through my observations. I’ve never met fans quite like Michael’s. How many fans of other pop culture figures would willingly fly halfway around the world to come to L.A. to be at the memorial (many knowingly did not have tickets to access the actual event mind you). I talked to people from all over the world who came to Los Angeles telling stories of how Michael Jackson has impacted their life and culture – all while knowing they wouldn’t have access to step one foot into the Memorial event.  Now that’s dedication.

I still won’t completely understand who this guy was (and I’m betting many also won’t).

Many people have told me how fortunate I am to have witness such a momentous event in history. But at the end of it all, I’m glad this day is done and over with so I can breathe a little easier (until the next world-icon dies in L.A.).

What do you think?

See also:

“Michael Jackson’s memorial was not our greatest moment” from  L.A. Time’s Steve Lopez

Audio slideshow of fans hours prior to Michael Jackson memorial

Images from the slideshow can be found here.

Video of fans at Jackson family’s home

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2 responses

10 07 2009
Bo

Wow. Cat needs to calm down as if she knows everything about Jacksons life. What you see/read/hear on the media is not going to true. In fact, mostly everything you see/read/hear is fabricated 80% of the time. To degrade another human being in such a manner to say, “he died 10 years too late” [when you don’t even know them on a personal level] is “pitiful.”

8 07 2009
cat

I though Jackson was a pedophile and disgusting human being. He was abused as a child and became a abuser. to see the kind of interest in the media shows us a reflection of our humanity today. The people who mourn him are lost themselves. Humanity is lost. Jackson did nothing to lift humankind except for a few songs and danciing in the 1970 and 80s. He is ultimately just a pop personality and a pitiful one at that. At least pop idols such as John Lennon or Elvis weren’t tied into child molestation. He was a monster and died 10 years too late.

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