Thursday, June 25, 2009

Remembering The Man In The Mirror

Some of you Dear Friends, will not care for this blog, and that's okay. I'm writing it more for myself and for those other children of the 80's who grew up listening and dancing to the music of Michael Jackson.

True, yes...he was a member of the incredibly famous Jackson Five in the 70's, but he reached iconic status in the 80's.

Some of you may not be able to look past his life as it was played out in the media all around the world for the last several years. Some of you may not have liked his music. Some of you may think he was a "freak" and have no use for him at all.

I can honestly say that despite all of the hoopla that surrounded his somewhat bizarre behavior at times, I will remember him as he was when he was at his very best. I cannot remember him as he was at his worst because that would be remembering that he was a damaged and lonely human being who desperately sought approval and affection and who sadly, never felt truly loved. I'll remember him at his best because that is when his talent ruled the world.

In high school, I never quite felt like I fit into any clique. I mostly felt awkward and goofy and out of place. There were though, a few times when I felt a part of the group. One of those times was made possible by Michael Jackson.

When the video for Thriller was released, my family only owned a black and white t.v. and we had no cable. Imagine that. A teenager in the 80's and no MTV. My parents should have been arrested for abuse. Anyway, the school library had a television and I remember when the video for Thriller came out, the librarian turned on the t.v. so that those of us who were "studying" in the library could watch it. We all gathered around the t.v. and as students passed by the library windows and saw the crowd gathering, they came in to see what was going on and the crowd grew. There must have been thirty or so of us standing around watching that screen in complete silence and awe. I remember looking around at my fellow classmates and thinking that I was a part of something. History. Music. I could feel it in the hair that was standing up on my arms.

I suppose that each generation has a King. My generation, the children of the 80's, had Michael Jackson. He was the King of Pop. His body of work contains hundreds upon hundreds of songs, legendary music videos such as Thriller, Beat It and Billie Jean, The Moonwalk (Oh, yeah. Don't tell me you haven't tried it!) and more crotch grabbing, lip biting, glove wearing dance moves than you can shake a stick at.

And, speaking of The Moonwalk, I once had it perfected. Yes, I was that geeky. I'll give you a tip: Don't wear your Nikes to Moonwalk. Wear ballet flats. "Real" ballet flats like we wore in the 80's. You'll slide like you're on glass.

I don't know if anyone knows what went awry in the mind and heart of Michael Jackson. We must assume, even with only elementary knowledge of psychology, that he suffered greatly at times. We've all heard those who claimed to have been in his inner circle say that he was a gentle, loving, compassionate and childlike man. It's difficult to reconcile that with what we saw played out in the media, so I'm not going to try.

What I will remember is the legacy he leaves behind. I'll remember the music he gave us that was sheer fun and that made us open our sun roofs and crank up the stereo while we were cruising Main Street. I'll also remember the music he made in an attempt to make us open our minds and see beyond race and gender and social class. I'll remember him as that soft spoken and shy King of Pop with the glittery glove and moves that would make Elvis blush.

I will remember.


markdw said...

I don't know if he was actually guilty of the things he was accused of. He was accused 3 times, acquitted twice, and settled out of court once. On the one hand, being accused so often is in itself suspect, and the other hand, the sources of the accusations were quite suspect as well. I also know that it is almost impossible for anybody to get a fair trial for the crimes he was accused of, and for the King of Pop it was probably doubly difficult.

When the SHTF this last time, I decided to let the jury decide for me. After all, I was not in a position to make that judgement, as I did not have ready access to the info they had. I must confess, however, that my prejudgement did not abate when he was acquitted. I felt of him the same sort of guilty knowledge that most people felt of OJ Simpson.

So, now that he's gone, I'm going to let it rest. He was accused by dubious people to say the least, and he was cleared of the charges every time. As near as I can tell, he was innocent.

I never really loved his music, or thought his singing or dancing was all that special. I don't have the same sort of appreciation for his music as I do for my preferred brands of songsmiths.

I do, however, have a great deal of sympathy for his family, especially his children, and his close friends. They've lost a one-of-a-kind man today.

This will remain my favorite of his songs, though it was performed by someone else:

Tessa said...

Brava! Well said, Amy. A fitting tribute to a troubled man who found comfort and fortitude in music and who shared it, so memorably, with the entire world.

Cubil said...

Nicely said Amy. On my blog I'm grappling with the whole mortality issue in a more general way. The 2 celebrity deaths just underscored my week in general.

Glynis said...

I remember a little Rocking Robin who got caught in the stardom trap.

Lee Ryan said...

MJ peaked for me when I was in sixth grade; that's what I'll try to remember. That and another not-so-subtle reminder that money and fame does not lead to happiness; something was definately missing for him.

Amy said...

Mark: I'm sticking with the original version as my favorite. Good tune, though.

Tessa: Thank you. You're right. I was watching some MJ videos last night and could see where, when he performed, he often seemed to become unaware that anyone else was watching. Amazing to watch.

Cubil: Thanks! I read your blog last night. It popped up as soon as I'd posted mine and I was too tired to comment. I enjoyed it and was happy to see that other people were in the frame of mind to remember.

Glynis: I used to jump rope to Rockin' Robin on the playground. Seeing pictures of him as a child makes my heart so sad. What a beautiful sweet face. Gigantic talent and phenomenal fame seem to be a fatal combination.

Lee: Sixth grade? I'm doing the mental math to calculate your age now! And, how right you are. No amount of money or fame can heal a broken heart.

Andrea said...

Being a wee bit older than you, my best memories of Michael are when he was very young. That sweet, innocent face and raw talent. That is what saddens me most about Michael and his life. That he started no different than the rest of us. Regardless of the personal issues of his life, he should be remembered for his talent and for the mere fact that he is somebody's child.

This post is nicely done, Amy (as usual).

lakeviewer said...

He was a complex human being, and a super talent. We all end up with parts of us that we are not so proud of.

Angie said...

Fellow child of the 80s here (who also had parents that were cruel enough to deny me MTV), but I listened to Michael Jackson's music quite a bit because my brother was a bit obsessed with him.

I'm kind of surprised that I find his death so sad since I haven't really listened to his music lately or been a fan for years - but I do feel very sad. For the most part I think it's because I find it so sad when someone dies at the point when their children are so young. I just feel so bad for his children right now.

Amy said...

Andrea: Nicely put!

Rosaria: So true. Something we all need to remember before passing judgement, eh?

Angie: I'm hoping the very best for those kids.

You're the third person to tell me they didn't have MTV either! And for years I thought I was the only freak.

Fragrant Liar said...

Lovely post. I must say, we are sort of women in the mirrors. My post is so very similar to yours, even citing the same songs. My favorite was Man in the Mirror, mostly because I think it embodied his spirit and his state of mind. When I watched that video clip you have posted, it just reinforced that feeling in me. I miss him bunches, and I'm so sad he didn't get the chance to redeem himself to his detractors and make his comeback that so many of us wanted to see. He really was/is a legend.

Cynthia said...

Hi Amy, Thank you for this post. It helps put in perspective all of atmosphere surrounding MJ's unexpected death. I think his talent is unsurpassed...and that it came from an unclouded beautiful place within his being. To acknowledge that he was confused at times, or that he had human limitations does not take away from the incredible contribution he made to humanity. His beauty came from the power he had to uplift ... and this blog honors that gift. Thank you for posting it.

I hope you don't mind but I also posted this video (inexpertly since it doesn't fit well on the sidebar!)The song fits perfectly with my own vision. I see that you got the POTD award- I recommended you for it a couple of weeks ago. I think your blog posts are intelligent and funny...and am glad you are being acknowledged.

I also gave you an award over at Oasis Writing Link (OWL)blog. Come over and read what I wrote about dreaming...and check out the award. I hope you will leave a comment and/or become a follower so we can keep in touch. (I don't know if you do awards here but I just wanted to send a few people your way.)

I'm a follower of this blog but there has been a problem with Explorer 8-it has been throwing me off of your blog. I'm using Mozilla Firefox/Explorer in combination to read and comment on your posts. <3

Amy said...

Cynthia: You're a gem! Thank you so much for your very kind words and for the recommedation! I did visit your blog today and am now following. I'm looking forward to having a little more time to dig into it bit and do some reading.

The video is public domain but I'm glad you found it here. Amazing, isn't it?

Again, thank you for your support and for such kind comments.