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I'm sadder than I ever thought I would be about Michael Jackson.

In the last, oh, 10 years when his whole life became a twisted circus in which he was making an obvious physical, emotional, artistic, and psychological decline, the whole Michael Jackson phenomenon became a train-wreck that was just to painful to be looked at. And I think, during that time, I forgot what I huge fan I used to be.

When I found myself bawling in front of my computer while watching the youtube video of The Jackson 5's "Never Can Say Goodbye" (seriously, watch it, and I defy you not to tear up when that beautiful, now departed little boy sings "Even though the pain and heartache seem to follow me wherever I go...Never can say goodbye"), I remembered my treasured little vinyl records and cassettes, and the VHS of the "Thriller" video and making-of documentary my mom bootlegged for me, and the excitement of staying up late to watch the premiere of the "Black or White" video on Fox, and the list goes on and on.

When I really think about it, though, my feelings of sadness are for the loss that the world really experienced in 2005 when he went into seclusion, and the late nineties when he became grotesquely unrecognizable, and the early nineties when his suspended and apparently permanent state of childhood was exposed to the world, and even all the way back to his childhood when the seeds of all of this were planted. The tragedy of losing Michael Jackson has been a decades-long, gradual tragedy, and what I think I really feel about his recent actual death is relief. Relief that his sadly broken life is over and he can have some peace.

He may have been crazy. He may have molested children. He may have been body dysmorphic, drug addled, or delusional. We'll never know, and any claims that we ever can know one way or the other are patently false and misleading. What we can know is that he was a deeply sensitive and phenomenally talented person who was destroyed by his family, his management, and his fame, and whatever else he may or may not have done, that's something to be mourned; the Michael Jackson that could have been versus the Michael Jackson that was.

The consolation is that what I really believe will be remembered 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 years from now (and no, I don't think that's an exaggeration) is his body of work. I really do believe that, in the end, posterity will be kinder to him than we were.

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
st_martin_a
Jul. 18th, 2012 06:42 pm (UTC)
He'll definately go down as one of the all-time greats. It's a shame how too much money ruins people. Elvis went a similar way didn't he. I don't know if you've heard that song by Bono - "Elvis ate America before America ate him". There you go - a bit of poetry for you.
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