Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Some Thoughts on Michael Jackson...
Preface: It's a terrible thing when someone dies.

Now what do I really think?

First, I can't say that I was ever a fan. I thought the music was pretty good, though. I would say that I preferred the Jackson 5 to Micheal's solo stuff, though. Note: I grew up in an era (late 70's/80's) where the three biggest stars of the day were Madonna, Cyndi Lauper and Micheal. Cyndi was the best singer, Madonna was every teenaged boy's fantasy. Michael, however, was the best all-around entertainer. I can remember the teenage frenzy surrounding "Thriller" which I thought was pretty cool...the first three times I saw it. The allure quickly wore off after that, and I can't recall being impressed with the music much after that. Particularly that Jackson/McCartney rubbish. It wasn't to my taste; I was still listening to the Beatles, and discovering Led Zepplin and Rush at the time.

Second, this week-long orgy of grief is a bit over the top. Turning it into some sort of racial kerfuffle was way over the top, as some of the usual suspects did. You know who you are. I'm fairly certain that if we scanned YouTube, some of the very same 'Civil Rights' leaders and entertainers who greedily 'claimed' Micheal Jackson as one of their own in death, lampooned him mercilessly in life for his skin bleaching, predilection for young male companions, his wedding to Lisa Marie Presley and the effeminate demeanor. I guess he wasn't 'authentically black' enough for them when he was alive, because I can recall an awful lot of African-American entertainers making a decent-enough living satirizing Jackson. Don't even start with the Civil Rights Hero nonsense. That assertion doesn't even deserve a place in this discussion.

Third, all this talk about how Micheal 'broke barriers', particularly racial ones, and he should somehow be sainted for it, overlook some tremendous personalities in the entertainment world who brought black and white together musically long before Micheal Jackson arrived on the scene. Nat "King" Cole, Louis Armstrong, Aretha Franklin, Sammy Davis Jr., Tina Turner, Jimi Hendrix, Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Lena Horne (and how can anyone forget Stevie Wonder?) were giants in American musical culture. If anything, they were the pioneers; Micheal Jackson could only become the entertainer he did because those people were here first. Motown was already a household name, cultural phenomenon, and musical genre before Micheal Jackson even spoke a word, let alone sang a note.

I think the people who have exaggerated Micheal's impact on the culture have gotten it all wrong; he was an entertainment giant who stood upon the shoulders of even more titanic talents.

And see? Not a word about pedophilia and drug abuse (allegedly).

Naturally, there will be those who disagree, and maybe I'll even get a few e-mails accusing me of a) stupidity and b) racism. I know at least one of them will include the phrase "you don't get it; it's a black thing", or words to that effect. You're right; I don't.

Now ask me if I care.

I'm sorry that a man is dead, but no amount of news coverage, no amount of political correctness, and certainly no amount of whitewashing (ooops!) about his place in history or the culture is ever going to convince me otherwise. So, y'all can stop trying so hard.

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