We were the same age, but that’s about the only thing I had in common with Michael Jackson. As far as I’m concerned, he represented all the worst about Reaganism and America’s narcissistic myopia. I’m sorry he had to die young–nobody really deserves that, but the world will roll on just as well or better without him.
His music peaked when he was still part of the Jackson 5, by the time he released his ode to the rat (“Ben”), sometime around 1980, I believe, he was finished as a musician.
His notable success after that point merely illustrates how far, and how fast, America descended toward becoming the nation oriented toward artifice, superficiality, and corporate domination that it became during the Reagan years–to the ultimate shame of all of us, fans or not. The other notable performer I shared a birth-year with, Tanya Tucker, was and is always a superior performer, and I’m glad we haven’t heard of her early demise yet.
I about lost my cookies yesterday as the internet and radio became obsessed with his–hardly surprising–early death.
Let’s be honest–the guy was a fruitcake. Whatever actually went on in that Neverland Ranch, most of which we’ll probably never know the truth about, we can be sure it wasn’t wholesome. He absorbed our deepest sickness and reflected it back at us a hundred-fold. Or a million-fold, given his tax bracket.
There really isn’t that much to say about his music–any nitwit with a million-dollar team of engineers and marketers could have done the same thing, and probably been less annoying in the process. The weird quasi-military-uniform outfits he wore for his later performances were not just bizarre, but touched on something nasty in the American psyche. No reasonable musician would have concocted such a twisted get-up. And the one-glove gimmic–another silly paean to artifice. There was literally nothing there.
Smoke and mirrors is a great metaphor for his musical career, but it’s a harder thing to analyze the effect he had on the American consumer.
It was pretty hard to avoid his music yesterday, but I for one hope the hysteria dies down quickly and we can get back to our obsessive interest with Kim Kardashian’s behind and Britney’s underwear.
As a celebration of all that is wrong with America, MJ was the perfect symbol. He was all hat, not cattle; all flash, no pan; all gravy, no meat. There was no nutrition there, just a weird, poisonous decay that seemed to infect everyone he came in contact with.
Does anyone really doubt that he was guilty of the child-molestation charges he evaded recently? His bizarre actions at that time would have gotten anyone without his fortune locked up for a good long time.
Finally, his life tells us more about what a mess this country became under Ronald Reagan than it did about his own debatable gifts as a musician and performer.
I’m sorry he had to go young, but if he could have crept away twenty years ago and acted like a human being instead of some bizarre product of a sweatshop-inspired bad dream, we would all have been better off.