I hope today's memorial at the Staples Center is it for awhile. Every station -- whether it's television or radio -- has been fixated on Michael Jackson's death. I mean no disrespect but enough is enough. Jackson was an icon -- no question, but it's overkill now. I don't think the Pope's passing got this much mileage. The media and the masses have treated Jackson's untimely passing as if Elvis has died again, but it's an unfair comparison.
The best dancer ever... one of the best entertainers ever... Jackson came close to reaching Presley's legendary status, but his demons in my book prevented him from ever reaching that point. "Thriller" was a phenomenon, spewing hit single after hit single, but ask yourself how focused on the music you were after that. My bet, you were, but you weren't. His follow-up to that groundbreaking album ("Bad") was a terrific, underrated album, but his face and actions made more headlines and deservedly so.
Sorry, but all of Jackson's woes from legal issues (I say issues but you know they were more than that), his constant need for self-reconstruction (Vitaligo or not, his appearance often overshadowed the music), not to mention his continual determination to illuminate his eccentricities (from Emmanuel Lewis to dangling his baby out a window) makes it impossible to truly compare the "King of Pop" to "The King." The only thing Elvis was ever guilty of was overeating and self-destructing -- he was never accused of hurting any one other than himself.
I understand that Jackson's death is a big story. I get that. I know full well how important his life was, and how influential he was to millions -- myself included (as a kid anyway), but the way in which he lived his life is more of a tragedy than his bitter end. I'm not saying anything here that anyone else already written about, but honestly his death only makes me reflect back on the life in which he lived with such reckless abandon. It makes me think back to a time in which I idolized him, and even dressed up like him for Halloween. Who didn't want to be Michael Jackson in the 1980s? Who didn't buy a white glove or red-leather jacket? Not many.
I still remember the anticipation I had all day long for the debut of the "Thriller" video back when MTV used to play videos, and it didn't disappoint. I even used to roll my eyes as a kid to try to look like Jackson did at the end with those color contacts. It didn't work, but from then on, my mom has referred to that look as "the 'Thriller' face." She still does, and I'm in my thirties. I say all this, because in my mind, the Jackson that I knew died a long time ago. It was probably when "Bad" came out when the anticipation of his next album was overshadowed by National Enquirer front pages.
That's when the focus shifted more toward Bubbles (every one seemed to have given him a mulligan for bringing the chimp around during his "Thriller" promotional tour), his face, and pigment. It never let up after that, and despite still making music in the following years, Jackson continually found himself as the butt of many punchlines -- some deserved (Oprah special...Lisa Marie -- really?), some not (I'm sure he didn't really mean to cause his baby any harm out that window.)
Blame it on his father. Blame it on his lack of a childhood. Blame it on some imbalance. But blame Michael, too. As legendary and iconic as he was and will forever be, he always got himself in some kind of trouble. Sadly, the biggest legacy "the gloved one" will have is the true potential he wasted when he was alive.
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