I am sitting in a movie theater with my two children to watch Space Chimps, an animated children's movie about chimpanzees who travel through space, through a wormhole to an alien planet, and then back to the Earth safely. The human controllers on the ground sport all the telltale signs of the super-geek: foreign accents, pocket protectors, glasses, etc. etc. And then there came a very funny moment. The chimps started to play the techno version of Axel F from Beverly Hills Cops, and the uber-geek with glasses, a pocket protector, and the foreign accent (vaguely Indian) broke out in a dance. All the telltale Michael Jackson moves. The moonwalk, the waves of his arms. Wow. And I see my children grooving to the music, attempting the dance moves first with their arms and then their feet.
Michael Jackson's memorial happened just yesterday. I was moved, shedding a tear or two in secret. I am of the generation that grew up with Michael Jackson's music. I was an Asian kid growing up in Germany when Michael Jackson became a huge star. He was such a huge star that his videos were shown only on the big screen in movie theaters. There was no such thing as MTV in Germany then. We were all in awe. We were speechless. This man was out of this world. In a league of his own. In his own world. He was not just a super star, he seemed to be a super human. He transcended everything. He was so cool. Beyond cool. Beyond words. Everyone dreamed of being like him. Everyone wanted to be like him.
Of all the years I spent in Germany when I was young, I only remember Michael Jackson as being the only African American singer who found such unfathomable fame, not just all over Europe, but all over the world. One cannot imagine current pop culture without Jackson. Would we have hip hop without him? Would we still have the same dance moves? Can you imagine a show like So You Think You Can Dance? Without Michael Jackson's influence?
His music and dancing inspired a whole generation of people and continue to inspire the future generations. Even my children, who don't know the name Michael Jackson, were grooving to his music. Watch this cool video from 2008 by Far East Movement :
Michael Jackson transcended race. He was truly the first post-racial star. He symbolized America and personified all of her possibilities. I would dare say that he even made Obama's presidency imaginable.
People like Peter King, a Representative from New York who can't see past the court drama that unfolded in Jackson's personal life, do not understand Jackson's cultural importance, one of the true gifts that America gave to the whole world. Is it a wonder then that there is now an effort to fund-raise against Peter King? Inmates in a Filipino jail paying dancing in a tribute, people in the streets of Europe and Africa break-dancing, people in Asia singing, clad in military style jackets and hats and the signature sequined single glove. Friends and foes alike dancing, mourning his death. Not everyone can bring people together like that.
And Michael Jackson was an American. How cool is that? When was the last time a single American united people all over the world like that? The likes of Peter King do not understand, not only what makes the world go around, but also how great America can be, what greatness America holds in every single one her citizens, and how America can unite the world along a common thread.
Michael Jackson was a true American star. Don't ever forget that. He deserves a tribute fit for a king. Long Live the King.