Thursday, June 25, 2009

Mixed Feelings and the King of Pop

On the phone:

Jamie: ..hello!
Me: The King is Dead!
Jamie: What?
Me: The King of Pop is dead. Long live The King!
Jamie: ...what?
Me: Michael Jackson is dead. Nathan sent me an article. I'm late coming home because I had to verify before going to print.
Jamie: He's dead? (long pause as Jamie is clearly opening laptop and going to CNN) Oh. Oh my god.
Me: Yeah.
Jamie: That's so... weird.
(long pause)
Me: Some mixed feelings, huh?
Jamie: Yeah.

I was 7 or so when Thriller hit the radio. Its got to be hard for anyone born after 1978 or so how absolutely important Michael Jackson was to the pop culture scene between 1982 and 1985. Jackson then disappeared briefly to re-emerge with "Bad",. Soon after, things would turn poorly for the entertainer.

Look, I actually really, really like Michael Jackson's "Thriller" and big parts of "Bad". And "Smooth Criminal". And so while we started to hear weird stories almost immediately (trying to buy "The Elephant Man's" bones, the zoo at Neverland Ranch), it wasn't until I was in high school that the first accusations about impropriety with a kid began to creep out. This was all pre-Internet, so the stories came from supermarket tabloid covers and shows like "A Current Affair". But during one lazy summer, MTV showed the video for "Bad" over and over. And I sorta learned the whole thing. I mean, yeah, I needed the video for reference. I'm not exactly Usher. And, yeah, it's been many a year, but there was a time when I was flopping around my living room imitating The Gloved One. Poorly.

I'm not really sure I need to fill anyone in on the details of the scandals. Either of them (younger readers may not remember the first batch, but they were there).

The truth is that I'm not really sure what the hell happened during those cases. Jackson's, frankly, bizarre and secretive lifestyle made it easy to believe just about anything.

So what do you do? Shrug at the death of a guy who somehow escaped justice time and time again? Or mourn/ pity a guy hounded by the media and possibly falsely accused of one of the most grave crimes an individual can perform?

I have no idea.

About two weeks ago I was going to do a post about latter-era Michael Jackson, but got lazy. I was going to talk about videos from "Dangerous" and the video for "Scream" and "Black & White". But... I sorta thought nobody would be interested.

Here's some other stuff.


Smooth Criminal

The one that's my first memory of Jackson: Billie Jean. Dude seemed so cool.

Latter era Michael Jackson: Scream

Early era (totally rad) Jackson: Don't Stop Til You Get Enough

The Jackson 5 rocks the frikkin' house:

And, man, it wouldn't be complete without Thriller.

. This video, btw, got MTV banned in my house for a year when The Admiral spied the zombie make-up, decided it was too scary (ignoring that we'd seen the video 100 times before that), and locked it out on the Scientific Atlanta box.

We almost lost cable again, circa 1987, thanks to George Michael's "Father Figure" video, which The Admiral would mistake for soft-core pornography, until I pointed out that they don't show softcore during the 6:00 hour on basic cable.

Here's more Thriller.

Thrill the World Austin 2008

Phillipines prison


rhpt said...

It is unfortunate that his antics over the latter years of his live overshadowed his repuation as an entertainer/musician. It seemed many people forgot he was a cultural phenom (in a good way) back during his peak.

Nathan said...

How very sad. Of course, we have been missing Michael for a long time now. I'll have more for you next week (we're on our way out of town). I always wished for a musical comeback. Maybe he'd give Quincy a call. But now...

My thoughts on his music next week.

Anonymous said...

Well Quincy will be getting a call, but it's a different Quincy.

Sorry. I had to hit that softball.


The League said...

While in poor taste for which you should be deeply ashamed, I have to admire that one, Peabo.

Simon MacDonald said...

Michael Jackson was an incredible talent. Billie Jean may be the best Pop song of all time.

Sadly he grew up in an "allegedly" abusive household and "allegedly" went on to abuse children as well. I think it'll be a long time before another public figure inspires such a wide variety of emotions. In my case I've admired, pitied and felt revulsion towards Jacko at one time or another.