Friday, June 26, 2009

I REALLY WASN'T PLANNING TO WRITE A THING ABOUT THE DEATH OF MICHAEL JACKSON. Truthfully, I have never been a big fan of him but I have always found something worthwhile in ALMOST every album he's produced in his nearly 45 year career (this appreciation stops with the "HIStory" double cd). I may never have been a fanatic about his music but the truth is that, looking at my ipod, I have 17 songs from his solo career in there (and that's NOT counting songs from The Jackson 5). So, whether consciously or no, I must have been at least a casual fan.
You know, I was frankly stunned to hear that Michael Jackson was dead. Farrah's death has been expected for a while now but Jackson's came out of the blue and was so unexpected that it really was unbelieveable at first. I grew up in the 70's and loved the Jackson 5 songs when I was a kid and enjoyed "Off the Wall" and "Thriller" when they came out in high school. While there was less to like after that, I found several songs I liked on his albums from "Bad" all the way up to "HIStory (Disc 2)" (believe it or don't). In fact, I've always said that my favourite Michael Jackson song actually comes from "HIStory" Disc 2, if you can believe it: a song most people probably don't know called "Stranger in Moscow".
Most people have had a hard time separating his music from his personal life. I never have. I have always found I can enjoy music for its own sake regardless of the fact that, for instance, Richard Wagner was a raving anti-semite or even that Phil Spector is a convicted murderer. The person can be someone I would never want to spend any time with but I can divorce myself from the individual and still be swept away by the prelude from "Die Meistersinger" or find the production on The Ronettes' "Be My Baby" to be a work of pop genius. I can enjoy the music of someone whose personal views I find reprehensible, whose political or social beliefs are totally opposite to my own. As long as it doesn't intrude on the music, I can judge the music on its own terms without the failings of the person who created it intruding upon it. That's what music is supposed to be: something above ourselves which can uplift, soothe or inspire us regardless of the all-too-fallable human who created it.
Which brings us to Michael Jackson. This man was certainly a freak show but it cannot be denied that he had a talent for making music. As for the child molestation charges, I have gone back and forth between agreeing with those who think he's a sicko that should be locked up and those who don't believe any true molestation happened. The truth is the man was never convicted on any of the charges and I still believe in one of the foundations of this country which states that we are all innocent until proven guilty. Maybe that makes me naive but (while I never intensely studied the allegations) his guilt was never proven in a court of law. Surely, a lot of money CAN buy off witnesses. But it is ALSO true that a lot of money draws certain types of people to see what they can GET. It has been fairly well-established that Michael Jackson had a horrible father and basically had no childhood at all. In the words of The Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan: "There are two things to say about him. He was a musical genius; and he was an abused child. By abuse, I do not mean sexual abuse; I mean he was used brutally and callously for money, and clearly imprisoned by a tyrannical father. He had no real childhood and spent much of his later life struggling to get one. He was spiritually and psychologically raped at a very early age - and never recovered. Watching him change his race, his age, and almost his gender, you saw a tortured soul seeking what the rest of us take for granted: a normal life. But he had no compass to find one; no real friends to support and advise him; and money and fame imprisoned him in the delusions of narcissism and self-indulgence." Many of the people who came into close contact with Michael Jackson for any amount of time have described him much like one of his lawyers did as "a 12 year old in a 45 year old's body". This was clearly a very messed up individual but, in the words of my good friend Daddy Pax: "don't judge him too harshly, his life was probably not as black and white as you think it may have been." It is not normal to sleep in a bed with little boys; but if sleep is all that they did (and there have been no convictions proving that anything else happened besides sleep) then nothing criminal has been shown to have taken place. And while the thought of any other 45 year old man taking a nap with little boys would seem ludicrous, there is some reasonable justification to think that a "mentally stuck as a 12 year old" adult could, in fact, have done just that without committing any abuse. While this does make Michael Jackson a freak (which NO ONE, I think, will dispute), it doesn't make his a pervert. The truth is, frankly, that we'll probably never know. For all those who allege that abuse took place, there are just as many who allege (among them Macauley Culkin) that the idea is ridiculous. The truth is, I don't know WHAT happened and neither do you. All I know is the guy's music and that's all I'm qualified (or justified) in judging.
Most of the founding fathers were slaveowners; one of the most reprehensible, horrific and disgusting crimes ever perpetrated upon human beings. This doesn't mean that we should throw out the Constitution which they wrote. The ideals of which they wrote are still worthwhile even if the flawed humans who wrote it didn't manage to live up to those ideals. I think Michael Jackson was a hot mess but this also doesn't mean I think we should throw out the good music he's left us. Again, I don't know why I'm writing this since I never planned on posting a thing about Michael Jackson's death. It's probably just my usual altruistic belief that it's very easy to ACCUSE someone of something without proving it; the result being that many lives can be ruined without proof of any wrongdoing. This is what the Catholic church's Inquisition was very good at -- and the Protestant witch trials AND bad old Senator Joe McCarthy & HUAC. Accusations are much too easy. I still believe that we have a responsibility to provide proof before we act on allegations.

5 comments:

Pax Romano said...

Well said! Excellent post.

Weaverman said...

I wasn't a Jackson fan at all but I did intend to say a few words about him. Not as many as you but somewhat along the same lines. Now I won't have to because I think you've said it all and said in right. Perhaps both Michael and Farrah, both iconic figures, really deserve to Rest in Peace, at last. Nice one, Cerpts.

Cheekies said...

Wow, well said. I wonder how good this would have been if you had intended to post something.

Fink Master Flash said...

Very well done!

Cerpts said...

Daddy Pax,

Thanks for your post which caused me to write this in the first place.

Weaverman,

Since I stole your Sir Christopher Lee title for my audio blog, feel free to use whatever ya want from my Michael Jackson spiel. Recycling is green, after all.

Cheekies,

If I had intended to post something it woulda been MUCH WORSE!!!

Fink,

Don't come to my blog and order steak!