Thursday, July 9, 2009

I'm sorry, I just don't get the Michael Jackson overkill.

Can you tell me if he's black or white?? Michael Jackson easily had the most stunning transformation of any famous person I can remember. This isn't even a contest.

Tuesday at my office, you would have thought that the world had ended. EVERYONE was sitting in their cubicles streaming the Michael Jackson memorial ceremony and muttering phrases like, “It’s so sad.” and “He was so great. What a loss.”

I was beside myself. I just kept thinking, “Really?” Here was a weird dude with obvious talent who had not released anything of significance since 1991, however since that time he has had multiple incidents and suits alleging all sorts of sinister behavior with children. He was never convicted of anything, but the allegations are troubling enough. He lived like a recluse for the better part of twenty years like a latter day Howard Hughes, and then of course there was the bizarre physical transformation and obvious self image problems. Then there are stories coming out that he died as a result of abusing prescription medications.

I’m not hating on Jacko, and the power of his music from the 70's and 80's has really stood the test of time. However, the fact cannot be denied that for the past ten to fifteen years he has pretty much been a late night punch line and regarded as a weirdo more than an entertainer. It’s not like he was Kurt Cobain and struck down while at the height of his career and his death prevented us from enjoying more of his genius. His loss was certainly sad, but I’d say it was far from tragic in the sense that musically I don’t think he was going to bring a whole lot more to the table than he already had.

All that said, to see people so emotional and distraught at his loss seems disingenuous when you consider that many of these people were probably laughing at him a month ago and calling him a freak. To see him lying in state as if he were a national hero seems beyond surreal. I don’t want to speak ill of the dead, but at the same time, I hate when people retroactively change someone’s legacy in light of how they die. Jackson was a very talented entertainer, but he was also a weird dude. I wish the masses celebrating the former would at least recognize the latter and not pretend like everything after 1986 never happened.

I feel like of course Jackson's contribution to the pop culture scene was definitely large, and there probably wasn't a bigger star in the 1980's than "The King of Pop." I just find it weird that people are this emotionally invested in a guy who was so troubled, so maligned, and was basically an outcast since the early 90's. I feel like a little bit of a deal should have been made of his passing, but the nation is mourning like we have lost a sitting president, it just feels like overkill to a crazy degree, and I don't entirely get it.