Thursday, June 25, 2009

Assorted thoughts on Michael Jackson

Now this one, I did not see coming. Farrah Fawcett, anybody who kept even one eye on the news-of-the-fabulous, knew was dying. But Michael Jackson? No, did not see that one coming.

My first thought is...I hope he's in a better place.

It's been a source of sadness to me, more than anything else, to see what he's done to himself over the years, with the hacked-down face and the puffed-up insistence on being referred to as "The King of Pop."

He's one of the chief examples to me of how fame can drive you batshit crazy (another being Mickey Rooney, and who would've ever thought Michael wouldn't outlive him?). He became an impersonation of himself, and a bad one.

But for my generation, "Thriller"--the album, song and video--was kind of a big deal. Some of those songs will always be about girls I liked in Jr. High. And who doesn't love "I Want You Back" by the Jackson 5?

And for what it's worth, I never thought he deserved to be convicted on the child-molestation charges. I'm not inclined to let anything like that go, but everything I learned about him made me think that although he was surely batshit insane 10 other different ways...that wasn't one of them.

Oh and hey, I just remembered something weird: Last night I caught part of an old Cosby Show where Sondra and Elvin went to a Michael Jackson concert. That in turn reminds me that according to Randy Taraborrelli's bio, when the "Victory" tour was going out and the other Jacksons; promoter Don King were all about getting paid, Michael insisted on making the show accesible for some of his lower-income fans. That was nice of him.

Though I've always had a certain amount of resentment that the most popular song with my name as the title is A: By Michael Jackson and B: About a rat.

Doing a little Googling now...I don't know which I find harder to believe: That I'd forgotten he married Elvis' daughter Lisa Marie Presley...or that he married Elvis' daughter Lisa Marie Presley.

Finally, I don't want to forget The Wiz, which I think is at least somewhat underrated. It's got a few big problems, and it's a toss up as to which was the biggest: The screenplay, the miscasting of Diana Ross, Richard Pryor's meek; tame performance.

But the music, sets, and Jackson as the Scarecrow (along with Ted Ross as the Lion and Nipsey Russell as the Tin Man, among others) made up for a lot. It was also important in the history of music, not just in the life of Jackson himself, because that's where he met Quincy Jones, who would go on to make Off The Wall, Thriller, and Bad with him.

I feel for the guy.

I hope he's in a better place.

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