Michael Jackson was the first man I can recall wanting to marry. This would have been roughly kindergarten, the Thriller days. You know, back when I was five and he was good-looking. I've wondered whether seeing how he disintegrated after that contributed to putting me off the idea of speedy commitment. You never know how a handsome, seemingly normal guy might go off his rocker.
Michael Jackson was obviously not quite right. It would be nice if his descent from child prodigy to tragic figure would make parents think twice about pushing their kids into the limelight. It doesn't seem that anybody's psyche can handle becoming so famous so quickly. He was an icon, had become one by his early 20s. That's happened to a handful of people ever, and none of them have coped well. Seems it does something to a person.
There's also the genius thing. Because he was one, had to be. He was an innovator in both music and dance. He changed them forever. Creative geniuses see their art in a way that you and I can't, in a way that no one ever has. But true creative geniuses also never seem to last. They are ephemeral, not long for this world, and they don't seem to hold up well during the time they are here. I wonder why that is. It's almost as if opening oneself up to that level of artistry leaves a person especially vulnerable to shattering.
There are lots of opinions about Michael Jackson and whether he really did hurt little boys. I don't think we'll ever know. I did hear someone who knew him well saying that she couldn't believe it of him because he seemed so utterly nonsexual himself. He never mentally grew up to the extent that it was a consideration for him. He was truly the eternal child.
I don't know. What I have discovered in the past few days is that while I knew that I loved his music, I hadn't realized how much of it I loved. There was some on my iPod. PYT, Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough, Wanna Be Startin' Something. Watching his videos on MTV (Videos on MTV!) I rediscovered how great so much more of it was. And his dancing. West Side Story may have given the world the dance fight, but Michael Jackson elevated it to an art.
Maybe he wasn't a good person. Maybe he was just exceedingly odd. Maybe he was broken by a cruel father, the crush of fame, the necessity of being a shut-in, or the fragility of his own mind. But no matter what you think of Michael Jackson the man, his art is undeniable.
I hope in death that he is able to find the peace that so eluded him in life. For my part, I'll join the crowd in downloading his music, celebrating the gift that he gave us while he was here of his immense, extraordinary talent.