Sunday, July 05, 2009

it's hard not to comment on the MJ thing.


This past couple of weeks, the world "lost" a couple of iconic personalities that have graced our screens and magazine editorials for many years.

Farrah Fawcett died as a result of her long-running battle with cancer. To all intents and purposes, she appeared to have displayed great courage and fortitude and a clear desire to help others going through a similar battle to her own.

She was known in the 70's for her hair and her amazing smile. There was a fresh-faced "All-American-Girl" style to her that typified the perceived beauty standard of her day. It made her famous. She also did some strong and gutsy performances in 80's and 90's tele-drama's about domestic violence. She never really made it "big" in the movies though but despite that, she did attain a kind of iconic status for simply being her unique self as a talented and privileged woman.

Micheal Jackson is iconic too but more infamously so. His mysterious persona and outrageously anti-establishment approach to his life, career and life-style since a young and very talented child in The Jackson Five, polarised the world into two distinct camps - those who loved him and those who loved to loath him. We know little about him really, the real MJ.

For all the media reports of his strange habits, desires, needs, wants, diseases, attire, and family history, Micheal Jackson is and will probably remain something of a mystery.

His music legacy will certainly live on - there is no question that he gave the world some catchy tunes that will probably be on Karoke playlists for some years to come but I am rather bemused by the fact that so many people are now embracing a man they disparaged barely three weeks ago.

Human beings are so bloody fickle! We denigrate weird people, but if they are particularly famous - and if they pass way suddenly - we flock to the shrine of their memory as if we had always lived there, happily bathing in the luxurious fantasies of having connection to their fame and persona. We celebrate the carnival of their famous life and we can't get enough of the intense chimera of their persona in death.

I wonder if we might have treated Micheal Jackson with more respect if he had had cancer and had died quietly after a courageous battle, extending good will and good humour to others in the process? The fact that he died "unexpectedly" is I suppose, the match that has lit this flame of hysteria and hype.

Micheal Jackon's memorabilia from his many years as a pop icon was dropping rapidly in "value" in recent years because of the accusations against him about pedophilia and his public mistakes regarding the safety of his children. He was too weird; too strange; too mysterious and other-worldly and was the butt of many ribald jokes. Disrespect for MJ - the man - was pretty much evident in most casual conversations. For some, his music was a cute passing wave at the 80's and his trade-mark dance move, the Moon-Walk was a gesture of silly fun, re-enacted when remembering the decade of excess.

Now that he has died at THIS time, people are clamouring to purchase pieces of that same fading memorabilia and the prices are sky-rocketing. It apparently pays to die famous...but only if you go suddenly while you're still more or less famous (or infamous)... and young it seems!

I think there has been more respect paid in death to Farrah than there ever will be paid to MJ. Farrah died as a courageous woman - or so it seems. There is no question of her integrity or her character. She fought a very human battle and lost it and we have respected that I think.

However, even I have bagged MJ out and taken pot-shots at his strangeness, post death! It seems he has become something other than mere human, maybe a sort of cute, grotesque monster perhaps. Certainly, we have not respected him as we have other famous people who have died. He has been fair-game in a mystery story, in life and now especially in death.

MJ isn't so much a man or a person but seems to have become, over the years, something of a reflection of the uncomfortable weirdness we sense in ourselves but cannot define. MJ has become a Thing, an un-person and that's kind of sad really.

The brouhaha of Micheal Jackson will die down eventually I guess. It took approximately 20 years before people began ignoring the anniversaries of the unexpected death of Elvis. I suppose it will be similar for MJ.

I could write some platitudes here about him "resting in peace", or that he was a "great talent that the world will always miss" and so on, but I can't really. I can't feel anything remotely warm for the man that he was because I simply didn't know him as a man in that sense. He's always been a circus to me. Fantastic, surreal, other-worldly, weird, grotesque, NQR and so on. The hype surrounding his death is like a thriller movie already. There is melodrama and edge-of-the-seat wonder about what will happen next.

It's bizarre and it tells us more about how weird WE are weird *I* am... than it does about who the real Micheal Jackon is.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Perhaps a reason that Michael Jackson has been so important as a celebrity is that he has represented some of our ideals, in ways most of us do not care to admit. So wealthy that he could build his own version of reality. So ageless that he would never have to grow up. Defying the standard definitions of masculine beauty, and the physical constraints of race. He has broken barriers that most of us only dream of breaking, or are too frightened to think of breaking. In that respect, perhaps he can be inspirational.

However, we are just as likely to remember or imagine his shortcomings and weaknesses, and castigate ourselves (or the "public") for celebrating him for so long. What negative lesson will we be teaching in that case?