Sunday, June 28, 2009

Reflections: Did Michael Jackson Die for Your Sins?

I will state at the outset that I am not a fan of pop music; my tastes run much more to rock, blues, jazz, and R&B. I have never purchased a Michael Jackson recording, and can't recall ever having voluntarily listened to a whole Michael Jackson song. Involuntary exposure has, however, inevitably, been considerable.

All disclaimers out of the way, having watched several hours of MJ coverage last night, I've become convinced of the high intelligence beneath the surface weirdness of the guy. What is not clear to me is to what degree that intelligence was in contact with reality. If, for instance, the Jackson family father was truly the brutal monster that Michael portrays, why wasn't he stopped? If Michael is the biological father of "his" children, why do none of them show any physical evidence of being mixed-race children? Does he believe that he is the father? How can he believe that his behavior with young boys was appropriate even if there truly was no sex involved? Earth to Michael!

Michael Jackson has many high profile protectors and defenders and I have to respect their obvious love for Michael as being based on very real positive qualities which transcend his musical genius. That said, why did they enable his unacceptable conduct and his debilitating drug use? Did they all need him more than he needed them? Were they afraid to lose him if they confronted him with it? Liza, for one, knows all about drug dependency, from both first- and second-hand experience in her own life. Where was she in all of this?

It would seem that Michael Jackson most resembles Elvis in having been surrounded by enablers: every important person in his life can be reduced to the status of a hanger-on by his/her inability to manifest and enact any life-saving tough love for the poor man.

Finally then, the question becomes: would Michael (Off the Wall) have been Michael (Thriller) without that tragic element? Did he have to live as he lived (Bad) in order to satisfy our cultural jones (Dangerous) for the sensational? Did Michael Jackson need to die for our collective sins?
Update (h/t Madscribe: Madonna's take on it.