Sunday, June 28, 2009

Mama say, mama sah, mama koo sah

It was a Princess Di moment. It was that big. He was that big. And unfortunately because of everything that happened in the last 15 years that impact somehow became diminished. After that point he went through life almost encouraging the farcical image the world has begun to have of him.

But I remember sitting on Terri's stoop in 1979, listening to my copy of "Off the Wall". I was a still a total disco babe then, listening to Disco 92 and Jay Thomas in the morning. I loved that album. I think I loved it more than Thriller. But now if you ask me, I think Thriller has more hits I like.

Sissy Amy called me last Thursday afternoon. I was running around like a nut, trying to get the kids the carnival and pack up my stuff to fund raise for the walk at the same time. I had just talked to her like an hour or two ago.

"Hey, what?" I asked, as I answered the phone.
"So, does Michael Jackson dying trump Farrah?"
"...WTF are you talking about??"

I put on CNN while she said TMZ was reporting he was dead, and with all the little shit reporters they have everywhere they were usually always right.

Bizarre. And surreal. Because it was the furthest thing from your mind. Not that I should really give a shit, because he was a musician far removed from my everyday life but still...

It was a Princess Di kind of moment. This icon of a generation---my generation. Michael Jackson--- who defined music videos; who was appointment television before there were DVR's. He was the man who pushed the envelope, who inspired fashion, not to mention countless performers to come after him. I listened to Justin Timberlake's "Future Love Sex Sounds" and said, "he's totally copying 80's Michael Jackson."

And while my kids seem to "get it", I can tell they don't. And that is when I realized. I am over forty years old, and I have over decades watched as "legends" of stage and screen died. I've watched retrospectives and said, "awe". Paul Newman, Bea Arthur, and countless others have had their obits published in recent years. But while I could appreciate their talents and impact on entertainment, I didn't live through their comet blaze across the sky. Those of us born after 1965 watched the taillights of the baby boomer generation's entertainers fade to black. But they didn't belong to us. MJ belonged to us. He was disco, pop, and MTV. He was an Elvis for the 80's. He is to my kids what Elvis was to me.

He's the first one we've lost. Him and Farrah- who launched a million young boy's fantasies. Who inspired a hairstyle decades before Jennifer Anniston. And not withstanding what happened in this man's troubled life, the impact he had on pop music and culture is immeasurable.

One TV analyst said, "But, could you really imaging Michael Jackson being 80 years old?" And no I couldn't. Not that that's any justification for a life shattered by drama, abuse, and most likely drug addiction. His soul at least is at rest. And God knows, he had a lot of it.


dw said...

I was driving home from the western burbs when I heard. Because of f'd up traffic, the trip took two hours of crawling, so I had the radio on and heard through the first reports of something happening, to his being in serious condition, to TMZ reporting that he had died (and the reporters saying over and over that nothing has been verified but that TMZ has been known to have reliable reports when it comes to MJ), to the LA Times confirming the report. I guess I was not all that surprised, given his bizarre lifestyle and I nodded my head when I heard that bit about nobody really being able to see him at 80. I enjoyed some of his music, and the Thriller music video was certainly a classic that changed the nature of music. But really, I think I can count on one hand the songs I really liked.

I was thinking today about someone being refered to as an icon and realized that the term "icon" doesn't necessarily have to be a positive term. Not all representations of our culture today are positive ones.

That said, I feel bad for his kids and hope they can get the support and strength they'll need to get through this and all that is in all likelihood to come.

Anonymous said...

Seeing the first news reports online was stunning. And you're right, it was a Princess Di kind of moment. Just as I didn't believe it when the news came that she had died, I didn't believe Michael Jackson had, either. Not being able to picture him at 80 really has no impact for me....I can't believe he was 50! The retrospectives over the past few days have really reminded me of how great his music is. RIP
-- magnoliajem

Anonymous said...

A) I love a mention on the blog, you should just blog about my ramblings

B) this is the year of the celebrity death, start listing