Saturday, June 27, 2009

Crossroads



Michael Jackson has passed away. For somebody I had never met, I felt suprisingly devastated after hearing the news. This is probably mostly generational, I've known of him all my life and am half his age. He is the king of pop, a genre that can't exist anymore without his influence and that cannot be but defined by him. A complete entertainer, he had a voice that was gentle and soft but fierce and strong at the same time filled with idiosyncratic coos and gasps. He was out of this world with his dancing, rhythmically astounding with moonwalks, breakdances, tiptoe stands and twists. His music was so crystal clear in its purpose, and in its best manifestations, his songs were an arrangement of influences that created the template for all of pop to follow. With those tools, he has shaped entire generations. In a time of hardship for his native country, his passing can be used to remind people of how the man in the mirror reflects his culture through his life, both the highs and the lows. Michael Jackson lived the American dream in that he came from a background uncommon for success and was able to use his talent to stand alone in history. He lived it as a black man, and later as a white man, as young boy and as an adult; He was blessed in that he was supremely talented, which led to fame, fortune, critical acclaim, and one of a kind stature; he loved and was extremely loved by his fans and those who knew him best. He was a private person, shy, recluse, traits that became weakenesses under the intense overexposure of the media, especially when the accusations of child molestation came to light. Whether the accusations were truthful or not will not come to discussion here, but Michael was never seen in the same light ever again. These trials and tribulations, successes and condecorations are part of the American cultural landscape. His life has now become most important in helping us understand how great we can fly and how hard we can fall, how we can be synonimous with greatness and riddled by demons conjured by our inner selves and society. Michael thrived because of the culture and was ultimately worn down by it until the day of his death. His death brings comparisons to Elvis, the unique figure of his generation. They bear more similarities than I care to acknowledge, but they differ in causation; at the time of his death, Elvis was a barrier breaker, bringing a black music genre to the white masses that would only continue to grow after him. But MJ was a barrier maker, by being a unique performer and synchronizing pop and RnB music to great success, setting the standard for others to follow, one that seems impossible for anyone to reach. He has defined a cultural era for the world, and in a time of global re-evaluation, he has passed on. In some ways I'm glad as he can finally be at peace, away from all his internal troubles and as well as the external social machinations that sucked his magic in order to sell tabloids and magazines. Now, people will not focus on his troubles, but on his incomparable musical legacy, which is still there for all to behold and remember. R.I.P. Michael Jackson.

Michael Jackson - Man In The Mirror (alt)
Michael Jackson - Billie Jean (alt)

1 comment:

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