Friday, July 3, 2009

Man in the Mirror

The self proclaimed "King of Pop", Michael Joseph Jackson, is dead. A week later the frenzy over his death continues, and not unlike his predecessor and former ghostly father in law, Elvis "The King of Rock" Presley, the frenzy will undoubtedly continue on for the rest of my lifetime in one form or another.

Like the rest of the world, I too was a fan of Michael and mourn his passing as not only sad but tragic. Taken before his time, 50 years of age, just as he was about to launch his highly anticipated ascension to the throne. This would be the Michael that the world wanted to remember, the man who changed the face of the music world, not the altered face of his human form, going out with a blaze of glory, back on top.

However there is a part of me that wonders if perhaps he isn't in a better place now. I look at Michael in a way that I believe his millions of adoring fans did not see him. I have ruminated over his death now for a week as I have watched the countless reports on his life and people making feeble attempts at tying themselves to his legacy in one way or another. This is the same man who was vilified for being an accused child molester by the same media machine that is now trying to cover his passing as if it has affected them personally.

I didn't know Michael personally, didn't know anyone who did know him. I never saw him in concert, have a few of his albums, but not all, yet I like to think I had an understanding of this man. I appreciated Michael for the musical genius he was, but with genius comes a price. Michael was different than most of us. As with many who are considered to have genius, they are concurrently just as eccentric as they are brilliant. Michael was no different. Thrust into the spotlight at a young age, Michael became a lost child. Accounts of his childhood tell tales of an allegedly abusive father that most likely had a hand in creating Michael's deficits that were so prevalent as fodder for the media that covered his every move while he matured before the world's eyes. My education and experience in Psychology and Social Work have taught me that an abused child will find a way to cope, however their coping does not always make up for the damage caused from the experiences they have.

The recording industry must have taken it's toll on Michael's psyche as well, perpetuating what was most likely started early on in his life. I have heard many, many so called stars recount their negative experiences with the industry. Imagine being a young man like Michael, thrust out of nowhere onto a world stage, in an industry that demands perfection. His childhood lost, he created a world of his own in which he could revert back to the childhood he so sorely missed out. He built the Neverland Ranch and surrounded himself with children in a mad attempt to reclaim that which was absent from his memories, but still he knew existed for others. He wanted that too, and sought it through means that were considered to be perverse and odd to those on the outside looking in to his world. Like Peter Pan, I suppose he didn't want to grow up because he knew what that was like and it was painful to him.

When Michael looked into his mirror, the man he saw was not the person he wanted to see. Though denying any modifications, the rest of the world watched as he changed right before our eyes. He became what some would say was a hideous looking soul, almost as if he were one of the zombies in his historic Thriller Video. Could his genius been born out of the nightmares that he must have suffered as a child, giving the world an album and video that was truly remarkable?

One can find meaning in anything, and art holds many meanings to those who not only create it, but to those who appreciate the works presented to them. The time I have spent listening to Michael's works of art in the last week have revealed a soul that I believe was not able to find its true Neverland. Michael lived in exile at times, sequestered from the world that once embraced him only to then turn on him like some cobra that has been grabbed by it's tail. One last attempt on his part to recapture the hearts and imagination of the world through a comeback concert ended prematurely. The world has lost a tortured soul, a genius, the likes of which may never surface again. Michael Joseph Jackson is dead, rest in peace. I hope you find your Neverland wherever you land in this universe.

1 comment:

Candy said...

The King of Pop living on as the King of Rock n Roll did/does. I think you may be right. It's funny how the bad things we've done seem to fade from memory at the end. Not that I've hurt or abused anyone, but this causes me to ask myself the do I want to be remembered? Very thought provoking....thank you