My heart is heavy tonight. This afternoon, Michael Jackson suddenly had a heart attack and died at the age of 50. This is one of those things that doesn’t seem possible.
In some weird way, I guess a part of me always thought that he would live forever, and his passing has affected me more than I would have guessed it would. I completely recognize that celebrities, despite their elevated social status, are just people and put their pants on in the morning just like everyone else. That said, Michael Jackson was something else entirely. He was a true icon, a remnant of a bygone day when an album could sell 65 million copies and MTV could make someone a star. He was the ultimate performer. He could write. He could sing. He could dance. Oh dear me, could that man dance. . .
I was just a kid back in the late 80’s and early 90’s, but I could clearly see the influence of Michael Jackson. Songs like “Billie Jean,” “Man in the Mirror,” and “Heal the World” were played on the radio all the time. The man was HUGE. These popular entertainers nowadays who think they’re “famous” have no idea. Michael was the closest thing to the Beatles that I will probably ever see.
I remember January 31, 1993. My mother and father sat my older sister and I down in front of the television to watch Michael Jackson perform the halftime show at the Super Bowl. Understand this: my family is not a sports family. Nowadays, I watch basketball and baseball and we now go to a yearly Super Bowl party, but my family is not one that has ever based anything around watching a football game. But for some reason, my parents must have had some inkling that, on this particular overcast Sunday afternoon, something special was going to happen at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. I can still remember snippets of the show. Michael began on one part of the stage, and then, POOF! He vanished in a gust of smoke and reappeared somewhere else accompanied by more smoke. I also remember him (finishing?) the show singing “Heal the World,” accompanied by a children’s choir. The kids were dressed in costumes reflecting clothes worn all over the world. To this day, I have a soft spot in my heart for that song.
What makes me sadder still are the heartless comments that I’ve already seen thrown around by people I know. It’s completely true that Michael’s life was marred by controversy, and terrible accusations were made. A member of my family survived a heart attack several months ago. It was one of the worst days of my life. I don’t think that that kind of thing should be joked about. Regardless of an individual’s opinion of him, Michael was still someone’s son, someone’s brother, and someone’s father. He deserves the same common courtesy that anyone else deserves. As for the callous, insensitive comments made by people I know, I am ashamed. I don’t know if the accusations leveled at him have any truth to them or not. The world may never know for sure. After reading a fairly recent interview with him in Ebony magazine, I was left to think that he was either guilty or he was completely misunderstood.
A phrase that is tossed around a lot is that Michael Jackson was the “King of Pop.” It’s a title that, back in the day, was sort of seen as arrogant and high-minded of him to use. The thing is though, it’s absolutely, unequivocally true. There was no one like him and there may never be anyone quite like him ever again.
The King is dead. Long live the King.