Vivek's thoughts on Michael Jackson Jul 3, 2009 20:20:50 GMT -5
Post by christine~ on Jul 3, 2009 20:20:50 GMT -5
MICHAEL JACKSON, THE BEATLES, AND INFINITE YOUTH
July 02, 2009 - 1:27pm
I was shocked when I heard the news about Michael Jackson’s passing last week-- partially because he was so young and, to me, his death so unexpected… and partially because I felt much sadder than I thought I would. I didn’t think I cared so much about Michael Jackson anymore.
But now I realize that to pretend I don’t care about Michael Jackson is like trying to pretend I don’t care about youth. And I don’t mean my youth-- I mean the concept of youth itself.
There was a period in my life-- that precious place between childhood and young adulthood-- when Michael Jackson meant the world to me. (And this was long before “tween” was a marketing catchword, though I’m fairly confident I’m not talking about being a tween, at least as the marketers define them).
In his famous trial, Oscar Wilde spoke of a pure form of love between an elder and and a younger man, where “the elder man has intellect, and the younger man has all the joy, hope and glamour of life before him.”
Well, when I was a heterosexual 10-year old boy, Michael Jackson, his music, and his music videos represented all the joy, hope, and glamour that life had to offer. Yes, I loved him. And now that I am an older man with some supposed sense of intellect, I rejected that memory and buried that love. Why?
It would be easy to say it was because I discovered the Sex Pistols.
But that’s a cop-out.
Yeah, I stopped listening to Michael Jackson years ago and Johnny Rotten replaced him in both my headphones and my attire. But what I realized last week is that I never stopped believing in what Michael Jackson represented to me-- and that’s why his passing made me so sad. When I think about it like this, my reaction is no surprise at all.
The Beatles were the first band I ever loved, and I discovered them by listening to my parents’ vinyl. But by the time I got The Beatles’ indelibly under my skin, they were already legends, and they had already broken up. With the rest of my city, I was devastated by the death of John Lennon and I will never forget that day… But Michael Jackson was really and truly the first musician I was old enough to actually follow, to feel the excitement of new news and new developments. I remember waiting up all night for MTV to play the “Thriller” video. This was LONG before the days of on-demand and YouTube; I even remember holding a Walkman tape recorder up to the television set so I could capture an audio recording of “Thriller” with the dialog bits. And I remember the giddy anticipation as subsequent videos, songs, and performances were unleashed, not knowing what to expect-- but expecting that it would be, and feel, awesome.
Sure, while I was slam dancing to Murphy’s Law and Underdog at the old Ritz I read about how Michael’s life got increasingly strange, sad, and even morally suspect. But in the end, since I never actually knew the man, what really matters-- to me, that is-- is what he represented for me, what he left behind for me. And that sadder, stranger person is not the Michael I knew, nor the Michael I remember. Mine makes me feel young again-- full of joy, hope, and glamour; ready to stay up all night again and take on the world.
Thanks, Michael-- and rest in peace.