Thursday, June 25, 2009

Michael Jackson: American Tragedy

By Alec Horowitz

Michael Jackson will always be remembered as the iconic king of pop. He had the bestselling album of all times. His music videos are classics, from John Landis’s “Thriller”, with Jackson in the street, dancing with zombies, singing “It’s close to midnight and something evil’s lurking in the night” to Martin Scorsese’s “Bad!” and songs like Billy Jean, with the ironic lyrics proclaiming the “kid ain’t my son!” to the bizarre commericialism, no one can deny that Jackson’s cultural impact is huge. He leaves behind an amazing body of work. From the ABC’s of the Jackson Five to the moon walk. Though, he also leaves behind something a bit more unusual too. He lives behind a mystery, a mirror of the dark side of American obsession and a story that can simply be described as tragic.

Jackson also leaves behind a story of a man who injected himself with chemicals to change the pigment of his skin. A man who didn’t understand that sharing a bed with children wasn’t appropriate. From his bizarre behavior of holding his children over the edge of a hotel, to his front-page scandals and a trial where he was accused of molestation, Jackson was something more than just a successful pop star. It would be too easy to pin Michael Jackson as a creepy pedophile. The media deemed him “Jacko!” and comedians had a blast making fun of him. Though, what made about Michael Jackson’s scandal clad career different from other careers is that Jackson was obviously a mentally ill man. He always seemed unaware of the serious problems he faced.

All you have to do is look at what Michael Jackson became with his pale skin, and his childlike behavior. He became a gentle monster, dancing on the roof of a car right before he was to go on trial , like he was treating it like a music video. It brings back the image of the bizzare scene where Jackson stands on top of a car, screams, breaks the windows and holds his pants in the middle of the music video, "Black and White". What do we make of Michael Jackson now that he is gone? Do we remember the cute kid? Do we remember the man doing the moonwalk? Do we remember the pale skinned man he became? Jackson is someone I have enjoyed over the years. His music was wonderfully done. He was a major talent. Looking at different phases of his career and life, he seems like was three different people and each person just went deeper and deeper and became just more bizarre.

He made us dance. His music will live on forever. Though, the man became was a mystery. I don’t know what to make of him. He was forever trying to chase a childhood he never had. He made his home his fantasy. He made his home into never Neverland, and the little boys he had around him were the lost boys. Michael Jackson was obsessed with Peter Pan. He seemed to have wanted to be Peter Pan, and he wanted the boys to be around. Though, maybe Jackson sadly even missed the point of his own obsessions, as he was overcome with his mental illness and had less and less touch with reality.

Michael Jackson made his fantasy a prison he built himself. His fantasy world became his obession. His Never Never land became the dream that never existed, and the childhood he chased but could never catch. Michael Jackson wasn’t Peter Pan. He was forever, deep down inside, behind the mask of the King of Pop. He wasn't Pete Pan, as he loved to think of himself as. Jackson did grow up, but he tried to fight it.

He was hanunted by his father's cruel abuse. He was tortured by mental illiness, unaware of the world, as he worked hard to create a private fantasy world of his own. He was the mirror of the darkest half of American culture. He was obessed with youth. He was abused and haunted by a youth that was all showbiz and no play. Jackson was a victim of himself and a victim of a culture that became him and infected him. His life a American treagedy. His being became a American freakshow. At the end of the day, he was somewhere between a child and a man. He wasn't Peter Pan. He was one of Peter Pan's lost boys. Michael Jackson had his heart in the right place, and a talent that could be just described as genius. Though, when it came to reality, he was tragic. He told his grip on reality to beat it. Just beat it.

1 comment:

John Purcell said...

I am not really sure what to think about all this. Yeah, he made good music and what not, but I was never really a fan. Honestly, I think was an end to the tragedy for him. In some ways I think he might have wanted this, but who knows. Nobody knows what to think about him.