The bitter end
It all happened very fast — within a couple years of the Motown special. But even at the time of the "Motown 25" moonwalk, fame was old hat to Michael Jackson. He hadn't even turned 25 himself, but he'd been a star for more than half his life. He was given the nickname the "King of Pop" — a spin on Elvis Presley's status as "the King of Rock 'n' Roll" — and few questioned the moniker.
But, as the showbiz saying has it, when you're on top of the world, there's nowhere to go but down.
— "Michael Jackson, pop music legend, dead at 50," CNN.com
I used to have a crush on Michael Jackson.For my eleventh birthday, Troop got me the Off the Wall album on cassette, and throughout the evening, my whole sleepover party took breaks from such important business as gorging on candy and painting our nails to bug out to "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" on my parents' ancient 30-pound cassette deck. Jackson looked so foxy on the cover: cool, in control, ready to dance and then have a nice quiet talk about horses. Tween-nip, he was.
Almost everyone has a story like this about their relationship with Michael Jackson, at least one story like this, and not just "everyone in the Tomato Nation readership."Everyone in the world.Girls' Bike Club jokes aside, it will take a few days for all of us to sift through our histories with Michael Jackson and figure out just how large he loomed for all of us, culturally; whether we can separate his work from his celebrity, the latter putting him in some exclusive company (Elvis, Princess Di, Babe Ruth), and whether we should; what a superstar forged in radio and MTV meant in a blog-and-Twitter world.And his face, how to make sense of that face — "those faces," really, each one of them instantly recognizable.
Mr. Stupidhead and I somehow found ourselves discussing Jackson a few weeks ago over a couple of pints. I said then that, as icky as Jackson usually made me feel and as much as I couldn't foresee a normal life for his kids, mostly he made me sad — that, really, he never had a chance at learning how to relate to other people normally, that he looked like an anorexic fortune-teller with doll hair, on purpose, still wearing those military-inspired jackets from his heyday that hung on him like he grabbed them off a rack at TJ Maxx without trying them on.And of course he must have known what we said about him, about the tawdriness that couldn't even manage a southern-gothic type of grandeur, although I suppose his collapsing nose is a sort of equivalent to the family manse taken over by mildew and vines.
Imagine existing in that funhouse body for ten minutes, living with the irreclaimable warping, knowing that you're a part of history, and doomed.I don't apologize for liking his music, or excuse anything else he did, but I have to wonder what the autopsy will say about his heart, and if it just broke, in the end.
Tags: Babe Ruth Elvis Presley GBC Michael Jackson music news Princess Diana untimely demises