Michael Jackson’s death was definitely an unexpected shocker. Even though his life has long degraded into a media circus of scandal and freakish behavior, his final demise ironically allowed us to see the man behind the mask for his true artistry and talent. Michael Jackson created the MTV era. He was the first artist to offer the most complete package of visuals and artistry: gorgeous good looks, innovative dance moves, off the hook melodies, and a sweet voice not to mention creating the whole music video phenomenon with “Thriller”. Overnight people were wearing Michael Jackson jackets and moonwalking in school hallways.
What seemed like a picture perfect transition from child prodigy, to teen heart throb, to super stardom turned into a personal tragedy of excesses. Once he hit his thirties his eccentricities seemed to catch up with him whether it was his frequently changing physical appearances or strange lifestyle. He was no longer the shockingly handsome, wildly talented yet painfully shy young man but a middle-aged freak trapped in a missed childhood coasting on a cocktail of drugs.
Yet the world was fascinated with Michael more as a train wreck as the years went by. Still, the strange thing is that when you look at all his recent work after his death, you can’t help but be touched by the fact that he was and still is a super star in the truest sense of the word. Listening back to his hits I can’t help but be amazed by the breadth of songs he created from classic dance numbers, rock heavy songs to current R&B flavored tracks. His lyrics are poignant and vocal abilities highly under-appreciated for the breadth of expression that it possessed.
When you look at other superstars from the same generation such as Prince and Madonna who’ve managed to keep aging as much at bay without wrecking their looks or health you can’t help but wish that Michael could have taken a similar path instead of ruining himself. Still, there’s no arguing that despite all that passed he was one of the most gentle and sensitive superstars of this era and that nobody including himself could have saved him from his fragility.
It’s the sadness of humanity that some people can be given everything and yet be killed by the temptation of excesses. Now that he’s gone we can separate the myth and listen to his songs for artistry and the messages he left for the world. Rest in peace Michael.