I’m 52. I was a teenager in the 1970s.
I remember the very beginnings of the Jackson 5, and some of the last issues of 16 and Tiger Beat that I bought included pictures of him and his brothers.
And I bought one Michael Jackson record and I stil have it–a 45 with the song “Ben,” the title song to the movie of the same name about a rat that wreaked havoc and only had one friend, a little boy who continued to believe the best of Ben the Rat.
It strikes me that Michael Jackson’s life was a lot like Ben’s.
I think that Michael Jackson’s influence on music, dance, media, and on the U.S. culture is huge, possibly huger than the Beatles and Elvis. In another thread, I mentioned that on the figure skating (ice) online boards that I belong to, we’ve been discussing how many skaters, pairs, and synchro teams have skated at least one competition number to MJ music–the list is huge. Almost every skater or team we think of has done something to MJ music.
I personally think he was a major influence on the development of modern synchronized skating. The sport was created back in the mid-1950s, but it was when Michael Jackson music started getting popular, especially Thriller, in the early 1980s, THAT’S when synchronized skating started developing and growing.
During their popular “reigns,” Elvis and the Beatles at least made an attempt at looking “normal” to the public. But Michael Jackson didn’t even attempt to look normal. He just lived out his fantasies and because of the development of various medias, we all got to watch him self-destruct.
And then there’s the race issue. There were other “crossovers,” lots of them, black stars that white people loved. (My mom and dad were big Nat King Cole, Sidney Poitier, and Leslie Uggams fans.)
But Michael Jackson made us forget all about color of skin. To me, he, or at least his good accomplishments, represent what black people (or any people) can accomplish in the U.S. with hard work. Unfortunately, I believe he worked a little too hard, perhaps trying all his life to please his father.
I don’t believe the coverage is excessive. If anything, I think it’s not enough. I don’t go along with Al Sharpton and his “National Day of Mourning.” But I do believe that everyone needs to come out of their cave or cloister and attempt to understand just how much Michael Jackson influenced culture in the U.S. Like it or not, his influence is tremendous. He was not just another pop star.
For those of us who are approximately the same age as Michael Jackson, we literally “grew up” with him, yet our lives did not go the same way as his did. Or did they? I’m sitting here right now with two bad feet, the results of years of neglect of weight and wearing down the tendons until they broke. Many of my
generation are fat, addicted to something, or depressed. Are we really so different than Michael Jackson? Is Michael Jackson simply the visible symbol of my generation’s self-indulgence that will inevitably lead to our early death?