michael jackson memorial

Because we’ve been so busy recently I’ve been distracted from writing many blogs, even though there’s been so much rich and wonderful material to write about. And I guess the biggest story of the last week or so has been about death, sadly; Farrah FM, Man U’s credibility in the transfer market, British tennis hopes in the Wimbledon semis (yet again) and the unique Michael Jackson. Sorry to be a bit flip but I’ve just been watching the MJ tribute concert and I’m struggling with this portrayal of him as someone ‘pure’ as Brooke Shields described him, incredibly.

Here’s the scene as I see it; MJ was (some years ago) a quite brilliant singer and performer. Some of his songs are classics that will still sound wonderful even down the generations. When I was at my lowest moments in Italy I’d put on Thriller, Billie Jean et al and dance around the kitchen with my daughter R as we made dinner and it always, always  made things seem better. It’s almost impossible not to get up on those songs. But MJ himself was a very sad person it seems who couldn’t grow up, hated his appearance – slowly but surely denying his blackness with increasingly  extreme cosmetic surgery and becoming hopelessly addicted to pain-killing and other drugs conveniently prescribed by a veritable army of personal physicians.  Worst of all, the torrent of allegations  that he sexually preyed on young kids is hard to deny. Without the sublime music he might just have been reviled you suspect. I know that’s a harsh thing to say about someone who was an artistic genius and cannot now defend himself but there you go. In assessing his life how can you possibly overlook his dark character flaws?  

But tonight that’s what they did at his memorial concert. It was supposed to be the American equivalent of the Princess Diana memorial occasion but the Staples Center cannot hope to be compared with Westminster Abbey of course and the setting just seemed kitsch rather than majestic. Coffins and office supplies..umm a bit odd. But I understand there was a need to accommodate a large audience so fair enough. What struck me more however was the complete sense of denial. As if they were airbrushing or  whitewashing reality. At Diana’s funeral we witnessed a single eulogy from her  brother which was the most moving, impassioned and, let’s be fair, honest statement about his beloved sister – faults and all. But tonight we got speech after insincere speech about how wonderful Jackson was, with not one reference to any of his many character flaws. In fact it was almost  evangelical in its tone with huge political statements being made about his bearing on Afro-American culture.Is he really held up by the black community as a hero? Pastors, reverends, musicians and politicians were quick to pay tribute to his unbelievable contribution to ethnic advancement and understanding and his contribution as a true humanitarian – unbelievably – and all the time I was thinking about his skin-bleaching and facial surgery and the trial and many out of court settlements over the abuse of children, which nobody mentioned ….of course. Like it simply didn’t exist. I wasn’t expecting somebody to stand up at this celebration of his life and liken him to Gary Glitter but a little balance might have been more fitting. Pure? Try telling that to the kids he preyed on. 

Do I miss MJ? Not the man to be honest but his musical legacy …for sure. But it’s been there for some time and nothing he’s done in the last 10 years or so of his life has been particularly likeable or edifying. It can’t be just me can it?


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About Paul

Having decided on a change of life by moving home from the UK to Italy, this is the story and thoughts of a man on a personal journey from the Blackpool Tower to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, in search of la dolce vita. After several olive harvests he's now back in London but en route he shares his very personal perspectives on life.

2 thoughts on “michael jackson memorial

  1. Hi PP

    Good to hear a voice of reason amongst the wiling and gnashing of teeth since the news of MJ’s death hit the headlines.

    Bit like you, I am not unmoved by the mans creative and performance abilities, however, I can’t get away from the fact that he was such a damaged character – and seemd to be preyed upon by those around him.

    This soul, since the age of dot, has been followed around and never allowed to be himself. So as he grew he must have become used to a media and personal circus constantly in his face.

    I read some reports that suggested that he was never told ‘no’, or refused any wish, and I guess that must have serious repercussions on your sense of value, ethics and spirit.

    The last few days were somewhat excruciating to follow, since there will always be a bloody big elephant in the room in respect of his personal actions (in relation to drugs, cosmetic surgery bordering on the self harming, as well as the paedophilia) but being a) Very Famous, b) Very Rich (depending upon what the leeches have left him) and c) American – the pacoderm stays untroubled, for now. However, everyone to a greater or lesser extent has voiced the opinion that here was a flawed genius, and one that should be respected but not exulted.

    Still, there’s still money to be made out of him, in a myriad of ways – and like you say, now that he cannot defend himself I guess we will see many questionable claims come to light, as well as those with some substance.

    Ho hum!



  2. Hi NA

    Great to hear from you. You make some v good points – he does seem to have had a pretty poor upbringing (his father comes over as a particularly charmless sod) which is bound to have had an effect on his character; he was leeched upon mercilessly and, like Elvis, the v best thing that could happen to his parlous finances was his untimely death. There’s going to be one almighty scrap over his estate and future earnings and every pizza delivery guy who ever came close to his door is going to dredge up more lurid accusation. You do sense that the Michael Jackson story is only half written.

    cheers NA


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