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Michael Jackson: The tragic megastar
by Asa Butcher
2009-06-27 10:42:42
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Michael Jackson died 15 years too late. If his destiny was, it seems, to die at a relatively early age then it should have been in 1993, perhaps just after his phenomenal performance at the Super Bowl XXVII half-time show. Had Michael Jackson died at the age of 35 he would have gone to his grave simply known for his influential music and the quirky behaviour that earned him that nickname ‘Wacko Jacko’.

Instead he lived. He lived through another 15 years that were filled with numerous child molestation accusations, drug addiction, weight loss problems, countless lawsuits, broken marriages, allegations of antisemitism, a battle with Sony Music Entertainment, overt tabloid scrutiny, the closure of his treasured Neverland Ranch and the threat of bankruptcy; this is a list none of us could ever comprehend having to tackle in our own lives.

I have never been a huge Michael Jackson fan, but I did, and still-do, respect him for many of the musical masterpieces he helped to create. I grew up during the ‘80s and wasn’t really aware of Michael Jackson’s music until I bought Dangerous in 1991 – it was his eighth studio album, yet I had no idea he had been going so long. It had never really connected in my young head that the young voice singing "Rockin' Robin", “ABC” and "I'll Be There" on the radio was the same person now blasting out "Jam", "Black or White" and "Dangerous" from my CD player.

jackson01As the ‘90s rolled on more people seemed determined to take their chunk out of a man who obviously suffered from numerous psychological problems, whether they can be blamed on an abusive father, childhood fame or even loneliness, I couldn’t help but feel some sympathy for the man. He was an easy target for vultures looking to make a few quick dollars or grab that cheap 15-minutes of fame, perhaps Michael Jackson didn’t help the situation by continuing down such dangerous roads, but there is no denying that he was a unique human being – one that I doubt the world will ever see again.

He was an entertainer, an artist, a genius to some, plain creepy to others. He was a child at heart and in his heart really were the world’s children about whom he really cared. He was a humanitarian that was listed in the Guinness World Records for his support of almost 40 charities, more than any other personality. Whether you agreed or not, he was the father of three children - Prince, aged 12, Paris Katherine, aged 11, and Prince Michael II, aged seven - each of whom are going to need a great deal of help over the next few years of their lives.

Michael Jackson wasn’t perfect, but you can’t argue against the fact he brought joy to so many people during his musical career and was one of the last global megastars this planet can boast. His music may not have been everybody’s favourite, but I am sure that one of your own favourite artists owes a debt of gratitude to the inspiration Jackson gave them. It has been great reading all of the tributes from that world of celebrity, each of whom seems to have been attacked with a mind rubber that has seemingly erased the past 15 years and has left the world remembering Michael Jackson for the legacy he so deserves.

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Emanuel Paparella2009-06-27 11:38:41
A tragic death indeed! A spiritual advisor once said that if one could not believe in God one ought at least believe in Mozart’s music. I suppose the same can be said of Michael Jackson’s music in our day and age. As today’s caption aptly points out, his music too brought joy and inspiration to so many people. They remain nevertheless both flawed men destroyed by their very genius and talent revealing so much of the divine. Closer to our times, one thinks of Elvis and Marlyn Monroe and many other megastars who died of narcotics’ overuse and abuse. That too should not be forgotten while we praise their talent and humanity. There are good addictions, addiction to good music of course is a virtue more than a vice, but addiction to narcotics (something discussed in this magazine only yesterday) in an age which W.H. Auden called “the age of anxiety” cannot be swept under the carpet either, or excused as the result of a lost childhood or an abusive parent. The sad fact remains that those tragic and premature deaths are symptomatic of a spiritual vacuum and indigence which afflicts not only ordinary people but also the stars of a flawed materialistic Western civilization. Yes, they mitigate our anxiety, they bring us joy, yes their talent ought to be recognized and celebrated, but they remain nevertheless substitutes for what we need most in our age and what we consciously or unconsciously are searching for. They mitigate our anxiety but we should take care not to allow us to be anesthetized by it; for to ignore the causes of our anxiety is to become addicted to palliative, to be sick and not even to know it. And that is tragic. RIP Michael Jackson.

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