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Yeah, this performance is pretty much a lame lip-synching with about one dance move in it.

Yes, "The Girl Is Mine" is one of the worst songs ever recorded in the history of humankind.

Yeah, I'm not that broken up about his death because it felt like he's been slowly decaying over the last 17 years anyway. It was surprising, but not at all shocking.

Yeah, I can totally believe that he was an abuser, which is depressing as all hell, and I still can't think of that time he impulsively dangled his baby off a balcony to show it to photographers without shuddering in terror. Yet I can also believe that he was such a strange and unique brand of fucked-up that he could've been telling the truth and just wanted to make a happy playtime land for kids because he had zillions of dollars with which to do it and no one could tell him not to. I even had a theory for a while that he'd egotistically intended his transformation from black man to white woman to be this big sort of 'heal the world' statement about equality and love for everyone in the world regardless of race or gender - making himself the nexus-point symbol of the concept. Ridiculous, perhaps, but the man wore sequined epaulets.

But in May of 1983, when I was 8 years old, and I saw him walk forward but float backwards on national television, it was honestly the last time I believed that maybe magic was real.

So yeah. I'm gonna listen to the songs I loved as a kid and the songs I still love now, the songs that make a big fat hairy old guy want to glide around a dance floor and spin circles on his toes, and I'm not gonna worry that I'm whitewashing his fucked-upness.

I'm hard pressed to think of any celebrity that has that ubiquitous level of worldwide appreciation in this, the age of divided attention and constant distraction. But back in the age of three channels, no computers and barely VCRs, someone could become that insanely popular, and it's hard to explain that level of fame. I don't know if that can happen anymore, barring being a world leader. The closest I can think is Bono, and I don't know if he counts. Maybe if Justin Timberlake exploded tomorrow, I'd be proven wrong. But I still think he needs another decade of good music, at least. I'm kinda thankful to that guy anyway, for giving us Michael Jackson-style grooves without the Mike, so we can all still dance around without that inner 'yeesh' feeling.

Date: 2009-06-29 11:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] littledrow.livejournal.com
I put it this way: Yes, the guy became a major flake but he paved the way for a lot of musicians and NOBODY can say they didn't like at least one Michael Jackson song.

This is going to be our generation's Where Were You When Michael Died.

Date: 2009-06-29 10:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] flusterbunny.livejournal.com
And, as is all too common with me lately, my answer will be "I was fucking around on the internet."

Date: 2009-06-29 05:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] angrylemur.livejournal.com
The only celebrity I can think of who compares to Michael Jackson is John Lennon. They had about the same level of fame and the same level of fucked up-ed-ness, but they were going opposite directions on the same trajectory - while John Lennon started out an abuser of women, an open misogynist, and a self-absorbed asshole, as he grew up in the public eye he actively struggled and fought to grow on a personal level to the point where he was a positive influence on people and generally a likeable human being. Michael Jackson started out as a positive influence and a likeable human being, but as he grew in the public eye, he degenerated into an abuser of children whose legacy is now part of a culture in which a guy can abuse children and it never becomes a part of the dialogue surrounding him after he dies.

To act like discussing Michael Jackson's legacy without including the fact that he was an abuser is anything but being implicit in a culture that actively silences victims of child abuse is an act of self-delusion. I'm sorry, but it is. Just like ignoring the influence that his music had on people and acting like being an abuser was ALL he ever did is being implicit in a culture that vilifies Black people for behavior that white people get away with all the time. The fact that he was a child abuser doesn't erase years of good music and positive cultural impact; but years of good music and positive cultural impact probably doesn't mean shit to the survivors of his abuse. They are both important things to acknowledge, and I'm really sick of people acting like one is more important than the other because that suits their personal agenda or requires less introspection on their part or whatever.

I especially dislike it because this time last week, all the people who are dismissing his abusive behavior as "flakiness" and whatever would probably have been way more willing to condemn him. But now that he's dead, suddenly everyone has a claim to Michael Jackson's legacy. Hm.

This may seem harsh, but we owe EVERYONE involved in Michael Jackson's life, legacy, image, etc - Michael Jackson, his victims, his friends and family, the communities he helped to heal and the communities he traumatized - more than such oversimplification. Even if it makes us a little uncomfortable, we shouldn't let Michael Jackson become the next John Lennon.

Date: 2009-06-29 06:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] flusterbunny.livejournal.com
Yes, I read the article you're paraphrasing. Which goes on the absolute assumption that he's guilty.

My point is that yes, he's fucked up and yes, he might be guilty and I'd have no trouble believing it. But there's a chance he's NOT. There's a chance he was just stupid about making a fun playland for kids because his childhood sucked so hard and he was in a position to do it by not having chaperones around as well. There's a chance his little paradise for children was destroyed by people looking to make some fast cash off of him.

He settled one case and was acquitted of the other, as far as I know. Yes, it COULD mean the justice system sucks ass and he worked it and a jury full of people just didn't want to convict a beloved celebrity like that. It could ALSO mean that the charges didn't have merit.

So until a child-porn stash is dug up in his house somewhere, I'm going to try to run with the 'innocent until proven guilty' thing and try to focus on what I loved about him. You are proof that his reputation as an abuser WILL become part of the dialog. No chance he's becoming John Lennon - unless it turns out somebody killed him, which will bring a whole 'martyr' element to it that might make things more dangerous in the way you're suggesting.

The man just died, and when people just die, the natural response is to focus on the positive and what we'll miss about him. Rest assured, much like Elvis is often remembered as a fat drug-addled lump of crazy who died on the shitter, Jackson's legacy will eventually degenerate into that freak plastic pedophile weirdo that defined how insane celebrity makes people become.

Give it time.
Edited Date: 2009-06-29 06:25 pm (UTC)

Date: 2009-06-29 09:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] angrylemur.livejournal.com
You are proof that his reputation as an abuser WILL become part of the dialog

Um, and you're proof that people generally want to avoid that. So what's going to happen? And which side of "either this gets talked about or it doesn't" do you really want to be on?

I realize that I'm making something of an assumption here, but what your post reads like to me is that you just want to be able to dance around without thinking about things that make you uncomfortable, and not everyone can really do that. Nor do I think we should.

Date: 2009-06-29 10:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] flusterbunny.livejournal.com
And we're two people. We make up a dialogue (or dialog, I can never decide how I want to spell that, since I think both are technically correct somehow) that includes both the music and the abuse. And even when I was just monologuing, I still mentioned the abuse. It's an irrevocable part of his life.

I'm saying that the dancing around part can happen without having to think about the abuse simultaneously, because it's hard to dance when you have to be thinking about child rape or else you're a bad person.

And, admittedly, there's still the idealistic/optimistic part of me that still tries to believe he was innocent of the abuse he was accused of, since both possibilities seem plausible to me. Although maybe I'll need to do more research into the actual cases to see if I'm being an asshole about that. Lord knows I can talk enough in defense of something I want to have the right to enjoy without guilt that I wind up saying the stupidest fucking shit imaginable.

Maybe the cost of enjoying a Michael Jackson song should be a donation to a survivors group of some sort.

Date: 2009-06-30 04:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] flusterbunny.livejournal.com
... further research is definitely making me into an asshole.


Date: 2009-06-30 01:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] angrylemur.livejournal.com
Uh, a little bit, yeah.

Date: 2009-06-29 06:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] flusterbunny.livejournal.com
It looks like NBC is about to re-run the hell out of the Martin Bashir documentary that was the basis for a lot of the allegations, too. So I don't think this is going to be ignored.


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