Shakespeare put it best, “When beggars die there are no comets seen; the heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes.” So was the fitting memorial service accorded the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles on July 7, 2009. For an eye not to have been moved by the proceedings of the event, it had to have been made of granite and fixtures out of this world (although it could be argued some eyes were more moved than others … nonetheless it underscores “movement” at any level).
Jackson was an enigma. The talent of Mr. Jackson was nothing the modern world had seen till he came around. The music he made not only helped to build up socio-economic understanding in an intolerable world, it aggressively sought and was effective in questioning the resolves of every human on the planet. Be it global warming, apathy, poverty, oppression; Jackson always appealed to the universality of the human condition. And the sheer entertainment value of his records and his performances on stage cemented his talent as that of an angel amongst men.
Music has always been an attribute of divine beings, which might explain the fondness we as a society have over singers and the like. And that’s exactly where one must begin in understanding the Jackson legacy. Michael Jackson was an angel who lived and had demons guest-housing on the inside. It is this precise point that makes an expensive fool out of the Rev. Al Sharpton who insists there was nothing strange about Mr. Jackson, just the way the world dealt with him. What a larger-than-life clown!
Jackson encouraged his generation and the generations after him to be color-blind to good music, but he himself couldn’t be paid enough to be color-blind. While some might attribute the evolution of Mr. Jackson from a young handsome black man to an aged “white” man as a simple bad luck of physiological malady, I refuse to believe the affirmative.
During the immediate period that followed his death, I heard a friend say how important it was to have a national holiday dedicated to Mr. Jackson in the manner of Martin Luther King, jr – after all she implied, they were both on the same pedestal so far as the fight for civil rights was concerned. Nothing could have been more heretic or ludicrous; for a second I felt my ears had been washed with caustic acid.
It is redundant that a man who was never okay with his race and continually sought to circumvent nature can be declared a crusader for his race. It’s sheer blasphemy from that friend and anybody that continues to think such honors ought to be bestowed on Mr. Jackson.
I’m yet to meet or hear of a flawless man, and yours truly can in no degree of the term feign to be one. But we must collectively understand that Mr. Jackson had good intentions, great intentions to be exact. Lives have been altered for the positive by his many charities and messages embedded in his songs. But to repetitively accede the same status to a man who you wouldn’t have your nephew spend a moment alone with smacks of high-class hypocrisy. Granted he was never convicted in any court room, but also granted he did pay a boy more than $20 million to keep his charges of sexual molestation out of the court room.
Jackson was a phenomenon, but in a world where bad intentions have always been good enough to convict, unfortunately, good intentions have never been good enough to deify. I am a lover of Michael Jackson’s music, and matter-of-factly, listened to two of his recordings earlier in the day before news of him being sent to the hospital.
The legacy of Michael Jackson will remain mixed at best, and it’s important we do not delude ourselves to avoiding such a controversy. In “Julius Caesar,” Marcus Antonius made mention of how the good that men do is oft interred with their bones. And so while I assert Mr. Jackson was not a god and no role model on “How to be a proud Black Man in America,” I do not wish his benevolence be buried with him, on the contrary, I subscribe he be remembered very much for this as well.