Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson dies at 50.

I was born in 1981. Thriller was released in 1982. One of my earliest memories is probably sitting around the house watching this on a homemade VHS tape recorded from MTV:

A lot of people in Metafilter's obituary thread are making comments like this, which it's hard to disagree with:

My brain has never been able to reconcile that the Michael Jackson of my 80s youth and the more recent freakshow Michael were the same person. I mean, I absolutely have a complete mental disconnect there. So for me, Michael Jackson, he of some of the best pop ever created, has been dead for at least 20 years. And the guy who died today is just some guy who lived a weird life and probably should never have been allowed within 100 feet of anyone under the age of 18. I'm kind of glad that guy is gone now, so maybe I can think of the other guy more fondly.
I wrote this in my blog post called "Where are the rock stars of the 2000s?":
In the '80s, ... you had Madonna, Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, ... who didn't just sell tons of records but made a genuine cultural impact in their time. Does anyone who made it big in this decade (and actually makes good music) even come close?
And another Metafilter commenter (interestingly named "Afroblanco") elaborates on that point:
I don't know if anyone has attained that sort of cultural ubiquity since. I remember that Madonna was up there for a while, although she was always a bit more .... adult. More corporeal. Something about Michael was always unreal. Like he wasn't a person, but a god, an idea, a cartoon, a series of images projected onto your mind and in your ears and on everybody's lunchbox and t-shirt and posters on their bedroom walls. The weirdest thing about the 80s was that everybody thought it was normal at the time.
Outside of his music, it's unfortunately much easier to think of bizarre and mostly negative things about Michael Jackson than the positive. It's all so well known that there's not much point in me trying to sum it up one more time. One heart-warming thing to remember about the end of his life: he modified his will earlier this year to leave 50% of the royalties to the Lennon/McCartney songs to the person who should have owned them in the first place, his former friend Paul McCartney.

Is there any other celebrity in recent memory who's been as weird, as complex, or as electrifying as Michael Jackson? I can't think of any.


Jason (the commenter) said...

Is there any other celebrity in recent memory who's been as weird, as complex, or as electrifying as Michael Jackson?

Hannah Montana