When I was a kid Michael Jackson was the epitome of cool. I remember practicing my moonwalk and thriller dance with a friend. We were young, really young. Maybe 7? Or 8? He wasn’t weird yet. Just cool. And maybe a bit odd, or rather hip, which is how odd rock stars seem to the general public.
I don’t really have any other Michael Jackson memories from my childhood, other than the one of that odd girl in High School who worshiped him to the point of having his life-size poster in her room. I bet she’s crying tonight.
I know all the music, can sing along to most songs, so obviously there were more encounters along the way. But none quite as vivid as those two.
Until he starting making headlines for less savory reasons than record breaking songs, that is.
Child molester. Crazy man. Unhinged. Bleached skin. Excessive plastic surgery. Hanging babies from balconies.
He got called so many ugly names. The press loved to pick on him. But in all the videos they showed all I ever saw was a sad, sad man who just looked lost and confused.
A huge chunk of the master’s thesis I wrote on children’s literature covered the life of J.M. Barrie, a man who didn’t just write about being an eternal child, but lived it.
Michael Jackson didn’t have the same life as the author of Peter Pan, but he definitely identified with the man, or at least his main character. And for good reason. He always struck me as a confused child stuck in a grown man’s body. A man-child who had never been given a chance to grow up properly.
The whole thing was just tragic.
A child caught in a man’s body, trying hard to recover a childhood he hadn’t been allowed to live, but only managing to horrify countless adults who expected him to act like them.
The aerial shots of his personal amusement park never fail to make me sad. All the money in the world couldn’t make him a kid again. And then he ran out.
I hope that wherever Michael Jackson is now he finally gets to be the person he wanted to be in the body he wanted to have. I hope he gets to play as much as he wants without people criticizing his every move. I hope he gets to be the kid he never got to be.
Rest in peace Michael Jackson. Thanks for the musical legacy you left to us. We’ll be sure to hand it down so that it wasn’t all in vain.
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