>No more Moonwalk

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Michael Joseph Jackson (August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009)

The world lost Michael Jackson yesterday, 50 years after he entered this world and he’ll be missed by billions of people (yeah, with a B). His reach as the King of Pop and one of the greatest performers EVER affected us all in some way or another. I remember seeing him Moonwalk on live television for the first time and trying for weeks to figure out how to do it, just to realize I had no talent, and that it doesn’t work well in sneakers on carpet. I also remember a neighbor bought Thriller on VHS and we must have watched it 100 times and it never got old.

But who do we really miss? Who are we mourning the loss of? Do we miss the boy/young-adult who wrote more than a dozen #1 hits and introduced the world to the idea of a pop star and inspired pretty much every artist you’ve ever listened to? The man who devoted vast amounts of money, time and fame to help those around him in need?

Or, do we miss Michael Jackson, the man accused of sexual abuse and all around questionable behavior–namely, with children– and is known to be one crazy mofo with issues to deep to list? The man who supposedly slept in a hyperbaric chamber, had countless plastic surgeries and looked strange at best, frightening at worst?

If it’s the former, then I believe we said goodbye to MJ about 15 years ago. The person I’ve always ever known or cared about was the musician, the performer, the brilliant inspiration to countless musicians, dancers and humanitarians for 5 decades. The last decade of MJ’s life–if not more–was mired in scandal, strange behavior, financial turmoil and secrecy. That’s not the person who released Thriller, the cute little boy from J5 or the star of The Wiz. MJ in his later years was creepy as hell and sadly, I think that a great deal of us will remember him as a “comma but” figure. What’s that you ask? It’ll go something like this, at a party near you…

Steve: Remember how sweet Thriller was? That video was awesome! MJ was the King of Pop!
Lucy: Yeah, but remember that whole Macauly Culkin thing or the trial for sexual abuse a little while back? Or how about Bubbles the Chimp? I mean he was awesome, but he was a bit creepy…

Notice the “, but” ? That’s how it goes…

That’s really too bad, for MJ and his legacy. Sure, many people won’t see it like that but think of John Lennon or Frank Sinatra. Their legacies are filled with positive images, a general lack of scandal or creepiness and general consensus as icons in the same breath as MJ. I’d be lying if I told you that my feelings about MJ were what they once were. I respect the music and the way he inspired so many, but that person has been long gone for many years now…and now his body (what’s left of it) has now joined him.

I remember the interview he did with Martin Bashir a while back and thinking what as asshole Bashir was for duping Jackson into trusting him to gain access into his personal life and exploiting it for every possible reason. Jackson recognized that the MJ we knew and loved was gone, whether by choice or by necessity and I truly believe he wanted to hide himself from the world around him for the protection of himself, his family and his persona. I don’t believe Jackson EVER wanted us to know anything more about him other than what a talented man he was, and dickheads like Bashir and others who MJ let into his world turned on him and betrayed his trust and for that I feel truly sorry.

What’s that saying, “legends never die they just fade away…” Well, I think Michael made the decision years ago to fade away but our prying eyes and desperation to know everything about everybody at every second as if it’s our God-given right wouldn’t let him fade away and maybe we’re partly to blame for who MJ had become and for his untimely death.

I wish my sincerest condolences and love to the entire Jackson family and hope that they take solace in knowing what an inspiration he was to countless people and that his legacy as one of the greatest signers, songwriters and entertainers will live on for eternity. In 50 more years the Jackson 5 songbook and the MJ songbook will be just as relevant and forward thinking as they were when they first came out and that’s a true testament to what an unbelievable talent MJ was, no matter what became of Michael Joseph Jackson the person…

Rest in peace, MJ, and thanks for the memories.

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