Cross-posted by Gary Fouse
I never was a fan of Michael Jackson. Maybe I was just a few years too old to be caught up in his music. That is not to deny his talent, which he was obviously born with. As a singer, he was OK. His extraordinary skill was his dancing and choreography. But who am I? Michael Jackson was possibly the biggest music star of all time. Still, with all the monumental problems going on in the world-especially in Iran, it seems incongruous to me that the world has come to a standstill over his death. Better it come to a standstill over the death of Neda, the young Iranian woman shot dead in the streets of Teheran by a hoodlum government.
Like it or not, however, this Michael Jackson thing is not going away any time soon. The whole episode is a mess-far beyond a 50-year-old man-child dying suddenly of cardiac arrest. No, this has all the ingredients of another Anna Nicole Smith drama complete with drugs, pain-killers, questionable conduct by a physician, alleged injections of Demerol, pending autopsy results, prominent pathologists like Cyril Wecht coming out of the woodwork to second-guess, and CPR performed by a cardiologist on a bed. Throw in the custody battle to come over his three kids and fighting over his estate. Add millions of fans lighting candles, holding vigils, crying, and what have you; it's going to be all Michael-all the time-even if the world comes to an end.
As cynical as I am, I was touched yesterday by the account of local ABC reporter Leo Stallworth, as he recounted his meeting with Jackson a few years back during the course of the infamous child-molestation trial. One day, Stallworth was walking across the parking lot of the courthouse when he encountered Jackson, who was sitting in an SUV. Jackson, recognizing him as a reporter, waved him over, introduced himself, and invited him into the vehicle for a chat. He asked Stallworth about his childhood and how he came to be a reporter. He then explained to Stallworth that he himself was a human, but one who had never had the opportunity to have a cherished childhood. There's not much more I can add to that because I can't tell the story in as moving a way as Stallworth did.
From what we all know of Jackson's life, it is a given that he did not have a normal childhood. Nor did he have the opportunity to become a normally-functioning adult. He have heard stories of possible abuse by his father, but I am no more qualified to pass judgement on that than anyone else. Nor can I pass judgement on the charges of pedophilia, of which he was acquitted. I have my own opinion, but that is all it's worth.
For all his talent, Jackson's legacy will always be clouded. There will always be the questions about chemical dependency, his eccentricities, and the eternal question of his relationships with young children. Was it simply a matter of a confused individual trying to capture a childhood he never had for altruistic reasons, or was it something more sinister? Aside from the superstar performer and the million-selling hits, what will be Jackson's legacy as a person and a citizen? It is unfortunate that we may never settle that question once and for all. Yes, he was a tragic figure-like many others who were brought down by their careers and celebrity. Jackson enjoyed many rewards in life for his talent, but it came at a price.
At the end of it all, I can't decide whether I pity him or not. I do feel, however, that there are more important people and issues in the world that we should be crying over.