Greetings friends and foes,
I come to you with great sadness in my heart with the passing of Michael Jackson. This may be a bit of a mess, as I have been crying for a few hours now. I feel it best to write this for posterity sake, and hopefully convey my adoration for the man.
I received a text from Earl at 4:58 that simply said “Michael Jackson just died”. I had just ordered some food at the drive in, and sent out a message on twitter asking for confirmation. Earl called to say he heard it on the radio, and then the text started coming in. Several people seemed to think of me when they heard the news. I don’t find this strange as just two days ago I had sent a message via facebook that said “is listening to THRILLER ma ma sa, ma ma sa, ma ma coo sa” and a few days before on Saturday June 20 that said “is a dance dance dance dance dancing machine watch me get down watch me get down as i do do do my thing right on the scene.” Needless to say I am not just a fair weather fan, and would even consider myself a bit of a Jackson apologist though i recognize his multiple eccentricities.
I never would have expected to be this upset. Its strange, I cried when George Harrison died, and also with Johnny Cash, and while both of those gentlemen weigh heavy in my love of music, they both had made their biggest impacts long before I set foot on the planet. While Michael had more than a fair share of success before i was around, I feel like I grew up with the guy. I truly bowed at the altar of Mtv daily, and loved seeing Michael dance.
I very distinctly remember my mother buying a copy of Bad for my older sister and myself, and we danced, and danced, and danced. With as conservative as our household was, I think Michael always got by on the fact that my mother was a big Jackson 5 fan.
The very first time I ever picked up a camera and tried to make something i was probably 10 or 11. It was a large VHS cam with a VCR backpack. My Aunt Stacy dressed me in a hideous Michael Jackson outfit of a black leather jacket, a cher wig combed out, and some bad makeup. Jesse Daughtery and Anthony Haston wore black sweat suits with panty hose stuffed with socks to add extra arms to their cockroach costumes. We attempted to make a music video/bug spray commercial, to the music of Michael Jackson. We had even rigged up this large piece of styrofoam to give the effect of “The Lean” I have no clue where the tape has gone to, and most of the time I hope it never surfaces. I can’t say at that point i knew what i wanted to do, but it was definitely my first aspiration towards cinema. And who wouldn’t have been inspired by Thriller. It was probably the first time I had seen the names John Landis, or Rick Baker.
Soon after this Dangerous hit. Dangerous always reminds me of my friend Michael Murphree, as he was the first person I knew who got the album on cd, and I listened to it with him on a discman between classes Only a few days before I witnessed what was probably my greatest memory of Michael Jackson.
The Black or White music video was set to premiere across MTV, VH1, and Fox in November i believe. I was at my grandparents house, and all of our extended relatives had been with us all day at some family event. The video starts with Macaulay Culkin playing loud music as George Wendt (or as I knew him at the timeNorm from Cheers). He tells him to turn the music down and go to bed in which Culking plugs in a guitar and blast him to Africa, the Michael comes on to dance his face off. (I know your saying, yah Cameron I’ve seen it). Ah but you have not seen the aftermath that i witnessed in my grandparents home. Everyone is watching, and though they may not enjoy the music they marvel at the morph scene (as we all did during that time). Then it gets wild. A black panther walks out and morphs into Michael Jackson. He proceeds to dance and grab his crotch, and then beat the shit out a car. My grandfather became extremely angry and started to leave the room, and then all of the adults spent the next half hour talking about how disgusted they were.
This however was the greatest thing I had ever seen. It was sexual, it was violent, it was Dangerous. At ten years old it was more than I could grasp, nor would i get the chance to digest it. The video was not shown again in full. All subsequent cuts that broadcast in the following weeks were trimmed and even added some racist spray paint to the car to make it ok for him to beat he windows out. People were going nuts, and I finally had found a musician that my parents and grandparents hated that I adored. It was the first of many, but Michael Jackson was the first time I saw rebellion in music.
He was everything I love in showmanship and grandeur. If you don’t believe me watch him catapulted to the stage in Super Bowl 27 and land stiff as a board to just hold the pose. He owned it.
Its strange, how much Michael has been in my view this week. The above mentioned messages went out as I was listening to his records. I watched the tail end of the Jacksons mini series with Jessica and I was explaining to her about his upcoming Paris dates and how badly i wanted to see him before he retired. I showed Marie about a half dozen Jackson 5 videos a few days back, and spent about two hours reading about the guy on Tuesday (largely in part to my all day jam session of Thriller). I now sit watching Mtv the way I remember it, with Michael Jackson videos and Kurt Loder doing commentary.
I feel better in writing this. Thank you to everyone who sent well wishes.