Thursday, June 25, 2009
We Killed Michael Jackson
Everyones taking control of me
Seems that the worlds
Got a role for me
Im so confused
Will you show to me
Youll be there for me
And care enough to bear me
- Michael Jackson
I’ve written about Michael Jackson a number of times, but the stampede of facebook lemmings writing things like ‘sicko, but great artist’ has moved me to write (the way rancid uncooked chicken moves me to vomit). I can’t remember an entertainment personality who was the victim of as much malicious venom as MJ. Not convicted rapists like R. Kelly or Mike Tyson. Not those caught cheating. Not murderers, heroin users, sexist and homophobic rappers, female pop stars who set back feminism twenty years.
What’s it about? Even before an obviously money-lusting couple of abusive parents sacrificed their child’s mental health to get money out of MJ, the King of Pop was the celebrity spittoon of gossip mags and of workplace water coolers, where abject cruelty and easy-target pot-shotting is passed off as humor. People couldn’t stop talking about his strange pets, plastic surgery, sleeping chambers, outfits, etc.
Watching Man in the Mirror a few years back, I figured it out—we hate him because he makes us feel bad about ourselves. Really bad. Because he is good. Really good. When all of pop music was turning ironic and narcissistic, he took the risk to write sincere songs about the suffering of other human beings. He spent more of his money on charities than any singer. He turned his house into a playland for children with terminal illnesses. He also took artistic risks, going for epic showmanship, symbolic power, and theatrical sincerity. He hired excellent directors and singlehandedly turned the music video into a viable art form. How could the shoegazer generation forgive someone who attempts not just to entertain or provide an outlet, but inspire and move to action?
Michael Jackson causes us to look up from our self-obsessed Depeche Mode/Mars Volta/Alice in Chains/singer-songwriter snowglobe and face the world. We resented him for it and wanted to believe—NEEDED to believe—that only a severely fucked-up individual could be like this. We do the same thing to other generous celebrities (Bono, John Lennon). And so we made special allowances to discredit Michael Jackson: innocent until proven guilty doesn’t fly for MJ. Our trite self-help philosophies about not caring about appearances, about looking how you want to look? Sorry MJ, doesn’t apply to YOU.
We killed Michael Jackson, just like we killed Laura Palmer, Charlie Parker, Pier Paolo Pasolini. Our cynicism killed him. May we give birth to the next heroic ATTEMPTER to make up for our crime. Will you be there?:
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The Sacred Dice is a salon of musicians, scholars, poets, sound sculptors, activists and artists of all kinds committed to art that is committed. That could get us committed (to an asylum). That disdain's art for art's sake and artists who have no idea why they do what they do. We know why we do what we do--to create and celebrate community in a country still stuck in capitalist fantasies of individualism. If you want in, you're in. If you want out, don't worry--you already are.