Thursday, June 25, 2009

Maybe(ish)

In the sixth grade I had a Michael Jackson poster on my wall--the yellow one? He was wearing a lemon colored sweater vest with matching bow tie and his eyes looked sad. It made me feel funny, the poster, his wet sad eyes, tingly funny down there the way he was just so good next to my poster of Billy Idol sneering. Human Nature--yes, that's what it was--the poster for Human Nature.
Now all these years later Michael Jackson is still making me feel funny, but it is not tingly and it is not down there. It is somewhere in my brain cold and stale; I don't know what to think.
By now you have probably read a thousand and one tributes to Michael Jackson and you will likely hear a million and one more, surprise at his death, his life in song, photos of his nose collapsing throughout the years. And what I have to say is not all that different: I am surprised. Saddened. Intrigued. But I am also supremely confused. Who died today? (I mean other than Farrah Fawcett and millions of other people I do not know.) Did the King of Pop die? One of the most talented entertainers in the business? A damaged man with too much plastic surgery and a penchant for Peter Pan? Or did a child molester die? A predator, a liar? A monster?
It is easy to hate a child molester. No matter the background, the reason, if there can even be a reason for such a thing. It's black and white: child molesters are evil. They deserve The Portrait of Dorian Gray, for their noses to crumble, their skin to mottle, to be alone and sad, stewing in the decay of their own miserable wrong amid tacky marble statues of monkeys and castrati. Child molesters deserve to die.
But what if Michael Jackson wasn't a child molester? I go back and forth with what I think. Maybemaybemaybe. The man was talented, of that there is no question. But maybemaybemaybe and now he's dead and I will never know anything but that maybe. How are we supposed to mourn such a divided maybe?
Whatever the answer I do mourn this: New Year's Eve 1983. I guess I was eleven but I felt fourteen. My parents had left me alone while they went to a party, the first time ever, and my friend Tawna was spending the night. We partied with Martinelli's cider and MTV, one hand on the remote and the other sweaty on the receiver of the telephone. We were talking to Aaron Boyde. Aaron Boyde! The cutest guy in the sixth grade, his voice on the line telling us that at the stroke of midnight he would ask one of us to go. It was dreamy, sexy, romantic, Martinelli's and MTV, knowing that we were alone in the house on New Year's Eve. Aaron Boyde did the best centipede in class. Or was it called the caterpillar? I may be old now but I remember the way he waved his prone body across the assembly stage floor like ribbon, his red lips. At 11:55 the new Thriller video came on and we watched it enrapt, Tawna and I on the phone with Aaron Boyd, and at 11:59 the zombies began their synchronized dance and Aaron began his sentence with Tawna...
I think what we will mourn most is our memories set to the music of Michael Jackson. The gloved one, P.Y.T., the freak with the pressurized oxygen chamber, not the man himself because we didn't actually know him. Was he a monster or a damaged man/boy? Who knows? He's dead and all we have left is a thousand and now two tributes to the King of Pop, the musician, the myth of Michael Jackson, this black and white maybe about a man with supposed vitiligo.

15 comments:

benson said...

I danced to his music at Mr. A's- the coolest disco evah and telling my father in law when I saw "Thriller" that he would be one of the biggest pop stars of all time. It's unfortunate there are so many skeletons in his closet.

mosey along said...

All I know is that when I heard about Farrah Fawcett my thought was "there was a life well lived" (granted that I know nothing about her life), and that when I heard about Michael Jackson I felt.....
nothing.

I feel for his family and especially his children, and I acknowledge his place as an icon in pop history. But for some reason while other friends were posting sad little tributes on Facebook I was more interested in looking at a friend's pictures of her kid graduating pre-k.

Don't know how to explain that.

Zakary said...

Dude, seriously. Thriller was the first album I ever owned, I was 7, and I too had that poster.

This is all so confusing and sad.

I think he was a tad bit of it all.

kathleen said...

I put that very poster you're talking about on the latest post on my blog... That poster was soo amazing...!

Mellie said...

He was never indicted or convicted of anything. I believe he was a kind soul, eccentric as hell, but I don't believe he ever harmed a child. That's just me, and none of us will ever really know, but if two grand juries couldn't find enough evidence to even indict him, that is pretty powerful to me. His music will live on, and he will always be an American icon. RIP Michael.

Amy said...

Beautifully put. And you are right...it is the memories. He is such a part of the lives of those who grew up in the late 70s and early 80s. It's like letting go of a piece of our collective past.

amber {daisy chain} said...

I had the same poster - the yellow one where he gave that sad/concerned look. PYT & Thriller were such huge parts of my teenage years...it's all very sad to lose such a huge icon.

Vanessa said...

I've always been one of the people to stand behind Michael Jackson. He was strange, no doubt. A sad man who never had a real childhood, whose whole life was a money maker and entertainment for the rest of us. I agree with Mellie. If a grand jury can't come up with enough to convict him, that says a lot. He's certainly an easy target. The saddest thing to me is that he probably would be shocked at how sad everyone is. Yesterday he was Wacko Jacko to so many people who would crack jokes at this expense. Today he's the legendary Michael who everyone loves. Perhaps if people had not been cruel to him while he was still alive, his death would not seem so tragic.

Judy said...

I guess I missed the Michael Jackson "Pop Icon" part and really just got the "weird celebrity" years. His music had a fantastic dance beat and the man could move no doubt about it. But so much of what I saw of him was the "so bad and twisted it was like an accident that you couldn't NOT look at it"...and of course Paris Hilton could have sat at his feet as far as the media/PR attention he generated. It almost feels like he died a long time ago (or should have)-before his nose started falling off, before the hyperbaric oxygen chamber and little boys sleeping over, before he turned clown-white and became best friends with a monkey...pre-masks for himself and his mystery-origin children. Since his last trial he had virtually disappeared; taking refuge and support from the kindness of strange stangers in one place or another while Neverland, its animals, his staff starved and fell into ruin. It just isn't possible for me to believe that he wasn't a pedophile...there was too much hard evidence linking him with young boys. Even he didn't deny sleeping with the boys; he just said it was all innocent. Is there any parent with a young son who would have been fine handing him over to Michael's special "innocent" attention?

And on to the other Recent Dead....Farrah Fawcett...now she really "grew" on me over the years and she was a class act as she handled her terminal illness. I thought she was great in The Burning Bed, Extremities and Small Sacrifices.

May they both RIP.
Mom

Anonymous said...

From Jackie Chan look-a-like:

I cannot entirely hate someone who calls booze jesus juice. I have often referred to it as bethelem brew. I also cannot be naive enough to think he wasn't a serial child molester. Having said that, I really enjoyed his music - albeit with a touch of guilt.

Kirsten @ Apotheca said...

So funny- my husband was at work on the phone with a client yesterday when he found out about Michael Jackson. He and the client both had that same yellow sweater vest poster.

I have to agree with your mom - Hi, Judy! - and the anonymous Jackie Chan look-alike on this one. I think the man was a freak-show but you could sure could dance to him.

Maggie May said...

Yup, we don't know the man we mourn. I mourn the end of an era for me. I have been listening to him since I was five years old, and watching Thriller was a seminal and terrifying moment in my life. Billie Jean might be my favorite pop song of all time.
The music was a huge part of the soundtrack to my life.

s. said...

My sadness relating to Michael's passing is less about his death than about the tortured, twisted person he became.

I have absolutely no doubt - NO doubt - that he was a child molester and suspect that he was himself abused in some way or another as a child. He was surrounded by people who wanted something from him and encouraged, or at very least enabled, his worst tendencies.

My greatest sadness is for the boys whom he molested; how difficult it must be for them to witness all this media adulation of their predator.

krista said...

personally, i don't think that what he did or did not do with children was ever remotely sadistic on his end. that being said, it is IN-A-FUCKING-PROPRIATE for a grown man to have naked children sleeping in his bed. it doesn't even matter if he touched them. i do not budge on this matter and i don't feel remotely bad about my intolerance.

besides, i was never much into the michael jackson phenomena. kind of observed it but never really got it. now, duran duran and depeche mode and madonna?
DON'T GET ME STARTED.
(oddly enough, i only really stayed with them for the first albums as well.)

Mrs OMG Pregnant said...

I totally agree with you... when I herad he had died I remembered the events that coincided with his music. I think that demonstrates that no matter what he was or did, he was a musical icon...

I still remember the dance we made up on the green to 'the way you make me feel' - I must have been about 9!