If ever I had a good reason to delay a post for a few days, this is it. The truth is that I was so stunned by MJ’s untimely passing, it’s taken me this long to wade through the funereal hype (how few times in human history has that phrase even existed?) and express some cogent thoughts on the matter.
It’s not surprising that worldwide, people have had a strong reaction to the death of a legend. Public testimonials about what Michael Jackson meant to people seem to be the order of the day, first on newscasts, now on the official MJ website. Various stars have chimed in as well, citing MJ’s heavy influence on their own careers. Fox even aired a timely Simpson’s episode last weekend. Then there are the aficionados, who had updated the Michael Jackson wiki within minutes of his death. Given his history with the court system, prominent haters evidently felt the need to re-condemn him for crimes he was never convicted of committing. (Aren’t people in this country supposed to be innocent until proven guilty?) Mostly, however, people miss their favorite pop icon.
Why shouldn’t people have a strong reaction? This is the man who broke down MTV’s color barrier in the 1980s with material that stretched the boundaries of what a music video is and what it can do. Notwithstanding Rev. Sharpton’s classic over-the-top style in reacting to this issue, he’s been consistently right about one thing in all of his public statements: MJ had a positive impact on race relations in this country and in the world during his lifetime. Michael pursued and achieved a transcendent quality in his music and dance that crossed all kinds of boundaries. Even despite the ability that gave him to reach all kinds of open-minded people, it was bound to make others uncomfortable.
With a funeral scheduled today at 10 AM Pacific for the King of Pop, the world cries out in the lyrics of and early Jackson 5 hit: