I'm somewhat surprised at the heft of emotion that I feel at Michael Jackson's death yesterday.
I feel very touched by the impact on all of us of the life, music and performance artistry of Michael Jackson from the vantage point of his passing. My Michael Jackson ranges from the kid who became very famous very early in life (he was 6 years younger than me and came to life in my early college years at the beginning of The Suppression*), to the young and powerful performance artist who transformed not only "Hollywood" or "the business" as Liza Minelli was saying Friday night on Larry King, but transformative of American culture itself, in the sense that some others are talking about -- transforming "race".
Michael Jackson was a man of the people, culturally speaking. He belongs to us, and we will make of him what we will.
There was a time when I was really angry with Michael for trying to become white -- after all, MoTown is Black! I'm Black and I'm Proud (damnit)... What could he know about whiteness? And didn't he study his P.C. Black Nationalism?? Hey, what's up with the anti-woman cosmetic surgery??? [and all of these knee-jerk emotions from a fast-becoming middle-aged white woman... tsk, tsk, tsk!]
Then, in the face of the media's onslaught around the acusations of child molestation at his "fantasy" house, I felt protective, if uncertain and even defensive, in response. That's not Our Michael! Our Michael is troubled and probably crazed, but no child molester. It's a media frenzy!
When I got home late last night and turned on CNN to discover that Michael Jackson had died (that he died at aged 50 wasn't so much of a discovery), and then listened to the updates this morning on Morning Joe, I noticed that they talked about his weirdness. I found these conversations encouraging. Even within the course of the half-hour that I listened to the strange people on Morning Joe blabbing about whatever, the fact that one of them (could have been Barnacle....) chose the word weird, and that was picked up by other more stalwart msnbc commentators, seemed a world away from 1972.
Maybe we are a more serious and thoughtful country than we were in 1972.
I don't know.
I do think we should salute Michael Jackson for interjecting an element of joyful, wonderful, humanistic weirdness in a very ugly and dangerous and world. Michael Jackson was a world class performer.
Don't mourn. Change the Man in the Mirror.
[UPDATED with links 6:27pm 6/27/09]
NOTE: Thus begins the new Friday Nite Hankster Chat. Please write in!
* The Suppression began in 1972.... More on this later...