filed in balderdash on Jun.26, 2009
So unless you’ve been under a rock the past 24 or so hours, you probably know that Michael Jackson passed away yesterday. While making the rounds on the online communities I frequent in the immediate aftermath, I came across an interesting post where the poster talked about having someone in their 20′s comment on her Facebook that (paraphrasing) “it sucks to lose the iconic figures of one’s generation, but that’s what happens when you’re old.” (This was actually in response to Farrah Fawcett dying earlier in the day.) That person then promptly apologized hours later when the news of Michael’s death broke.
This got me thinking about not only what it means to be an iconic figure of a generation, but also about who said figures of my generation are. And it may sound sacrilegious to say on the surface, but I don’t consider the King of Pop to be one of them. I was a wee three months old when Thriller was originally released, and by the time I had matured to the point where I was able to appreciate music for its ability to shape society, Michael was more in the news for his alleged dalliances with near-pubescent boys. (I have difficulty believing most of the accusations, but that’s a subject for a whole different post that I don’t want to make.) To me, Michael belongs to those people born around the Summer of Love and in the pre-disco days of the ’70′s that would have been old enough to appreciate his talent at the time he started to hit it big – not someone like me who was late to the party, but can still appreciate Michael for the purity of what he was able to do with his craft.
The sad thing, though, is that being an icon isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. While someone like Tiger Woods has been lucky enough to defy it, Michael definitely fell into the trap of living a lonely, detached life, constantly in search of fulfillment but never finding it. And I don’t know this from being an obsessive fan that’s been to numerous shows of his and watched every documentary on his life, or following his escapades of weirdness and multiple marriages in the tabloids. All you need to do is listen to a song like “Stranger in Moscow” once and it’s easy to see that heavy was the head that wore the crown.
All that’s really left to say is let’s all hope – whether you’re a fan, a detractor, or in between – that the heaviness has now been lifted from his soul, and that he is at peace.
I’ve taken your name, and now I will leave you be.