So by now, you know that Jackson is dead. Or you should, unless you're completely unplugged.
I hope he did not really molest children, as was alleged many times over the past 20 years or so. But he was never convicted of it, so unless and until I learn in the next life that he did it, then that R.I.P. stands. If I learn "later" that he did it, I'll posthumously rescind the R.I.P.
At any rate, for people born between 1962ish and 1982ish, he was Elvis. Trust me, when I tell you that in all my travels abroad, the one famous or infamous American that locals always bring up to me in casual conversation is Michael Jackson. When I lived in the UK 11 years ago there were still fans walking around my Sunny Brixton neighborhood in London wearing that stupid, puffy-shouldered red leather jacket, long after Eddie Murphy had made it a laughingstock in Beverly Hills Cop.
The second person I'm asked about most often when traveling abroad is Michael Jordan. Third Britney Spears. Distant fourth, fifth, etc? Statesmen, U.S. presidents, and the like. Sad social commentary, but let's save that for another post.
The same way my parents' generation remembers where they were when they heard Elvis had died, I'm telling you my peers, with a few exceptions, will remember years from now what they were doing or where they were when they heard Michael Jackson had died.
There will never be another music video like Thriller. Bad, Beat It? Are you kidding me? And based on the current crop of pop talent, we shouldn't hold our breath waiting for another solo musician who will bridge the gap between genres ranging from soul, to disco, to R&B, to bubblegum pop, to rock, to electronica. Half the pop singers today can't walk and chew gum at the same time, much less moonwalk. Speaking of, am I the only one here who nearly broke his ankles trying to dance like MJ back in the day?
And love or hate the guy, you must admit that long after Britney Spears is a distant memory, and long after the Ashlee Simpsons, Pinks, Chris Browns, and Rihannas of the world are just dusty footnotes on some defunct VH-1.com memories page, you will remember the name Michael Jackson.
The only other pop artist's name you'll remember from this generation? Madonna.
Let's not mince words. For a couple of decades in addition to the child sex allegations, he was weird, what with the dangling babies over balconies, and the glove, the outfits, the masks, Bubbles the chimpanzee companion, the children of mysterious origin, the crotch-grabbing performance gesture adopted by an unfortunate generation of rappers, etc. If I had kids I probably wouldn't have let Jackson babysit 'em, but when they were old enough I'd definitely let them hear his songs.
But before the tarnish, Michael Jackson changed pop music forever, and in a bass ackwards way that he may or may not have intended, the nature of his music attracted fans from all cultures and ethnicities and brought people together in a way that to date no politician and few religious icons, save the Pope and Billy Graham.
PS. R.I.P. Farrah Fawcett
P.P.S. NFL player Chad Ocho Cinco is an idiot. Not for changing his name from Chad Johnson, but for Tweeting earlier today, upon learning of Jackson's death, that Jackson's death combined with Fawcett's made for a day worse than 9/11.
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