Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Michael Jackson 1958-2009

Death registers in different ways for different people. For me, I wear my heart on my sleeve. I found myself grieving with the rest of the world, but I also had a much different, personal reaction.
At the time of Michael's death, we were also surrounded by a number of other celebrity deaths that shocked and rattled the media. Farrah Fawcett, most famously known for her television work in 'Charlie's Angels', becoming a seventies sex symbol, finally succumbing to her battle with cancer. Steve McNair, nicknamed 'Air McNair' for his prowess on the football field, was killed by his alleged mistress after she turned the gun on herself. Martin Streek, a Torontonian radio deejay credited for bringing the alternative music scene to the forefront of Canada's music appreciation, committed suicide, leaving his suicide note on his Facebook status update. Even reports of attempted suicides in extraordinary circumstances can be a bit much for anyone. (A young woman in Arizona attempted to hang herself with a scarf from a ceiling fan after an argument via webcam with her boyfriend turned hostile. The boyfriend witnessed her attempt, and called her father who was in the same house to stop her. They saved her life.)

Author's note: At the time of revision, a new death had surfaced in the media: world champion boxer Arturo Gatti was found dead in his Brazilian vacation residence a few days ago. His wife has since been arrested for his murder.
I have put a number of things in perspective about what surrounds us in this world. There are some rather unique circumstances that we could never understand only because it requires a 'first-hand look' at the lifestyle in question. We couldn't begin to relate to some of these situations because they're beyond our own realm of understanding. Most of us don't live the lavish lifestyle of our media icons, nor do we receive the attention, praise, gossip and gifts that are bestowed upon them. There are many celebrities that may look like they're having the time of their lives, but we're reminded two things about money: that it doesn't buy happiness, and it's the root of all evil. Just because they're rich and famous, doesn't mean they're happy.

I sincerely believe Michael Jackson died of an overdose. Whether it was intentional or accidental, the drugs kicked in a little too much, and he died. Are the numerous doctors, who allegedly supplied Michael while using his many aliases to procure a number of different prescriptions with drugs to blame? Is it his family's fault for not stepping in with an intervention? Is it the media's fault for hounding the man through his entire life, putting pressure on the entertainer to 'perform'? Is it his father's fault for being 'abusive', according to Michael himself, and forcing his children to grow up so quickly that they didn't have a childhood? We don't know, and we'll never know. The only thing that we can know about this is that Michael lived a very difficult life, trying to be everything to everybody, but performing on stage in front of billions, that's where he was most happy. He was able to connect on another plane that transcended language and thought, and just made everyone glow with his. That's how most artists and performers do their job, and know that they're doing it well - you're connected with them, and they with the you, and it creates a symbiotic circle of energy, feeding off each other. We never knew of Michael's personal life, because it's not part of the 'entertainment' package. What we did know was what the press told us. The press, unfortunately, are in the business of selling magazines and newspapers, so the bigger the story, the faster it flies. With motivations like this, who are we to believe? Who are we to turn to, when everyone's endgame is to make more money?
Are we to feel pity for Michael? No, that's not what he would have wanted. He was there for us to forget our own troubles for either 3 minutes on the radio or 3 hours at a concert. That's what he did best, was unite people for a good time, to remember that we can all come together for something as universally positive as music. It was brave of him, past his troubled childhood to his infamous stardom, to wake up every day, to face the public, to endure what he had because of the lifestyle he led. "Ain't nothin' strange about your daddy," Rev. Jesse Jackson said to Michael's children at the public memorial service, broadcasted live around the world, no less. "What he had to go through was strange," but the man that his children knew, his brothers and sisters knew, his closest friends knew, he was a man who wouldn't give up. He was a man who persevered through everything that was put up against him. Unfortunately, not everything.

The deaths that had been surrounding me of late, especially Michael's, all had a light of 'going before their time'. Diagnosed with depression a few years back, I sympathized for the internal struggles Michael may have had, but I could in no way compare myself to him. Whatever troubles he may have had, being it drug addiction, eccentric reclusiveness from a 'lost childhood', or his fall from grace during his legal woes, he did what he knew best, and we couldn't blame him for it. We still loved him and accepted him, and we hope that he knew that as much as we felt it. Like Elvis, John and Kurt, Michael's death is not the end of an era, but the end of an epoch that will never be experienced again. It makes me sad.
On my Facebook profile, I had posted, "... how are we to think of our lives, if those we look to regard theirs in a light of waste?" My friend, Andrew, responded with the following: "we [sic] look to those people by choice , based on what we believe is not a life of waste, we all judge ourselves and its usually those who believe in us are those who also inspire us to do the things they look up too? [sic] ........and if you look you will find the person who looks to you , then you find what you are to think of your LIFE!" When we find the people who believe in us, we will see our worth. They will help us flourish, exceed our expectations, take us to great heights. We must remember at these heights where we came from, and the people who helped us get so high. Thank you, Michael, for taking us there.

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