That was the text I received yesterday from a friend. “Have you heard about Whacko Jacko?” it read. I thought he was talking about the last guy I dated for any length of time. I wondered how he found out about that guy. Or maybe he was referring to something done in private when a suitable partner of the opposite sex is not available.
I texted back, “Whacko Jacko?”
His response told me about the nickname given to Michael Jackson. I am, once again, found to be completely naive and “unedgy”. Sigh.
Now, there’s been a load of stuff written about the King of Pop or Whacko, however, you choose to remember him. What I find interesting however, is that all the time he was alive (and I grew up with him so to speak so I know this) he was always considered weird and then later as a freak, but now that he’s passed, he’s suddenly taken on godlike qualities. Why is this?
His music was amazing, no doubt. The data on the sales of his music and the awards he won throughout his lifetime is proof of that. But while he was alive, the tone and timbre of discussions surrounding Michael Jackson were filled with mockery, ridicule, and scandal. In personal circles it wasn’t cool to admit you liked Michael Jackson music unless you were ready to be mocked and laughed at. It was tantamount to saying you liked Disco. I, personally, loved his music, but I would never have admitted it because the bloody laughingstock I would have become prevented me from being so bold. I also liked Disco at the time.
The thing I find strange now, is that now that Michael Jackson is dead the world is singing his praises in a way they never did while he was alive. The very same world that gave him public grief on so many occasions is now applauding him. I’m not here to judge his talent as a musician. I’ve never even seen the Thriller video all the way through. I’m not here to judge his personal life or whether he earned the right to be mocked, criticized or eulogized. He made some decisions in his life that I don’t understand. He contributed some music to this world that connects me to some very happy times and still has the ability to lighten my mood. I’m not a musician or an entertainer, but clearly he made an indelible mark on our world with his music. I’m not here to attempt to echo the sentiments of many others who’ve already said these things better and more eloquently than I could.
What I am here to do is pose two simple questions: How might Michael Jackson’s experience on this earth have been better or certainly different, if the wonderful things that are now being said about him publicly were the things he heard when he was alive? Why do we so often wait till someone is dead to let them know the wonderful things we think about them or how important they are to us?