HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MICHAEL!
He still appears trim and fit. He still acts like a baby and likes to hang around beautiful kids. But-believe it or not- Michael Jackson, the record-breaking entertainer who has grabbed our attention for four decades, has come of age.
Today, the pop star clocks 50. And it’s a remarkable achievement for a guy like
Michael. With his weird lifestyle, drug addiction, numerous surgeries and personality problems, not many would have imagined the singer living this long. Bob Marley died at 36, Jimi Hendrix at 27, Elvis Presley at 42. So would it have been out of place if Jackson had left the stage, say, 2o years ago? No. pop stars live hard and fast. And quite often, they die quick. Accidents. Drug addiction. Depression. Heart attack. Gunshot. Name it.
Those that don’t lose their lives lose their careers; their relevance. They are dead, in a way; even though they’re still breathing oxygen. Not Michael. He still gets a regular space on the front covers by hook or crook. And, for good and bad reasons, he still has us all clutching our fork and knives, always ready to feed on the latest MJ scoop.
What do you want to talk about? How he has been a shining star right from age 11? How he outshone his siblings and gave A&R execs goose pimples? How he went on to record one of the most enduring, most successful careers of all time? How he ‘loves’ kids so much he’s almost always in court to defend paedophile allegations? We like to read about his plenty nose jobs; about his perceived sexual incompetence; about his regular clashes with his father, Joseph; about his failed marriages; and how he’s so broke he’s planning to sell off his Neverland ranch. Truth is, just like Elvis and Hendrix and Marley, we’ll continue to talk about Michael even long after he’s gone.
What is left to be known is what we will say about Michael when he’s gone.
Nearly three decades after he teamed up with Quincy Jones and shocked the world with Thriller, winning seven Grammies and selling over 100 million copies, today’s Jackson is not exactly that same little innocent kid with a tiny voice that caused the hair on your body to stand as you just want to hold, cuddle him and brush your fingers through his thick afro. He’s no longer that shy boy from Gary, Indiana who everyone loved to love.
Today’s Michael is no longer innocent. Yes. It’s easy to think he’s just a spoilt super star who’s fond of abusing little kids; it’s easy to think he’s just an adult who’s plagued by a deprived childhood; it’s easy to think he’s terribly eccentric and unrealistic; it’s easy to think he’s a liar and propagandist; it’s easy to think he’s an unrepentant slave of surgery, pain killers and sleeping drugs; it’s easy to think he’s a fading genius who’s desperately clutching to the thrills of past feats. It’s easy to think many things about Michael, and no one will ask for your head.
True, he may be all of the above, and many more. But he is also Michael Jackson – the greatest entertainer alive today; the man that made the biggest-selling record of all-time; the man that gave dancing a new name and authored the redefinition of pop music. That is the Jackson we should remember today, and after he’s gone.
This boy-man has many troubles, most of them a result of his upbringing, his extreme success, and a perceived condition known as Body Dysmorphic disorder. His success has been both a gift and a curse, and while friends and family may understand the burden of his celebrity, he alone, I believe, knows the torture he endures; he alone knows where the shoe pinches him. Only Michael knows how the boy in him robbed him of his manhood.
But for a generation that has been greatly influenced by his music; for a generation that has been inspired by his achievements; for a generation that’s still rocking to Thriller, Billie Jean, The girl is mine, Beat it and many other MJ classics, what we need to do is show him that he may have hurt and disappointed us many times, but we choose to remember how much of a blessing he’s been to us.
We’ve inducted him into the Rock and roll hall of fame, we’ve bought almost a billion copies of his numerous albums, we’ve seen his concerts around the world, and we’ve shown him the kind of love we’ve shown no one since Elvis. Now, it’s time to pick up our phones and wish the king of pop a very happy 50th birthday.