Although it has been a few days now since the passing of Michael Jackson, I have to admit that I am still a little sad that he has gone. It seems that most of the stuff I see online about him since his passing lands on the realm of one or two distinct extremes. First, there is the sincere and heartfelt sadness in the "we will miss you MJ" type posts/articles/status updates out there and then there is the much more crass and harsh stuff focusing on his rather questionable last decade or so. Now, granted, I am a fan of off color jokes as much as just about anyone...hell, even more than most at times, but I find myself having a hard time even thinking about making these jokes about him right now. It wasn't until early this morning that I realized that there is a commonality shared by most of those spreading the latter message that I do not share and which is probably the reason I have not (and probably won't) been making any of these jokes myself. I realize that most of the people are much younger than I am. Working at a college campus, I do not see age as much as someone who is not around such a broad spectrum might. Daily, I interact with people whose ages can range from 17 to 55. I forget sometimes that the people I see a lot or talk with online are much younger than I am. I do not mean to say that their youth implies immaturity in this regard, more so I mean that those people who are making these comments, for the most part at least, knew a different Michael Jackson than I did.
Again, I realize how weird things got from about the late 90s on with him and I couldn't tell you the most recent song of his that I actually like, but I do know that he was essentially the composer to the soundtrack of my youth. Regardless of what else he ever might have done, that always remained in my mind when I thought of MJ. Granted, sometimes it was in sadness as we watched his life seem to spiral down into some weird places, but I still feel sad now that someone who quite literally changed the world is no longer with us. Many people called him a musical genius, but I think he might have even transcended that as well. For all intents and purposes, he made music and a part of American (and global in some ways) culture what it is today. Was he a little strange? Yeah. I am sure that was the case when he first embarked on a solo career although the public did not see that as much. Most geniuses throughout history have a little strange in them...that might even be why they are geniuses.
I do not write this to chastise anyone who has made jokes at his expense, rather I write this to pay my respects to a man who could keep me riveted to a television set when I was growing up, whose dance moves made someone (me) not even interested in dancing get up and make a fool of myself trying to emulate him, a man who, at one time, quite literally ruled the world and a man who, for a quarter of a century, made music that just about everyone on this planet knew all the words to and sang along with.
This is the Michael Jackson that I will always remember. This is the Michael Jackson that I will miss.
Michael Jackson, you truly were the King of Pop. Please know that, no matter what else people may say or write about you, you have had a lasting impact on this entire planet and on this one humble geek.
Rest in Peace