Sunday, November 16, 2008

Eddie, Are You OK?

So, two weeks ago I noticed several different people walking the streets of (or riding the rails of) big, bad NYC dressed as extras of “Smooth Criminal.” Of course I chuckled to myself because, hey, that’s crazy, but also it is so typical of CrazyTown on Any Given Day.

I wanted to blog about it, but of course stopped short because, well, we can’t really talk about him anymore, can we? No one can think of Michael Jackson without having to stop and wonder, Did He or Didn’t He? I can’t say what the percentages are…many, many people will never believe that he’s capable of the crimes he’s been accused of, but listen to the weird ooo-ing, oohhh-ing, and general weirdness about halfway through this song and you might at least think he’s got a general…problem.

For the record, I think he did it. Or at least was weird enough in the presence of children to be damaging to their psyches. Because this guy is seriously messed up, irregardless of the “truth.” Look at him in the Jackson 5 and look at him now. Have we all not asked ourselves What the Fuck at one time or another upon considering his dreadful transformation?

And the horrible truth of it is this: Do we allow ourselves to love him for what he was or do we condemn him and everything he’s done because of what we believe he’s done to children? Remember that he’d been famous—and an established talent, without argument—for many years before things started to get decidedly weird and, eventually, horrible. The fact is that most people would rather never believe Michael Jackson was capable of the things he’s been accused of.

I asked my co-workers once: Is it OK to have Michael Jackson on your Ipod? Because I felt that it wasn’t, honestly, and had removed almost everything from my archives. The younger peeps had an interesting point of view: No; if you like it, leave it. Because there’s a difference between the Person and the Product. They could separate the man from the music, which was incredible to me.

As time has gone by since that conversation, I have to say that I’ve been able to separate the two to some degree, too. In fact, to be honest, I just bought “Man in the Mirror” on ITunes. Why? Because I love that song. Should I apologize for it? Yes? No? How about, I just don’t fucking know anymore? That’s the most honest answer I can give. Because the part of me that loves that song remembers it from the time before “the bad time,” when all the dark moments came tumbling in and sullied everything, making all those sweet, twee memories sour and smelly. The truth is, I remember that song first in the context of my 16-year-old self, seeing the video for the first time and crying my stupid eyes out because it was touching. And that was it. Maybe I have the right to that memory, that context, and that song ultimately.

What do you think?


Blogger Flushy McBucketpants said...

1. James Brown was a wife-beater, that didn't seem to stop people from buying his music.

2. I spent most of my life believing that the lyric was "Eddie, are you OK?" Turns out it's "Annie, are you OK?"

3. I own a DVD of MJ music videos. If you've never seen his performance at the 1995 MTV music video awards, go forth and be amazed. (Please be sure to end viewing after the Dangerous dance breakdown. The following performance of You Are Not Alone is cornball awful.) Slash and MJ together at last!:

4. The Smooth Criminal music video is the coolest of all MJ videos. Thriller comes in a close second.

5. there is no 5.

1:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

History is full of people who made valuable contributions but did shitty things.
I don't censor Picasso in my classroom because he was a dawg and woman-beater.

Ohbajeebzuz! I just saw a guy snort a worm on the TeeVee!
Will we look back on "Jackass" and feel that those guys made valuable contributions to our society?

5:48 PM  

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