you need to be just the right age for someone like michael jackson to make an indelible imprint on your life. for those of us who are now 30-35 or so, we were at that age.
yesterday evening, many of us finally understood why our parents were so shattered over the death of marvin gaye; why the world wept when john lennon was shot.
he was our first crush. the first star we wanted to BE. some of our parents deemed us too young to go to his concerts, so we were forced to watch with envy as big brothers, sisters and cousins got to go instead. we couldn't wait for the next awards show, the next new video.
he was our big star. the first black face on mtv.
the little girl inside me who remembers kissing his face each day because she just knew he knew how much she loved him, who kept her "beat it" jacket and shirt long after they no longer fit, is distraught.
and she's ready to walk out with him.
as for the controversies, we have all seen what even modest stardom can do to children. michael was one of the consummate child stars of the last few decades--only he didn't fade into obscurity when he hit adolescence. having to live out nearly all your insecurities, flaws and growth as a human being under the spotlight can lead to irrevocable psychological, spiritual--and apparently even physical--change. most of us will never know what that's like.
and the accusations? i think his development was arrested in childhood (or a sort of mourning for childhood) for a long time. being around children helped him capture something he'd lost forever. but i do not think he was a pedophile. i believe he put himself in situations that could have suggested it, and that was his downfall.
if you want to see a textbook pedophile, watch this film. if that were michael's m.o., that trial wouldn't have broken him down. he'd have brushed his shoulders off and kept it moving. he was the super-rich, untouchable megastar after all...
instead, i think those things forced him to grow up--something he may or may not have been ready to do.
those who'd been paying attention knew we'd lost him long ago. some of us began mourning him then. the "wacko jacko" headlines weren't chuckle-worthy, they were pitiful.
on that level, his passing simply indicates that he is finally at peace.
ultimately, my gut tells me he was a good man who died of a broken heart. and now the world's heart is broken.
long live the king.
addendum: jay smooth on MJ