One of the most common names in the history of the world, yet there was one man who possessed it so completely that he may as well have done away with his surname. So completely that now, it will be difficult to hear that name and think of anyone else. How can it be that we’ve suddenly been thrust into the era that comes after Michael?
I just don’t think the world could handle Michael any more. I think that everything Michael accidentally created just by being himself needs to be flushed away. Is it possible that his death could actually be a catalyst for change as much as his life was? As the world, so saturated in irony that it has become oblivious, frantically latches onto “Man In The Mirror” as its new theme song of 2009?
Michael was a real-life Benjamin Button, de-aging from impossibly assured soul singer to frightened child over the course of his 50 years on this planet. In that time, his concoction of ambition, flamboyance and mystery created the tabloid cult of celebrity that we now refer to as The News. He was the grandest illustration we’ve ever seen of the dichotomy inherent in humanity, that we cannot be one thing without also being its exact opposite. He was the epitome of ubiquity and reclusion, wealth and destitution, peace and chaos, male and female, darkness and light. I doubt any human experienced a broader spectrum of what is available to the soul in the physical plane of existence than Michael did.
I think I remember the debut of Michael’s moonwalk, though it became so iconic that I might be remembering hundreds of subsequent images all rolled into one idea: a man who had broken free from the laws of physics that govern the rest of us. I definitely remember my dad’s reaction, though: devoutly uninterested in dance, he nevertheless stared at the TV, only able to say, “That’s impossible.” But I was still too young at that point to become a fan; that happened with Bad. By then, as far as I could understand, Michael was the president of the world. I sure couldn’t tell that he was already past what history would eventually deem his prime. Everything he did was the first time it had ever been done. The long version of the “Bad” video was the awesomest thing I’d ever seen. But it seemed that by the time I figured out why anyone would want to be bad, it was already becoming uncool to like Mike any more. His weirdness was beginning to overshadow his artistry, and just like that, I lost track of him.
To say that he was taken for granted, as much by those who hated him as by those who loved him, seems impotent now. The whole world looked at him as an alien, yet judged him as if we knew him intimately. To so many self-righteous people, he was guilty of various outlandish crimes without any chance of ever being proven innocent. As such, I suspect that the alien overlords who put Michael on this planet in the guise of a human child decided that we, as a species, were not yet evolved enough to be accepted into the greater cosmic community, and since the biological supplements that made Michael appear human were less and less effective over time, his presence here became untenable.
I just wish we could have seen if, against all odds, he was really going to pull off those 50 sold-out nights in London. Even though it might have been the most public, colossal embarrassment in the history of music, I wish the overlords had grudgingly allowed Michael to bring his ambition to its ultimate conclusion, instead of condemning his mission as a failure, his lifestyle as too extreme. And now, as the accusations and rumors and suffocating bullshit of the media blitz threaten to clash with the reckless outpouring of love and sorrow and blow up the world, let’s just try to concentrate on a sense of gratitude that we were alive at the same time as Michael, at least for a while. Maybe we can still make this new era into something worthy of the vision Michael conjured with his music.