Wednesday, November 4, 2009

It Was a Lot...

I could see 'This is It' about a thousand times. I love Michael Jackson. He transports me with most if not all of his songs, with his movements, with the intensity that burns through to the world from his eyes, probably the only real part of his face left intact before he died.

I have always felt protective of Michael Jackson, well before he was accused of things that made much of the world hate him. He was a child thrust into an adult world, made responsible for the livelihood of thousands from an age when all kids should be worrying about is what to put on their Christmas Wish List.

I believe in some people the way I believe in dragonflies, that they were put on this earth to help show us the way. I believe Michael Jackson was one of those people. Watching 'This is It' confirmed it for me. If nothing else, because of the tears in the eyes of the dancers and musicians that were chosen by him to participate on his crowning tour, one that would have been absolutely incredible and magical, was, obviously, in the weeks or months that it was being practiced and put together.

"God, he is like an instrument," I whispered to my friend in the dark, watching him control his voice, his body so incredibly tightly. He had had over 40 years of practice to perfect these things, I remembered, but still. The fact that he kept at it, did practice, tried over and over again in so many ways to maintain the old favorites but with a twist, to develop modern messages about the environment, about government, amazes me, inspires me.

At one point, he spoke about the government. I wish I'd written it down to capture it perfectly but, essentially, what he said was, "What is this about 'them,' it's about 'us.'"

My sentiments exactly. It was another way of saying, "I'm starting with the man in the mirror." It was a shout out to personal responsibility. Obviously, that is something he struggled with, as all of us do. But it is, I believe, one of the essential messages of our time and it ran clearly, thematically, through so much of what Michael Jackson wrote.

Personal responsibility must have been a subject he could not get away from, being, as he was, solely responsible for so, so many people, both physically in terms of those he actually employed in one way or another, and psychically, for the millions of people who he inspired.

I can only imagine the head space that kind of responsibility, from such a young age, puts someone in, imagined it well as I watched the movie, watched people whose very life dreams were hinged on MJ's tour. It made me think hard, though the movie didn't show it, what a crushing blow his death must have been to them, both personally and for their careers.

The beauty, though, was that he made such an amazing impact on the world in his life with his music, with his moves. As the movie ran through a fair bit of his life's work, I was transported to different times in my life, to different emotions that the songs had evoked in me at the time, still. The beginning of "Thriller" brought me back to my friend Heather's house, where I first encountered MTV, to my friend Stacey's house with the huge TV in her den. Like now, I didn't have cable TV at home then. We watched those scary figures rise from the dead and got chills every time.

"Billy Jean" too brought me back. It had struck me as so sad at the time, the whole debacle. Little did we know what was to come...

I had forgotten about the gut-wrenching quality of his love songs, of "I Just Can't Stop Loving You," and the sheer drive-you-to-dance quality of his more upbeat songs, like "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" or "Beat It." I wished we could dance in the aisles. I will definitely be dancing in my kitchen, on the street, wherever, when I dowload the soundtrack today onto my iPod.

I was joyous and amazed watching the incredible artistic process at work during the film. It captured so well the meaning of music and performance to both performers and audiences alike.

But, the minute it was over, I found myself in a deep funk. There was no overt mention of his death, just a still shot at the end, of Michael in a dramatic shining pose, maybe at his unwitting last practice.

"How did he die, Mommy?" Oscar had asked me midway through the movie, running back to me from his front-row seat, urgent in his need for the knowledge.

I shook my head. "I don't really know..." I whispered. It seemed lame, not to know, but I haven't paid that much attention. I don't want to know the details if there are any known for sure. They are none of my business. They don't matter anyway. It was his time to go. It was a sad end to a most incredible inspirational life, one that will continue to impact people for a long, long time to come.

Gold star for you, Michael. You would, I'm sure, love its glitter. Gold stars, too, to the people who continue to positively push this important man's legacy of love.

1 comment:

  1. You know I LOVE MJ, named one of my sons Michael and another Jackson.
    Your piece was beautiful.
    Can't wait to see you in writing group.