After a lovely party with good old friends in Toronto last night, back in Burlington today with family. My 8-year-old nephew is really interested in Michael Jackson so we watched a video collection of MJ's greatest hits. What disturbing and touching artifacts these are. Also a bit of a trip to watch them on sleep-deprived and hungover brain.
I am always moved by Michael. He was such a beautiful being who transformed himself so tragically into a freak. One of the things we were talking about last night (with old friends I've known for more than 20 years) was discomfort with our looks. I have real issues with how I look and find myself frustrated with the amount of energy I give these thoughts. But listening to my friends whom I think look adorable helped me put my own looks more in perspective. Perhaps I don't completely resemble my 75-year-old father, the guy I see in the mirror.
MJ and his purposeful transformation is such a glaring extreme of this wish for "not me." I do not understand why there is so little written by black commentators about his complete rejection of his African features, not to mention the fact that he basically bought himself a few white babies. If I were black, this is the last guy I'd want to consider a hero.
The videos we watched today were from the late 70s to the early 90s. His huge stardom occurred in the 80s when I was in my 20s. I remember owning the Thriller album but not Bad. For Thriller he'd had some surgery. By Bad, a Martic Scorcese-directed music video I did not recall paying attention to at the time, he was a freak but placing himself beside real actors. E.g. Wesley Snipes and he play ghetto dudes. Snipes and the other actors look like ghetto dudes; Jackson looks like an anorexic gay gigolo. And then he dances and sings and it somehow works for millions and millions of people!
I get how my 8-year-old nephew is attracted to MJ. The videos he told me he likes least are the ones I liked best, the 70s tunes Rock With You and Don't Stop 'Til You get Enough. I feel deep maternal feelings for the vulnerable young man in those videos. My nephew likes the buckles and drama of the other videos. None of the kids, aged 3-11, seemed to notice how weird looking he got. What's the story with all the people over 12 who also adore him? Even after the pedophilia stories?? (Newsflash: the kid described Michael's impitigo-spotted penis.)
The self-hatred of what he did to himself... and those frickin white kids of his left with the crazy Jacksons... what an American family.