Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Michael Jackson: The Price of Fame and Youth

To have fame and youth at once is too much for a mortal”—Schopenhauer, German philosopher

So, too, it was for Michael Jackson. Was he the King of Pop? No, that title rightfully belonged to Frank Sinatra. Michael Jackson for the last twenty-seven years of his life and career was the King of Plop or should I say the King of Hype? As his creativity gradually declined in the wake of his magnum opus Thriller his hype and notoriety grew exponentially, like a cancer upon the world’s hedonistic consciousness. At the end the only thing sustaining his name was his hype. He squandered and exhausted his creativity decades ago.

When John Lennon died I was devastated and I wept for his passing. When Kurt Cobain died I sympathized and understood. When Frank Sinatra died, I paid homage and showed respect. When Ray Charles and James Brown died (two authentic musical geniuses) I truly mourned.

To be cruelly blunt, I felt nothing when I received the news about Michael Jackson’s death; and with it the allegations of prescription drug abuse, not even surprised. John Lennon, shortly before his assassination, commenting on the death of Elvis, said that “the courtiers always kill the king.” So too it was for Michael Jackson as it was for Elvis; the same enabling support systems; the same refusal by his family and friends to properly confront his destructive addictions and habits head on because they were beholden financially to him. Just Elvis needed his Memphis Mafia, his gun collection, his karate lessons, his girlfriends in white lingerie, and his trusted physician Dr. Nick to administer his “medications” (and even when Dr. Nick wasn’t available, Elvis had plenty of other physicians who could be counted on to administer the prescription drugs he desperately craved and was addicted to) so, too, it was for Michael Jackson. He, too, needed the enablers, the omnipresent Doctor Feelgoods, his personal amusement park, his bizarre toys, and, lastly, his young child playmates for the sleepovers at his mansion.

When I started blogging in May 2005, one of my first blog entries was about the civil suit against Michael Jackson for allegedly molesting various young children during the course of his career. I remember a phrase I used when commenting on the trial. It went like this: rule of the fast lane: there are no victims only volunteers. The phrase remains apt. Even though he was never formally convicted of child molestation charges it remains disturbing (and compelling) that he deliberately placed himself in a position where such accusations could be made. Even allowing him the presumption of legal innocence his personal judgment must be seen as appalling if not criminal. And why did he settle out of court with the children’s families in question? Why, afterwards, did he consider seeking citizenship in Bahrain (in the Middle East) where there is no extradition treaty with the U.S. for sex crimes?

When contemplating the flotsam and jetsam of his life, I am reminded of something former Jimi Hendrix Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell said in a documentary about Jimi Hendrix. Mitchell was asked about how the various leaches and hangers-on in Hendrixes life contributed to his death. Mitchell acknowledged their role but made some interesting remarks which need to be considered. I don’t what Mitchell said precisely but the gist is as follows: Mitchell said that, yes, Hendrix did have a lot of leaches and spongers living off of him but that Hendrix knew what he was taking on otherwise Jimi would not have gotten involved in it. Mitchell added that Hendrix took on what he wanted to take on. In other words, Hendrix lived the way he did with his eyes wide open.

So, too, it was for Michael Jackson. He took on what he wanted to take on and in the end it took him. In the end what’s left is the debris of his personal life and, sadly, his three children who, already, are being used as pawns. (I have a nasty prediction to make: don’t be surprised if their grandfather, Michael Jackson’s father, tries to forcibly forge the three kids into a musical act in the forlorn hope of regaining the Jackson’s family musical glory. Considering that Jackson’s father is a psycho-hose beast stage father, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit).

In the end, with regards to Michael Jackson, all I have to say is good, bloody, riddance.

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