and if my math holds which is definitely suspect) than it is a reasonable enough to assume that I was conceived in November in the year of our lord, 1982. (I’m not nearly enough of a Freudian masochist to ask my parents the actual details of my conception. I’m still desperately clinging to the notion that I apparited onto this Earth Adam & Eve- style. Ew.) Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” was released on November 30th, 1982 so if the dates correspond it is not totally unreasonable to assume that I was conceived on the day this album was released. (Once again, Ew.) And if so, there has never been a time in my existence that Michael Jackson was not the biggest star on the planet. For people my age, it is almost as if we became Michael Jackson fans in the womb, nurturing ourselves on our mother nutrients and the sounds of “Billie Jean” and “Beat It” as we formed into human beings. We came out of the womb fully formed Michael Jackson fans, capable of moonwalking and performing the “Thriller” dance almost by osmosis. This is truth. There is nobody from my generation who is NOT a fan of Michael Jackson’s music.
However, the other truth of this is that I can’t remember Michael Jackson ever being a human being, either. By the time, I formed a true consciousness and began to form memories, Michael Jackson was already branded a freak. His face had already turned eerily white, his nose already mutilated, and his hair permed and straightened in attempt to hide the kinky Afro of his youth. I don’t remember when Michael Jackson had black skin let alone when he was fresh-faced pre-teen with a voice that most assuredly must have been stolen from an angel. He never seemed real to me. His uber-eccentric tabloid exploits and his vast personal troubles making him seem far more alien and untouchable than your typical celebrity.
And make no damn mistake, Michael Jackson was not your typical celebrity. Jackson was one of the rarefied celebrities that transcend the human condition and into precipice of living godhood. He did not belong to our kind. He belonged on Mount Olympus, or in Valhalla with the Norse Gods or on Jupiter frolicking with space aliens. Most celebrities society chooses to adorn with fame are often those who possess a talent or trait that we admire (unless, of course, they are reality t.v. stars or serial killers but even then society admires a skill they possess. It just happens to be unchecked sociopathy.) and we choose to elevate them above the rest of our kind because of it. However, most celebrities seem shockingly “human” and we revel in the schadenfreude of proving just that. They divorce. They battle alcoholism. They fuck on videotapes. Even their talents often seem as if fate had blessed the rest of us with incredible good looks or the ability to hit the high notes than we could be famous as well. Michael Jackson wasn’t like that. Michael Jackson’s talent dwarfed the ability of even are our most talented celebrities. No matter how well Justin Timberlake sings and dances, he’s not making an album as imminently flawless as “Thriller.” Its just not in him and that’s not a knock on the man. Its not in any of us. We are human. Michael Jackson was made of the celestial greatness that it is carved out of the Gods.
Michael Jackson paid for his talent as well. He lived the type of troubled and tortured lives that only afflict the genius. He spent his life being adored by nearly every human being on the entire planet but you get the sense that all he really wanted was to be secluded from the rest of the world to live and die in peace. In that sense, we should feel better that Michael Jackson’s pain is finally over. He is now in a better place. The true sadness is now that he has passed we have lost one of the last few beings of his kind. The ever expanding maw of the modern media has cheapened the concept of fame and there aren’t many beings that garner that level of worship on Earth left. Perhaps, Michael Jordan. Perhaps, Muhammad Ali. Madonna might qualify but she consciously chases that level of worship with a certain sense of superficiality as her eccentricities seem so calculated and packaged that she seems too overt for godhood. Everyone else doesn’t even come close.
Through all his trials and tribulations, we should remember that the talent the man possessed was the sort of talent that allows us to glimpse at divinity. “Thriller”, “Off The Wall”, “Bad”, these are records are not only flawless but allow us to touch something that is beyond us all even for a short moment. Hew was not among us. Do not cry for Michael Jackson. He has only returned home.