Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Goodbye, Michael Jackson

 Michael Jackson’s death made me sad. Not so much because I was a fan. I liked some of the earlier music by the Jackson Five, but I didn’t follow Michael’s solo career so much. I heard a man say that Michael Jackson’s music was the sound track of his life. That does not describe me. I was touched more by the deaths of John Denver and Karen Carpenter than I was Michael Jackson. Their music did weave itself into the fabric of my teenage years.

            I was saddened by Michael’s death for different reasons. In a strange way I was sad because he and I were the same age. He was just two weeks older than I. So, somehow, that made it more personal. Someone my age died.

            But I wasn’t saddened only by the tragedy of this early death; I was saddened by the tragedy of his life. It appears he had a domineering father that robbed him of his childhood. I’m sure Michael genuinely enjoyed performing, and it sounds like he wanted to be famous. But from my humble perspective I think he should have spent a little more time riding bikes. That’s what I did when I was 11. Michael Jackson was on The Ed Sullivan Show.

            I also think his numerous cosmetic surgeries reveal an inner sadness. The day he died, Kate and I were watching some of the retrospectives on TV.

            “He was a cute kid,” Kate said. “Why did he get so much plastic surgery?"

            “Because he wasn’t happy with himself,” I told her. I don’t mean to imply that all plastic surgery is wrong. I’ve seen cases where surgery corrected some disfigurement or altered an unappealing attribute and the results were worthwhile. But was there anything wrong with Michael Jackson’s face? I don’t know what he saw when he looked in the mirror, but it wasn’t what the rest of the world saw. The cute 10-year-old boy singing his heart out on The Ed Sullivan Show turned into an addicted, disfigured, and bizarre man. 

And that’s just sad.


P.S. The Sunday after Michael Jackson died I read these words in our church hymnal:

I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause;

I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause;

I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame,

I’d rather be true to His holy name.

Than to be a king of a vast domain

Or be held in sin’s dread sway,

I’d rather have Jesus than anything

This world affords today.

by Rhea F. Miller, 1922.

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