A World Without Michael Jackson


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A world without Michael Jackson is an empty one. I’ve been walking around in a fog since I heard the surreal news of his death on June 25th. The air itself feels stale, food has lost its taste, colors appear dull and listless. In fact, I looked at the sky yesterday, the day of his memorial service, and it just didn’t seem as blue.

I found myself asking, “What’s the point of it all?” Why do
anything anymore. Why try to be the best at something? Why work your hands to the bone if this is the end result? I lost motivation. I’ve had to drag myself through the motions: go to work, clean up the house, workout, edit my movie…but in the end it felt pointless. The void was too huge.

Being an 80’s kid, I remember seeing the moonwalk on the Motown 25
th Anniversary special. I remember “Billie Jean” and “Beat It” getting regular air time on a fledgling network called MTV. I remember the day my father brought home a contraption called a VCR and we only had 2 VHS tapes to play in the thing. One was “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and the other was Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” with the ‘making of’ documentary. My sister claims that I got too scared during the first 3 minutes of the “Thriller” video and we had to turn the TV off. I have no recollection of this. What I do remember is that in my eight year old mind, the “Thriller” video was the Star Wars of music videos. It was the best of its kind. On the school bus, me and my friends would bicker about who was going to marry Michael Jackson. The argument was never really settled.

I remember a day where every radio station in NY and possibly the country suspended their regular programming to play “We Are the World” simultaneously. Michael Jackson videos were appointment viewing long before there was such a thing as “Must See TV”. The major networks would stop their prime time lineup to premiere his latest video and everyone stopped what they doing to watch. There is not a single artist today that remotely has that sort of pull, that sort of magnetism. I remember eagerly waiting in line at Walt Disney World to see Captain Eo.



There was nobody bigger or better. Michael Jackson was larger than life. I was too young to be fully aware of all the problems of the world during the 1980’s but I do know that the Cold War lingered in the back of everyone’s minds. Come to find out, the music industry was hitting a rough spot as well in terms of sales. So Michael Jackson was as timely as he was timeless.

Now it’s 2009 and the cable news networks are all confirming that Michael Jackson is dead at age 50. It’s incomprehensible. For some reason I’d envisioned him moonwalking and spinning on a stage well into his 90’s. A depression set in. If this could happen to the biggest superstar that ever lived, what hope is there for me? Nothing mattered anymore.

But yesterday at the memorial service, my faith was restored in the most unlikeliest of places. I have never been a huge fan of Al Sharpton. I always thought he weaseled his way into situations in order to extend his relevance. I often believed he misrepresented the black community. But yesterday when he said, “Michael never stopped!” it helped pull me out of the funk I’d been in for the past 12 days. If Michael never stopped, then I can’t either. He had the world watching his every move. His life was dissected. If he never stopped then I have no excuses.

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I’ve seen a lot of negative comments on the internet and the media about his private life. I’m surprised at how few people have the decency to not malign the dead. As much as the internet has expanded information flow, negativity spreads on it like a plague. Everyone is so much bolder in anonymity. Michael Jackson the man was as tormented as he was talented. No doubt Michael Jackson struggled with multiple demons. The depths of these demons we may never know but I choose for once, to dwell on the past instead of the present.

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This is the Michael Jackson I will remember. The beauty, the genius, the gifts, the creativity, and the vision. A man who was known even in the forgotten corners of the world not just for his musical talents but also for his tremendous generosity. A talent the world had never seen before nor will again.

When they put together the time capsule to leave behind on Earth for the aliens to find and gain a better understanding of humanity, all sorts of masterpieces from literature, film, and music will be gathered. You put Elvis in there. You put the Beatles in there. Shakespeare. Sinatra. And, of course, you put Michael Jackson in there.