Monday, November 16, 2009

Michael Jackson nostalgia

I realize this post is about four months late, but I'm going to go ahead and write it anyway.

Jeremy outed me in the comments of a previous post as listening to Michael Jackson. It's true. I have been listening to Michael Jackson a lot lately, including "Stranger in Moscow." Because the man has some dang good music.

To anyone who didn't actually live through it all, it's difficult to explain the extent and voraciousness of Michael Jackson's cool factor back in the day, for example, the entire decade of the 1980s and a few years of the 1990s, too. I think I can say without exaggeration that he was the. coolest. person. on. the. planet.



In fact, one of my very earliest memories - I couldn't have been older than three or four years old - consists of my brothers and me sitting in the living room singing "Beat It," keeping our fingers crossed that Michael Jackson would come to our house. Obviously that was never going to happen, but our parents must have refrained from breaking the news to us so as to spare our fragile, childish view of the world.

Later on, there were the increasingly bizarre years of Michael Jackson - his song "Black or White" was über-hip because of the computer generated face morphs (video here, skip to 5:28 to see the part I mean), but even as a kid I didn't get how his own personal skin color change gelled with the message of that song. Then there was the popular and catchy but soulless Free Willy song, and from there it was basically a weird descent into kids named Blanket and child molestation allegations.

In a few short years, Michael Jackson went from being the coolest person on the planet to one of the most reviled. So what an interesting phenomenon it was to see how when he died, all of us suddenly remembered the positive things about his life. How he was an innovative performer who sang differently and danced more awesomely than pretty much anyone around. How he defined the formative years of a segment of a generation - my segment of my generation. And how he had what is possibly the best guest appearance on any television show ever - I refer of course to Episode 7F24 of The Simpsons, air date September 19, 1991, "Stark Raving Dad." Such was his influence.

And as it turned out, such was his legacy. Not the other weird stuff. And I'm glad.


10 comments:

Chris said...

was that Simpsons in Japanese?

Katie said...

Lisa and I were just singing "Annie are you okay? Are you okay? Are you okay Annie?" last night. Great times. And I had a bit of a "Thriller" moment while watching "13 Going on 30" a couple of days ago. Michael Jackson, may he rest in peace. Oh, and speaking of MJ, I think you would enjoy this cute post:

http://verypurplestuffs.blogspot.com/2009/11/maikeru-jakuson.html

Bridget said...

It's not Japanese. I think it's something Spanish-y, actually. I heard a "poco" somewhere in there.

Bridget said...

And Katie, that post was super cute.

Liz Johnson said...

I agree - I'm so glad that the weird stuff at the end of his life was more of a footnote than the overarching legacy he left behind. Michael Jackson was AMAZING. Such an amazing performer and I will love his music forever. And "Black or White" is actually one of my favorites... I think I would've put up 1,000,000 hits on YouTube all by myself back then if it had existed.

Craig said...

Yes, I agree, an extremely talented performer in his day. I was warped back in time watching the "Beat It" video a few weeks ago.

Lisa Lou said...

I saw the new MJ This Is It movie last weekend. It's great. I've had MJ songs stuck in my head all week. I even checked out some of his CDs from the library.

Aimee said...

When I was about 3-years-old I used to kiss the tv screen when his pepsi commercial came on. I claimed I was going to marry him when I grew up. A bit of an embarrassing story, but I loved MJ when I was younger.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

This is going waaaay back but in my late teens I liked the Jackson Five. Not the worshippy obsessive kind of like. They just made music that was fun to listen to.

Kristen said...

I actually found it odd that the man's death caused the strange and quirky and possibly very illegal and immoral aspects of his life to all but vanish from people's eyes. But then again, I was not influenced in the way you described by his music or character from the early days.

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