Today marks the one year anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death. It still feels surreal. Michael Jackson, the renaissance man of the music industry, is gone. His moves, his mannerisms, and most importantly, his music is forever lost to us. Sure, there are plenty of articles, books, and pictures of the man; not to mention audio and video of his performances, but it’s not the same. All of that just captures moments in time when he was with family, friends, and well-wishers. But, they can’t bring him back to life. We can only relive the memories of Michael.
I remember when I was a young girl and Michael Jackson was my world. I wanted to grow up and become Mrs. Michael Jackson. I wanted to live on the Neverland Ranch and play with Bubbles, the chimp. We would have lavish parties in the mansion and all of Michael’s celebrity friends would sit with us at a long table eating exotic food and drinking delicious libations. Michael’s songs would play in the background and after dinner there would be dancing in a cavernous ballroom. Michael and I would be in the center of the ballroom showcasing the latest dance steps. We would be the envy of everyone in attendance. That was my dream.
And then I woke up. As I grew older, my crush on Michael changed to disdain. As I embraced the genre of Hip Hop and gangsta rap, Michael and his music became passé. He was no longer “cool” in my eyes and had transformed from cutie in “Thriller” to creepy in “Dangeous”. I remember calling a girlfriend after watching the “I’m Bad” video. I expressed to her my shock over Michael’s appearance. While the dance moves were still on point, the rest of Michael had taken a turn for the worse. I remember how thin he looked in his black leather ensemble, his stringy jeri-curl, and especially; his bleached skin. But it’s when he had spoken, with a high-pitched voice, that’s when he lost me. I did not feel that that was becoming of a 20-something Black man. I was not alone in that feeling.
Since that time, I’ve been blasé about Michael. While he did have a string of hits in the ‘90s, I never regained the appreciation I had of him from childhood. I had moved on continuing my love affair with Hip Hop music and embracing the new jacks of R&B (Usher, for one and a fan of Michael’s moves). Michael was still an icon to many, beloved internationally, but his star had fallen in the United States – especially after the sexual abuse involving children scandals. We’ll never know what happened in Michael’s home with kids, but I would be on the side of something happened. The details of which I do not want to know.
But then Michael died. He was making a comeback and he died. Why? I was surprisingly angry over his death. I was mad at his doctor, his bodyguards, and especially at Michael. Why did he need all those prescription drugs? Was he really in that much pain? Didn’t he notice the affect they were having on him? Didn’t he think about his health? His kids? I felt that Michael was being selfish and not thinking clearly. But his death shook me. I felt guilty. Guilty over my disregard of him, for discarding him, for no longer being a fan – a true fan. I had become one of his many detractors. But with his death, I could only hang my head in shame. I’m sorry, Michael. Long live the King of Pop- if only in our dreams.