This comes a little bit late as most of you have dedicated a post to Michael Jackson, the day following his untimely death. It took some time until it hit me, perhaps I didn't realize what his life and death meant until I read Vesper's post. This week's Sunday Scribbling is themed 'Human', I've chosen to write about Michael because he encompasses a human, heightened to the expectation of a semi-god, thrown in the spot light; a martyr to the music world.
I googled him last night and I read about his struggle with Vitilgo (it is said that his skin was rendered white because of the patches of white skin that kept appearing due to his disease) and how, the 'one glove' signature look was actually an attempt to camouflage the onset of Vitilgo on one of his hands.
I never believed this until I gave it more thought. I know that Michael struggled with being black; he had surgery on his nose to fit a standard of beauty that was enforced on him. When he 'became' white, married a white woman in order to have white children, it proved what everybody already knew; Michael had some serious issues with himself.
Today, I am more informed about Vitilgo. A boy in my high school had it and he was dark skinned. By Senior year,it got so bad that his face was partly white. The irony? Vitilgo spreads faster when you are stressed or feel self-conscious about your condition.
Michael was sensitive. I remember watching the movie The Jacksons: An American dream, he struggled with acne at some point, he was so torn up about looking 'ugly', he was frantic and believed himself to be disgusting. I haven't seen the movie in years but I still remember the despair the young actor portrayed. I can only imagine the fear one faces when your body turns against you and your pigment cells are being destroyed. Now, with Michael's sensitivity and self-consciousness, Vitilgo must have spread faster than lightning.
This is a transcript from Oprah's interview with Michael.
Michael: (..)I had pimples so badly it used to make me so shy. I used not to look at myself. I'd hide my face in the dark, I wouldn't want to look in the mirror and my father teased me and I just hated it and I cried everyday.
Oprah: Your father teased you about your pimples?
Michael: Yes and tell me I'm ugly.
It is a safe bet to say, that amongst many other issues, Michael suffered from body dysmorphic disorder. His perception of being ugly fueled the surgeries; he 'fixed' one thing, but then it wasn't enough, he need to be better and attain a personal image of 'perfection'.
Michael grew up in the public eyes under the scrutiny of millions of fans; Imagine the pressure, the constant expectations to uphold his success, to be a 'star'. To make matters worse, Michael dubbed himself a 'perfectionist', claiming he was never 'pleased with anything'.
He wasn't a star, he was a boy that never got to be silly, irresponsible and unfocused. Instead, he rehearsed, produced music, traveled; He was his daddy's circus animal. When he purchased Neverland, it was a way to get away from everything and create a world where he could relive a lost child hood.
Michael Jackson was human; he was kind and many took advantage of this. Notably, the 1993 and 2005 accusations of sexual abuse. He gave away a lot of money to charities, he opened his home to sick children. He had a child-like innocence, which, with the acquisition of Neverland earned him the surname 'Peter Pan'. He was a creative genius; he rocked the musical world. He was a hard worker and he achieved more than most people ever will. He was an icon, a man child that touched millions upon millions of people. He was abused, he was beaten, forced to be a cash cow for his money hungry 'father'.
We've all done it at some point: We've laughed at comedy sketches of his nose falling out, felt sorry for him and grieved the young man that brought us 'Thriller'. Michael was always battered with insults, jokes. We didn't want to understand him.
How easy was it to laugh at him, deem him 'eccentric' or 'crazy'? What drives a man to mutilate himself beyond any recognition? A lot of pain, confusion and self-hatred.
When I think of him and listen to his timeless tracks, I will remember the bright eyed, sexy Michael, moon walking and captivating crowds. I will remember watching The Jacksons: an American dream, over and over again, while eating pancakes. I will remember when my father told me he went to school with Michael and how he stole all his dance moves, I was a child and semi-believed him...
Funny thing is, we all have a 'Michael Jackson' memory. What is yours?
As well, what do you think about his mother having custody of his children? I mean, she is still with his father, Joseph, who was known to be so abusive that Michael vomited out of fear when he entered the room. The will stated Michael wanted her to take care of his kiddies, but if she didn't protect her kids from Joseph, I doubt she will at 79 years old. What's your opinion?