Saturday, July 4, 2009

Sunday Scribblings # 170: Human.

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?


Lion-ess said...

My Michael Jackson memory was the whole village coming to watch him in concert on HBO in our house.. It was a like a party and my dad was even doing the moonwalk. I wished that I could have seen him live.

His mum is separated from his dad, so I don't think his kids will have any interaction with him. I don't think that the mother should have the kids because she gave them up for millions. His kids should grow up around his mum and they should stay together. Even Diana Ross will be a great carer. They were his kids and I think the judge should obey his final wishes.

I love Michael Jackson and I know many of us ache in our hearts and with lots of sadness. he had a lonely existance and evil people took advantage of his naivety and innocence.

Hey... in the news, they said that 12 people already committed suicide because of his death. That's what u call die-hard fans.. Really sad but not shocking!

In his concerts, people use to faint just as he comes on stage.

Strawberry Girl said...

Great triute!! I too watched the show about the Jacksons on TV, I remember someone showing me a pin with him on it at a reunion, he's my cousin and husbands favorite artist. I have no idea about the truth behind the Neverland rumors, or whether or not his mom should raise the kids. I was hoping he would have a comeback, what a sad way to go.


Old Grizz said...

Thanks for the blog on Michael. I have to admit I have never been a big fan although I know that he was a great artist. Sometimes when you really do not know someone you get caught up in all the BS and it's hard to sift out the truth. You have given me a new look at him and I appreciate that. I wish him a safe journey to his peace after life and I am sorry for the loss to his family. About the children...again it is without any personal knowledge but I feel Micheal's mother is the best place for the children. It's a safe bet that the father will be kept at a safe distance.

Granny Smith said...

This is beautifully written,well thought out and sympathetic discussion of Michael Jackson's sad attempts to be the human that he pictured in his mind. My little granddaughter used to put up a virtual shrine of him next to her bed when she came to visit us. The love of millions of fans couldn't save him from a negative image of himself.

Retromus-ik said...

Great post Nana! If she's separated (with no chance at a reconciliation with Joseph) then I guess she would be a good influence in their lives. My only gripe is that she's 79. I find it's great for a child to be around his grandparents, but the question is does she have the energy to raise three children?

floreta said...

wow, great post nana! i really liked vesper's as well. it was inspiring. i think michael jackson's genius was both his blessing and curse.. rise to fame.. and downfall. it is very sad. also, interestingly enough, he was a big fan of PT Barnum.. it reminded me when you said he was like a circus animal thrown in the spotlight.. wonder if that obsession with barnum had anything to do with that.. i never saw the connection before!

linda may said...

He had such a sad life, trying to bow to society's norms. I hate that. I thought he was wonderful as a child and adult performer and close in age to me. Regardless of his sexual orientation nobody in the whole world would honestly deny his genius as a musical and entertainer.
Regarding his children; his Mum is a bit old to follow through long term with their upbringing which would be painful for them and probably not the best solution. What age is Diana Ross now?
I don't know, I know they will be alright financially but emotionally, sad, who knows.

Vesper de Vil said...

beautiful post! and thanks so much for the shout-out! xo

Chocolate Covered Daydreams said...

I loved your thoughts on this as well as Vesper's. I have gone through many emotions after learning of his death. I am almost 46 so most of my growing up years was like growing up with Michael and his siblings.

I am tired of people saying, "Enough already! I'm sick of hearing about MJ!" Personally, I say, "Keep on talking about him." When Elvis died, people didn't stop talking about him. In fact, they are still talking about him. MJ was a musical genius and deserves the recognition for that.

He was a very strange, eccentric person but as strange as he was, I see my dad and his sibings in him. It's as if that gentleness that MJ possessed was viewed as bad and evil.

I think the kids will be much better off with their grandma. She spent time with them so they are feeling comfortable around her. Plus, I'm sure she has hired staff to assist her as well. The bio mom shouldn't be given the opportunity at all.

~Kathryn~ said...

we forget that these 'stars' are HUMAN beings with feelings and lives too

What a lovely post

AD said...

goodness gracious!
what a remarkable post :)

truly that was GREAT!

Nostalgic Human

Marja said...

Very good Yes being succesfull is not a recipe for happiness. Poor Micheal had many mental health problems

latree said...

very nice posting. wow, now it's getting more clear to me, that becoming famous is such a heavy weight!

Dee Martin said...

Great post on Michael the person!

The Dating Game

Fledgling Poet said...

What a beautiful post about Michael...he was such a sensitive soul, under constant scrutiny and attack by so many. I am surprised at how affected I've been by his death...he may be gone, but it's nice that his music will live on forever.

2cats said...

You asked what our memory of Michael Jackson is, I remember him singing as a child. And not liking it. Just not my kind of music. My other memory of him is him holding child out the window of a building.
I do not share your opinion of him. I believe that fans have made him a martyr. He may have been a musical genius, I don't know. His mental illness overshadowed everything else for me. I think that the fans have forgotten about the dark side of him.

ThomG said...

A wonderful exploration on the cult of fame.


Tammie Lee said...

I can not imagine living under the scrutiny of millions, I can imagine being shy and sensitive. You bring very good points to light. I sense it is best not to judge another. The old adage, 'don't judge another until you have walked in their shoes' rings huge here.

Brooke said...

Thank you. You are definitely a writer's writer.

You should submit this for publication. It brought tears to my eyes.