Saturday, June 27, 2009

I remember a time...

I remember when I was allowed to stay up late to watch the Motown 25th anniversary on television. Michael Jackson took to the stage performing what my brother and I subsequently tried to master later that evening (and for many months on) in the kitchen, on the patio, in the living room - the moonwalk.

I remember being glued to MTV to see the premier of the Thriller video. I maintained interest throughout the entire video/mini movie drama despite it being almost 14 minutes long, which was about 8 minutes beyond my normal quotient for attention span at that age.

I remember being mildly impressed (too cool at the time to be fully impressed, of course) of my little brother's ability to perfectly replicate MJ's famous moves from the Billy Jean and Beat It videos, in his red MJ jacket and diamond glove. (He'd kill me if he knew I was putting this up on the blog; fortunately I'm pretty sure none of his friends read this.)

I remember when MJ & Lionel Richie teamed up to do Man In the Mirror and how it was the first time in my youth that I really noticed a musician using his celebrity to garner attention for philanthropy and how it was hard to overlook that underneath the red leather, white glove and surgical attempts to be physically perfect, there was an endearing person.

I remember going to my first big stadium concert to see Michael Jackson on his Pepsi Tour in 1988. I wore a striped denim dress and carried my mint green Esprit bag. I remember because this was a big day.

I remember watching the Smooth Criminal video for the first time and still, if I catch it on the TV I will undeniably stop whatever I'm doing to watch it.

I remember not the moment, but a time, when the largeness of Michael Jackson began to swallow him whole. When, in my opinion, all perspective was lost within his world and things started crumble around him as a result of bad decisions, poor health, and bad people. I do remember when Martin Bashir interviewed him for the "Living with Michael Jackson" documentary and being disgusted with the extent to which he went to manipulate, distort and clearly profit from the climate of the time, which was to tear Micheal Jackson to shreds. I remember feeling sorry for MJ; upset at all those who victimized him and upset for those he victimized.

I have never understood obsessions with celebrities. I couldn't even bring myself to go to the NBC studios for any of the celebrity morning shows the entire time I lived in NYC, and it was on my back step. But I do get pop culture. And more to the point of this entry, I get how pop culture, religion, family, friends, social circles and schools create the fabric that is our childhood. Easily I could have breezed past the passing of MJ - and I almost did. The truth is, I think I will always remember the moment I learned he died and that tells me there is significance to me. Those evenings dancing in the living room, trying to moonwalk and flick the leg a-la-Billy Jean or pass the coins a-la-Beat It...those are really fun childhood memories. And often I think about what memories Isabelle will grow up with that remain alive with her through the years. For me, Michael Jackson's music was a real part of the pop culture that shaped my childhood and I'm grateful it.

Who we are dancing to this week: Michael Jackson, Thriller -
"P.Y.T (Pretty Young Thing)"

2 comments: said...

Oh, so many things in this post ring true. I had a queen sized sheet of MJ in all white (including a white bow tie and the infamous glove) except for a yellow sweater verst ABOVE MY BED. And I had the puffy stickers all over my diary. I hadn't even started school yet. Still gives me chills when I hear kids respond to the question "What do you want to be when you grow up" with "I want to be famous." Be careful what you wish for.

Julie McRedmond said...

NBC aired the documentary last night and I had to turn it off. I was not sure what upset me more MJ or Martin but I could not watch it again.
You are so right that regardless of what became of MJ he was a part of our childhood, our dance steps, late night slumber parties and more. I wonder like you, who will be the MJ of the boys world. Michael Jackson was a true artist, one who moved (literally) more than one generation