His distance made him an enigma: he was post-racial before anyone knew it; he was a vain, tragic hero; he suffered for our adoration. Or so we like to tell ourselves. Maybe he was just terminally lonely, maybe he actually was as ill as he claimed. But what is the allure of this narrative that we--fans, consumers, the media, American culture, etc--somehow destroyed Michael? What anxieties do we displace by projecting them onto his troubled face? I always think back to the interrogation scene from Three Kings. "What is the problem with Michael Jackson?" an Iraqi soldier asks a wayward American. "Your country make him chop up his face." He did it to himself, the American protests, but his interrogator insists: "Michael Jackson is pop king of sick fucking country." Maybe it is a "sick fucking country." Maybe the idea of pop transcendence is deeply flawed. But we are truly the sick ones if we didn't already know this, if we needed Michael Jackson to be our martyr.
During an interview with Barbara Walters, holding hands with then-wife Presley, Jackson mentioned that his father had sometimes scared him so badly that he regurgitated into his mouth. The childhood was horrific, in a way that would have left most people scarred. Jackson's response was apparently to seek a childhood he never had - but doing so as a grown man can only mean spending your life playing a part, even if you no longer know you're doing it.
It was sad to see. The essence of Michael Jackson as an actual human being was so elusive that it was especially flabbergasting to hear him, when making a public cri de coeur against his prosecution for child molestation, actually referring to something as immediate as an examination of his penis. More typical was his appearance on an early episode of the Simpsons - in the guise of an obese white man -- and uncredited. Concealment as always, not really there or of this world, albeit in the world spotlight.
Ray Lewis may well be an accessory to a man's murder. But when I watch him run up and down field on Sunday, it sparks something in me. Woody Allen wooed his wife's adopted daughter, and may well be a child molester. But I think Bananas makes me laugh. Mike Tyson is, among other things, a convicted rapist. But I had not lived until I saw him demolish Trevor Berbick. And so on...
I guess I could peel these people out my life. I guess I could stop seperating art from men. Regrettably, I think, I wouldn't be left with much art worth admiring. Sometimes awful people, do beautiful things. One doesn't cancel the other. And mourning the loss of human life, does not excuse the sins of that life.
My take here.