I spent the day yesterday watching CNN coverage of the Michael Jackson memorial service. That sentence alone indicates how huge of a star this man was. His memorial service shut down CNN for hours - 3 hours free of commercial interruption. It will surely go down in history as the most watched television event (ranking with the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana). I was so touched by yesterday's events that I had to take a moment to reflect on what MJ meant to me and how he influenced my life. I've been pondering these thoughts since his death and am finally able to share (although I still don't think I've fully processed what he means to me).
On yesterday, Mr. Berry Gordy said that at 10 years old, Michael wanted to be the greatest entertainer that ever lived. He went on to say how dedicated MJ became with being the best. He said even though he was just a child he worked extremely hard to master his craft. That stuck out to me as one of the most prolific things said during the entire service. This man dedicated his life from age 10 to entertaining the world and the world loved his talent. He was the most famous person of my lifetime - since I was old enough to remember there has been Michael Jackson music in the soundtrack of my life. I remember it being a mini event and going over to my aunt's house to watch the Thriller video. I remember being older and gathering around the TV w/friends for the Remember the Time video premiere. When I think of what Michael's life meant, I'll always remember him as the hardest worker ever. I'll remember he was a person with a dream in his heart since he was a child that went all in to achieve his dream. If that little boy from Gary, Indiana can achieve the vision he held in his heart at age 10, can't we all achieve what desires we have? (Obviously we won't all become the King of Pop, but I'd venture to say that isn't the majority of folks true desire.) His life also reminds me that sometimes when you get what you set out to get, it might not be as wonderful as you'd like it to be.
Here's another side of what I learned from MJ's life and this one is a little tougher to put out there because I do not want to believe it to be so (although I know it is). MJ's troubles thought me that if you are VERY different and do things that the majority doesn't condone you will be outcast. Additionally, no matter how much good you do, if you display these differences and stand by them, public opinion will pick you apart. I'm not condoning anything MJ was accused of - child abuse in any form is intolerable. But I never really believed in my heart that he was guilty. My feelings aside, a court of law found him not guilty. However, so many people still think he was (someone wrote on my FB page one day that just because he was acquitted doesn't mean he was innocent ... actually it is supposed to but they were right it doesn't because the ruling of the court of public opinion had already made their ruling of guilty). I spent three years slaving in law school and we were taught to believe that the court system is the highest law in the land - what they rule goes. MJ's life showed so clearly that is not always true. If you are found innocent and the majority of people believe you are guilty, you are still guilty in America and that sucks. When he died, even though he entertained the world for his entire life, a great many people think he was a pervert, freak, weirdo, and a host of other words that were thrown out over the last week. I'm just so glad I get to remember the musician, the artist, the great dancer, the prankster shown in behind the scenes clips, the giver, the most original ... as Mr. Gordy summed it up, THE GREATEST ENTERTAINER THAT EVER LIVED.
I bid Michael Jackson a fond farewell today. It is my sincere hope that his good days outweighed his bad and he is remembered for all his contributions to the world. I'll play his music forever in the soundtrack of my life and encourage everyone to find at least one of his songs that you can keep alive as well.
R.I.P. Mr. Jackson - I truly loved you.