A Public Service Announcement! ;)

A Public Service Announcement! ;)

Friday, June 26, 2009

RIP Michael Jackson

Part of growing up is realizing that if you live the normal allotment of years designated for your demographic, your lifeline is overlapping many people's who have less time remaining on earth than you do. This means, of course, coming to the invariable recognition that you will live to see many of your heroes or favorite people die.

I think of Johnny Carson, for example, who, when I was very young and would sneak into our living room to turn on TV way past bedtime, I never thought would pass on, let alone retire. Stan Lee most likely doesn't have that many decades left in him either, and most-likely I'll read Chris Claremont's obituary one day. And, if nature takes its usual course, I'll weep at my parents' funerals sometime in the future.

Being a fan of cartoons and comics offers one some isolation from this phenomenon. It will take massive cultural changes for Superman to disappear completely. Same for Mickey Mouse or Spider-Man. In fact, they may be immortal, or at least able to sustain some sort of relevance and permanence so long as there are humans around.

There certainly seemed to be time when a lot of us thought Michael Jackson would live forever. Now, he's dead at 50, and it doesn't seem too shocking that he's passed or passed so young. Unfortunate, but not world-shaking. For what it is worth, I was a huge MJ fan in the 80s and 90s and have continued to love his music for the nostalgia factors and also for how innovative it was, especially when it integrated visual aspects via music videos, for its time. So often it was electric, exciting, cutting-edge. For around two decades, when Michael reinvented himself, he took the rest of pop music with him.

Perhaps as we come to grips with the realities of his passing, we'll see that he has a comic booky type of permanence as well. His legacy certainly seems epic in scale, larger than life, much like a super-hero book. He did survive getting caught on fire. He was amazingly amorphous. He moved and dressed in fantastic ways few people could attempt. He always seemed a little beyond us, if not super-human in our eyes, something extra than ordinary.

Maybe we'll remember what made him great and special to the point of dampening all that made him strange to us. Time seems to treat fame more ephemerally than ever, especially for the truly talented, paradoxically, but perhaps Michael's best attributes will give him a reprieve from fading fast from our collective consciousness. He did appear in that Captain EO promotional comic, after all, as an intergalactic spaceship leader set on saving the universe one song and dance at a time.

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