Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Goodbye, Joker

WHEN I heard that Michael Jackson died, I thought of that white mask and couldn’t summon any feeling.

When I heard that the King of Pop was 50 when he died, I had to look for the papers to verify what I heard on TV

I’m not a fan, finding him more grotesque in his life—or the bits of it splashed across tabloid pages—than in his “Thriller” made-for-TV video (MTV).

Yet few things can get me lost in the past as the high, clear and dulcet tones of the young Michael of the Jackson 5 singing “Give Love on Christmas Day,” “Ben” and “One Day in Your Life.”

Few things make me cringe as the kitsch of “We are the World” and the sanctimoniousness of “Heal the World.”

His early songs impressed on me the vulnerability and power of innocence.

Yet his strutting and crotch-grabbing, that ludicrous metallic make-believe costume, and notoriety from allegations of sexually inappropriate behavior with boys make me associate that kabuki-white mask with the deviousness of pedophilia.

Knowing how he was terrorized at a very young age by a sadistic and controlling father, remembering how he dangled his infant son over a balcony, reading about his Neverland ranch that drew first the children to its toys, rides and animals and later, dubious sleepovers—he deserved the media moniker of “King of Pop” because, more than other newsmakers, he morphed stories into a kind of hyperreality composed of versions that alluded to but never represented the truth.

Being more shocked that he was 50 when he died than by his dying brings to me the reason why I don’t share in the world’s mourning: enamored with the Joker of the tabloids, I thought the music ended long before it could be despoiled by age and decay. 09173226131

* Published first in Sun.Star Cebu's "Matamata" column in its June 29, 2009 issue


Patty said...

Hello, madame! :)

You may be the first person I know of who shares the same sentiments as I have -- which is a relief, because I was starting to think I might be alone in this (especially with, you know, friends like Micah A.).

The news coverage is extensive, and yet I, quoting you, do not share in the world's mourning. For the most part I only associate him with his appearance and the scandals surrounding him these past few years and with that, I can't help but think it's not that much of a loss. Then again, possibly I am too young to understand his greatness in the field of music so it's really me who's missing out on a lot.

I'm more amused with his image in the media though. Back when he had all these issues, the pedophilia, the baby thing, there was little sympathy with him. Now he is gone, people are like, "He's gone! I'm a really big fan!" and I can't help but go, "Really. Since when?" Death sure is a funny thing, but I guess that's really how it works, suddenly putting people on a pedestal. But I guess in a way, it's good he was remembered for the best things because he was an influential figure in music, and I don't think any scandal, or any aspect of his appearance could take that from him.

Just wanted to share my thoughts. Your entry really compelled me to do so. :)

- Patty

Anonymous said...

sounds NCC-ish

Mayette Q. Tabada said...

Hi, anonymous, salamat for leaving a comment. What does NCC-ish mean? :-)

Mayette Q. Tabada said...

Hi, Patty

Salamat for sharing your thoughts. I distinctly remember commenting earlier to your reflection; I don't know that comment is not posted here. I'm ambivalent about the cult of celebrity but wonder how much my attitude to it is party shaped by the media chimera surrounding newsmakers. All the best!