Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Man (Boy) in the Mirror!


In the early nighties when I was growing up sans FM, sans satellite television and sans gossip tabloids, western music meant just two names to me: Madonna and Michael Jackson, both around the same age, both in the prime of their careers and both legends in their own way! They made as much news for their music as they did for their extra-musical activities, and as kids we eagerly imbibed as much of it as we could access, at times going to extreme lengths just to get a glimpse of that fantastic dreamland (Neverland being only a miniscule part of it) and living vicariously through it. I remember being confused for a long time about who Michael Jackson exactly is: I mean, the very basics, I mean, a man or a woman, I mean black or white! His plastic surgeries, his antiques, his personal life- none of it survived the media onslaught, none of it was handled with dignified silence and none of it made it any easier for him. Most of it just added colour to his already colourful personality as his face became whiter, his appearance ghastlier. For somebody who had been in the limelight ever since he was five, for somebody who had sold his right to privacy for his right to fame, for somebody who had thrived in the media glare, he was still the kid who craved for attention and yet didn’t know how to handle it. While the world worshipped him, while the youth imitated him and while the women fantasized about him, he himself was an insecure, vulnerable and largely misunderstood child lost in the big bad world. From multiple surgeries to multiple marriages and fatherhood, from having the world at his feet to seeing it disappear, from being one of the richest entertainers in the history to a pauper reduced to abject poverty, he had seen it all. Scarred forever as a victim of child abuse, he found solace in the company of a pet chimpanzee, and later in teenaged boys in his very own version of Disney land. Marred by allegations of paedophilia, he found comfort and romance in the arms of women who were more of a caregiver rather than an arm candy to the “King of Pop”.

So while Michael continued to live life as a child trapped in a grown man’s body, he also continued to make impeccable music which took the world by storm. From Thriller, to Bad, to Dangerous, to HIStory, to Invincible, he was unparalleled as an artist. While I watched his moonwalk moves in awestruck wonder, tapped to the beat of “Beat it” and “Billy Jean”, laughed at the irony of “Black or White”, and stood up in reverence to “Heal the world” and “The Earth Song”, I couldn’t help wondering how this supremely gifted person with his supremely good intentions (he holds the record for contributing to the most number of charities by an entertainer) can so royally screw up his life!

He may be the media’s favourite bashing boy¸ he may be the crook’s easiest target, he may be the greatest anti hero of this century, he may have lived alone and died alone, but he is definitely the little kid who never grew up, the pop icon who lost his way to stardom, the celebrity who never really celebrated his success!

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