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WILLIAMS: Goodbye, Michael
Many of us grew up as huge fans and were consistently affected by his music and persona for much of our lives.
Hearing the news of his shocking death has quickly reminded us of our own mortality and ultimate death. The world was absolutely crushed when the reality set in that he was gone too soon and would never return. This will deeply resonate within the now seemingly hollow spot Michael Jackson left in the hearts of cult global followers who grew up with the pop star turned tragic figure, one that even the masterful craftsmanship of Shakespeare couldn’t create.
Many of us are well versed in his trials and tribulations but continued having empathy and downright pity for him as we continued to see him slide into depression and plain weirdness. Many can tell the story of befriending his posters in our rooms, eating breakfast with him on our cereal boxes, driving while listening to him on our radios to work, even masterminding plans to find ways into his concerts. Everywhere you looked, Michael Jackson made cultural imprints as he easily crossed genres. It is without question there was deep love and affection for him from sea to shining sea.
Having communicated with Mr. Jackson during the furnace of his trials, I really began to see that this superstar was only a man. What came across? A man who reached great heights and had his childhood stolen from him; he was skeptical of people because he was oftentimes exploited. He was clearly twisted and warped. I had to wonder who was responsible for this mess. Yet through his emotional underdevelopment, he remained sincere, humbled by stardom, and a man you wouldn’t be afraid to call brother and friend.
Many of us were so moved by his persona that we were purchasing tickets to his performance in London next month, in hopes to have flashbacks of his great dance moves, his musical hits for the ages, and masterful artistry. His artistic style and impression on the pop world is not one that will be easily forgotten, as the generations to come will always know of the king of pop.
His enormous impact sent shockwaves throughout the nation. When he performed with the Jackson 5, he charmed audiences of all skin colors and backgrounds. Being the smallest member of the group, with the presence of a superstar, audiences around the world adopted him as their own. He became America’s adorable black boy whom parents wouldn’t be afraid to have their daughters screaming at hysterically at his concerts. For many white Americans, Michael Jackson was safe, with no clear imminent danger in sight.
Michael Jackson’s impact only increased when he teamed up with Quincy Jones in the late ‘70s through late ‘80s. At this time it was well known who Michael Jackson was, however, he still had to face resistance in the mainstream due to his skin color in mediums such as MTV. Yet once again he proved triumphant, and his music was superior entertainment.
This greatly impacted black America, both artist and the general population. Michael Jackson was not only a black artist, but he was delivering black music in an unthreatening way. Venues across the nation that traditionally shut out other black artists opened up to him. His presence allowed other black artists to ride on his coattails for success in their music careers.
Although Michael Jackson lived a life of great success, it was filled with just as much tragedy. His trials were held out in display for all of America to see. It was also then that it became apparent that he is a man who suffered deeply from his success.
He didn’t see anything wrong with sleeping with little boys in the same bed. He was clearly yearning for his childhood days again.
His mind was warped and underdeveloped; clearly unable to make culturally acceptable decisions. He was so distraught that he even showed up to court in his pajamas.
The pressures of life ensnarled him. This is a man whose lavish spending put him at roughly $500 million in debt. At one point he was said to be spending 20 to 30 million more than he was making. All one had to do is look at his Neverland and see how lavish his tastes really were. Anything he saw and wanted he bought.
However, not all of his spending was reckless. In 1985 he paid $47.5 million for the copyright of a book of songs written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Then in 1988 he purchased Neverland for $14.6 million. Currently, it is being estimated that Michael Jackson’s assets are worth more than $1 billion. All of a sudden his enormous debts don’t look so bad after all. Also, his concert series that was coming up in London was thought to be able to square him away on his debts.
His financial burdens were not the only ones he faced as he was being sued on all sides, abusing prescription drugs, and constantly pressured to return on tour — this proved to be too much. Who could ever forget the transformation of his face, string of marriages or oxygen tank that would make him forever young, and God knows what else. But he was then and always will be our Michael.
The dynamism of Michael Jackson can never be forgotten. His contribution to the world of music and entertainment will become big and little screen movies, documentaries, books and plays for generations to come. Like Arthur of Camelot, his legend will never die.
“The Armstrong Williams Show” is broadcast weeknights on XM Satellite’s Power 169 channel from 9 to 10 p.m.
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