We can’t figure out who he really was because, though we scramble for tidbits of highly personal information about celebrities, we’re not really interested in who they are. We can’t figure out who he really was because everything about celebrity forces the construction of a public personna that not only obfuscates, hides and protects but that also seeks to sell itself, sell “the” mask of the self, seduce as many people as possible and pander to the more base instincts of human beings and consumer culture. Michael Jackson created a man who couldn’t be known and who, most likely, could not know himself. Almost everyone in his life, including his fans, collaborated. And are still collaborating. And most likely always will. At this point there is no other choice. He has affected us and the world we live in whether we acknowledge that fact or not. He is part of the lives of people who don’t even like his music unless they are dead to the world. We will talk for a bit about Michael and then we will stop and as part of that conversation we will continually ask why we are talking about him so much. Most of the talk centres around that question: who was Michael Jackson? We can never answer that question, finally, about anyone. But the more we gather about a person like Michael, the less we know.
And yet. In his music, his voice, his videos, his absolutely magical dancing body and his art, creativity and self-expression remain. I remember it. I choose to remember those glimmers of joy, those cries of the heart, those gestures that reflected us to ourselves and broke out from time to time into this fragmented fallen world so alienated from itself that that it cannot begin to answer, who? Whoever Michael Jackson was, it’s most likely that he was fully consumed. For a little while longer, we’ll feed on his death. Then there will be the music and the moves and what we find there …
Have a look at these:
Michael Jackson: Of Mortal Coils and Music by Natalia Antonova @GlobalComment
Michael Jackson: Freak Like Me by Richard Kim @TheNation