Saturday, June 27, 2009

On Michael Jackson

So, another one of a multitude of posts about the King of Pop.
I don't feel the same grief as many people around me, but it does feel..odd.

I didn't grow up during the height of Michael's fame; I never experienced the waiting for one of his albums, never got to think of going to one of his concerts, and now I obviously never will. I was fourteen in 2003, and watched the trial incomprehendingly. I'll never know if he was guilty or not; it's not up to me to say. I believe...I don't know what I believe on that count, but I'm not sure he was guilty, as I'm not sure he was innocent. What I am sure of is that he was profoundly disturbed, and needed help, and never got it.
I see people complaining a lot that these issues have been glossed over in the wake of his death, while others are going on about how he wasn't convicted so he must be innocent; now the second claim ignores what the justice system actually is, and I've not been seeing much evidence of the first, myself, but then I also find it impossible to not think of the darker sides of his life, whatever really happened. I'm not sure he was a child molester; I'll never be sure, I think, unless something comes up in the next few weeks, which is quite possible. But I'm fairly sure he had some extremely inappropriate attitudes which could've been, I really don't want to go there. Suffice to say I'm not trying to erase all the bad-because there was a lot of bad-, but I'm also not going to be part of the people shouting "pedophile" like it's going out of fashion, although I can understand the furore at the perception of a child-molester "getting away with it". I don't know, I really don't know.

But he still was an important feature in my life.

You see, i grew up in France, in an english-speaking household, with an odd mix of cultures that's up to this day impossible for me to define. My family observes very few traditions; I can think of two indiscutable ones, a swedish Christmas eve smorgasbord at my grandmother's, and an English Christmas at my house, with no presents until after lunch and roast and christmas pudding and the like. My mother only cooks traditionally english food on such occasions, and other than that I think we were more brought up according to French usages than English ones, but I don't really know. The main difference I had with my friends growing up was the language and the fact that they all had a lot of relatives living nearby; I often envied my best friend's family reunions, while she still actively avoids them.

So the main way I related to my roots, up until I turned fifteen and first went to Scotland without my parents, was through books, music, and films. I turned fifteen in 2004; we'd had internet for years, but we only got broadband in 2006, so before that watching stuff online was nigh impossible, and we didn't yet have english-language channels, so most of the movies I saw were french-dubbed; it took me ages to get over watching Friends in English, for instance. Books on the other hand were in no short supply, and to this day i read mainly in English.

But music was something else.

When I was little, even in France(I say "even" because as a child it seemed like i was so very far from everything I'd known before) everyone knew Michael Jackson. His songs came on at every party; they still do. He was ubiquitous, he was the King of Pop. My dad actually used to live with one of his choreographers in the seventies in LA, of all the odd occurrences.

It's a very odd thing, how I relate to his music although it's in no way of my generation; an odd thing to watch my brother, who's only three years younger than I am and yet to who MJ's death is just a big thing for old people. But then my brother was always very much more French than I was...
I can't hear a song of his without it bringing back memories of my childhood; happy memories. And I can't listen to I want You Back without being sent right back to the Best Friend's old car, two years ago, when we drove from here through northern Italy, all the way from here to Venice and back, with her old CD player in the back of the car and that song blasting out from a 70's compilation CD. Good times.

Him, Elvis, Kurt Cobain-they were what I grew up with, they were what made me stop and think "hey, I'm part of this culture too". I watched his (old by then) videos on MTV, watched the new ones when they came out in '01. I taped Kurt's last live performance when it came on TV in 2004. But Kurt was more during my angsty teen phase, unsurprisingly enough; Michael Jackson was my childhood. Through his music, a part of me stayed connected to who I was, even when I was hiding the fact I spoke English from everyone around me and tried to be as French as i could.
And it made me happy, and made me dance, and it still does; and for these things I can thank him, and hope he rests in peace, and leave the darker aspects of his life well alone, while hoping those around him can have a peaceful life.

(Edit : Holy Shit, he actually made the intertubes crash.Insane.And there's not a blog or website that I've yet seen that doesn't mention his death)

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