Oh how foolish of me… just days after I dared to suggest that only the death of Margaret Thatcher could elicit waves of grief and jokes off pops Jacko to prove me wrong. And yet despite the fact that one of the most famous people in the world has died, it’s notable that no one seems truly surprised. It almost seems more shocking that he made it this far.
Watching the inevitable ‘tribute’ videos on TV this morning and seeing him slowly transform over the decades, Mrs Custard made the point that the real Michael Jackson has effectively been dead since 1985. The chronological run of film clips just doesn’t make sense by the time you get to Bad. It’s like when they replace actors in soaps but try and convince you it’s the same person. You go along with it but it never feels right.
Whatever his earlier achievements his paranoia, ego and generally vulgar behaviour made Michael Jackson impossible to love for over twenty years. His self-aggrandising was never better illustrated than during his performance of Earth Song at the 1996 Brit Awards, a routine which saw him cure sick children, bless a rabbi and then stand like a crucifix bathed in white light whilst children representing all the races of the world hugged him and touched the hem of his cloak. What else could Jarvis Cocker do other than shake his arse in the face of such monstrous self-delusion?
I doubt that Jackson was a bad person, just a mentally unstable and tragic one surrounded by people who didn’t have the bottle to refuse him anything. It’s sad that he died, of course, but proof really that what goes around comes around. There will be no final redemption for him – his fans will become more hysterically devoted and his detractors will continue to put more emphasis on Wacko than Jacko. Neither will be persuaded that they are wrong. In the meantime, things roll on and one can only hope that any parents out there pushing their kids towards the media glare reflect on yet another life messed up before they decide if it’s really, truly worth it.