This Is It.
Michael Jackson was a genius.
He was a HUGE part of my childhood and even though it’s been over half a year already since he exited the stage, it still hits me everytime I remember that he’s gone.
It’s very weird and very telling about our society that we feel as if we know celebrities. We’re proud of them when they do well as if they were our children or our best friends. We’re offended when they do or say something that lies outside the boundaries of our own moral or ethical code. We sometimes even write them letters when we feel they need support – even while knowing there is almost no chance they will ever actually lay eyes on it, something many of us don’t even do for our real families.
But it makes sense. For a lot of us, these faces were burned into our retinas, their voices rebounding in our eardrums since our earliest memories. Sometimes before. And like an ancestoral portrait hung for generations over the same fireplace in the house of your youth, you feel a real, tangible connection with the person depicted there, even if you’ve never met – no matter how wide the gap of time and space between you.
And so it is with Michael Jackson and me. I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve not suffered a lot of loss in my family. I’ve been spared that agony so far. But on that afternoon of June 25th, 2009, I cried.
There’s not enough room in this blog to cover how I feel…felt…no – FEEL – about Jackson as an artist, and there’s not enough patience or interest in the blogospere to read about it if I did. But I will say this: In my humble opinion, he was the greatest performer of his generation…perhaps the best of all time.
Seeing This is It was a revelation for me and, I suspect, the world; because although we’d all seen Michael Jackson the performer, Michael Jackson the philanthropist, Michael Jackson the midway attraction, the reculsive millionaire, the controversy magnet, the child star, the accused, the magician, the global icon…we’ve never seen Michael Jackson the craftsman.
Here was EmJay…WORKING. Not just setting the gears of his show in motion, but actually forging them. Forming a vision. Seeing it through. And, in what was the most telling aspect of the film for me, struggling to communicate that vision to the crew he needed to make it all happen. Struggling. Not because the crew was inept, untalented or complacent…sturggling because he simply didn’t think like the rest of us. Watching him trying to tell Kenny Ortega that the volume on his earpiece was too loud was like watching someone try to describe color to a blind man. In that moment, I felt like I was given a missing peice to my self-crafted Michael Jackson jigsaw puzzle. That scene, to me, is the cypher. The key to understanding the life of a man whose expereinces were so far removed from anything any of us can possibly fathom that we may as well be from two different planets.
Maybe, in the end, we were.
This is It will released on DVD tomorrow. If you are or ever were a Michael Jackson fan, if you are a struggling artist or musician, if you are a misunderstood perfectionist, hardworking craftsman or if you’re just plain curious about the man, I couldn’t more highly reccomend adding this film to your collection. It’s a fitting tribute, not just to one of the most consequential artists of all time, but to the most important elements of his career, the thing that drove him forward through the process of creation and performance and ultimately, boyond. It’s a tribute to you. This concert was to be his final gift to his fans. And in the end, it was.
Born to amuse, to inspire, to delight
Here one day, gone one night.
Like a sunset dying with the rising of the moon
Gone too soon.
Gone too soon.
Long live the king.