Friday, June 26, 2009

On the Passing of a Great Man of Mystery, Michael Jackson
by Persia Walker

This was not the entry I planned for today. Never once would I have imagined that I would be writing my entry, while still struggling to accept the death of Michael Jackson, one of our greatest men of mystery.

His death is a stunning blow. Deep in my mind and heart, this man has been a constant companion. His music has accompanied me at every step of my life. I was a child when he was a child. I was a teenager when he was a teenager, and so on. So many of his songs mark specific memories and rites of passages. I feel as though I have lost someone very dear, very precious, and I wonder, oddly enough, if I could have done more to let him know that while he was still with us.

How, you ask?

Well, I was one of those whose faith wavered when Jackson was accused of molestation. I didn't believe the accusers for a minute -- found them totally untrustworthy -- but I allowed their charges to taint my image of him. It was enough to make me narrow my eyes and wonder. And now I feel that the scorn, the embarrassment, the shame and humiliation heaped on him, it all broke his heart. Then there were the years in exile overseas, the financial troubles, and most recently the pressure to make a comeback, to at 50 years old prove himself all over again: it all took its toll.

Why didn't I write him a note to say I believed in him? Not that I believe he would have gotten it, but one never knows. If a significant number of the millions now grieving for him had shown support, would it have eased his stress, his humiliation? I don't know. But in that one small way to show support, I wish I had tried.

(Of course, that thought leads to another, a minor segue, if you will. How many of us stand by those we admire when things go wrong? How many of us look the other way and wait for the verdict before choosing which side to support? Would it be harsh to wonder how many of those lamenting Jackson now wouldn't give him the time of day during his troubles?)

As a crime writer, one probes the psychology of the accused, both the innocent and the guilty. For all of his legendary business acumen, Jackson was naive, very naive. He trusted when he should have been suspicious, as with the reporter who twisted Jackson's televised comments and laid the groundwork for the singer's subsequent arrest and trial. And he was perhaps suspicious toward those he should have trusted. It was this combination of musical wizardry, business smarts, naivete and personal vulnerability that made Jackson so mysterious, so endearing, and so gripping a figure.

For a mystery writer, he is a fascinating character. An innocent man whose career was decimated by false charges. A towering talent who withdrew into seclusion, who faced constant criticism when he intermittently emerged, but who in the end found the courage to launch an Olympian struggle for new recognition. A comeback. Fifty concerts over the course of the next year. It would have been incredible.

Jackson's death of an apparent heart attack was as elegant and precise as his music and dance moves. In death, as in life, he exited the stage with a stunning final act that left us dazzled by what he had given us and hungry for more.

To critics, he was the quicksilver puzzle to whom they never got the key.

To others, he was simply irreplaceable.

God bless you, Michael. We will truly miss you.


Eric said...

A great article on Michael Jackson. It echoes a number of sentiments that I felt as being a fan of his music and then hearing all of the accusations. But, as we hear his music being played now and watch his videos, his talent as an entertainer is remarkable. It is with regret and with joy to hear his music and see his dancing again on the playlists again.

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