Saturday, June 27, 2009

The One Where I Have Nothing To Say

This is going to sound cold and unfeeling, but when I heard Michael Jackson died on Thursday, I didn't even flinch. As I left my apartment to head to the grocery store, I saw the posted articles about his heart attack on Facebook. I didn't blink twice. I just thought, "Hmmm, not good," and left. At the checkout counter, the person ringing me up said to his co-worker in the next aisle, "Did you hear? Michael Jackson's dead. It was on the news." I didn't look up in shock, horror, or even surprise. Possibly because he didn't relate this information with much concern on his own part. But I came back, and went about my day as if nothing happened. Watched an episode of Bones. So You Think You Can Dance did a short tribute at the beginning of the show. During the commercial breaks, I looked it up, to make sure it was true. All the blogs had pictures up with captions/headings like "In Remembrance"; notably, most of them were photos of him when he still had dark skin and an afro. Only then was it true - he had died. It was sad. But not sad in a 9/11 tragic sort of way. Just sad in the regular vein of someone dying. Not an event of significant gravity.

I almost feel like I should be more concerned though. It's weird when I think about it: for someone who loves music as much as I claim to, Michael Jackson didn't have that much of an influence on me. Indirectly, he's much a part of my interests as everyone and everything that I feel has had some significant influence on me was inspired by him. But directly? Not so much. I'm a late eighties baby. By the time I started getting interested in pop music, (which was pretty late since my parents refused to let us kids watch any sort of music television), he'd already put out the History album. "Black or White" was my introduction to Michael, his talent and his genius. The next significant memory of his music was the music video for "Childhood" which was a special feature on the Free Willy 2 VHS (I loved those movies when I was a kid.), and my attempts to fill in the backstory to the "Smooth Criminal" video. I listened to the History album and caught up on what was by now common knowledge. And then Michael took a backseat. I didn't grow up with his music in my ears because I grew up during his long hiatus from music. My older siblings jammed Biggie and Boyz II Men and a little Jay-Z, but no Michael. And Invincible, in my opinion, couldn't hold a candle to his old work. So I couldn't really relate when I saw pictures of people crying, and when my dancer friend called me and talked to me about how she couldn't believe it, and she wished it wasn't true, and tagged me in a Facebook note where she described how MJ impacted her life. It didn't really mean all that much to me.

His passing is sad, I won't deny. I've been listening to his music since yesterday and reminding myself of what the world lost by his passing. But he'd already given us a lot of himself: you could even say he gave too much. And he lived a long life - I unfortunately know a lot of people who didn't even make it to 20, or 15. People die every day. A 16 year old girl was gunned down in Iran while out watching the election protests. I search "13 year old black model" trying to find out what's up with Gerren Taylor these days, and Google comes up with like 5 news articles of young black kids either shooting someone or getting shot. Life is short, life is precious, but I get that already. Michael's death isn't so much a reminder of that as it is another event in the long chain of events that make up the human experience and the nightly news roundup.

But I'm left here wondering why I'm writing a music blog if the biggest influence in pop music today dies and I don't really have anything to say about it at the end of four paragraphs apart from "It's sad." Maybe there's something more to my love for music than just the links it can create to my memories and my childhood. Maybe the world's so f-ed up that feeling sad about the death of someone I didn't know seems pointless, and maybe even trite. Maybe, in the grand scheme of things, my exam on Thursday is more important than Michael Jackson. (Right now, at least.) Or maybe it's just sad, and nothing more. I will say this, though - if his passing makes me write a long blog post when I have a test in 5 days, it has to be of some sort of significance.

4 comments:

  1. Say what you will, I grew up wanting to marry [Black] Michael Jackson. Been watching his videos too. It really is too bad.

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  2. I wasn't saddened by his death either but I think that's just because I wasn't a fan of his music. I've never been a MJ fan because I always thought he was such a weirdo. My first thoughts were of his poor kids. When I was in high school my favorite singer Selena was killed and I remember mourning her death and crying all night. It took me years to be able to see the movie about her life. I feel bad for his family seeing Janet on the BET awards was really sad. But his dad was sitting there smiling the whole night like nothing ever happened. Is he in shock? I don't know but that was a little creepy.

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  3. Personally, I appreciate your frankness. I felt bad, not because I was a big MJ fan (though my granny insisted that their wedding certificate was in a 'potmanto'), but because the loss of any life is saddening.

    Anyway, there is no question that his music will not be forgotten. I wish his family and loved ones the best.

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