THE DAY MICHAEL JACKSON RETIRED
Well, he never did, at least that was how he wanted it to be. He wanted something theatrical, something dramatic but more realistic. He could die of drug overdose. That was the closest and sanest. Dying through accident as in being shot like John Lennon is too morbid or dying like George Harrison with malignant brain tumor is likewise horrifying. Dying like Jim Morrison or Jimmy Hendrix, the likes of Janis Joplin through drug overdose is most likely mainstream. The problem however is that Michael Jackson or MJ is never intro drugs, not the opiate kind but in a way through prescriptive ones as pain relievers. MJ’s routine practice for every song was too exhaustive unless one is an athlete. MJ was the vocal kind and less of the physical. If at all there was dance component in his repertoire, it was a fearful habit imposed on him by his cruel father during their practice session as a toddler and carried psychologically up to the present.
I am very familiar with the psychology of MJ not because I am a fan but we belonged under one generation. I virtually grew up listening to his music from the time he began his musical career up to the time he declared to fold up at the age of 50. His melody was all youthful and it would sound stale, if not funny if sung by a person more than half a century old. He failed to be a Peter Pan although he tried hard to be one, frolicking with children, constructing the Neverland on his vast ranch indicated such spirited fixation. But scandals broke making him a villain out rightly. He was charged for child molestation and media sensationalized everything from suspicion of his sexual state up to his gender preference. His estate and fortune, the main target actually of complaints, suffered and he easily gave up the luxury. He would rather be bankrupt than infamous.
His signature song “Give love on Christmas Day” was virtually a holiday anthem for the Christian world. The movie theme song “Ben” was of course my personal favorite, not because of the Rat in the film but because it was my nickname. MJ led all legendary musicians and singers to render “We are the World” and spearheaded the crusade through a song “Heal the World.” MJ transcended his genius from a mere musical wizard to a great global artist. At a time when songs were becoming stale and easily tuned, he introduced “Billie Jean” and then “Beat it.” Not long after, he led in reinventing songs through video clips in “Thriller.” MJ became the man of the hour, saving the music industry from crass commercialism and redundancy. He made music in its most intrinsic expression from pop, disco and MTV, to the most sophisticated medium; it was the apex of his virtuosity.
I strongly believe that MJ contrived a scenario where he will fade from the environment where he is its luminous denizen. As a child, he never knew what privacy is. He never knew the excitement of loneliness, of being ordinary, of being just a commonplace. He could just picture it through news and his travels. He may have dedicated some of his songs on love and simplicity but he was out of sync when it comes to these exposures. Retiring however means to be badgered and embarrassed at times respected but in some respects insulted. He has reached the top he might as well fade from it. As the saying goes “go down the stage while the audience is still clapping.” It is not a simple retirement that he needed; it must be something like dying, sort of something permanent since he had offered so much already. His later acts may only entitle him to devalue himself through intrigues and other inconsistencies of human follies.
After all, his box office records in the music industry could no longer be toppled down nor duplicated. He can die anytime. And that was what he conducted that “fateful” day of June 25, 2009. He was half a century old. From a safe distance, he could see how the world would respond to his “death.” Given his competence in theater and all its technical effects, he can project an illusion. Once he succeeded, he can reenter the world as an ordinary person, simplicity written everywhere he intends to proceed, no hassles, no troubles, no paparazzi. Even Google counts his age up to the present knowing that he is still alive although it recorded his death on a specific day.
Unlike ordinary people who retire and were treated as goners already, celebrity personalities like MJ must feign the ultimate drama if only to be on a grander stage to experience what life is all about, a possibility which Elvis Presley, Whitney Houston, John Lennon never underwent.
Thank you Michael Jackson for your songs. Most of them served as theme of my life and as I review what went on during those years in the past, the melody of your voice render color for each nostalgic episode my mind would flash.
And what a treat! Both of us are now retired and having a good time on the real world!