I find myself troubled as I sit here thinking about how it is one year
today since Michael Jackson’s untimely, tragic and unexpected death.
Last year, when the London concerts were announced, I made sure my
brother was on the phone the day tickets went on sale and instead of
trying for the July dates right off the mark, I told him to get tickets
for one of the dates in September, which he managed to do.
I was really excited about going home for the show as I had always
wanted to see Michael Jackson performing live and I was walking around
in a weird state of disbelief during the days after it happened. I
think most people were expecting it to be a huge publicity stunt to
promote the tour and that MJ would reappear and reassure us that he was
fine…but that moment never came.
Whatever you may think of him, it has to be acknowledged that he was
considered and probably always will be one of the most influential
figures in entertainment. Michael Jackson’s rise in popularity was an
important part of the post civil-rights era in the US and opened up
black entertainers to the mainstream markets like no other artist has.
He also had the ability to own a stage like nobody else – just as he
did with this performance at the 1993 Superbowl.
While I was back in the UK, it was announced that This is It
was going to be made and released and I remember being slightly
hesitant and cynical about what I was going to see. However, when I
went in and saw the film on opening night, I was blown away and
delighted to discover that Jackson retained the brilliance and
showmanship at 50 that he did all those years before in ’93. It was as
if no time had passed and it would have without doubt been one of the
most eye-popping and spectacular concerts ever held.
On the DVD, there is a whole section on the various costumes and one
of these was a suit complete with lights built into it so that it could
light up and shoot colourful beams down the arms and legs. It was to be
used when he performed Billie Jean. It would have been epic and I felt a mix of excitement and melancholy watching that film.
The odd thing to me is how consistent Michael Jackson’s message of
peace, love and saving the planet for the children and our children’s
children was. And yet, the man was persecuted, misunderstood and
treated as an outcast by the very media spotlight that helped create
this spectacle in the first place. Why do people turn on those who try
to spread positive messages in the world? Do we think they have some
kind of hidden agenda?
If I believed in God, then I would say Jackson was the closest thing
we had in recent times to a modern-day prophet. His followers and fans
outnumber any other modern religious or public figure and he always
spread his message of healing, love, peace and acceptance. When it
comes down to it, I know I definitely believe in MJ and his message
because I have proof that he was real.
The tragic impact we’re seeing from the BP disaster has been bringing back chilling images of Earth Song. Whenever Jackson spoke about disasters it’s like he knew something worse was just around the corner. A quote from This is It
says it all “I respect the secrets and magic of nature. That’s why it
makes me so angry when I see these things that are happening in the
world: that every second I hear the size of a football field is torn
down in the Amazon. That kind of stuff really bothers me. That’s why I
write these kinds of songs, you know, to get some sense of awareness
and awakening and hope to people.” Jackson then went on to say: “The
planet is sick, like a fever. If we don’t fix it now it’s at the point
of no return. This is our last chance to fix this problem that we have
or it’s like a runaway train…The time has come, This is It. It starts
with us. US. or else it’ll never be done.”
The words his children said at the memorial last August were enough
to obliterate any doubts (if any) that I had about Jackson’s innocence
when his daughter Paris said “daddy was the best father you could ever
imagine”. Some people disagreed with the kids being allowed to speak,
but I could sense it was heartfelt and something she felt like she
needed to say. After all, Jackson cut his father out of his will over
the alleged abuse he suffered as a child because he never wanted to see
his own children go through that.
I’ll leave you with the parting poignant words of one of my favourite MJ songs.
In fact, they almost sound like they could be someone’s wedding vows:
“In our darkest hour, in my deepest despair, will you still care? Will
you be there? In my trials and my tribulations. Through our doubts and
frustrations. In my violence, in my turbulence. Through my fear and my
confessions. In my anguish and my pain. Through my joy and my sorrow.
In the promise of another tomorrow, I’ll never let you part, for you’re
always in my heart.”
Was Michael Jackson a modern-day prophet? Why does humankind have a
tendency to attack or turn against those who try to spread a message of
love, acceptance and healing?