People seem to take pleasure in watching hugely successful individuals disintegrate in public (Susan Boyle, anyone?). I'm not sure where we get this meanness from, but I really wish, just this once, that we could treat a person with the basic respect every human being deserves. Michael Jackson is dead -- maybe we don't have to bring up the "wacko Jacko" stuff right now? Just this once? Hmm?
Michael Jackson died today -- I still have a hard time believing the words as I write them. And maybe I'm naive, but in all his trials and tribulations I never once believed he committed the offenses he was accused of (of which he was acquitted, by the way). Did he become an eccentric recluse with bizarre habits? Probably. But this isn't the essence of the man, not for me.
I remember Captain Eo. I remember a song and dance sequence that brought color and freedom to a black and white world ruled by an unhappy supreme leader who needed to be freed from her own bindings. I remember a captain who told his crew -- a bunch of misfits and presumed losers -- that if they just believed in themselves, they can achieve anything. For a while, Michael Jackson really did have it all. And that's how I choose to remember him.
I remember the man who wrote and performed Heal the World, to raise money for the starving people in Africa. Who participated in We are the World (USA for Africa). I remember an angel's voice singing Ben, a song that makes me cry to this day, every time I hear it.
I remember the thrill (really, no pun intended) of listening to the Thriller album as a teenager, and how so many of the tracks just hit the right spot inside of me. And I loved the Jackson 5. I loved the innocence they represented in so many ways, before "wacko Jacko" and wardrobe malfunctions. (Yes, I know Janet wasn't part of the Jackson 5, but she's part of the circus surrounding the family, a circus that shouldn't be there in the first place.)
So for me, what I choose to remember is Captain Eo. And Thriller, and this incredibly vast talent that we just lost today. He left a void that can't be filled, as far as I'm concerned. It's like watching the best part of my childhood die, and I miss him. I know some people would ridicule this sentiment, and the "wacko Jacko" jokes will be on the uprise for a while. As for me, I came home today after my Tae Kwon Do class and sat in my car and listened to Michael on the iPod. And I cried.
Good Night, Captain Eo.