This week has been a mixed bag for us Michael Jackson acolytes.
Firstly, as absurd as the idea of Wade Robson’s parasitic attempt at extortion certainly was, it is surely a welcome, deserved relief that we are not about to once again endure another intense defence of our hero against the misinformed.
Though it goes without saying that we shall always do so with honour, should we be called upon.
Of course, those of us that steadfastly stood by our hero during his decades of unwarranted trials and tribulations; those of us in possession of the facts behind the sensationalism, aghast and astounded at how such bare-faced mendacity can possibly be legal, have no requirement for further stratification of our belief in the purity of Michael’s heart and potency in his mission.
But we have been furnished with more munitions for our armoury.
There are several instances in Michael’s canon of work that suggest his being sensitive towards people who are deaf, with his incorporating sign language into both the MTV 10 performance of Will You Be There, and in the ‘prison version’ of the They Don’t Care About Us short film. (Perhaps less-intentionally, I also recall an episode of the BBC series See Hear in which a segment regarding deaf people who danced through interpreting musical vibrations, lauded Blood On The Dance Floor as being their peerless song of choice.)
I imagine this sensitivity that Michael had arose from his intrinsic relationship with music, and his contemplating what it must be like to live in a world devoid of it.
Today, we were treated to another example of this sensitivity – in the form of previously unseen footage of Ghosts rehearsals, with a minute-long snippet of the song Seeing Voices as its soundtrack (see below for the link to hear the song). The instrumental version of Seeing Voices has been around for many years, with the track being one – along with others such as Buffalo Bill and Men In Black – that holds a mythical status due to its desire to be heard by the fan community.
Seeing Voices was inspired by Michael’s sensitivity towards people who are deaf. All those people that cannot hear him sing – at least, not until medical science finds a solution. There is a profound beauty in the notion that when such a day of miraculous scientific discovery arrives, people who are deaf will be able to hear Michael singing this glorious tribute to the majesty of gesture, with such astonishing vocal grace. Expressing emotion through movement was something Michael was uniquely adept at due to his being an icon of dance and ocular representation. Indeed, the very metaphor of sign language being hands “weaving the space between friends” is a breathtakingly beautiful image in itself.
A visionary indeed.
Incidentally, let us not forget the other half of the treat we were granted with today.
Something that provides us with further insight – not only into the development of the Ghosts project, but also into Michael Jackson the man.
In the final edit of Ghosts, a particularly harrowing scene – with all of its self-aware connotations – involves Michael the Maestro committing suicide by hammering his face against a checkered floor. It is visual tragi-poetry.
In the leaked footage, Michael is resurrected through the love that children have for him, with children – literally – rebuilding him out of the crumbled remains of his self-obliteration.
For whatever reason, this idea wasn’t used. Perhaps due to the fact that the theme of Michael being redeemed by the innocent perspectives of children is evident enough in the film, without the need for such a graphic explanation.
For those with half a brain, at least.
The vicissitude of Michael’s life is reminiscent of the epic stories of Greek mythology. Indeed, having to both perpetually defend Michael against slander whilst simultaneously promoting his historical importance can at times seem a Sisyphean task.
The other news from this week is the confirmation that Neverland is to be put up for sale. An action brought by the Estate of Michael Jackson. An action contrary to the wishes of Michael’s children. It is a situation of desperate sadness. One that I feel allows me to indulge in referencing another Greek myth. It appears that some fans have drunk from Lethe – a river in Hades. The water from which caused amnesia.
It’s interesting to observe the amount of weight Michael lost between the time rehearsal footage from Ghosts that accompanies Seeing Voices was shot, and the time of actual recording the final edit. Michael’s long-suffering with his body image is well-documented, with him replacing nutrition with his strict work-ethic, as part of his striving for perfection – an ethos that had been instilled in him since he was a child – often being a reason for his ultimately being unable to meet the demands of a project. One Night Only being a prime example.
And the shamelessly-leached This Is It venture being the conclusive one.
Listen to Seeing Voices here: