For a bit of fun, to try and alleviate all the heaviness, I recently took part in MJ101’s Top 20 challenge.
At first, I thought it was a case of discerning my favourite twenty solo Michael Jackson songs – a nigh on impossible feat in itself – but was then informed I could select from any songs in the entirety of Michael’s career.
Cue the nostalgia.
Nostalgia is big business. Just ask the Estate.
The idea of the prolonging of youth is apparent to anyone with any inkling as to who the man-boy Michael Jackson was.
The children of Michael’s hey-day were the first generation for whom graduating from school didn’t mean an automatic expectation of their maturity. Not being required to grow up in the way their parents did allowed a continuation of their childhood.
Indeed, I’m a prime example of the twenty-first century phenomenon that is someone who channels their childhood passions into adulthood life.
This predilection of people to protract the pleasures of their adolescence has been cannily seized upon by corporations, with it being a lucrative wellspring of capitalist potential. Market-forces reassure us that burying our heads in our sandpits is a perfectly moral choice to make.
This infantilisation of society, in which people are encouraged to continue indulging in their childhood escapism is not only highly profitable for those pulling the strings, but also has the bonus of distracting people from the issues that are important. And Michael’s fans are particularly susceptible to this being taken advantage of by cynics. With the irony being that the intent of Michael’s art was to awaken people to said important issues.
Michael had the financial freedom to revisit the “lost and found” of his childhood on an unprecedented scale: an eccentricity that was seized upon by a sceptical society and used to try and destroy him. Yet, most people infantilise themselves to a certain extent – and in the same way Michael noted the hypocrisy of the universal acceptance of Caucasian attempts to change their skin colour to fit in with societal aspirations, it should be noted how this infantilisation of adults is also done on a mass daily basis for similar reasons.
Clothes departments of supermarkets, for example, are stocked to the brim with adult nightwear adorned with images of Disney characters, bought by adults attempting to temporarily export themselves back to a time and place where they possessed that precious childhood privilege of effortless access to a kingdom of imagination within which they could find refuge. The commodification and sexualisation of nostalgia is the cynical prostitution of a beautiful striving borne of the fundamental innocence of humanity.
Anything motivated purely by an attempt to maximise profit margins will instinctively compromise artistic integrity in order to appeal to as wide a market as possible, so that T-shirts and calendars can be sold. The Estate’s sanitisation of Michael is an epitomic demonstration of such corporate practises.
Michael fell victim to his naivety of the perception of his philosophies by the outside world. Michael indicated jealousy as a premium motivational reason for acts of ‘evil’. Jealous people – people unable to comprehend that sometimes the view of the mountain itself is more beautiful than the view from its summit. Indeed, one may very well argue that the very existence of the mass misunderstanding of Michael’s ideology, is due to a deep-seated envy of his precious capacity for being able to see through the eyes of a child; and of his capability to harness this gift for his art and success.
It is such unique insights into the human condition that exist within Michael’s work which are dismissed by the Estate at the expense of profitability; the impermanence of pop.
We have to demand quality out of respect for Michael’s memory and the lifetime he dedicated to leaving a legacy of humanitarianism. The things that make Michael precious to us, are quite evidently not the primary concern of the Estate. We cannot allow our passion for Michael to be weathered by greed-driven paltriness; nor can we afford to be distracted from the opportunity for peace that Michael’s legacy provides humanity with.
Take the MJ101 challenge. It’s both excruciating and fun. Though anyone including anything posthumous can get their coats now.
Definitely alleviated the heaviness.
This article includes edited extracts from The First Book of Michael by Syl Mortilla, available in paperback and on Kindle at http://amzn.to/1GycUw1 and for all other eBook devices at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/511371