“Anyway, I imagine Michael would save me.”
This was my elder daughter’s argument in the battle against wearing her seatbelt in the car.
Her tactics worked momentarily. I was taken aback. She’s a genius. They all are. She knows my Achilles Heel.
I hid my smile and feigned firmness.
“Put the seatbelt on before I’ve counted to three, or else you lose your turn to choose the music.”
That’s a superpower of sorts, right?
My daughter’s argument has stayed with me – the sheer beauty of a five-year-old in 2015 evoking Michael Jackson as a superhero. How does she know? Yes, both my daughters have seen some of his short films, heard some of his songs. But how does that make him a hero to them? Why do they perceive him as such? They haven’t seen Moonwalker. Nor Earth Song, even.
Michael’s on a lot, of course. But nearly always at their behest. I consciously don’t push my fandom on them, in the belief that children always rebel against their parents’ tastes.
Perhaps the answer lies in my own arrested development. Maybe all children intrinsically see Michael as a hero, and I’m merely stunted in my maturity. Regardless, where does that specific idea of him as a superbeing come from? Besides, Michael at his peak was the epitomic intergenerational leveller, mutually loved by adults and children alike. Michael’s overriding desire was to use his art to appeal to everyone’s inner child, which he undeniably achieved with aplomb.
But, still – why is he construed this way? The humanitarianism? The talent? The mutability? The uniqueness?
The answer is intangible. Whereas Michael’s power is anything but. Which is what makes the potential in his legacy so immense. Which is why it must be curated with nothing less than absolute care and respect.
Michael famously had a great love for comic superheroes, citing Batman and Morph as his favourites during an Internet chat with fans in 1995. Morph’s abilities include shapeshifting, a power Michael bestowed upon the protagonist in his short films as often as was remotely plausible; whilst personality traits of Morph’s include his being opaquely enigmatic and a highly adept prankster. It’s not hard to see why Morph was Michael’s favourite.
Indeed, before his passing, and prior to the onset of the current comic book movie boom, due to Michael’s keen business acumen and his being a cultural visionary, he spoke about investing in Marvel Comics,
“I really feel in my heart we must move as fast as we can because, on the film side of it… I don’t know if you’ve been reading the paper, but Marvel already have sold off their Internet rights and the stock is so low now. I mean, they put out Spider-Man, now they got Incredible Hulk coming, they got X-Men 2 coming, they also got Spider-Man 2 coming, it’s going to jump, it’s gonna change, I mean, you know, and this huge frenzy for superheroes and all the things that we can do… you know it’s… I want to get in it before the stock… we need to jump in now. The timing is perfect. Nobody’s talking much about it, you know… it’s still, it’s still a good time.”
Michael’s interest in such things was typically undermined by the media, who, rather than extolling Michael’s virtues as a businessman, dismissed his involvement in said projects with headlines like, “Jacko begged Lucas to play the part of Jar Jar Binks.”
Jar Jar Binks being perhaps the most hated cinematic creation of all time.
As well as his capacity for predicting cultural trends (or igniting them) and his being an erudite, diehard comic book fanboy, Michael also had the fortune of moving in the right circles (naturally). Special effects guru Stan Winston, who worked on Iron Man, was a long and close friend of Michael’s, with him directing the Ghosts short film. Michael was well-aware of the imminent cinematic superhero explosion.
He was also known to be a huge fan of Spider-Man. Whose mantra, “With great power comes great responsibility” he heroically adopted.
The inherent appreciation that my daughters have for Michael and his art bodes well. So long as the adult fans of today live up to their responsibility of defending his integrity.
Who won the seatbelt battle?
Well. Needless to say, a tantrum ensued.
As did a defiant and seething ‘clunk click’.
She chose Black Or White.
Anyway, I knew Michael would save me.