Michael Jackson [CFP]
By Catherine Wood
Michael Jackson, a man most notoriously known in the United States for his scandals with children and his crazy, pop outfits, died this past Thursday. It's hard to believe that this seemingly almost bullet-proof, shadow of a man could be taken down by something as common as cardiac arrest. To me, he was more like a living legend than a 50 year old former superstar; he was the same age as my dad for crying out loud!
However, amidst the speculation and scandal of the last two decades (that the media has been obsessing with), when I heard about Michael's untimely death the only thing I could think about was "Just Beat it"; a 1983 popular anti-gang song that pays homage to West Side Story. And then my mind became swollen with a melody of "Thriller", "Bad", and punchy dance moves.
The truth is, Michael Jackson was still immensely popular in the pop-culture of our times.
I remember singing and dancing with my sister in the living room of our childhood home to a cassette tape of "ABC", many, many times in my younger years. Earlier this week, a Facebook friend of mine had the lyrics to Thriller as his Facebook Status:
"The foulest stench is in the air, The funk of forty thousand years. And grizzly ghouls from every tomb, are closing in to seal your doom. And though you fight to stay alive, Your body starts to shiver, For no mere mortal can resist,
The evil of the thriller"
Last fall, my dormitory at Appalachian State competed in a talent show. We did a melody of Michael Jackson pop-hits, like "Bad"; signature choreography included. My dance studio did a huge production number of "Thriller" during my senior year of high school, I played Michael. The truth is, the "King of Pop" could be found on many American's iPods, radio stations, and his creations were always a popular Halloween costume choice. Michael's catchy tunes and signature dance moves litter the pop-culture scene.
Michael Jackson was probably the last great man of our times to be famous for his singing and dancing. Fred Astaire was, Gene Kelly was, James Brown was, and Michael Jackson was. Michael gave us great, irreplicable moves like the moonwalk, as well as bold costume choices like the illustrious single sparkle glove he wore on his right hand.
So although his health had been in and out of the news for nearly two decades, the Michael Jackson that his fans know and love is not the Michael Jackson that died Tuesday afternoon in Los Angeles, California. Michael Jackson, the 80's Pop Superstar, still lives in the hearts and minds of his fans, and the legendary, cognitive itch provoking tunes like "Smooth Criminal", "ABC", "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough", and "Wanna Be Startin' Something" will be celebrated for decades to come.
So for our generation, the greatest moonwalk may have had nothing to do with NASA.
(China.org.cn June 26, 2009)