Tuesday, July 07, 2009

and i'm sure i'm not the only one who feels this way

When celebrities die, I feel sorry for their families. But when I heard Michael Jackson passed away, I truly felt a sadness though I'm not nearly his biggest fan. I was trying to explain this to H--who enjoys his music but doesn't feel much of a connection--and I wasn't able to put it into words.

But this afternoon as I sat and watched coverage of Michael Jackson's memorial service, I realized what it is: The guy is a big part of my personal soundtrack. Thriller and Bad were some of my first beloved cassette tapes, and I'm pretty sure my brother and I could still re-enact the choreography (and the dialogue) of Smooth Criminal. It's probably why my first impulse when I heard of Michael's death was to send him a text message.

During those long summer days after The Dukes of Hazzard was over and my mother had threatened bodily harm if my brother called her at work ONE MORE TIME to say how bored he was, there wasn't much to do but pop a movie into the old Betamax machine. Soap operas are hardly entertaining for a fifth-grader and a first-grader stuck inside without cable until 2:45. Especially when the first grader a) didn't like to read b) could only tolerate one board game a day c) ALWAYS decided on the film/entertainment even when pretending it was my turn and d) had an Approved Watching List of just three movies: Home Alone, Troop Beverly Hills and Moonwalker.

We watched Moonwalker a lot.

It didn't end there. He made me cut off the fingertips on one of my white gloves and put sequins on it to go with the white sock/black shoe ensemble required for video dancealongs. And though I was always reading a book, it was cute to look up and see his little legs imitating the steps. I smile just thinking about it.

My brother has been home visiting for about a week, and he's coming to stay at my place to hang out and catch up. It was a treasure last Christmas to find Troop Beverly Hills in the dvd bin at (of all places) the hardware store, but it made a phenomenal stocking stuffer. It'd be great to get Moonwalker and watch it with my brother one more time. Though I doubt he'll dust off any of those old moves. Well, maybe the spin, if I'm lucky.

The only example I can think of to put the passing of Michael Jackson into perspective for H is that it's a little like how it'll feel for him when longtime baseball announcer Vin Scully dies. H grew up listening to Vin call the games for his favorite team and says it's just not the same with anyone else at the mic. We've never actually met these people, but experiencing what they do best has become like a delicious, familiar smell: One whiff, and you're right back in your 1989 living room, laughing as your brother shuffles his feet, hoots and grabs his crotch in time to the television. It's not like the new music Michael Jackson might have made would be the same by any means, but acknowledging that he will never sing another song just solidifies the fact that those lazy summer days of dancing around are truly gone forever.


SupaCoo said...

I feel like one of the only people in the world who hasn't been affected by MJ's death. Don't get me wrong - I understand the importance of his music, his life, and the impact he had on literally BILLIONS of people. But I feel like I'm heartless because his passing is more of a "wow, that sucks" thing as opposed to a heartbreaking, world-stopping event.

cadiz12 said...

that's pretty much what H was saying, too. i don't think i'm quite in the world-stopping camp, but i was surprised i felt more than the usual "wow, that sucks."

and i do think the media has gotten carried away with the coverage.

Anonymous said...

Scully is much bigger than MJ here in Los Angeles.

I don't know what we would do without him.

Psychic Pimp said...

I agree, the media went overboard with the coverage. There has been other news going on in this world. But I'm with you Cadiz. MJ was a part of my childhood. Like you, the 1st thing I did when I found out about his death was text my brother

Jon said...

To put that into perspective for those that don't know, Vin has been calling Dodger games longer than MJ was alive.

Another good example would have been when Chick Hearn passed away. That was the only time I can truly recall being genuinely shaken by a celebrity death. I still miss Chick, and I'm sure lots of people will feel the same way about MJ in 6 or 7 years from now.

Anonymous said...

I have to say, I've never been a big MJ fan. Not that I didn't like him, I just never really listened to/watched him.

But even for me, his death surprised me by being a little more than just, "wow, that sucks." I guess his impact on music and so many people was just that big.

Guyana-Gyal said...

It was more than just the music for me.

Sphincter said...

Thriller was the first album I bought with my own money.

cadiz12 said...

btw, i did find a copy of Moonwalker and tried to watch it with my bro when he was in town. both of us agreed that it's probably one of the worst films ever made and really questioned our former taste in movies. we had to struggle to finish the movie over several sittings interrupted by falling asleep.

but we agreed to blame it on not having cable. or any cool older friends/relatives to help guide the way.