In Defense of Michael

Regarding this week’s Dustinland, you know, a lot of people were quick to make jokes and be all cynical and dismiss Michael Jackson’s death as just that of another celebrity. And hey, I make fun of plenty of stuff, so I totally understand the urge to make jokes, and hey, go for it. But don’t dismiss this. People are sad that Michael Jackson not so much because of who he was as an individual or as a celebrity, but because what he represented.

For one, he was a huge part of my childhood, and I think anyone in my general age range can say the same thing. So when he died, we all just got a little older, a little sadder. It was bad enough when he started getting all weird and creepy — already a lot of the magic was gone after that. But now he’s dead. Beat It, Thriller, Man In The Mirror, PYT, Wanna Be Startin Something… all that joy, all that fun… gone.

Two, it’s the end of a tragic story. Yes, it’s easy to see him as just another celebrity freak, but he was a person. Someone raised in the eye of fame since he was a child. We see what just a little bit of fame can do to people who star in sitcoms as children. From the time he was a child, Michael Jackson was wrapped up in a level of celebrity that only grew until you could seriously argue he was the most famous person in the world. And what started out as a happy little kid with a great voice ended up a haunted, drug-addicted, self-mutilated ghost with sexual issues that likely led to criminal behavior. It’s a tragedy of epic proportions that someone who brought so many people so much joy ended up the way he did.


11 responses to “In Defense of Michael

  1. While I did not grow up with Michael Jackson and often had difficulty trying to know him, I want to commend you for this poignant eulogy. Too bad more people aren’t reading it!

  2. I’m going to take a rather unorthodox position and say that I am a bit relieved that Michael Jackson has not so much died, but rather entered immortality. Not because he is gone, but rather because he can now be remembered as the amazing artist he was, and not what happened to him. Just as Elvis, the King of Rock, lives on as he was when he was young, and not as what he became, so will Michael Jackson. History will vindicate him and restore him to his pedestal as the King of Pop who will live on forever as one of the greatest musicians of the 20th century. A deeply troubled man who was consumed by his fame and his lost childhood. But these last 20 years will be remembered only as a footnote in his biography. He will be missed.

  3. Also, he never molested a child. The 13-year old from 1993 recently confessed that Michael Jackson never touched him, and his dad pressured him to lie in order to extort money from Michael Jackson. If only Michael’s name could have been cleared while he was still alive.

  4. Pingback: In Defense of Michael « Michael Jackson Is Dead :

  5. Thanks for this comic, Dusty. I too was saddened by the loss of an icon of my childhood. When I look back at all the fun I had dancing to MJ’s music over the years, from as far back as I can remember, it kind of shocks me that the legend who created that music is gone. From dancing around my living room with my parents as a preschooler and secretly being afraid of the Thriller video, to feeling like “my song” was being played in bars when I got older, I’ve always been a fan of the music.

  6. Two points to consider:

    – What about kid celebs who don’t go off the deep end like Ron Howard?

    – “Today there are no heroes…” There never were any heroes. All the things you list in that panel have always existed with celebs.

    A lot of people like to think that heroes in the “good old days” were wonderful, perfect people, but the fact is, they weren’t. You had just as many drunks, cheaters, gamblers, adulterers, etc. It may have been a little less obvious because news had a much longer lag time then, but it was still there.

  7. 1 – I assume that if you look into the lives of kid celebrities, success stories like Ron Howard are the minority.

    2 – You’re probably right on this one, but consider that for people my age, we experienced the crash and burn of a “hero” firsthand with MJ. That’s when we learned our lesson. We weren’t around during the days of Shoeless Joe Jackson.

  8. Thanks for bringing this up. I didnt grow up hearing MJ per se, but nobody denied the fact that he wrote some of the best music of that era. His death marks the end of that age of music, it’s like saying farewell to the last relic. We watched him rise to fame and then end up the way he did. A sad way for a musical legend to go. I hope he’s at peace now.

  9. Excellent job, Dustin.

  10. So true about how people of a certain age have lost an icon and artifact from their childhood. Makes me appreciate the irreplaceable things in life.

    But with all the money that MJ had, I didn’t really seem him do anything generous, charitable or productive with it. I didn’t see him helping out AIDS orphans in Africa, or building schools there like Madonna and Oprah. Didn’t seem him giving back to the poor in the US either like Bill Gates. All I saw MJ do with his wealth was splurge on selfish indulgences. I guess that’s the American way. Guess he didn’t know growth and healing could be achieved through charity.

    The shopping spree with Martin Bashir in Vegas was just gross.. spending $3,000,000 on gaudy crap. Compare that with Sarah McLachlan’s “World is on Fire” video about how much good a little money can do in poor countires.

  11. I wonder if Scribbley and some of our other favorite guest stars from Summer ’08 will make a return this year.

    Did Scribbley find a girlfriend? Did Senor Vampy make it to the beach? So many unanswered questions!

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