By Jeff Girod
MJ fans have been racing to tmz.com—imagine Michael Jackson passing out Tootsie Pops to hungry trick-or-treaters—and leaving literally hundreds of heartfelt comments. I think one tmz.com commenter, mjfan212, put it best for of all us when he/she posted: “WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO MJ ROCKS R.I.P MJ WE MISS U!”
WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, indeed. What could be more exciting than 100 partially completed musical tracks from an over-the-hill pop star that weren’t good enough to be released during the 50-plus years he moonwalked the planet, despite the fact that Jackson was teetering near bankruptcy at the time of his death and was about one more alleged kid-touching lawsuit away from teaming up with Gary Coleman to film a Check ‘n Go commercial. I can barely suppress my excitement until November to hear a drug-addled Michael Jackson “beat it” back from the grave to slur through more unintelligible stanzas while will.i.am growls over the top of it. And meanwhile everyone not named LaToya gets richer. Maybe the Jackson estate can get the Tupac and Nat King Cole Estates to contribute backing vocals.
Truth is, I used to be a huge Michael Jackson fan. Even now the wife periodically has to talk me down from placing an eBay bid on a red pleather zipper jacket. As if anyone would make a red pleather zipper jacket in a XXLT. (Seriously, if you know of anybody making an XXXLT, send me an email.)
The first album I ever bought was Michael Jackson’s Thriller in 1982, and required an advance on my $2-a-week allowance (not to mention some crafty negotiations with Mom as I hustled between the supermarket and the adjacent Licorice Pizza).
In college, my favorite part of the dance party was the late-late-night, after the popular jams and slow songs had all been played and the DJ started shutting it down with “Don’t Stop ’til You Get Enough” or “Rock With You” or even little Michael singing his heart out on “ABC.” To this day I can’t hear little Michael without thinking of making out with Becky DeFazio on top of a banquet table between the deviled eggs and shrimp cocktail.
But as Michael Jackson got weirder and weirder and the charges of molestation became more difficult to deny, I’ll admit it: I started to compartmentalize. I made the very conscious decision to separate the surgical mask wearing, chimp-owning, Macaulay-loving freak from the singer who could still make my bootie shake whenever the radio started playing “Wanna Be Startin‘ Somethin‘.”
And I was OK with it because, as adults, we rationalize stuff out of existence all the time. It’s how we get through our crummy little lives full of crap we hate. We rationalize and compartmentalize. And if Michael Jackson grew up to become some sort of kid-touching, skin-changing shut-in I would literally turn a garden hose on and, well, that’s OK, because we’ve all changed a lot since 1982. I’m not that 9-year-old child asking Mom for an advance on my $2 allowance anymore. And Mom, if you’re reading this: Seriously, two bucks a week? It was 1982, not the Great Depression. What were we, Amish?
The point is that it would be best for everyone concerned if we just imagined that Michael Jackson (and all of his various “unfinished recordings”) had boarded a plane some time during the 1980s—back when he was still relatively normal—took off from an airport runway and never looked back. On second thought, Michael Jackson’s 1991 Dangerous album was pretty jammin‘ and he was at least still mocha colored.
So then it’s settled: We’re all going to imagine that Michael Jackson just disappeared like Amelia Earhart around 1991, we’re not going to contribute to his family’s transparent greed and, most importantly, I’m definitely going to Google Becky DeFazio. I could also go for a shrimp cocktail.
Contact Jeff Girod at email@example.com.