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Monday, July 13, 2009
I want to start by saying that I was saddened to hear Michael Jackson died. With that I also want to say that I was also conflicted with my emotions. After wondering about his soul I also wondered how people would speak of him now. Would they focus on his career, obvious talent, or the controversy that followed him most of his life? How will this “idol” be remembered?
I have to admit that I stopped listening to Michael’s music after all the pedophile charges. I occasionally listened, watched a video or two on youtube, and would sing along to one of his tunes on the radio but I always felt conflicted about it. I felt a hesitancy or perhaps guilt because of the child molestation accusations against him. I felt like I was somehow supporting him if I listened to his music. As a passionate lover of children I am always infuriated when I hear of any situation where a child is harmed in any way. A holy anger arises within me. And so because of this I laughed at Michael like the rest of the world.
After hearing of Michael’s passing I tried to figure out how to process it. It was hard not to think about it when he was on every television channel I turned to and all the streets of South Florida where I was vacationing played his music. A man had died after all and not just any man but an innovator, someone who changed the style of music and in some ways created a genre. He was one who although obviously troubled did do many positive things and through his music highlighted social issues such as poverty, racism, and homelessness. But I’ll tell you what broke me. It was the repetitive images of Michael as a five-year-old boy singing his heart out. One look at that and I was reduced to tears.
Whatever you believe about Michael Jackson I think we can all say that we lost someone who was unique. Michael was also a little boy in a man’s body. This observation by many who briefly encountered or personally knew him shed a different light on this man for me. It made me wonder about him and all the allegations against him. I decided I would watch the famous interview with him in 2003 where he discussed sleeping with little boys and the abuse he received from his father. As I watched this video I realized that Michael was a very fragmented man. I decided to try to look at the circumstances through his eyes and I came up with the conclusion that we may have dealt with a grown man who felt he had to create a fantasy world for himself because he felt lonely and misunderstood. With that said I believe that because Michael saw himself as a child and because of this he didn’t see anything wrong with him sharing a bed with other children. Perhaps in some way he felt like he was one of them. You may disagree with me and that is fine.
I will say that our world doesn’t cater to the needs and hurts of the broken famous or not. It nearly teaches us to survive. I think that Michael Jackson felt a compassion for the hurting because he looked at them through the filters of his own pain. Something I believe MJ taught us is to dare to be a voice for the voiceless and forgotten. I think that he often lifted himself high to feel a sense of importance. Did he have pride? I’m sure he did. But from my experience those who speak too highly of themselves are often the most insecure of all.
I watched the memorial service for him and was touched by the music and words. But I couldn’t help but think that no one in that room really knew Michael. Even Brooke Shields whose words were perhaps the most honest, real, and heartfelt out of everyone seemed to be somehow dated. Her memories of Michael all seemed to be from the late 80s and early 90s. I don’t believe that she was in contact with Michael in his later years. I don’t think I would be too far from the truth if I said that Michael Jackson died a lonely and broken man. All the money and fame never brought him healing or restitution.
We live in a world where idols are lifted high and later broken down. The media lifts these public figures up to unreachable places and later laugh when they fall. In reality we were never meant to be famous. Man was never created for worship. That’s God’s place. At the end of the day we are all merely people. God is no respecter of person’s so to Him Michael Jackson wasn’t exceptionally special. He was merely another one of his children gone astray. A prodigal son if you will. Michael Jackson stood before God like the rest of us will and had to give an account for his life. I hope that he made peace with God and himself.