I am a contemporary of Michael Jackson. He was just a couple of years younger than I. It was in about 1981 that I took notice, that’s about the time he burst on the scene as a “superstar.” I watched his career, the ups and the downs, and thought of him mostly as a freak, and later a pedophile. I never cared for his music and never bought a single one of his records. I respected him as a phenomenon and accepted the opinion of the elite that always called him a genius.
When his sudden death last summer rocked the world, I was not surprised. He had a tragic life, in many ways, and he died a tragic death. I didn’t intend to watch the movie This Is It. But the press was favorable, the reviews excellent, and I decided to give it a shot.
What I saw changed my view of Jackson. I didn’t see a freak or a drug addict (prescription or not). I didn’t see a burned-out shell that needed drugs just to sleep. I didn’t see a paranoid junkie. I didn’t see a self-possessed prima donna. I didn’t see an egomaniac.
I saw a master of his trade at work, admired and respected by everyone that worked with him. I saw a genius entertainer and performer drawing on a lifetime of experience, putting together a superstar production of grand proportions. I saw a trim, fit, alert and active dancer and singer. I saw the best there is at the thing he does.
And for the first time ever I saw Michael Jackson differently. I respected him. And I was sad that he had to go, so fast, so unexpectedly, leaving everyone that worked with him on This Is It hanging without the crowning of their work. Michael Jackson didn’t get to finish his job.