The Death of Michael Jefferson

I have formed some thoughts about this Michael Jefferson. I will write them, and you will read them.

We’re not supposed to make jokes about his passing, but why not? Michael Jefferson’s life was, most of all, a cautionary example. And if we joke about him when he’s dead, it makes us think… “I don’t want people talking like that about me when I’m gone.”

Maybe MJ should have thought this way after Thriller. Thriller was a masterpiece; and even for a performer of MJ’s considerable talent, trying to top it was just futile. (And there were a couple of good songs post-Thriller. “Smooth Criminal” and “Leave Me Alone” come to mind.) So, what if he hadn’t tried to top Thriller? What if he had said, “One masterpiece was enough,” and been satisfied to make music that was artistically satisfying, even if it didn’t sell millions of albums? What if he had taken that fortune he amassed and instead of building a theme park in his backyard and indulging in 39 flavors of freakiness, he had funneled his money into charities, built children’s hospitals, or helped launch other young artists. We’d be having a very different conversation tonight, I think.

A lot of people have impulses that are in their own way as bizarre as some of Michael Jefferson’s, but we lack both the means to indulge them, and insulation from the consequences. Money provides the means, fame provides the insulation from consequences. Too many handlers around MJ, too many “industry” people determined to protect their investment. It’s not a healthy way to live, and from the age of five, it was the only life he knew.

It’s kind of sad, really.

True story: Last Saturday at Home Depot, the checkout girl demanded of me “Prince or Michael Jackson?” She and the adjacent checkout girl were undertaking some sort of survey related to some dispute. I thought about it, and answered Prince… because he once made pancakes for Eddie Murphy’s brother, if I remember my Chapelle Show. She seemed disappointed with my answer. I wonder how she’s doing tonight.

Michael Jackson touched so many children.

Michael Jackson touched so many children.

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8 Comments

Filed under Mindthoughts and Soulpatterns

8 responses to “The Death of Michael Jefferson

  1. The Mole

    Sorry to be so lame, but… what’s Michael Jefferson? (A South Park that I missed?)

  2. Cylar

    Yeah, I was wondering myself why you’re calling him “Jefferson.” That’s an insult to the man who brought us the Louisiana Purchase.

    Just call him Jacko like everyone else does. Nobody would ever confuse him with Jesse, Reggie, Samuel, or Andrew Jackson.

  3. “Michael Jefferson” was the name of the Michael Jackson parodied in the South Park Epsidode “The Jeffersons.”

    http://www.southparkstudios.com/guide/807

  4. The Mole

    Oh yeah. Saw it once, just didn’t remember it.

  5. fozzy

    One of these days you’re going to have a post without a conveniently related South Park picture. Or maybe you don’t write a post if there is no picture.

  6. There’s a South Park for every occasion.

  7. The Doktor

    ”No-o-o-o!!! That’s ignorant!”

    GoY – not everyone is that into South Park to get the reference. One weekend I watched all of the episodes on the SP website that I have never seen or didn’t remember. It’s startling at first (for the more sensitive viewers) because there’s no ”beeping” out of the more colorful language.

    But, in all, it was a weekend well spent.

  8. Cylar

    Prince may have always been a bit on the effeminate side, but he has never been anywhere near as bizarre as MJ was. Really, the wildest thing the guy ever did was change his name to an unpronounceable symbol and parade around in purple clothes.

    That, and I don’t recall anyone accusing Prince of diddling young children, much less him admitting to sharing his bed with them.

    Your thoughts on the matter are interesting. I haven’t read anything like them, anywhere else in the media or on the Internet. In fact, this blog is the only place I’ve seen a doggone thing written about Jackson that was anything other than fawning adulation.

    You’re absolutely right. If the guy was serious about helping kids (because he LOVED them so much, right?) there were countless things he could have done that would have been far more productive. I suspect that for Jackson, it was less about the kids and more about doing whatever felt good. There’s a name for that….hedonism, is it?

    Yes, enormously talented artist, dancer, singer and songwriter. Perhaps one of the best of all time. Scratch that – undoubtedly among the best. He was to Gen X’ers what the Beatles were to previous generations. He’ll always be on my mental shelf of favorite 80’s icons, alongside Madonna and Duran Duran.

    I grew up listening to Jackson’s music, but in a way, he has been dead to me for a long time…fifteen years perhaps. I lost interest in him when he started having surgeries on his nose and skin, when he built the merry-go-round, when the stuff with the little kids started circulating around.

    And you’re right about something else, too. Jackson not only missed out on a major opportunity to help kids in meaningful ways while he was alive, he also settled for half-a-loaf as far as his legacy. In addition to being remembered as a talented artist, he could also have been remembered as the guy who built all those children’s hospitals…the ones which could have kept on providing services long after he was gone.

    It seems like he was a pretty lonely guy, in short. I remember sitting down to Christmas dinner with my family one year, and thinking, “I’ll bet the Jackson family doesn’t do this. Not even with all their money and fame.”

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