Michael Jackson died today, and I am completely bereft. I have spent the last several hours crying until my eyes are sore and raw, and I don’t care if anyone thinks it ridiculous or silly. He is one of my heroes, and it has not been easy watching him die slowly for the last 15 years. I expected him to die early, because that type of furious fire always burns itself out quickly… but 50? I thought he’d puff out at 60.
I don’t believe any of the slander. I never did. I know that he was a kind, fragile, and beautiful person who, despite what must have been incredible tenacity, was not strong enough to support the weight of his own talent, legend, fame, and wealth. I do believe that he survived (what in time will be revealed to be) incredible abuse at the hands of his father and early producers at Motown. I also believe that if there is any truth whatsoever to the slander against him, that it is a thorny seed planted in him as a child, which then grew into a terrible flower. But I don’t believe any of the slander.
Michael invented and developed the vocabulary of pop music culture for the entire world from the 1970’s until now, with everything in pop music, dance, and video being either an imitation or variation of his invention, or a total rejection of it (which is still a response to it). His presence, even in a two dimensional reduction of the man himself, was captivating. He took all the influences of his youth, mixed them up with his own vision, and put out some of the most strikingly brilliant material the world has ever seen.
Michael was a philanthropist. He was a visionary. He was an artist.
And even though I never met him or knew him, I feel that I have lost one of my best friends. His soul was too big for one body. His genius was too intense for one mind. In building bridges across race, gender, and class, he destroyed the connection between himself and the external world. Like any number of other creative whirlwinds (en français on les appèlle”les monstres sacrés”), he spun out of control trying to find the calm at his own center. Michael Jackson, as a dancer and entertainer (along with Janet), is the reason I became an artist and scholar.
There is no one to replace him. I can’t believe that body is now still forever. I love you Michael. Good bye.
June 25, 2009 7 Comments
This blog concerns a controversial and personal issue: To have cosmetic surgeries and other appearance altering processes. Scotty, my best friend whom I blogged about recently, suggested I discuss this (and he gave me his permission to use his example).
Some people will argue that altering your appearance betrays a sense of self-loathing or a feeling of inadequacy. However, I find that to be hypocritical. Have you ever styled and/or colored your hair? Do you wear contact lenses? Bleach your teeth? How much jewelry do you wear? Do you paint or manicure your fingernails? Do you work out or practice tanning? Do you ever wear makeup, or purchase clothing that in someway hides/accents traits about your body? Do you have piercings or tattoos? All of these choices modify your appearance. Why surgery is more taboo than the others is quite beyond me.
I think what is most important is that you be comfortable in your own skin. Scotty was scared I would judge him poorly for electing to get pec implants. But that is not the case. I will explain why.
Normally I would frown upon steroids, implants, and unnecessary cosmetic surgeries. Then I realized something: Who gets to decide what is “necessary?” Scotty, when he was very young and still growing quickly, was in a very bad accident. The doctors had to reconstruct his ribcage. They took too much cartilage, and this has affected the shape of one of his chest muscles ever since. The rib underneath that pectoral juts forward now, causing one pec to look considerably larger than the other. The asymmetry is a source of constant insecurity for Scotty. No amount of working out will correct this visual effect. He has found a doctor who can perform an implant.
If Scotty can pay $5,000 for peace of mind on this issue, why should he not? Isn’t his confidence and self-esteem worth that much? That money spent on that implant would change his entire life. I hope he does get this cosmetic surgery – not because I think he needs it, but because I know how much happier he will be when this is put to rest.
As for other examples: If Michael Jackson and his siblings hadn’t become famous at a time when blacks and afrocentric forms of beauty were completely marginalized they may not have felt the need to have had the surgeries they’ve undergone (but at the same time, if the Jacksons hadn’t helped break down racial barriers those prejudices might still be just as strong to this day. Michael Jackson is almost like a sacrificial victim: He gave up his blackness so that other black artists wouldn’t have to??). People mock those who have cosmetic surgery, but I think it’s a wonder of modern science. Anything can be abused, that doesn’t make it evil unto itself.
Would I have these surgeries? Right now, no. I don’t think I need them. Of course there are details I’d improve or change if I could do so easily; however, none of my facial incongruities cause me enough turmoil to go that route. My demon, as I’ve said before, is stature/weight, and that is something I can address on my own through fitness.
Do what makes you comfortable and happy. But, for something as permenant as surgery, get lots of information from a variety of sources first. Be sure that your doctor has completed thousands of successful procedures, and be sure that s/he is licensed and practices the latest techniques. You want your surgery to blend away your insecurities – not create new ones.
December 14, 2008 5 Comments