Where Was I When Michael Jackson Died?
An unforgettable moment in history. But why?
Where was I when Michael Jackson died?
The king of pop has popped and the whole world grieves, comparing the event to the likes of Elvis and JFK. “It will be one of those moments where you will always remember where you were when Michael Jackson died,” is repeated across the nation in hushed solemn whispers. So, I must ask myself, where was I? The answer is not so memorable as the question.
Ensconced in my temporary home in England, chatting with my American friend, she suddenly stops mid-finger stroke and sends, “Dude… Michael Jackson is dead.” Of course my thick as sludge brain didn’t downshift that swiftly and I blinked mutely. This, I must confess, is anti-thesis to the whole chat process and left the next few seconds of our conversation a bit….well…. conversation-less. All I could think to respond with the utmost eloquence was a lackluster, “What?”
Moments later, the shock set in. Michael Jackson, that crazy second cousin that always stalked the shadows of our lives, a legend that was simply there and always would be… suddenly wasn’t. Like taking the moon out of orbit, or as the case may be, the moonwalk. As I’m digesting this unforeseen turn of events, below me on the first floor my generous British friend is watching a “Breaking News” interruption, joining my club of Blinkers United Who Say “What?”
As I throw open the door and head for the stairs, she’s charging up where we meet in a collision of stomping feet and slack jaws, a great sumo belly clash, screaming nearly in unison, “Did you hear?!” I’m floored. She’s floored. Michael, our affectionately maligned freak, had been swept away from our public attentions, and we stood staring at the TV as if it had sprouted three antennae in a digital world. That’s when I had to ask myself another question.
Why, for instance, did I feel a sense of loss for a man that had become an oddity for the latest media circus. He was Side Show Mike, the car crash we were compelled to rubberneck rivaled only by Britney. To watch a musical genius fall from the pedestal of worship so irrevocably was our way of telling ourselves that fame wasn’t worth it anyway, so it was okay to be average. But I digress.
I knew why. I grew up with Michael Jackson in my bedroom. His face on my wall, a handsome young black man, happily grinning back at me, arm negligently flung around ET, another childhood friend. His music in my ears as I played my Thriller cassette to ad nauseam, and in my dreams as I jumped up and down on my bed singing Beat It and swearing as fervently as a five year old could, that he was my “boyfriend.” Wacko Jacko was my first crush ever and I loved him so passionately. I grieved for that memory.
Yet still, I must ask, “Why?” MJ dominated the news all that night, and all the next day as every broadcast came and went, devoting 50 minutes to Michael’s memory and the poor two year old that was beaten to death by her mentally challenged babysitter got an entire two minutes notice. How generous. While endless Michael tributes cropped up, Farah Fawcett passed from her war with cancer in relative silence. How many other people that day lost their battle with the Grim Reaper? How many life changing events passed without notice? If he is worthy of the accolades, what deems others less so? They didn’t sell fifty-one million copies of an iconic album? What does it say about us as a society that for three solid days, we worshipped a music legend postmortem with more passion than we cared for our lost children.
Michael Jackson’s passing is notable, his life and music even more so. He was the legend and genius of multiple generations and for that, I still mourn his too early demise, but there comes a time when even I must cry Uncle. I’ve had enough. Bring back the rest of the world and let him rest in peace. Perhaps, he has finally found the only place where he can get some.
Where was I when Michael Jackson died? Let me ask another. Where were we when Demi Mahon died July 17, 2008 at the fragile age of two? Where was I when I heard about her? Watching my fifth Michael Jackson news memorial in 10 hours. She is who I’ll remember when I’m asked where I was when Michael died.