Icons of Our Youth
Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett both passed away on the same day yesterday, both icons of my youth and both sad at the end in different ways. Farrah was publicly sick for a long time, so that was sad but not sudden. But hearing about Michael Jackson, though i certainly wouldn't have described him as "healthy," was more shocking news than i would have anticipated, more affecting. With Farrah, i was a boy in the 70's, of course i had "The Poster," alongside a more democratic poster of all 3 Charlie's Angels (original lineup only for me). And with Michael i really thought of him as a cartoon for a long time since i would watch the Jackson 5 cartoon on saturday mornings. Post-J5 it's incredible to think about the impact he had on pop music then and into the future, basically with just 2 albums -- Off The Wall, the best, and Thriller, the best-selling. Quincy Jones' production on both is visionary in itself, and coupled with Michael's bizarre energy and delivery and voice..."Rock With You" was certainly a soundtrack to my 10- year-old summer, and though by the time Thriller came out i was really just into rock and metal, i was still riveted by the videos and the "Billie Jean" performance on the Motown TV special. But already, though this was pre-skin bleaching and all the craziness, he seemed like he was from space or something. The art he was making was compelling but i never felt a personal connection to the human being, which is why it's still hard to understand the global reach of Michael Jackson as a phenomenon that filled stadiums (years after he'd become a reverse-shadow of himself) and is now bringing crowds of people into the streets weeping. All that can't be about the dancing and the glove and the hits, so what is it about? I don't claim to get it. I do know that with Farrah and Michael both, though they occupied some sort of pop culture place for me as a kid, and i would never turn the dial on "I Want You Back" and a bunch of other songs, i lost track and didn't think much about either after the early 80's. But when i did i had a vague feeling that i wished that both would turn themselves around, stop embarrassing themselves, return to civilization, return to earth basically; i was rooting for them to be what i thought they were when i was 10.