Talk to the glove.
I was never a fan of Michaell Jackson.
First, you couldn’t tell whether his music was soul or pop or disco. You couldn’t tell whether he was a child or man. Soon, you couldn’t tell whether he was black or white. Then, you couldn’t tell whether he was a boy or a girl. Finally, you couldn’t tell whether he was a human being or an alien from outer space.
And that was precisely what was important about him–he transgressed all those bounds. He blurred, even erased the lines we all draw around those catagories, lighting up squares as he danced.
People forget how strange and out there Jackson was, even when, still an attractive, relatively normal looking young man, he first broke out as a solo act and conquered MTV. The way he dressed, the way he danced, the way he spoke and behaved, nobody had ever seen anything like him before–nobody in the mainstream, white culture bubble, anyway.
Suddenly teenyboppers, gradeschoolers, and even kindergardeners all over America and the world were bopping and moonwalking (sort of) like Michael Jackson. If it was ok to be like Michael Jackson, then it was ok to be weird.
That is what Wacko Jacko did. He made the world a little bit safer for weird people, a little bit safer to be different. He created cultural space for the free range odd. Going into the Age of Reagan, he bent gender when gender was begging to be bent. That all this arose not only out of his talent but his pathology, and seems to have destroyed him personally matters not at all in terms of the seismic shift of social mores his advent helped set in motion.
As tired as I am of hearing endless replays of his greatest hits everywhere I go, I have to give him a tip of my papal tiara for that.
Requiescat in pace.