CLEVELAND - On one of the very worse, sickening, tear-soaked days of my life, the great Michael Jackson was taken from his children, myself and the world. He had spent the last 16 years of his life under heavy public criticism and hatred.
Then, he was gone.
Today is the 5th anniversary of that heart wrenching day. June 25, 2009 is a day that will forever live in infamy for me as well as MJ’s global fanbase numbering into the tens of millions. At the time of his departure, public perception of the iconic entertainer was filled with sheer negativity. Mostly in the U.S., he was seen as a weird, child molesting monster obsessed with plastic surgery and wrought with a near-dormant career that had once flew high above the entire music industry and set new standards of excellence.
But as soon as he died, he became reborn in the minds of fans, music critics and the general public. Tons of tributes poured out dedicated to him and his greatest artistic achievements were put back into the spotlight. Sure, there were still salacious stories that surfaced, more sordid accusations of child molestations dating back more than 20 years, and of course, more jokes from comedians and television commentators everywhere.
In spite of all this, Michael Jackson’s absence has allowed his aura and his legend to thrive and breathe comfortably. The extremely successful MJ Cirque de Solei shows have re-imagined his great stage performances and historic albums and brought them to contemporary audiences. He has a “new” album out that has received praise from critics. Even Jeep has one of Jackson’s songs featured in a recent television commercial.
This has all become possible and “acceptable” because the man himself is no longer around. Because of MJ’s super controversial life and widespread belief that he molested young boys, he had become an outcast in his own country; a sharp contrast to his early 1980’s pinnacle when he had become something of a national obsession because of the staggering success and popularity of his Thriller album and groundbreaking short films that accompanied it. He was even called a “national treasure” at the 1984 American Music Awards.
On this awful anniversary, I am happy that a lot of love has returned for MJ. I am just furious that it took him to die for it to happen.