A coworker came by my desk to give me the news.
Hey Peacemaker, have you heard?
Farrah Fawcett died today.
Oh yeah, I heard about it a little while ago when I was listening to NPR.
So did you hear the other part?
The other part? What’s that?
Michael Jackson had a heart attack and stopped breathing.
Over Farrah Fawcett???
And then I noticed other people in the office were having their own version of the same conversation in the cubes nearby and throughout the office. Michael Jackson was dead. Farrah picked a hell of a day to kick the bucket. The last thing a self important person like Ms. Fawcett needed was to be upstaged by the death of Michael Jackson. I went back to work.
It might be sad to say but I really could not care any less. Michael Jackson was the very worst example of a black person who really hated being black. While most self hating black people would be content to simply say that they have transcended race, Michael Jackson was the one black person that actually decided to do something about it. Michael Jackson stared at the man in the mirror and decided he didn’t like what he saw enough to buy a new white skin tone, a keen nose that stayed on his face most of the time, thin lips, and a drippy jerry curl to exorcise the kinkiness of his natural hair and eventually just had it permed straight and long. This was not a person happy about being black or who wanted to embrace his blackness. Mr. Jackson ran from being black in front of the entire world to see. Being black was much too painful for him to live with.
What is sad for me is that I loved Michael Jackson just as much as anyone else. Who didn’t? Who didn’t love to hear Michael Jackson sing? And I’m sure there were people who didn’t, but to hell with them. Everybody knew this was a seriously talented young black boy. The dude was crooning like a troubadour at five years old. Who shows that kind of natural talent just months after kicking their diapers to the curb? What was there not to like and admire? No doubt the boy was singing about things he truly didn’t understand. But his voice was so strong, so controlled, with such a good range, and so full of emotion that he could give you the impression that he knew exactly what he was singing about when he was singing songs like Got To Be There and Mama’s Pearl and I’ll Be There.
When Michael broke the stranglehold grip of Berry Gordy and Motown, he truly hit the stratosphere of stardom. Off the Wall, produced under the talented tutelage of Quincy Jones and released under the Epic label, was a phenomenal success for a debut album. And although the cracks were beginning to form in his blackness, his Motown roots were shining through. The songs were soulful modern interpretations of the songs Michael Jackson grew up singing with his brothers. And we all would be talking about Off the Wall to this day if it wasn’t for the even more spectacular success of his follow up album Thriller. Thriller broke just about every record when it was released. But by now Michael’s true colors began to show and black was not one of them.
On a daily basis Michael Jackson got weirder and weirder. And his music started to suffer as well. You use to be able to sing to a Michael Jackson tune. You could snap your fingers and bob your head as you sang Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough or Rock With You. But I couldn’t sing some of his latest stuff if you held a gun to my head. Michael stopped making the kind of music you wanted to hear and focused on the kind of music that had to be performed with a killer iconic dance move. For sure Michael Jackson’s name is associated with some of the most famous dance moves of all time. Everybody remembers the moonwalk and the robot associated with the song Dancing Machine. Everybody liked to see him spin in place like an ice skater doing a pirouette. But the new music began to take a backseat to the new dance moves on the stage and the songs became impossible to simply listen to or sing with over the radio.
The music that made Michael Jackson famous evaporated along with his blackness. The new hybrid Michael Jackson that looked more like a scarecrow from a Japanese anime and his accompanying music could never compete with the older version. And instead of being content to let his greatness lie in the past the King of Pop kept trying to recreate a new phenomenon based on superficial glitz and glamour instead of what really drove his initial success, the raw talent and the music.
Yes it is sad to hear that Michael Jackson died. But the fact of the matter is that to me, the Michael Jackson I came to know and love died a long time ago. The caricature that took the talented Michael Jackson’s place has finally died as well. Maybe in his death he’ll get the peace he appeared to never have had in life. I will miss the Michael Jackson I fell in love with. I will miss the Michael Jackson that I thought I could identify with as an obvious member of the black community. However, I will confess that I will not miss the man that became better known as the King of Pop.
Rest in peace Michael Jackson.
I remember as a child, I first became aware of Michael Jackson with his song “Ben”. I was around 10 years old at the time and I remember thinking this is the sweetest song I’d ever heard about friendship.
I remember when Off the Wall came out. I was 18 years old, full of “piss and vinegar” and was just getting started into my clubbing days. I had a lot of good times during that period and Michael’s music was the soundtrack to that part of my life.
I remember when I first heard “Billie Jean” from the albumn Thriller. It was “off the wall”!!! At the time I thought it was the best dance song I’d ever heard. I sweated at the clubs (and at home) to hit after hit from that albumn: “Beat it”, “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin”, “P.Y.T.” Then came the video to the song “Thriller”! I remember the first time I saw it and I just sat there on the couch, stunned for a while… and then thinking: “This is the most amazing thing I’d ever seen in my life!”
I remember Michael’s signature dance moves. When he first performed his “moonwalk” on the Motown special, I was floored! I will never forget the dance sequence at the end of the original video for the song “Black or White”. His complex dance moves, including the tap sequence, which seemed to be driven by a foreboding sexually charged energy and then all released through violent, destructive and explosive behaviour… though controversial… was something I had never seen before and has never been nor will never be duplicated.
Just like with Bob Marley, the passing of Michael Jackson is a significant event in my life. The man and his music represented a time and place in pop culture that influenced and shaped the lives of not only those of my generation, but also those before, after and to come.
Rest in peace King of Pop.
“And in the streets: the children screamed,
The lovers cried, and the poets dreamed.
But not a word was spoken;
The church bells all were broken.
And the three men I admire most:
The father, son, and the holy ghost,
They caught the last train for the coast
The day the music died.”
From “American Pie” by Don McLean
Rest in peace.
- TheLoop21.com and the Magic Johnson Foundation have teamed up for an online AIDS awareness campaign this summer called Stop Black AIDS. Visit the site to get involved and participate in online discussions, read enlightening and thought-provoking articles (I found “the racial politics of AIDS” very informative), get their logo for your blog and sign the petition to lobby Congress to do more to address this crisis within the African-American community.
- This story of UN troops killing mourners at a funeral in Haiti, got little or no mainstream news or media coverage that I saw and I’m a news junkie.
- BBC news report that according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), 1 billion people worldwide suffer from hunger, while developed countries are now richer than ever. Read more on the FAO website.
- A couple of articles from STRATFOR on the Iranian election crisis: Western Misconceptions Meet Iranian Reality and The Iranian Election and the Revolution Test.
- I needed to add this and you need to read this! From The World of Ensayn Reality: How to overcome H1N1 or Swine Flu: man made weapon or not!
- A thought-provoking post over at Muslim Bushido: An Open Letter To African-American Women Who PUBLICLY State That They Would Never Date/Marry Outside The Race
Yesterday, I made it a point to go see “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” in IMAX. Ever since the last Transformers theatrical release I had been giddy for more.
Hours before I headed to the movies, I started reading posts online that discussed racism in the movie but still I pressed on to Showcase Cinemas and dropped $10.50 for my ticket.
Fast forwarding 2.5 hours later. I’m walking out of the theater with my mind blown for many reasons; 1st, the movie was so action packed I thought I was going to slip into a seizure. 2nd the movie was overtly sexually, which made it seem like an R rated movie instead of PG-13 and 3rd The racism that was built into the movie billed as comedic relief.
As I drove home, I tried to reconcile the racism but I could not, so I decided to sleep on it. So this morning, when I woke up, I actually got mad about what I saw in “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.” The racism that I’m talking about in case you don’t already know is dealing with the Autobot twins “Skids” and “Mudflap” or the “ Little Black Sambo[ts].”
- Both of the twins talk like they are straight from a Lil Wayne video.
- The play the dozens (crack jokes on each other and anyone else) in every scene.
- They are seemingly proud of the fact that they cannot read. “Read?! Nuh-uh…” “No, we don’t really do much readin’!”
- Skids has a GOLD front tooth. Yes, a big bucked out gold tooth
- The names “Skids” and “Mudflap” imply darkness and or nastiness.
- Do I really need to add a 6th, you should get the picture now.
(Wait, for extra measure, if you want to see another relevant countdown list, you have to read this. “7 reasons why Transformers 2 might be racist…”)
With all this now parsed out, I’m wondering why and how this stereotypical bullshit slipped past Michael Bay and Paramount Pictures. Did they care? Did they know? Did they think it was ok?
I feel bad and torn because I actually liked the movie a lot, but how could I in good conscious? Maybe it’s the kid in me remembering watching the cartoon way back in the mid 80s.
Although the racism pisses me off about this flick, I was also disturbed about the adult content and overt hypersexuality. But like I said, I liked the movie, so what does this mean about me?
I know I won’t see the movie again, nor will I purchase the DVD. I do not want my kids seeing this mess and not only that it’s so not a kids movie. Don’t let the PG-13 rating fool you!
Transformers used to be all about the kids way back when, but not so much now thanks to Michael Bay and Paramount Pictures. I’m just saying.
Side note: This post is not nearly what I wanted it to be. Not at all! My thoughts are with and on Michael Jackson. As I wrap this up, I’m chair dancing to “Off The Wall” while I try to control my urge to cry about a man that reached my soul through song, dance and beauty.
Albert Bernard Omar Bongo Ondimba, former Gabonese dictator, was but a symbol of rot, greed, shame, myopia, hypocrisy and controversy.
“I’m glad to be honest with you. I know that you don’t really rejoice from someone’s death”. One anonymous teacher was quoted as saying when the news of the death of the tyrant surfaced. This tells all regarding how a common man in the street views dictators who pretend to be loved whilst the opposite is true.
Though this can be wrongly seen as preaching recusancy and ridiculing the dead, the truth is, dictators have no good legacy but rot and hatred. How can people love their tormentors and exploiters?
Like Gnassigbe Eyadema ( Togo ), Joseph Desire Mobutu (DRC), Sani Abacha (Nigeria) and Felix Hauphet Boigny ( Ivory Coast ), Bongo did nothing for his country but to rob it and bring shame to it. To him Gabon was but his private estate he used he deemed fit. Some will say he built roads even schools and what not. But looking at how much he stole and how much people deserve, all end up being nothing comparably.
Like other living African dictators, Bongo did nary bother about tomorrow. To him, death was an illusion. And this is why even when he was dead, his stooges denied this reality! He’s now confirmed dead. He died in Spain where he was receiving treatments. But what folly! The nation was told he was in Spain for just a check up and holiday… not sick!
Swahili sage has it that: “he who hides illness, death will shame him.” Or, “he who hides fire, smoke will shame him”, as it happened in the death of this despot that plundered his country for a good forty two years.
Bongo, a short put like North Korean Kim Jong Il, that used high heel shoes to conceal his dwarfism, goes down as an illiterate that was used by France to rob his country, not to mention killing his opponents when it was impossible to purchase them.