Monday, 29 June 2009

Critiquing cultural icons

When I was writing my earlier post about Janet Jackson's Rock Hall credentials, my brother pointed out that Michael Jackson had died. Although I nowadays have no interest in his music except when it comes to potential theme songs for anti-road building campaigns, I am still extremely interested as to how people see the culture behind Michael Jackson. My mother herself is very critical, saying his extravagance, especially on drugs, makes CityLink look thrifty!!

Rod Dreher, a writer whose critiques are very interesting and revealing, has written on his blog a number of telling articles about Michael Jackson's childhood problems. His point that Michael Jackson had no childhood before he was thrust into the spotlight and that this made him extremely eccentric is very revealing. Even before I lost interest in him (and commercial 1980s music) I had heard similar things said about Michael Jackson in encyclopedias like Grolier. Dreher here is particularly revealing about the way Jackson used art, not to confront his own fears, but to escape from them into a fantasy world. Songs about loving young women may represent something Michael Jackson wished to be but was not and did not know how to be, though so much of it seems safe for the youngest and most strictly-raised children when they are insulated from the person making the music (though I have always been and still am generally a believer in letting art rather than the artist do that "talking").

A more revealing critique still can be found in the humorous but childlike King Of Pop Dead At 12. In King Of Pop Dead at 12, we see Michael Jackson's life compressed into twelve years. It does have a telling effect that is very revealing for a person like myself who has a tendency toward childish rants even in my thirties when everybody around me says I should be far more mature.

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