Michael Jackson: Requiem for an Artist of Unity

Music has no color.

So, the King of Pop is dead.

On the one hand, 50 is not very old, especially for someone who can afford the very best medical treatment money can buy.  On the other hand, we have become accustomed to celebrities dying early deaths; for every centenarian Bob Hope, there are a half-dozen Marilyn Monroes or James Deans, to say nothing of Princess Dianas.

We have become used to the Whole World Stopping for a global paroxysm of mourning - or, at least, those parts of the world that regularly appear on TV.  From the weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth, you'd think Mr. Jackson had been Mahatma Gandhi or Mother Teresa, perhaps both.

Others have written of this strange imbalance between fame and accomplishment and what it says about our society.  Our question, alas, is far sadder.  Let's consider what actor Jamie Foxx had to say about the legacy of Michael Jackson:

We want to celebrate this black man - he belongs to us - and we shared him with everybody else.  [emphasis added]

What?!  Michael Jackson was no man's property.  He belonged to himself.  He did as he pleased, perhaps a little too much so.

His music, on the other hand, belonged to the world - his recordings have been loved by people of all colors, nations, and languages for decades - even fighting to enjoy his music without paying financial homage to the recording industry moguls who own the copyrights.

Imagine the reaction if, in an Elvis tribute, Brad Pitt were to say that we wanted to celebrate this white man who belonged to white people everywhere, and which we generously shared with the world.  Or said that about the Beatles.  Or Beethoven.  Having a hard time imagining such a thing?  Point made.

Music is colorless; it belongs to every performer, and every listener, without regard to race, creed, color, tongue, religion, or national origin.  You may love Mr. Jackson's art or you may hate it; that is entirely your choice.  His race has nothing to do with it.

When Mr. Foxx brought up the subject of Mr. Jackson's race for no good reason, he denied something that's as plain as the nose on Mr. Jackson's face once was: if there was one thing Michael did not want to be, it was a black man.

His rumored fourteen plastic surgeries turned him from a clearly black teenager, complete with Afro, into a caricature of an androgynous white person.  Nobody held his head under bleach; nobody tied him to the operating table.  He had himself changed of his own free will.

The same is true of his personal relationships.  Both of his wives were white women, and his children, insofar as anyone has ever seen them, are what you'd expect from such unions: namely, not black.

There is nothing wrong with any of these choices; Mr. Jackson had a perfect right to do as he pleased with his own body, to marry whomever he pleased, to have children with whomever would agree to bear his children.  If ever a young boy had a bizarre childhood certain to cause permanent psychological scarring, it was he; who knows what demons haunted his life?  Perhaps he was, in the accusation of the old Black Power movement, a self-hater; we all have our hang-ups and neuroses.

Does it honor his memory to revel in the blackness he spent his life running from?  For all his faults and questionable choices, Michael Jackson never hated anyone.

The man who sang "It don't matter if you're black or white" was all about love and unity, not revenge, race, Balkanization, or even grammar.  "A black man" is positively the last thing he would have wanted to be remembered as:

I'm not going to spend my life being a color.

It's a great shame that a man who spent his life trying to bring the world closer together has been revoltingly misused by the usual mob of politically-correct race-baiters to try to tear our nation further apart.  On some level, even Mr. Foxx realized this:

It don't matter what he looked like ... what his nose looked like ... it was what he sounded like.

Precisely.  Show some respect.  The racial identity circus should listen to the words of their stolen idol and do as he said:

I'm starting with the man in the mirror, I'm asking him to change his ways. [emphasis added]

Read other Scragged.com articles by Hobbes or other articles on Society.
Reader Comments
Hmmmmm...Slow day in the news cycle eh?

Listen, Jamie Foxx's reaction is no different than Catholic's reaction when JFK was elected President; the Irish's reaction when Tip O'Neil became Speaker of the House; nor undoubtedly the Hispanic reaction when Judge Sotamayor becomes Supreme Justice Sotamayor.

The reason you wouldn't see Brad Pitt exault in group identity with Elvis, is because historically speaking, ascending to such pinnacles has been the province of White entertainers, politicians, etc. So why "exault" in a special recognition, for which typically, a member of your group was the recipient?

That's why you don't see Blacks taking particular racial pride in Black Heavyweight champions like they did when Jack Johnson, and Joe Louis became champs, because today it's a common occurence.

["Does it honor his memory to revel in the blackness he spent his life running from?"]

Do you think that if Elvis threw down his guitar and swore of music at some point after becoming a musical icon, that he would be any less revered, or celebrated as the "King or Rock-n-Roll" after his death?

Why should Michael Jackson's memory be defined by HIS "demons", but not Elvis'? Should Elvis' eating disorder and drug addictions be attached to any celebration of his memory?


Also, I reject your premise that MJ "spent his life running away from his Blackness".

If that was so, why during his interview with Oprah, did he emphatically state: "I'm a Black American, I am proud of my race. I am proud of who I am."?

Why did he feature and collaborate with so many Black professionals in making his music?

Why sing music with so much R&B (ie. Black) influence? Particularly later in his career where it could be argued that he sang predominantly R&B. Why not exclusively sing folk, rock or country, where he could have really been on his way to totally distancing himself from any and everything Black?

Nah, I submit he was attempting to transcend BOTH race AND sex, by altering his appearance to LOOK race-less and sexless.

Either that, or look like Liz Taylor :)

But like I said, must have been a slow news day.
July 2, 2009 3:29 PM
Good riddance to bad rubbish. Let the rest of the world mourn that child-molesting freak; you guys stick to politics.
July 2, 2009 3:51 PM
Great followup on the MJ hysteria. The difference between Elvis and MJ was that Elvis' shortcomings only hurt himself.
July 2, 2009 7:57 PM
Well first of all MJ's crimes were alledged.

Secondly, he was never convicted of his alledged crimes.

Thirdly, what crime he may or may not have committed is totally irrelevant to this article.
July 2, 2009 8:04 PM
"if there was one thing Michael did not want to be, it was a black man. His rumored fourteen plastic surgeries turned him from a clearly black teenager, complete with Afro, into a caricature of an androgynous white person"

Maybe not. People tell me that Jackson never admitted that. When asked, he always insisted that he had some kind of skin disease. Personally, I doubt it; the color was far too even across his body to be the work of a disease. Just saying.
July 2, 2009 8:17 PM
Yeah, OJ's crimes were all alleged too. Celebrity justice is great if you can get it.
July 2, 2009 8:18 PM
Doubting that disease caused his loss of pigmentation is not unreasonable.

I was actually skeptical myself when I first heard the condition offered as an explanation.

But I have actually met a person with vitiglio who also has an almost completely uniform loss of pigmentation just as MJ has. However, there were areas hidden by clothing that where not completely without pigment. But the surface of the skin that was exposed (extremities, face, neck scalp) was completely depigmented.

I suspect that there are areas of MJs body that still contain pigment as well.

July 2, 2009 8:31 PM
Lol...OJ? In a "Black folks shouldn't revel in Michael Jackson's Blackness because he 'ran from his Blackness his whole life'" article?

Um, ok.

But Yes, celebrities, and even Los Angeles police officers caught on video committing obvious felonies it seems, appear to be afforded a different brand of justice than the average person.
July 2, 2009 8:40 PM
Yep, there are at least 2 kinds of justice out there today. That's why Mr. Obama appointed a Supreme Court justice with empathy so she could add an extra racial twist to her deliberations.....
July 2, 2009 10:25 PM
tony liberal w.c.( who cares )
I doubt there is any aspect of mj`s or oj`s character that you would not twist to make it appear righteous,just as there would be no actions by the police that you would not find devious or conspiratorial....I`m sure you don`t call yourself liberal for nothing.
July 2, 2009 10:50 PM

For someone so sure of things...
...You don't know jack.

You ARE right about one thing though: I "don't call myself a Liberal for nothing".

I call myself a Liberal...because I care. ;-)

Have a good one.

July 2, 2009 11:24 PM

This comment is directly pointed at you, not the article.

You call yourself a liberal because "you care." Fine. Conservatives show they care by donating more to charity than liberals:

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2008/03/conservatives_more_liberal_giv.html (same article here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/26/AR2008032602916_pf.html)


So you go around saying "you care" while conservatives actually care.

Liberalism is simply a way for you to assuage your guilt at the cost of someone else. You let the government take tax money and give a pittance to a needy person and you say you care.



It's time to start thinking... then your caring will actually make a difference.
July 3, 2009 11:08 AM
Rep. Peter King had some thoughts about MJ:


From the article...

"The bottom line is, would you let your child or grandchild be alone in a room with Michael Jackson?"

"I just thought, this has gone over the top. It was an orgy of glorification"

"He died, he had some talent, but fine, there are people dying every day. There are men and women dying everyday in Afghanistan, let's give them the credit they deserve."

July 7, 2009 11:56 AM
Right...Where was Peter King, during that "orgy of glorification" for that adulturess Princess Diana?

He's as transparent as a spider web.

July 7, 2009 12:17 PM
July 7, 2009 12:45 PM
Nah...Peter King was in congress, and if he had been stupid enough to criticize Diana during the mourning of her death, we definitely would have heard about it.

Well, your opinion on the scope of the passing of MJ is not unreasonable.

P.S. What's with the caps?
July 7, 2009 12:52 PM
Rush noted, humorously, that Michael Jackson flourished under Reagan, languished under Bush and Clinton, and died under Obama. Interesting timeline. Perhaps MJ was fed up with all the runaway spending too.
July 9, 2009 4:08 PM
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