Everyone has heard the sad news about Michael Jackson and I like to think that everyone was at least somewhat saddened. I mean if you don’t like Michael Jackson songs, then what’s the point? While everyone was upset, some people, some very deeply devoted fans, were nothing short of devastated…physically , emotionally, spiritually. One of these people was our good friend Megan Riebesell. She won’t be able to see Michael in London this summer, but the least we could do was let her share some words with you. – Roy
Hello. My name is Megan Riebesell and I am here to talk to you about the biggest tragedy this planet has ever seen. As you must have figured out by now, I’m referring to the death of Michael Joseph Jackson. During this period of confusion, referred to by psychologists as “Stage 1: Denial” in the model for the five stages of grief, it is hard for people to see clearly to the issue at hand. In hopes that this article will make it easier to cope, at least for the mere few it may reach, I am going to use this forum to share some of my experiences with Michael, and discuss how his passing has affected me, Megan Riebesell.
It was obvious from a young age that Michael was probably not supposed to have ended up on earth. Something went wrong, somebody messed something up. Whoopsies! Typo, wrong planet, something like that. People kind of started to realize this when the J5 made their first appearance on Ed Sullivan in 69. If you saw this you’d probably notice what could develop into a debilitating overload of soul and groove. Certainly too much to be contained by the small, frail body of an11 year old. If you went even further and watched this one you’d additionally notice that he’s not moving the way that a child who probably just advanced to having legible handwriting should move.
So lots of people were sort of catching on, J5 ruled with 4 consecutive number one hits on the billboard chart, which was the first time this had ever happened. I have to assume that people who actually lived through his emergence were desperately rationalizing: “Okay this kid will probably grow out of it in like 4 years when he’s a fucked up teenage mess.” I think a lot of people would have been more comfortable with that scenario.
Instead, Michael decided to fucking unleash his maniac talent on everyone full throttle. By the time when most kid stars would start to totally burn themselves out, realizing they completely missed out on childhood and collapsing beneath the pressure of the limelight and everything, Michael invented a new way of dealing with all of it. He figured since he was irreversibly damaged and would probably never fully work through it, he might as well use the one thing he did get out of it, which was being raised as a fucking psychotic perfectionist. So he decided to just like create everything. He focused all of his dysfunctional shit as well as his superhuman talent-energy, and took music and entertainment to a level that didn’t even exist yet. Flawlessly. Pretty much: wake up, think of the bass line to Billie Jean, brush your teeth, oh start doing THE MOONWALK, um go downstairs, grab a banana, redefine music videos , and then finally head off to work at the studio inventing pop music, etc. Day in the life of MJ. No biggy.
By 1994, Michael has already released Thriller, which is still the top selling record of all time, and is onto his 4th best selling album already (and has done all that other shit that you’ll wikipedia later.) People as a whole are immersed in the new world of entertainment he has created. I’m starting to feel a little weird about how many consecutive times I can jump all over my couches screaming to the Free Willy theme and still get emotional at the end. Ironically enough, this is around the point when everyone starts to turn on him. He’s just doing his thing, inventing everything that people ever like ever so that everyone can copy him forever. Yea, he’s fucking crazy as fuck considering everything, but he’s still just pumping all of that into amazing visual and auditory masterpieces for the whole world to enjoy. He’s touring selling out shows on every continent by now and it’s a little bit daunting for humans to discover that one being can pretty much hypnotize a good amount of their entire species at one time. It’s to the extent where an alarming amount of people literally become incapacitated or unconscious, sometimes needing medical attention, when in his presence. I mean yea, I know, Beatlemania and everything, but seriously this is different. Full grown men had to be lifted out of the crowd, sobbing and hysterical. The physical reactions people had just to seeing him on stage was unsettling. Humans detected an unmistakable cause for concern.
If you’re going to watch one video in this post, watch this one. With the lights off.
Everyone flipped out when they realized Michael Jackson had too much power over the human race. So we just did the thing where we criticize someone until we bring them down to our level. We thought it was weird that he was had a chimp named Bubbles, wanted to buy the elephant man bones, made his house into a peter pan amusement park, cried at the end of Men in Black, etc. Personally, I don’t see what’s so weird about being a fucking CRAZY person after having a dramatically shitty life, and having to be a vessel for all of those insane songs and dance moves that needed to reach earth somehow. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty confident that a normal, psychologically sound person would not be capable of even one of his countless feats. Still, most people were feeling uneasy about the whole situation. We felt compelled to exploit all of his quirks until we had completely forgotten about all of his contributions. On top of being the victim of a really unfortunate skin disease analysts agreed that MJ suffered from another shitty condition, body dimorphic disorder. Jeez, what a weirdo, feeling like he needs to change his physical appearance. Anyway, as it turned out, no one could see past his physical appearance, so his music became secondary to gossip about his strange lifestyle, and he was slandered for the rest of his life. After this, Michael decided that he would rather hang around chimps and little kids only. Again, to me this seems like a pretty basic cause-and-effect type situation we have here. However, the masterminds of mankind determined that he must have been molesting kids. Not the monkey though, oddly enough.
So somehow by the time his last album hit, which was of course no Thriller, but still better than most things, lots of people were too embarrassed to go into a record store (remember those?) and ring up the latest from the world’s most renowned child-molester at the time. And who could blame us? The trials got way more publicity than, lets say, when he founded the Heal the World foundation, whose mission was to provide medicine to children and fight world hunger, homelessness, child exploitation and abuse. Or his being a major contributor to 39 additional charities in his career. They got even more coverage than when all of the profits from smash hits “Man in the Mirror” and “Heal the World” went to charity. Probably even more well known than the “We are the World” video, which he coordinated, gathering the biggest musicians at the time to record a song that raised millions of dollars for famine relief. Or how on the 123-show world tour for “Bad” he invited underprivileged children to watch for free and sing with him on stage, and then gave donations to local hospitals, orphanages and other charities in every place he visited. The trials, which were unsuccessful in providing any actual evidence of molestation, are still more widely acknowledged than how the “Dangerous” world tour, where he danced like a fucking maniac for 65 shows and then gave all of the proceeds, I repeat, all, ALL of them to Heal the World. After that he sold the broadcast rights for the show to HBO, took that money and put it towards HIV/AIDS research. And remember when his afro caught on fire during the filming for that Pepsi commercial? Haha ha ha!! Guess what? He took the money from that lawsuit and gave it to the hospital where he was treated and started a burn ward for research and technology in severe burn treatment. Then he got plastic surgery because he was self-conscious about his scalp and we made fun of him for the rest of his life. And said that he touches babies.
So after trying to withdraw from the public eye, (unsuccessfully, as tons of brilliant journalists and psychoanalysts made whole careers out of obsessing over his weirdness) Michael comes back at the world and announces “THIS IS IT.” A 50- show tour taking place at the 02 stadium in London, possibly his last performance ever. In tradition of MJ, he had invented some kind of crazy 3-D background scheme that would transform the experience of seeing a live concert. He committed to giving the world one last show, granting everyone the chance to forget all about the baby-dangling and plastic surgeries and just enjoy the fucking immaculate presentation of all of the songs that make everyone dance no matter where they are. He agreed to subject his 50 year old body to putting on 50 more seizure-inducing performances which would have allowed millions of people to enjoy the same magic that had possessed them for decades. It would have given millions the opportunity to experience the intense, uplifting energy that looks more powerful and mind-altering than any drug trip. An experience that is unexplainable, but proven by concert footage of full grown adults losing the ability to hold themselves up. I was going to be one of these people.
Michael Jackson has left behind a whole world of humans who were touched by his timeless legacy. I’m sure that even those of you who didn’t spend $750 on airfare to London have the same feeling of emptiness in your lives as I do right now. But remember, we are all in this together. Take advantage of your neighbors and comrades who have probably all have attempted the moonwalk at one time or another, and might need someone to commiserate. Talking it out feels good. Even if it leads to both parties drunkenly agreeing that Michael Jackson was more important than Jesus, or the holocaust, and then the conversation becomes a little uncomfortable. Just get it all out. Letting yourself come to terms with how you feel will help you to reach the final step in the grieving process: Acceptance. Make this tragedy easier for yourself and those around you. Heal the world. It’s what Michael would have wanted us to do. We’re all going to get through this.