Who Was Michael Jackson
Victor Davis Hanson
Michael Jackson Remembered
Yet even as headlines continue to dominate the news about his complicated estate, a gargantuan-memorial service in
In the days since his passing, friends, biographers and hangers-on have gossiped that beneath the image of a perpetually youthful superstar that Jackson tried so hard to cultivate was in reality a tired, anorexic middle-aged man who'd spent years struggling with prescription drugs.
In truth, almost everything about the Jackson persona proved to be fantasy -- an Oz-like projection on the screen powered by a strange fellow behind the curtain desperately struggling with gears and levers.
The kindly and soft-spoken Jackson may have given millions to children's charities and built a child's dream theme park at his Santa Barbara "Neverland" ranch. He even talked in near-childlike fashion. And yet on two occasions, the children's advocate was accused of sexual molestation of boys. He settled out of court in one instance and was acquitted in a court trial on the second, but Jackson strangely said he saw nothing wrong in sharing his bed with minors.
Jackson always wanted to be seen as a Peter-Pan-like innocent. Yet again, his performance videos were sexually charged, as he often grabbed his crotch or strutted about in other lascivious dance moves before legions of underage fans.
He talked much of the importance of family, truth and innocence. But he sadly grew up in a dysfunctional family with an abusive father. Now, questions in turn have been raised of the true parentage of Jackson's own three children.
Jackson was heralded as a path-breaker by the black community. At last week's annual
He earned well over a billion dollars during his lifetime, and at one point may have had assets worth a half-billion dollars. But he died owing more than he was worth, with almost no cash on hand. Jackson finally signed on to a marathon 50-show concert stint in
Yet in tragic irony, Jackson's death led to soaring record sales and new merchandising that may make those in his will rich in a way they would never have been were the bankrupt and fading former superstar still alive.
How then will posterity assess
Jackson had meteoric early success, but, unlike the ageless Rolling Stones, was not able to maintain his earlier pace, or adapt to new tastes and genres. The moonwalking Jackson clearly had the natural dancing ability and brilliant creativity of a
In the end, Jackson will be known mostly as a path-breaking marketing genius. His extravagant stage shows and music videos -- replete with fireworks, celebrity cameos, animation and special effects -- finally overshadowed the music itself. And largely for that reason, he captivated millions of audience-goers in an electronic and video age.
Jackson's quasi-military uniforms, gloved hand, pet chimp and weird habits added to the
In the end,
Remembering My Michael Jackson
Here's how I want to remember Michael -- not as the mega-star, not as Wacko Jacko, but as a lovely boy whom I got to know a bit during the filming of "The Wiz" when he was 16. He was shy -- surprisingly so, for somebody who was already a show biz veteran, and a star.
His solo "Off the Wall" and "Thriller" albums were just around the corner. He was still the brilliant lead singer of the Jackson Five -- a group that never would have gotten off the ground had it not been for Michael's unique talents.
Michael Jackson's Creative Self-Destruction
Which was your favorite Michael Jackson? News that the "King of Pop" had died at age 50 might well have felt more shocking had he not shocked us so often in the past. He shocked the world in a good way back when he was a kid.
Michael Jackson, Gone Too Soon
Leonard Pitts Jr.
Sometimes, death is lightning from a clear blue sky, a car that runs the red light, ice-cold water dumped on you from behind. That's how it was last week when Michael Jackson died.
Michael Jackson: 'Thriller' Was Greatest Triumph, Greatest Tragedy
Leonard Pitts Jr.
I got to interview Michael Jackson only once, at the family home in Encino, Calif. I remember Jackson did not walk about the place so much as haunt it, slumping from room to room as a great weight rested upon his sparrow shoulders.
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