You know what the sad thing is? Daniel will never know him.
I’m sure he’ll hear a song on the radio. He may even surprise me by getting "Thriller" or "Off the Wall" for his own collection. But chances are, Daniel will know Michael Jackson as a past figure, a supposed superstar who got really, really weird as he grew older.
I grew up knowing Michael Jackson. His songs played on the radio. We used to watch the Jackson 5 cartoon show (remember that?) on channel 50, before it became UPN. My cousin and I sneaked In seventh grade, our school had a "Michael Jackson" day. We all dressed up in leather and wore sequined gloves on our right hands. Well, I didn’t, but I remember getting out all the Michael Jackson buttons I owed (I think there were six) and wearing them proudly.
I was twelve years old when I watched Michael do the moonwalk live on Motown’s 25 anniversary. My cousin and I watched Thriller and got scared by it. But my absolute favorite at the time was "Can You Feel It" with his brothers. The video was psychedelic enough in the early 80s to be surreal. I’ll always associate "Let Me Show You" with driving to downtown Chicago, because it always seemed to be playing whenever my dad went to pick up my mother.
It’s always a little weird when a celebrity dies, but this is the first time where someone from my generation dies. I don’t mean Michael Jackson was part of our generation. He was 50, after all. But it was us, the MTV generation, whose lives he impacted the most. And I think that’s the Michael we’re kind of mourning the most. Not the Michael of the past Jackson 5, or the Michael of the last few years who appeared more like a living doll. But the Michael that got a grammar school to dedicate a day to him, that appeared to be made of liquid lightening when he danced.
In a sad way, all the tributes being done now seem to be a better fit than if Michael had been alive. The Michael Jackson of my youth and late teens had disappeared a long time ago. MTV don’t play videos anymore, and I don’t follow mainstream music like I used to.
Here’s to hoping he got that peace he was looking for.