A little bit off the wall

Thursday, June 25th, 2009 @ 11:59 pm | Culture, In Memorium, Music, We'll post whatever we goddamned want to

I was going to write about the current situation in Iran, when I was stunned by the shocking news of Michael Jackson’s death.

Anyone born between the years 1970-1990, knew him as the king of pop, and can name and/or sing 5-10 of his songs.  I would be bold to say that of these people, before the age of 10 would have told you that he was their favorite singer.

There was no other artist, that is as well known in as many countries as Michael Jackson.  Religion, culture, and political beliefs aside, many people all over the world were touched by his music.

Music is one of those things that transcends all these things and can be a universal unifier.  Which is why in the mountains of Tora Bora, Afghanistan, in the remotest village in Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, anywhere you go someone has heard of Michael Jackson and can tell you what their favorite Michael Jackson song is.  Yes, even Osama Bin Laden probably has a favorite Michael Jackson tune, and tried to moonwalk when he was a young fanatic.  Hell, white Christian fanatics like Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh probably have a favorite Michael Jackson song.

He was the first real megastar in music.  He was a whole lotta crazy well before Britney Spears and Amy Winehouse.  Before boy bands, there was the Jackson 5.  You may say Beatles, but the Jackson 5 were younger, the first true boy band.  Justin Timberlake wouldn’t have any dance moves or falsetto without Michael.  Before U2, Michael Jackson pushed the boundaries of the largest overblown, multimedia, multi-million dollar rock shows.  Yes I say rock, because he employed the best backing rock session musicians in his albums and tours.

Before Michael Jackson, Bollywood movies actually had plots, and the only music was the backing soundtrack, and the only dancing was two lovers running through forests and around trees in the beautiful mountains of Kashmir.  From the 80’s onwards, choreographed dance sequences are now the central part of the movie, and all copy the moves from Thriller, Beat It, Smooth Criminal, and such.

The list goes on, but he was truly extraordinary, and his departure will be mourned all over the world and in also the least likeliest of places.


P.S. I know mg and jb will crucify me for posting this 😛

7 Responses to “A little bit off the wall”

  1. jeromy Says:

    That was until I read the second-to-last paragraph. Last minute save, bro.

  2. Thomas Tallis Says:

    only part I take issue with is “first real megastar” – Elvis beat him there, and to this day is probably still a more deeply-imprinted icon; people can know what “Elvis” means without knowing who Elvis even was, i.e., his style imprinted itself onto collective global cultural memory

  3. jeromy Says:

    Early toxicology reports indicate cause of death to be inhalation of Smilex gas.

  4. Sonia Says:

    I completely agree with Ali. Both him and I are familiar with the most remote parts of the world where one is considered wealthy by owning a flashlight. In their slums or in mud houses, I have often seen posters of Michael Jackson proudly displayed. Elvis doesn’t ring any bell to them, to the Western world may be he is an icon but in terms of collective global cultural memory, MJ and often the Beatles are most prominent. I never really express my opinions but one this I am happy to be agreeing with my wonderfully insightful husband.

  5. Ali Says:

    Thomas –

    I was expecting people to say Elvis.

    But you are wrong my friend. Elvis was huge in the US, and UK, parts of Europe. However, his stardom did not reach globally, to the most remote parts of the world. Although Elvis impacted Anglo-American pop-culture, Michael Jackson affected many cultures outside of the Western world.

    There have been none that reached the megastardom that MJ, and it remains to be seen if any will after him.

  6. mike g Says:

    P.S. I know mg and Jeromy will crucify me for posting this

    No kidding! You’re our token Paki on staff and with all of what’s going on in Asian and the Middle East all you can think of to post about is Michael Fucking Jackson?

  7. Ali Says:

    mike –

    Bitch I guarantee you this is consuming the headlines in Iran and Pakistan too.

    Even the Iranians have forgotten about their elections due to this.

    Mark my words, this is the 2nd highest profile death since Lady Di, so you bet your knickers it’s worth posting about.