Michael Jackson: Genius or Pariah?

Illustration for article titled Michael Jackson: Genius or Pariah?

I woke up this morning feeling honest. I'm shocked by Michael Jackson's death, yes. I'm numb and sad and anxious.  However, here's the deeper truth:  Michael Jackson had not been part of my daily consciousness in years.  I removed him.  I removed his so-called ugly from my so-called clean mind.  The removal started when MJ had the first bit of obvious plastic surgery.  Then I saw what was happening to his coloring and removed him a bit more.  By the time rumors began to spread about his ambiguous sleepovers with pre-pubescent boys I was, well, done.  I think the alleged "Jesus Juice" was the final straw.  I have spent the last decade judging Michael.  I refused to believe his coloring was a result of Vitiligo. I don't even remember him being diagnosed with Lupus in 1986. I was not convinced his children were biological. I would argue with anyone that they were genetically-engineered.  I tuned out Michael's on-air outrage when investigators took pictures of his penis, looking for "a mole".  He was a pedophile, I thought, and any type of scrutiny should be enforced.


As I peruse Facebook updates on Michael's genius and add some of my own, a large part of me feels like an imposter.  I certainly, and without question, adored MJ.  His voice, moves and innocence are unforgettable.  It's clear he shaped his life around his fans.  It's clear he decided long ago that he was put on this planet to bring joy to the masses.  To thrill the masses.  That's why I feel like a big grieving, judgmental imposter.  I loved Off the Wall and Beat It like nobody's business, but I was one of millions who watched him deteriorate under public gaze and said nothing.  Believed in fact that his wavering health was a result of public expectation and lashing.  In a way, MJ was the most amazing consumer product ever designed and once it lost some its vitality, well, I turned up my nose and tossed it in the trash with the other junk.

I'm saddened by the loss of Michael Jackson and the madness of his music will always get to me, but I honestly don't feel I'm completely worthy to mourn like a true-blue unwavering fan.  I judged him horribly.

Keith Josef Adkins is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter and social commentator.