We've certainly taken a hit this week with the celebrity deaths. Philly's own Ed McMahon passed away (funny story - someone at work said she couldn't believe he died .... THE MAN WAS 87 ... REALLY? YOU COULDN'T BELIEVE IT?) Of course, poster-diva Farrah Fawcett passed away too after a lengthy battle with cancer (we'll keep it at that and try not to mention where the cancer was). And, of course, the King of Pop, Michael Jackson finally "Beat it." Thank you, thank you - I'll be here all week ... remember to tip your waitresses and bartenders!
I guess I'm not sure how I feel about his passing. I was a "recreational" Michael Jackson fan ... which means I liked some of his music, but really only shelled out money on his greatest hits cd when it was in a discount bin at a local record store. Certainly, he was a main influence to many of today's pop-stars through his amazing work in the 1980's, and he was able to accrue a large fan-base, both from his time in the Jackson 5 as well as through his solo work.
However, the past 18 years or so have been, how can we put this, absolutely tragic for Michael. I mean first of all, his transformation to a good looking (I'm straight, by the way) young man, to something that could easily pass for an alien in a Star Trek movie has been truly surreal. First, his nose started shrinking. Then his skin went from brown to translucent. Then, he became extremely frail and thin. His voice became lighter and lighter, as if he had turned into a grandmother.
That wouldn't be so bad, if that was all that happened. No, sadly, Michael started doing some crazy stuff ... like buying the bones of the elephant man, hanging out with a monkey, building an amusement park he lived in, and apparently using that park to attract young children to do stuff with (I won't go into that too much either, as we all already know what that "stuff" was). His reputation and image pretty much became irreparable ... at least while he was living. He was a walking punchline ... in fact, I think this was a prerequisite for all comedians - to have a Michael Jackson joke in his or her arsenal.
So now that he is dead, how will he be remembered? Will we remember him as the pop-legend from the 1980's - the guy who made multi-zippered red jackets, parachute pants, and the moon-walk cool? Or will we remember him as that nut-case who looked like he could turn to dust in the midst of a stiff breeze? So far, it seems like his image has benefitted from his death (as weird as THAT may seem). But, I'm not sure I can ever forget the past 18 years when it comes to Michael.