Much to my own surprise, I haven't been able to stop thinking about Michael Jackson. For the last many years, I've been in the anti camp. Fodder for off-colour jokes above all else, I wrote him off as an egomaniacal sociopath who obviously did inappropriate things to children. He'd become a mockery of himself and, as a friend succinctly put it, I too started mourning the death of MJ when Macaulay left the ranch.
But with all the retrospectives, cover stories, and rubber necking since, I've shifted. I hear his songs differently, really noticing his immeasurable talent. I'm overwhelmed by the memories of his lavish music videos and incredible live performances. I am, after all, a product of the 90s when morphing faces and duets with Janet were a total BFD.
I re-watched the now-classic Oprah interview from 1993 and the infamous Martin Bashir debacle that followed a decade later. In the former, he reads as a charming and stunted man-child, loveable and fragile. When Oprah asks him to sing her a little something he does, and brilliantly, and then crumples into shyness - and it's genuine. In the latter he has become something altogether different, a jittery and erratic lunatic, what with Jesus Juice, baby-dangling and obvious drug dependencies. But instead of seeming "wacko", it's just deeply sad. He was a man who had very clear psychological and developmental issues, one who epitomized the child star. And it would appear no one in his real life cared enough to take care of him.
He was a person thrown to the wolves at every turn. From childhood backstage beatings to tabloid culture run amok. He didn't really stand a chance, did he?