A year ago today I wrote an article called, “Did Demerol Kill Michael Jackson” – the date of that piece was June 25, 2009, the day when Michael Jackson died. Since that time, there has been a lot of scandal, investigation, and rumor surrounding the events of that fateful day. But there has also been reminiscence about the King of Pop and his contribution to music, art, and culture.
When Did Michael Jackson Die In The Public Eye?
When Michael Jackson died on June 25, 2009, I think we all realized that he had really died in the public eye much earlier. For years he had been hampered by allegations of sexual abuse of children. In the wake of the allegations, he faded from site. He stopped having hit records, stopped performing concerts, and shrunk into a hermit-like life, holed up in his Neverland Ranch. The celebration of Michael Jackson that occurred after his death was really a phenomenon in which we all remembered how much we had enjoyed him and his music before he fell from grace.
Long before Michael Jackson died, and even before the sexual abuse allegations, he had started to be perceived as “weird” or “eccentric” due to his plastic surgery, his child-like interest in his pet (Bubbles the chimp), and the separation between himself and reality that inevitably resulted from his extreme fame and personal wealth.
Did Michael Jackson’s Ambition Ever Die?
Despite the public criticism and his reclusive lifestyle, Michael Jackson’s ambition and desire to be a superstar performer apparently never died. The film “This Is It,” a musical documentary showing the preparations for Michael Jackson’s comeback tour (which never occurred because of his death), demonstrated that MJ still had the ability to dazzle a crowd, even days before his death.
Had he not died, would Michael Jackson have returned to public acceptance and popularity? I think not. Even after his death, there were plenty of reminders of the various scandals that plagued his professional life. A series of performances would have generated a lot of money for him, but ultimately I do not believe that it would have erased our memory of the past. In fact, the publicity of his concerts would likely have resulted in renewed public scrutiny of him and his alleged wrongdoing.
A superstar like Michael Jackson never really dies in the public memory, but Michael Jackson will not live on in the unblemished way that some superstars have done (think, e.g., of classic movie stars). Today, June 25, 2010, we remember Michael Jackson and his musical legacy, but we cannot forgot the accompanying scandals.