This is a short entry last revised at Think Free in 2011. I haven’t changed it too much since last time. Just a few stylistic tweaks. I think you’ll find the Afterword more engaging, written this morning.
I find that revising old stuff is sort of like trying to put new wine in old wineskins. Unless you want to start again from scratch, the limitations of the original often hamper the updated version, no matter how hard you try to inject new life into it.
But since this probably isn’t the single most important entry I’ve ever written, I’m content to just leave the original as is, with as I say, a few stylistic and image updates here and there.
Michael Jackson (1958-2009) was an American entertainer whose international celebrity status earned him the title The King of Pop.
Originally a member of the successful soul group, The Jackson Five, in an early TV appearance Ed Sullivan noted how he (the “little fella”) shone above his siblings who were also on stage.
Jackson’s solo career took off in 1982 with the release of the album, Thriller, selling over 35 million copies. Part of the album’s appeal, aside from slick musical arrangements by veteran producer Quincy Jones, was Jackson’s pioneering use of dramatic video.
Subsequent albums and singles such as Bad and “Man in the Mirror” did very well but never reached the near-hysterical intensity of Thriller.
Like the Spice Girls, Britney Spears, Lady Gaga and other musical performers with an abundance of talent, Michael received much bad press and harsh criticism, particularly in regard to his use of cosmetic surgery and an alleged interest in archeology.
The media attacks intensified with his arrest on November 25, 2003 and subsequent trial over allegations of child abuse at his Neverland ranch. However, Jackson was found not guilty by a jury.
Jackson’s untimely death on June 25, 2009 in Los Angeles took the world by storm. The shocking news contributed to internet crashes (from excessive traffic), and the media covered the story with the same zeal that Jackson had helped to create in his lifetime. His record sales hit an all-time high for the rest of that year, which usually happens with recently dead pop stars.
Afterword (October 7, 2020)
Looking back, I remember writing a university essay about Michael Jackson’s Thriller LP when it came out. You have to realize, this was totally huge back then. And without the internet, word just got around through friends lending records or by browsing a record shop, which in the 80s was a major source of feeling musically “connected,” much like visiting YouTube or Spotify today.
The person marking my paper was a really nice guy. Not quite a professor but a Teaching Assistant. And sometimes these assistants were better and more approachable than the actual profs. But he didn’t really like my paper too much. He felt my likening Thriller with Jungian archetype theory was “too easy.”
And maybe he was right. I certainly am not a blind follower of Jung these days. But sometimes it takes a few years to think and reflect in order to develop our own opinions—opinions which hopefully are always evolving.
The final grade for that paper was something like an A-/B+, which back then wasn’t going to kill me but not exactly great. To get grad studies scholarships your overall average needed to be better than that. So slightly disappointed with the result, I vowed to work harder and better, which I did.
The result was an all-paid-for, two-year trip to India. But just because I was fully funded does not mean earning my Masters Degree was easy. It wasn’t. But that is a tale for another day.
I’ll just say that there are many ways to both work and suffer. Little minds see work as some kind of 9 to 5 thing. Greater minds realize that to be alive, itself, can be extremely hard work.