Michael Jackson’s iconic, troubled legacy
Five years ago today on June 25, 2009, I was sitting in my office at work doing what people do at 4:30pm (nothing work-related, of course).
I got on Twitter and saw TMZ tweet a post saying Michael Jackson had died. I clicked on the link to their site, expecting it to be a terrible hoax. I refreshed the page, figuring that they were just doing April Fools’ almost three months late. After 5 minutes of constant refreshing, I finally let a louder than I realized “OH. MY. GOD.” fall from my mouth.
Michael Joseph Jackson a.k.a. the Thrillermaker was dead at the age of 50.
I just wanted to slide out my seat unto the floor and rock back and forth in the fetal position. My spirit felt dropkicked through the goalposts of life. I remember how devastated I was. I had somewhere to be after work, but I couldn’t even stomach the idea of being social, so I went home and joined the world in mourning the death of the greatest entertainer of all time.
My thug was just unable to deal, and my eyes sweated like I just ran a pupil 5K. It might have been the first time I ever cried at someone famous passing.
Weeks later, after all the dust settled and the autopsy was done and the questions asked over and over again, we found out that he died of an overdose of the anesthesia propofol.
MJ did everything he did to the highest level. He even died in a way that showed how epic his power was. Months after his death, I needed to get 4 wisdom teeth pulled, and propofol was the anesthesia used to put me under. There was a nurse in the room whose only job was to sit there and stare at the beeping machine and monitor my vitals. That medicine is what killed Michael Jackson. That and the negligent enabling of Dr. Murray, one of many medical professionals who punted the hippocratic oath they took because of greed.
The man died from using medicine that only surgeons are supposed to have access to. There are levels to this fame ish. There are also levels to being a tortured artist, which MJ epitomized. The details of MJ’s last days definitely put a shadow on a man who was already plagued by darkness in life.
We learned that Michael had dwindled to 120 pounds or something ridiculous like that before he passed. For a man who was 5 feet 9 inches tall, that’s problematic. We actually saw his emaciated frame in the documentary movie This is It, which came out 4 months after his death. When pictures of his body on the autopsy table leaked during the Murray trial, it was like looking at a literal shell of his former self. His nose, which had been rumored for years to be prosthetic, was missing. In its place were bandages, and apparently underneath there was just cartilage and a hole in his face.
Let’s not even talk about how heartbroken I was to listen to a recording of MJ in a drug haze. Ok, fine let’s talk about it a little bit. The baby soft voice we all recognized was replaced with a gruff bass ranting incoherently. Sad is an understatement when you grasp the fact that this legend spent decades speaking in a falsetto that wasn’t even his, doing an awesome impression of his sister, Janet, when his real voice was deep and low.
My goodness. I was dejected to learn that the already tormented icon whose music defined my generation had problems so deep that the scrutiny he received while he was alive didn’t even unearth most of them. Again: levels.
There will never be another entertainer like Michael Jackson. He was like a star who shined too bright and burned out. The fame he loved and craved so dearly is what ultimately led to his downfall. Like Icarus, who desperately wanted to fly, he did and got too close to the sun, and the heat melted the wax on his wings, so he fell to his demise.
The King of Pop was beloved globally and was one of the most famous people in the world, but his legacy feels bittersweet. He was an incredibly flawed man who the world loved tremendously and loved to ridicule at the same time. He was picked apart, but we learned that he picked himself into mosaic pieces until there was little left. The turmoil was clear (like the child molestation scandals, the masked children and the dangling of Blanket over a bannister).
Yet and still, we didn’t know how deep the damage really was.
Michael Jackson’s music still makes my feet tap themselves, and they’re tied to my childhood memories. I can’t pick a favorite, and to even ask me to do so is utterly ridiculous.
I still believe that my 10 reasons why he’s the GOAT (Greatest of All Time) piece is as valid as when I wrote it. He is still the most award-winning musician ever. I just have no rose-colored glasses when looking back on the life of the person behind the music.
Incredible artists typically come from incredible pain, and MJ’s music was iconic, but his troubles were just as legendary.
Five years later, I hope he’s found peace. Continue to rest well, Thrillermaker.
Luvvie is a serial ranter and blogger who talks pop culture at Awesomely Luvvie, technology at Awesomely Techie and is the head behind DumbestTweets.com. She can also be found on Twitter (@Luvvie), Facebook and Instagram.