I'm Alive and I'm Here Forever...
Now right at the outset let me make one thing clear. I am not, never have been, and am never likely to be a fan of Michael Jackson's music... I suppose that's a function of my age as well as my musical taste. Actually when I initially read about his death I was trawling through the internet and was more distressed when I learned that another Michael Jackson, the famed "Beer Hunter" had died two years ago without me realising it. So I really didn't get sucked into the hype concerning the King of Pop's death. I could understand why the media did, because they have been feeding off him for years, whether because of his musical output, or more recently because of his moderately bizarre lifestyle, but I was left on the outside looking in with no real interest. Until yesterday and I caught some of the footage concerning the mega-memorial at the Staples Centre in LA.
Now I thought that Princess Diana's funeral was over the top, with her instant popular beatification (and don't start me on Elton John's destruction of his own song Candle in the Wind) but that was as nothing compared with this extravaganza. I haven't watched the whole thing... life is too short, but the bits that I have seen leave me wide-eyed in amazement. Not least what seemed to be the tag line for the event "I'm alive and I'm here forever..." shown beside a picture of Mr. Jackson.
Since I am not a Jacksonophile I don't know if this is a quote from a song or whether he actually said this at some point, (I'm sure someone will put me right) but certainly the implication is one of his eternal presence with his fans... Perhaps it is referring to his music, but there is the hint of something more, something almost messianic. This was, at times present in his performances... notably the overblown performance of "Earth Song" (I think) at the Brits, when Jarvis Cocker famously mooned in front of him... At the time I felt like cheering Mr. Cocker.
But all through the Memorial yesterday there seemed to be a blurring of the edges as to what was happening and who was being revered... From the opening when Andrae Crouch led the rendition of "Soon and very soon we are going to see the King" before the "King of Pop's" casket was wheeled in... Through Queen Latifah's reading of Maya Angelou's reference to him as a "bright and shining star"... To the general portrayal of Michael as a reconciler of races and healer of the world.
Michael Jackson DID do a lot of good that the media might all too quickly forget as sordid old stories are dragged out in the understanding that you cannot libel the dead, and it is not fair that, as Shakespeare says "The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones." Also I have been involved in many a funeral or memorial service where I know that the deceased was being painted in a better light than they were seen in life. However, what happened yesterday in the Staples Centre was of a different order all together. If Princess Diana's funeral was over the top, this was down the other side and away off to the far horizon. Yes, it was showbiz royalty saying farewell to their King in the only way they know how to honour someone (and in performance terms it seems like it was a great show), but to me there was something truly, deeply, profoundly idolatrous in yesterday's events.
But through all of the glitz, the glitter and the emotion came the simple yet profound words of Pastor Lucious Smith. In the midst of a prayer that was still filled with hyperbole, he reminded the audience that "The King of Pop must bow his knee to the King of Kings."
So must we all...