I saw a bunch of advertisements for the Cirque Du Soleil Michael Jackson show, and I figured that my son, who is a big fan of Michael Jackson, and who may have even had his first experience with anyone's death when the superstar died some years ago, would likely appreciate this show.
So I got tickets for it, and took him on Friday night.
We arrived late, mostly because I was at fault. Yet, when we got there, the show had not yet started, so we caught a break.
I did not know what to expect, truth be told. Was it going to be some guy that looked like Michael Jackson lip syncing while doing all sorts of vintage MJ moves and dances? Would it be more like a circus with the accompaniment of Michael Jackson's music? Would it be some mix of the two?
It wound up being actually very good. It was a tribute show to Michael Jackson, but it certainly could not be considered in the category of a tribute band, or anything like that. It was also not quite like any Cirque du Soleil show that I have seen before, although you could definitely still tell that is what it was. It was just a very good show, and a tribute to Michael Jackson.
My son enjoyed it immensely. He was taken by the pyrotechnics and the acrobatics, and of course by
's music. Even I was taken by it. Jackson
Maybe I should explain something at this point. I remember the whole huge deal when his "Thriller" album was all the rage, and how his dancing was unlike anything that anybody had ever seen to that point. He was best known for his trademark "Moonwalk", and his songs dominated the radio waves. An argument could be made that he was the most popular recording artist since the Beatles, and it would not be laughable.
I was taken by it, too. Just a small boy yet at the time, it was hard not to be impressed by the flashiness and all of the hoop la that seemed to surround him. The music was catchy, and his dance moves were amazing!
Yet, he was never my type of musician, if you will. I grew up on many of the 60's British Invasion groups, and the Hippie and peace & love music of the later 60's and early 70's, although that was already largely seen as outdated. Later on, I got into heavy metal and punk, back in the mid-1980's. But since these were always kind of under the radar, there was a bit of resentment towards Michael Jackson and other pop stars, because they represented another reality to me, one filled with big money and over the top showmanship. Sure, he was talented. But did he deserve all of the attention and the headlines, and screaming fans?
I was all in favor of the grunge revolution, if you will, or the rise of alternative music, which had suddenly, seemingly unexpectedly, thrust musicians like Michael Jackson and Madonna into the shadows. It felt at the time like people were actually starting to have good taste.
Of course that did not last, but that matters little to me now. I understand that radio is not necessarily the best place to find or listen to good music.
As for Michael Jackson? Well, it seemed clear that he had personal problems. In one of his shows, his hair caught on fire during a mishap with pyrotechnics. By the late 1980's, and certainly at latest by the early 1990's, jokes abounded about his skin appearing considerably lighter than in the past, not to mention a straighter hair style, and many people claimed he was trying to be more white. He spoke in a strange voice, and I still remember when Oprah asked him if he was still a virgin, and he responded by laughing embarrassed manner, and telling her that was such a personal question. He eventually got married to Lisa Marie Presley, and made a show of kissing her publicly. It always seemed that he went out of his way to prove his masculinity, that his image was taking a hit because he hardly seemed normal in most people's eyes.
Of course, his largest problem with his image always seemed to center around children. Paradoxically, his focus on children was also perhaps the greatest enhancement to his image. He was praised for his care for children, and kids were allowed to swarm to the stage during the halftime show of Super Bowl XXVII.
Yet, there were other kinds of headlines that
had with children, including some that suggested that he was a pedophile. These were settled out of court, but some controversy remains regarding these charges. Some feel he did what he had to do, and that people were targeting him, which is a valid point, and certainly not out of the realm of possibility. Yet others feel that if he was as innocent as he said, he should have endured the trial in order to clear his name and prove his innocence before the world. From that point onwards, he always seemed to be plagued by new charges. Jackson
There was also the time when he stood on a hotel balcony before screaming, adoring fans, and held a baby before him, then hung him over the banister, with nothing to prevent a long fall if something happened. The wrong kind of headlines again.
There were financial concerns, as well. His
was elaborate and legendary in it's opulence, but apparently too much for him to afford. In fact, he lived a lifestyle that was beyond his means, and that of course is saying something, given that he was a very rich man. When he died in 2009 of a premature heart attack, another issue that he apparently had to face, as well as being severely underweight), he owed something of around $500 million dollars, which far from being a small sum, is actually quite a princely fee. Never-Never Land
My own feelings were mixed. I had long dismissed him as a money making machine, and thus a sellout, for all intents and purposes. His strange behavior made it hard for me, personally, to take him seriously. As catchy as his music was initially, his music was overplayed after a while, and I grew tired of even hearing him, generally speaking, and would switch the stations when he came on, more often than not.
That said, he will always be remembered as "The King of Pop". I had largely forgotten about Michael Jackson until that summer day when news of his death spread like wildfire. My son took a strong interest and began to love his music and his videos, and perhaps rather ironically, I began to enjoy his music again, for the first time in a long time. The show last night was terrific, and recommended to me by someone else who was a bit skeptical about it all, but was won over. I enjoyed the show, like he predicted, and in fact found myself in the mood to listen to more of Michael Jackson's stuff. Funny how things work sometimes, isn't it?