With the recent holiday, I took some time to reflect on the relationship between Michael and his homeland.
Michael’s American blood runs deep throughout the south, given his father is an Arkansas native and his mother is from Alabama. His paternal grandfather was one of the first black school teachers in the state of Arkansas. His maternal grandfather help built railroad systems throughout the south, and was even a soldier in WWII. As you can see, Michael has a long family history of being an active citizen in America. Even when society cast a belittling shadow on African-Americans, they still loved their country enough to be apart of it. This is a theme that Michael will go on to adapt himself.
Michael was born in Gary, Indiana to poor and humble roots. Joseph, a steel worker, instilled in Michael and his siblings a dream and what dedication they would need in order to accomplish it. Much of the humanitarian in Michael may be due to his humble American upbringing. The family dream would not only go on to change their lives, but break barriers and inspire many throughout the world.
Those dreams finally became a reality when he and his brothers got their big break and were recognized as a rare talent. The prevailing Jackson 5 came to be a beloved group all over the globe, but little Michael always remained a special favorite in America. And this love was mutual. He would always express his love for his fans wherever he went. From a young age he understood his fans were the ones who made him who he was. And he was very grateful.
When Michael and his brothers became superstars, they moved to California where Michael remained a citizen for the rest of his life. Michael, who at any time could move wherever he wanted in the world chose to stay in his beloved land throughout his triumphs and tribulations.
Speed ahead a couple of decades, and we see a Michael Jackson the world cannot live without. His success after his first adult solo album Off the Wall gave him that familiar taste of superstardom that he and his brothers were first hatched into. After the Thriller and Bad Eras, America has once again fallen head over heels in love, and thus another American Idol was born.
But with the Bad Era, came the start of bad publicity which would evolve into a several decade war. It began with his physical changes: the skin discoloration and plastic surgery. His skin, through the effects of vitiligo, aroused speculation that Michael bleached his skin in order to appear “white.” Then stories of Michael sleeping in a “hyperbaric chamber” in order to reverse the effects of aging. (Although there is a picture of Michael in what appears to be an unfamiliar clear tube like structure, otherwise known as the “hyperbaric chamber,” the real story behind the photo is that it was some kind of contraption for a children’s hospital and Michael was just testing it out). But some people, rather than hear Michael out, would draw their own conclusions and unleashed the battle the media was looking for. As soon as these falsehoods hit the airways and stores, people began to label him a freak without even giving him a chance to explain himself. Michael many a time warned his fan base of the lies the media spread. Though Michael knew to pick his battles, people still chose to discredit him in rebutting these verbal attacks which would eventually damage his reputation.
Despite all that, Michael was pretty much the living the American Dream. He became a full-blown American icon and was loved and idolized wherever he went. Michael was receiving numerous awards, and like most of his albums, breaking records doing so. He’d eventually go on to win more than 50 American awards during the 80s, one of them including the prestigious Presidential Special Achievement Award presented by Ronald Regan. The full list of his awards is listed at the website below.
Unfortunately,the media which built him up to a saint like stature, continued to crucify him. Despite all Michael’s love and affection for his country, time and time again, he became the victim of cruel and careless media dogs. In 1993, and later in 2003, we saw a volcano of allegations erupt. Most everyone was rushing to judgement before Michael even had a chance to say what was really going on. Michael was the victim of two multi million dollar extortionist schemes, but the public refused to believe this. When he asked for our support, we began to cast that demeaning and judgemental shadow on him again. Why wouldn’t his beloved homeland realize someone who wanted to harm children wouldn’t have created and donated to children’s hospitals, orphanages, and charities all over the world? And why don’t they still? When it was revealed that the accuser of the 1993 incident was only out for Michael’s money, why couldn’t the doubtful accept this and let him back into their hearts again instead of trying to find more crap to demolish his reputation with? During the 2005 trial, Michael needed the support of his country more than ever. Sadly, Michael became so surrounded in controversy, it got to the point that if you openly admitted you were a fan, you were judged and criticized along with him. Michael needed us then, and all we did was label and condemn him. And for what? The facts always pointed to Michael’s innocence, but unfortunately, Michael’s innocence was not in the media’s agenda. The America that held him higher than any other star before was being stomped on, and for no real reason. In my opinion, the media continued to portray Michael in a negative light for payback for not being found guilty and for not giving them the story they wanted. What gets me, is that we put all this pressure on him to be something he was not (the weird eccentric genius, rather than just genius), and when it blew up in our face we were proven wrong, we tried to cover up our mistake and blame it on the victim.
The truth of the matter, all over the globe Michael was always loved and accepted. Except for the country that he held closest to heart. Of course there were times when he was living in other countries, and found it more peaceful there than in America, he always found his way back home. The home that tormented, abused, and reminded him of the darkest days of his life.
We as Americans are sometimes too stubborn and proud to admit we have been proved wrong. Not once when Michael needed our support in 1993 and 2005 did we give it to him. We showed it through whatever ways would could think of: protests, low sales, and bashing in the media. Michael’s innocence was not the million dollar story the media wanted. And it’s not just the medialoids’ fault, but the accusing families’ as well. Neither have come out to admit the truth, even with hard evidence. What does that say about the integrity of the America as well as our media?
Why would he do anything for us? All we’ve done was use him and abuse him, and in practically every sense. He realized what his country was doing to him and he didn’t sit back and let it happen to him. His last three tours, Dangerous, HIStory, and This Is It were only set to be performed all over the world except the United States (with the exception of This Is It, which would only be performed in London). The last performance he gave in America was at Madison Square Garden celebrating his 30th Anniversary in his career as a solo artist in 2001.
Michael Jackson, the man who made us look in the mirror, had dealt with all his turmoil and tribulations caused by fellow Americans on American soil. What I find ironic about his song Man in the Mirror being a number one in America, is that while the song is about taking a good look at yourself, it seemed that was a task too tough for the American media and even the Americans who swore up and down of Michael’s “guilt.”
Sadly, it took Michael’s death to begin to realize what exactly we have lost. Not to mention the effect that all that bad publicity he had received after he was exonerated! He still is not getting the respect that he deserves. Once again, even the media is trying to hang his alleged “dirty laundry” and make him seem responsible for his own homicide!
To get the whole picture, what needs to be understood is that Michael, who thrilled us throughout his entire career, who continued to give, who broke boundaries for American standards, who was a proud black American, who loved his country, was in turn built up to be torn down. Yet, through all he had been through, he continued to return to his home, America.