by Jean Bush
Michael Jackson died has he had lived, talented, mysterious, freakish and very public.
Arriving in 1958 into a multi-talented musical family, Michael was born to sing. He had his first performance at a Christmas recital at the age of five. At age 11, he performed with his family and became one of the lead vocalists with the Jackson 5.
From there his talent soared and in 1984 did his first video, Thriller, which went off the charts and remains today the best selling album of all time. Although he had several more successful albums and videos over the years, the public saw his talent, as well as his appearance, deteriorate into chaos.
If you will look at the album cover of Thriller, you will see a young man at the peak of his perfection. Lit from behind, Jackson glows with beauty. His hair is matted tightly into a riot of ringlets, his skin the color of rich, creamed coffee. His eyes are full of mystery and, it seems, a little sadness, as if wondering where to go from here. He wears a white suit and black shirt, giving him a look of timeless elegance. He is truly is who he is meant to be.
But over the years, endless plastic surgeries left him with a boned hardness to his face, and a nose that eventually collapsed, necessitating even more surgery to correct massive breathing problems that plagued his later career. Starting in the early 1980’s, Jackson’s skin began to change and lose color and he was diagnosed with vitiligo and lupus. Vitiligo causes a depigmentaton of certain areas of the skin, including the face, neck and hands. It has been said that medical treatments for this also contributed to his increasing paleness. Some professionals speculated that he also suffered from body dysmorphic disorder, in which the sufferer has no idea of how they are perceived by others. If so, his constantly changing appearance showed that he no longer seemed to know who he was, and the exquisite golden youth turned into an unknowable, haunted aging man.
What ever the true facts of his condition, he began exhibiting bizarre behaviors, spending millions of dollars on his Neverland estate, endless shopping sprees, a badly kept zoo, and three unworkable marriages. Over time, with various lawsuits against him and allegations of sexual child abuse, his heath deteriorated along with his talent. He was finally left with millions in debt.
Only 50 years old when he died, apparently of a drug overdose, he seemed to have lived a lifetime in search of that perfection he held for a moment in his hands. Instead of looking to himself, he is looking at the camera, and thus, his audience, never noticing the pursuit of chaos behind him and the unmanageability of public adoration and futility of attempts to satisfy everyone but himself.
Perhaps there is a lesson here for all of us. Do you think?