Didn't we kill MJ?
- Lada Singh, New Delhi
July 14, 2009
"MJ is dead, rush to office." That's all my boss SMSed me at 4am on the morning of 25th June. Two weeks later, MJ was still dead but his eleven year old daughter had invigorated MJ, the Daddy to life – "Daddy was the best father you could ever imagine," she spoke, before tearing into pieces emotionally.
That was one moment, when I must confess, I cried a lot. The journalist-cynic in me had been defeated by the MJ fan, I originally was. I had been introduced to Jackson when I was ten years old by a fellow classmate. The next couple of years, I remember, practicing his moonwalk in the bathroom. With a degree of shame now, I had perfected the way he held his crotch and did his pelvic moments.
However that affection for MJ was very short lived and it turned into a degree of hatred for the man. Even though, I couldn't understand him (perhaps like many others who chose not to understand him and so labeled him a freak) I could hardly imagine this woman like man, with a soft voice and features, to be someone who could molest kids. And on top, could never understand what a beautiful woman found so attractive about him. It was only later, that I was to discover he had married Elvis Presley's daughter Lisa Marie Presley.
As more and more cases of MJ's 'madness' came to light, I was convinced that he was a psychotic person who became successful only by fluke. I sneered at the news clippings and videos showing old footage of MJ performing and men and women fainting in excitement. How could people be in love with someone like him? I remember switching the channel every time, I saw a music channel playing his video.
Little did I know, all of this was going to change, all of a sudden, with his death. As I culled footage from the archives for the various shows planned on 25th June, I was forced to discover the legend this man was. I remember feeling a hot flush, when I saw his Thriller video, for the first time in my life - two weeks back! I saw Martin Bashir's documentary on MJ - Living with Michael Jackson, the one which brought another set of child molestation charges. Even though it is one of the most controversial documentaries, it just shows what a vulnerable man, MJ was. The fact that he had an abusive childhood, the fact that his own siblings felt threatened by his rising popularity, the fact that he had insecurity about the colour of his skin - despite all the fame and fortune, the fact that he over excelled in order to win the love of his dad - the fact that he never got a chance to be a child, pushed him into becoming a man child, a man who had no childhood when he was a child, and no adulthood when he was an adult. Even though MJ was acquitted of all child molestation charges, he could never emotionally recover from the trauma of being called a pedophile, even by his own elder sister La Toya.
I saw his footage from his Victory Tour, his Pepsi commercials, including the one where his scalp got burnt. I saw him with the then US President Ronald Reagan - the time when he was awarded for his contribution to the charities - especially the famine relief fund for Africa. And I also saw the clippings of a feeble looking MJ being led to a court room wearing pyjamas. I also located various clips showing his changing skin colour, all of it attributed to Vitiligo, a rare skin disease. And of course, the famous video where he dangled his new born from the balcony of a hotel much to the horror of his fans. I saw photographs of MJ sleeping in an oxygen chamber, him smooching his pet chimpanzee, Bubbles... and then various candid shots of MJ with his kids, all of them hiding their faces in veils and masks.
His Peter Pan fixation made sense to me, all of a sudden. His Neverland ranch looked like a genuine idea then. As his autopsy and drug reports make way, I feel sorry for the rest of us, who couldn't really understand MJ - the man, behind the entertainer. As a child, who came under intense media glare from the age of 5 and remained there, till he died, I am not surprised that MJ was headed towards a terminal illness.
And all this, when he continued to give us the most memorable music - from Bad to Billie Jean to Dangerous, some of my new favourites. 13 Grammy Awards and 13 number one singles, and nearly 1 billion records sold… what more can one say about the man.
As a dancer, I can bet that Michael Jackson's sense of rhythm and balance, even two days before his death, was exceptionally astounding. And why I say this:
For us dancers, every thing is about getting that move right, on that beat. Yes, it looks pretty easy to the viewers, but it doesn't come to you if, a) you are not innately gifted and b) if you haven't practiced it so much that you can blindly walkthrough it. You have to fulfill both the conditions to be able to show that you remain the lord of dance, long after the spotlight has moved beyond you.
If you look at MJ's last rehearsal video, you can see that the second shot of the video, showing MJ performing an air kick-step forward, the movement is simply out of this world. His body is not shaking, his hands move at the right angles, making perfect 90 degrees with the body, his legs arch up to almost 80 degrees too, they come back…with the same pace, they move forward and then the slight bend around the knee, which is extremely smooth, he repeats the action while moving ever so slowly, reminding me of the moonwalk in slow motion. It's just this one step that gives me enough proof that MJ's body was soaked in dance.
Given the gory details of his autopsy reports, suggesting he was a 50 year old mass of bones, was dependent on pain killers, had injection marks all over his body, was bald and had a broken rib cage at the time of his death, his last rehearsal video shows that MJ was none of it on stage. And more importantly, unlike what his critics say, he had not lost touch with his dance and music. I wish I had seen MJ perform live once in my life....and I know, I would have cried and howled and shrieked to death, like his zillion fans used to do.
As people debate about whether his children are actually his, whether his real nose had fallen off, whether he was completely bald, whether he was murdered or committed suicide, I just want to say that somewhere, its our very own voracious voyeuristic appetite into his private life, that killed the man, and the Daddy of 11 year old Prince Michael Jackson.
India's youngest biographer and a published poet, with 2 collections, Lada is a trained Bharatanatyam dancer. He has penned Subbudu's biography, 'Beyond Destiny: Life and Times of Subbudu.' Currently, he reports on entertainment and is a Producer with Headlines Today, TV Today Network. Lada's next collection of poems is due for release later this year.