I still remember the day I got my Michael Jackson belt. I was shopping at K-Mart with my mom and I found it on the edge of the “Boys Clothing Section.” I begged her to buy me that boy belt (previous attempts to get boys’ shoes had not worked. Didn’t she know that I needed Thundercats sneakers?) She gave in easily and I proudly wore my Michael Jackson belt to daycare the next day.
Then in first grade, I met a kid who claimed that he was Michael Jackson’s nephew. I half-believed him, but only because I wanted to meet Michael Jackson. Something told me that it was a load of poppycock. Still, just in case, I wore my Michael Jackson belt to school to show my classmate that I was a true fan who deserved to meet his “uncle.”
In middle school came the “Heal the World” and “Black/White” days, which were funny (I mean, the one song was used in the first Free Willy movie) and touching—all at the same time. Michael’s sister, Janet, started to rock the music scene. It was a strange and confusing time because Michael started to look like someone different. He just wasn’t Michael Jackson anymore.
Around that time, a made-for-TV movie about the life of the Jackson children aired. I couldn’t believe the abuse the children, especially Michael, endured at the hands of their cruel father. Poor Michael. He had been through an altered state of childhood and adolescence. And, oh, did he suffer!
It explained Neverland and some of the other odd behavior Michael Jackson. However, once the allegations of child abuse came along, his career was over. Renamed “Jacko,” he became the laughingstock of pop music, even thought he was hailed the unofficial “King of Pop.” He married Lisa Marie Presley, hung his baby over a banner, and his appearance more and more frail. He was guilty, that was for sure, though he maintained his innocence until the day of his day—yesterday.
The slow decline of a pop star is sad sort of thing. It’s like watching a beautiful flower wilt until its withered petals fall off and crumble onto the ground. This is the best way I can find to characterize the life of Michael Jackson.
Despite his madness and his disgusting accusations of child abuse, I want to listen to my favorite MJ songs like “Billie Jean,” “Thriller,” and “Man in the Mirror” and remember how he shattered racial barriers with his music in the 80’s, defining an era. And, if I still had it, I’d put on my Michael Jackson belt, just for today.