Wednesday, July 08, 2009

A Final Word

Stanley Crouch. Yes, he's ornery, opinionated, contrary, and downright irascible at times. But, he's also usually dead on right about the issue at hand. Mr Crouch, writing in the Daily News, notes that " (Michael) Jackson became the greatest individual success in a hollow industry shaped by the gleaming technological manipulation that swallowed the heart of the world like a plastic shark covered with glued-on glitter."

At lunchtime today, I happened to be listening to the NPR program "Tell Me More". You knew where the show was going as their opening salvo was "The death of pop icon and humanitarian Michael Jackson has attracted tremendous media attention.It was the post-MJ Funeral pile-on of condolences and praises. The 24/7 of Sadness of the Bizarre was continuing.

Then, a breath of fresh air.

Stanley Crouch was interviewed, a guy standing on the street watching the ostentatious parade. A guy who seemed to notice the Emperor's Clothes. Mr. Crouch was not commenting directly about Michael Jackson but on the entertainment industry as a whole. Classifying Jackson as an entertainer not as an artist, Mr. Crouch deconstructed his talent, pointing out that as a dancer and as a singer, Sammy Davis Jr. outranked him. When you have such talentless competition like Britney Spears to go up against, it's not a wonder that excessive praise for an aging adolescent results.

As Mr. Crouch put so well, "This went on until we began to hear over and over the idea that a person possessed vitality if he or she "stayed in touch with the inner child." As a man who was never able to be an actual child because he became too famous too soon, Jackson seemed to maintain a determined nostalgia for what he had not experienced. Part of his trouble was that he became wealthy enough to create his own world of perpetual childhood.
A great danger of enormous wealth and power is delusion. Whether an entertainer or not, one can be deluded into believing that it is not only possible to remain an adolescent but a right.

I'm not nor ever was an MJ fan. Aside from his bizarre lifestyle, his songs had no appeal to me as an adult. The lyrics were childish and the beat was repetitive; excellent production was what made his albums so long as they were played QUITE LOUDLY. His music along with his personality became a caricature of itself.

I thought I was just being an old coot about this until I heard Mr. Crouch, perhaps a fellow old coot, eloquently pointing out the Emperor's clothes were but a glove.

Here's another Crouch piece on Michael Jackson from 1987.

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