The celebration of the tenth anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death brought the circus I expected at Forest Lawn, in a large gathering in front of the Mausoleum where he is buried, and if a circus doesn’t look like the appropriate and respectful term for those who are still grieving a decade later, I am not sure how to call it.
There were tons of vases of beautiful white and red roses, hundreds of fans messages, handmade signs, and photographs of the iconic pop star, all spread along the wall of the Great Mausoleum, plus a few Michael lookalikes and a circle of prayers turning into a collective karaoke singing Jackson’s greatest hits. Many people were really grieving, crying while singing and all this had the allure of a religious ceremony. With a very important Asian (mostly Japanese) presence, the entire world seemed to be represented with flower crowns from Iran or Russia and writings in many languages.
One thing is certain, despite Dan Reed’s recent documentary and the mountain of evidence supporting the child molestation allegations, the legend of Michael Jackson is truly alive, with a pure and innocent hero at its center. During the constant karaoke in front of mausoleum only interrupted by the discourses praying Michael’s saint-like nature, it was difficult to imagine these people living in this same world that brought us ‘Leaving Neverland’. Despite having access to the same information, all of them were wearing shirts with ‘facts don’t lie’, ‘Michael Jackson innocent’… But we live in a world where facts can be so twisted to fit a specific reality that the word ‘fact’ doesn’t have any meaning anymore.
‘He was someone who was so important for so many of us!’, I overheard from someone in the crowd, and this may be the key to understanding the phenomenon. For these people, the king of pop was everything and he is now a king sitting ‘at the gates of heaven’ as one of them put it…. a spiritual guide, a guru who ‘brought us together’. Destroy him and their entire lives collapse! This is not something they are ready to give up on, these people are driven by a strong faith in an unordinary man and the ceremony which took place inside the cemetery was the closest thing I have ever witnessed to the birth of a religion. There were a lot of ‘thank you’, a lot of ‘love everyone’, a deep sense of community, a sense of belonging to something special. Basically, the birth of a cult with people united in the negation of the obvious. ‘Fuck HBO, Fuck Oprah, Fuck the Robsons, Fuck the Safechucks, Fuck… (there was a long list) I could read on a t-shirt proving that love was not the only feeling present.
This entertainment probably lasted all day long as many people took the mic, but, when I was there, I heard a journalist from BET reminding us that Michael Jackson broke the MTV barrier as he was the first black artist to have videos aired on the popular music channel… I was happy to focus on the artist for a moment but as soon as she mentioned how Jackson liked to laugh with Macaulay Culkin, I cringed a little bit. How difficult it is to separate the art from the artist sometimes!
Everyone had a book to promote, there was a ‘Redemption’ book by Geraldine Hughes, who claims that Jackson was framed, a book by Janis DaSilva, who thinks she can prove that Michael Jackson was interested in females from a very early age. Both women were present and Janis, who wrote she was Michael Jackson’s first girlfriend, said she was a close friend till he died. They mentioned a few others books, and I bet there will be many more to come …. cults have always stuff for sale and Jackson will remain a cash cow for a long time.
During all this talking.there were even a few words said about the ‘devil in the white house’… But wait! Didn’t Jackson stay at the Trump tower during his honeymoon with Lisa Marie Presley? Weren’t Jackson and Trump always in good terms? Facts don’t lie and a legend never dies.
Michael Jackson died 10 years ago and his music still reaches many despite everything that has been said about his condemnable behavior… His death may have saved him from more humiliation or another long trial? We will never know, but dead, the king of pop is more powerful than ever.
Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – August 1986 (Volume 17, Number 12)
“I used to read CREEM like the stuff in it was really gospel. Lester Bangs and all that stuff. And it was so important.”
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Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – June 1986 (Volume 17, Number 10)
Nobody understood the world of music journalism better than David Lee Roth