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26 June 2009 @ 07:46 pm
With due respect to ...  
... those of you who are mourning him, I am probably going to bite the next person who tells me that Michael Jackson was a revolutionary figure in the fight for equality by African Americans. I hasten to add that this has so far been three in real life and double the number of media foik: my flist has been a bastion of sanity.

Aesthetic irony aside, it belittles genuine revolutionary figures. And I am not even talking about political giants like Dr King; there were many entertainers who walked a far more difficult path earlier and with more grace and charity, such as Ella Fitzgerald, Paul Robeson, Josephine Baker, Sammy Davis Jnr and Nina Simone.

I'm all for people loving the heroes they choose, but I would love a bit of perspective at times like these. And perhaps a little sense of history.

Flistees who are just missing the singing and dancing, I apologise for intruding on your sad day. 
 
 
 
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 26th, 2009 03:09 pm (UTC)
That is perfect!
Potteresque Irepotteresque_ire on June 26th, 2009 10:26 am (UTC)
I like his stage presence. He contributed a lot to his art. Race equality ... um, not really.
I think the term "hero" is way overused these days :)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 26th, 2009 03:10 pm (UTC)
Yes. I would just like Nobel Prize winners to expect the level of coverage a pop star receives when they die unexpectedly. Is that too much to ask?
(no subject) - rickey_a on June 26th, 2009 03:36 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on June 26th, 2009 03:40 pm (UTC) (Expand)
acefacebloodbelieve on June 26th, 2009 10:44 am (UTC)
Wow, I actually haven't heard anything about that. I'd never even dream of referring to him that way. I'm upset because musically, to me, he was an absolute legend and influenced my life and a lot of my favourite musicians' lives. But -- revolutionary? Seriously? That's so strange.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 26th, 2009 03:12 pm (UTC)
V Strange. Musically, I am all for people calling him important, because he was.
knic26knic26 on June 26th, 2009 11:03 am (UTC)
Equality for African Americans? Really?

Worked for aid in Africa...yeah.
Sang and danced like no one before...yeah.
Revolutionized the music video with the release of Thriller...yeah.

The only, and I mean ONLY, place where I can see equality is the fact that he was the first African American artist to have videos played on MTV, and that was because of his 'cross-over' success.

I think that media is only regarding him as a 'hero' because everyone between the ages of 20 and 40 really did grow up on his music and are more likely to feel the Elvis or John Lennon-like loss.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 26th, 2009 03:15 pm (UTC)
Was he? I did not know that!

And yeah, I think I am feeling old and crochetty and that very few pop stars are remotely heroic these days, while there are other people, and popular culture figures of the past, who were.

I'll just trot off and play some Robeson albums ...
down the hills and round the bendsnorton_gale on June 26th, 2009 11:04 am (UTC)
If Michael Jackson engaged in revolutionary activity, it must have all been underground, to be revealed in declassified CIA documents years later...

He was a very talented musician, and a true eccentric. I wonder what will happen to his chidren. I suspect we'll hear some interesting revelations when they reach adulthood.
Bondeannawol on June 26th, 2009 11:18 am (UTC)
That was my first thought, I have to admit. I wonder will they go back to their mothers... It would be a shame to split them, but with the amount of debt he had, there is likely not going to be much to give them in support unless they get a percentage of royalties...
(no subject) - norton_gale on June 26th, 2009 11:21 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - deannawol on June 26th, 2009 12:02 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - piratesmile331 on June 27th, 2009 05:09 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - norton_gale on June 27th, 2009 06:20 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on June 26th, 2009 03:17 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Bondeannawol on June 26th, 2009 11:16 am (UTC)
How can you be responsible for helping along the plight of African Americans when you turned yourself whiter than white? He was probably a deeply troubled man judging by the severe self-image issues and the clinging to all things childish. Either way, had some good songs but wasn't the best 'black' musician by far either.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 26th, 2009 03:03 pm (UTC)
I think he was deeply fucked over by those around him, but yes, he bought into it all ...
tnumfivetnumfive on June 26th, 2009 11:22 am (UTC)
Great entertainer? Definitely.

Pioneering activist? Not so much, no.

I was really upset when I heard the news. He did amazing things for the music industry. Today's artists owe a lot to Michael.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 26th, 2009 03:01 pm (UTC)
He was good at what he did, but yes, what he did was pop music. Rosa Parks didn't get this sort of coverage, though at least she was able to die of old age and with dignity ...
rubyemerald_1 on June 26th, 2009 12:24 pm (UTC)
I'm just feeling sad for a person who had one hell of a weird life and showed us very obviously that he wasn't coping very well with it. I think he was a remarkable performer who should have said, help me.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 26th, 2009 03:00 pm (UTC)
Yes! He was very exploited throughout his life, which is tragic. There should be a Social Services for celebrities ...
Deborah Henning-Huff: HUGShogwartsvixxxen on June 26th, 2009 12:32 pm (UTC)
I'm missing him most for his singing dancing and presence. He did do alot but so did so many others as you pointed out and Thank You for that.
*{hugs}*
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 26th, 2009 02:57 pm (UTC)
He did do some good fundraising for famine relief, which is more than other entertainers do!
It's a Deensedeensey on June 26th, 2009 12:43 pm (UTC)
I love you <3
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 26th, 2009 02:46 pm (UTC)
Love you, too! And Ella ...
emansil_08 on June 26th, 2009 01:13 pm (UTC)
Yep, I agree.

Michael was a great entertainer, but that was all. Like us all he had his weirdness and idiosicracies. I see nothing to idolize him over. I think we should all remember his music, and should then let the man move on in peace.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 26th, 2009 02:45 pm (UTC)
Exactly. Oh well, at least most normal people are focussing on rational things.
parallel parking prodigyempress_jae on June 26th, 2009 01:22 pm (UTC)
for a man who did everything to become as physically "white" as possible, um...i'd have to go with a no. he certainly wasn't revolutionary in regards to race equality in the eyes of this black girl. ;)

revolutionary musical and entertaining genius? yes. that's what i'll miss. i grew up with him, so i feel like a tiiiiny part of my childhood has been taken away.

...

i'm sorry, i'm stuck on this, but who in the HELL said that MJ was a revolutionary figure in the fight for equality by black people??
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 26th, 2009 02:42 pm (UTC)
Mostly mad talking heads (including the one who came up with 'Before Oprah and Obama, there was Michael'), but also the Washington Post, sigh.

I never understood his appearance changes. He was a very good looking young man who became a freaky-looking middle-aged one. And PAID for it.
(no subject) - empress_jae on June 26th, 2009 02:51 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on June 26th, 2009 02:56 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - empress_jae on June 26th, 2009 03:06 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on June 26th, 2009 03:09 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - piratesmile331 on June 27th, 2009 04:57 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - piratesmile331 on June 27th, 2009 04:55 pm (UTC) (Expand)
calanthe_fics on June 26th, 2009 02:28 pm (UTC)
Poor old Farah Fawcett; she dies from anal cancer, and her big day gets overshadowed by MJ. Life, it's shit.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 26th, 2009 02:33 pm (UTC)
I feel very sorry for Farrah: she showed courage and grace all through her last years and once again had men pushing her out of the spotlight.
(no subject) - empress_jae on June 26th, 2009 02:55 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on June 26th, 2009 02:58 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - empress_jae on June 26th, 2009 03:05 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on June 26th, 2009 03:07 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - piratesmile331 on June 27th, 2009 05:00 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Bubba: Mourningabsynthedrinker on June 26th, 2009 03:33 pm (UTC)
Not to mention etta james, louis armstrong, and mahaliajackson. The only things he revolutionized were plastic surgery and fleeing prosecution.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 26th, 2009 03:36 pm (UTC)
Ooh yes, they were splendid! I have a bad habit of thinking only of my great musical loves (Sammy and Ella were the earliest American artists I adored, and I will never move on from them.)
trichinopoly ash: dan: orly?aldehyde on June 26th, 2009 05:49 pm (UTC)
huh. really? i haven't seen posts like that [yet] and it's a bit surprising b/c i've never seen him as being revolutionary in terms of racial equality.

i DO think he was revolutionary in the field of pop music and dance though, and i'm mourning his loss for that. he was the first celebrity/musician i ever became a fan of, and i have tons of memories associated with his work from my primary, secondary and even post-secondary days. hell, some of my earliest memories [from when i was 3 or so] are associated with his music :/
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 26th, 2009 05:55 pm (UTC)
No, not posts, LJ people are being the sanest people. Mainstream news media, including the Washington Post, and some people at my publishing house, the ninnies.

And yes, pop music wise he was an important influence, public policy influence wise, not so much.

I was always more of a Joy Division girl ...
(no subject) - aldehyde on June 26th, 2009 06:02 pm (UTC) (Expand)
siria on June 26th, 2009 07:06 pm (UTC)
I feel a bit shabby repeating what everyone else has already said, but why would anyone call him a revolutionary figure in the fight for equality by African Americans? I think considering the lengths he went to in order to eliminate every visible trace of his racial background from his outer appearance he was SO, so far away from being such a figure!

He was, however, an amazing musician, great performer and a perfectionist when it came to his work. I will absolutely miss him and I'm very sad that he's gone.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 27th, 2009 06:03 am (UTC)
Yes, in musical terms I will wholly grant that he was a very important figure.

Pir8fancier makes a good case for why people might consider him revolutionary below. But I have to confess, it only convinced me in thinking America was odder than I had previously thought. Given the weight of numbers, this probably means that I am odd instead ...
Heather: What?faynia on June 26th, 2009 08:41 pm (UTC)
My reaction to this post trends the lines of: LOL WOT?

Revolutionary singer/dancer = yes.

Er...let's not talk about the rest of him shall we? Yes? Yes. *nods*

How are you then? Other than baffled? xD
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 27th, 2009 06:04 am (UTC)
Baffled. But I feel sorry for his family. Bodies should not be filmed on their journey to the morgue, that's just wrong.

I like your summation!
(no subject) - faynia on June 27th, 2009 06:07 am (UTC) (Expand)
marcelmoonstone on June 26th, 2009 11:02 pm (UTC)
Thank you for being the one person I met today (so to speak) who is of like mind.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 27th, 2009 06:05 am (UTC)
You are very welcome.

And very nice to meet you!
&helena;uminohikari on June 26th, 2009 11:45 pm (UTC)
...but he tried to make himself as white as possible! IDGI :|
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 27th, 2009 06:05 am (UTC)
I do feel sorry for him on that, he was clearly very fucked up.
pir8fancier on June 27th, 2009 02:57 am (UTC)
I know you will say, "But pir8, this is popular culture, my dear," but I don't think you can have a proper handle on him, not, um, having lived in the U.S. I suppose it's similar to those people who grew up with the Beatles. Sure, they were enornous here, but they inspired a social revolution in Britain that catapulted Britian out of the doldrums still hanging over the sod from WWII. A positive social movement doesn't have it's roots in the ballot box.

Michael Jackson. Okay, I think he was probably a pedofile, or at least a weirdophile. I know people who are in the position to know (like in law enforcement) who say that his behavior with children was at the very least improper. But that's not what we're talking about here. We are talking about his effect on American culture. He was more than an act. And this is from someone who thought he could sing and dance, but I did not adore him and I never bought one of his albums.

Having said that, he was THE musician who set the stage for black artists becoming crossover artists. Becoming, not black artists appealing to whites, but just plain, you know, artists. He actually symbolized for the music industry, what I think I certainly wish were the case in terms of gay rights. That they are just fucking rights and aren't labeled "gay" rights. That people who want to get married should just get married and their gender is immaterial. I wish.

Michael Jackson did it for the music industry, even though he wasn't an activist or a Paul Robeson or a Rosa Parks. He was a black kid who could sing and dance and he parlayed that into being an artist who appealed to audiences across the board. Without Michael Jackson, I think that rap would have remained a ghetto phenomenon. You wouldn't have had artists like Kayne West, Mariah Carey or Jennifer Hudson or a myriad of other singers who are now just singers.

I think you could honestly say that he broke down more barriers in terms of racial stereotypes (despite the fact he was extremely strange) in the music business than anyone else. Up until MTV, the music industry was still balkanized into it's little corners. Michael blew that all up. He OWNED MTV, and in the process he said quite distinctly, "I'm a singer." Not "I'm a black singer." And there is, obviously, a huge distinction.

The fact that he was clearly humiliated by his own racial identity is immaterial. His ability to cross that racial divide was something that no other artist had succesfullly managed. MTV had a lot to do with it, and, also, he was pretty talented.

I think that art can be pretty powerful. I'm not advocating nominating him for a Nobel Peace Prize posthumously, but I am saying that from outside the U.S., it is possible not to understanding the pivotal role he played in the music industry in the U.S. No, he wasn't an activist. He was just a singer. But that doesn't mean that what he accomplished wasn't powerful.

So now you have lots of middle and uppermiddle class white kids listening to rap (I have one!) and while I personally abhor rap and many of the themes that define rap anger me, I also understand that it's--for the most part--black artists reaching out and speaking to listeners (a lot of them white) about their struggles, their anger, and their powerlessness. And I don't think that that would have been possible without Michael Jackson.
romaine24romaine24 on June 27th, 2009 04:04 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for writing this. As you know from my post, I couldn't agree with you more. And maybe we can curse him a little when having to listen to that rap. *g*
(no subject) - potteresque_ire on June 27th, 2009 04:28 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - theburningboy on June 27th, 2009 06:28 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - pir8fancier on June 27th, 2009 06:32 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - potteresque_ire on June 27th, 2009 06:38 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - theburningboy on June 27th, 2009 06:57 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on June 28th, 2009 02:13 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - theburningboy on June 28th, 2009 04:47 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - pir8fancier on June 27th, 2009 06:30 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - potteresque_ire on June 27th, 2009 06:53 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - pir8fancier on June 27th, 2009 07:31 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - potteresque_ire on June 27th, 2009 07:43 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on June 27th, 2009 05:59 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - sarcasticpixie on June 27th, 2009 08:40 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - pir8fancier on June 27th, 2009 06:28 pm (UTC) (Expand)
shadowclubshadowclub on June 27th, 2009 09:26 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad someone else feels the same way as me! I know he was an excellent singer and dancer in his day... but I feel like all the tributes are being WAY overdone.

(Deleted comment)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 28th, 2009 03:53 am (UTC)
I think it's the singing spells part that makes her dream truly amazing ... your friend's subconscious is clearly a great source of entertainment for her!
grey_hunter on June 28th, 2009 11:05 am (UTC)
I have no real opinion about the matter. But it's still a bit weird, reading about people calling him that and then remembering that I didn't even know he was (originally) black until I was twenty-something. sorry for the PinC-ness but 'African American' in this case just doesn't cover the issue.