To my mind, there are at least three distinct camps regarding the legacy of Michael Jackson.
1. You hate him
2. You love him
3. You view him with an ambivalent kind of curiosity, something akin to a side-show spectacle.
I crossed from a (kinder) version of the latter camp into true Fandom in 2005. Anyone with lingering question marks over the kiddie fiddling allegations should read “Unmasked” (a book written by a journo determined to prove Michael’s guilt who ended up with nothing but admiration for him).
Somehow, the man is dead. This person, who, through his art and through a sheer, blinding talent, built a career that spanned decades and left in its wake no less than record breaking feats in dance, singles sales, album sales, fashion icon status, and staggering charity contributions. Michael had love and creativity at the forefront of whatever drove him in life, and what truly drove him to inspire others.
Last Saturday, I went to the Immortal World Tour Cirque du Soleil, having greedily hidden my ticket away for months with visions of emotional arousal and wonderment, and a tad of gloating for those who envied me, having missed out.
There was – nothing – in this show that lacked. Let me just say this, as someone who is rarely prone to overstatement.
From the opening notes of “Childhood” with imitation Neverland Ranch gates set in view, I could not have asked for more. The dancers and acrobats were second to none, supported by a stunning sound stage and strobe lighting. Snippets of Michael’s songs and statements and videos were spliced throughout and truly – magnified – through achingly beautiful dance sequences. At one stage an oversized loafer-and-white sock even hoved into view, as well as an oversized white glove that began to walk on two fingers.
It was not just the trappings of an Icon that featured heavily, however, it was the Man. It took someone who knew MJ’s heart to put across in a tribute show what only true MJ fans could appreciate.
This was what Michael would have wanted.
This was what we wanted.
Not just another way to say goodbye, as with the fate-tinged ‘This Is It’ footage. But, a way to say hello again. And to embrace with true joy the opportunity to celebrate the life and times of someone whose depth of talent and breadth of charity I can safely claim has never been – or will ever be, again – in lifetimes.
Rest in peace, MJ. You’ve surely earned it.