Jul 2, 2009

Michael Jackson: The Man in Our Mirror

I've haven't done a post about my thoughts on Micheal. I have tremendous appreciation for Michael as a popstar. Yet, I cringe and sigh at his evolution into becoming the thing that he became.

I came across this article by Greg Tate over at The Village Voice. Tate offers an interesting peeling of the layers regarding Micheal's journey. While I don't agree with all Tate wrote, I had moments when I shook my head in agreement.

Some of the highlights:

"George Clinton thought the reason Michael constantly chipped away at his appearance was less about racial self-loathing than about the number-one problem superstars have, which is figuring out what to do when people get sick of looking at your face. His orgies of rhino- and other plasty's were no more than an attempt to stay ahead of a fickle public's fickleness."

"At what point, we have to wonder, did the line blur for him between Dr. Jacko and Mr. Jackson, between Peter Pan fantasies and predatory behaviors? At what point did the Man in the Mirror turn into Dorian Gray? When did the Warholian creature that Michael created to deflect access to his inner life turn on him and virally rot him from the inside?"

Click here for the full article.


Anonymous said...

Dear Allan:

I read the Greg Tate, in The Village Voice article on Michael Jackson; Michael Jackson: The Man in Our Mirror Just after reading an article on the New York Times about a dissenting Puerto Rican Firefighter who join the Law suit contesting affirmative action. Imagine the case was reviewed by Sotomayor and the Firefighters are from our neighboring city of New Haven

Even though both articles have different narratives they both spell out the power of media construct to infiltrate our spiritual, intellectual, psychological and cultural bearings. And how, in doing so we are still condemned to a second class citizenship.

Greg Tate with urbane sophistication paints Michael Jackson as an hunted soul obsessed with immortality. He dupe Michael into a vampire narrative, a “genius” capable of sucking in urban black cultures aesthetics to them metamorphosing them to millions of cash dollars for himself and his entourage. All of this because he wants to preserve the “beauty of soul.” Thus creating the dilemma of the love hate relationship the public has with Michael. On one aspect he loves soul so much that he pimped it to a broader white audience and on the other he hates the look of black.

Yet, it is the term genius that I contest. How come if he were such a genius, he still chose white instead of black? If he truly had such an influence how come the skin bleaching, the hair straightening, the white boy loving, the white children fathering. It wasn’t for the sake of soul. How come if he was such a man of soul, he chose to ridicule everything that was viewed as black? I believe that it was for the same self-hedonistic practice that this culture is so capable of manufacturing. Michael Jackson was as self-absorbing individual as any other human beings are capable of doing. To me, if I wanted to make a point about his “truth genius,” you really needed to use your celebrity status and position to dismantle the same constructs that brand him a Jacko, or a Superstar, without contributing to the genocide of African American culture.

Tate Greg article in the Voice, is no different from the sympathetic New York time article, in favor of the Puerto Rican Fighter that went along with his white colleagues. What both of this article still wont be able to answer is, what is going to happen to the millions of minorities in this country who do not have access to power, to promotions, to even lawyers that will fight for them in the supreme court against their human dignity. Both articles fell short to consider the wider margin of those left without media representation. One thing I agree with Tate in the case of Michael, is that “Perhaps it's a blessing in disguise both for him and for us that he finally got shoved through it.”


bunnilove said...

Dear Anonymous,

I must read the article you mention from the New York Times. How sadly ironic for this Puerto Rican firefighter.

As my middle school students would say, "he was feeling himself too much."

I strongly disagree with George Clinton's comments. I think that Michael Jackson demonstrated the lowest form of cowardice and could not and would not look at himself in the mirror. To look at oneself, to face oneself, is the highest form of bravery.

The term genius is tossed around way too often, right up there with love.

But interestingly, a genius is one who shows an extraordinary and remarkable artistic or intellectual power. Michael did have an amazing power, unfortunately to confuse and disgust us on a very primal level. Sure, we hear about folks that possess a self loathing, we may even have talk to them, but what we got in Michael was a physical manifestation of it. It's why it was so difficult to watch. I have more sympathy for the transformations that a leper would endure that what I witnessed in Michael.

I thought he made music that was both beautiful and inspiring. But, at the same time, found it hard to listen anymore because of his image. I've always been one of those folks that had trouble isolating and compartmentalizing human beings. We are the SUM of our parts, not just SOME.

What's been so freakin crazy, is the amount of sympathy from Black folks for Michael for the way they feel he was ultimately treated by white folks, saying it was THEM that made Michael the way he was, while at the same time absolving Michael of all he's done to himself. While at the same time, and I agree with you Anonymous 100%, he PLAYED Black folks. He always maintained his blackness, while having the unnatural skin tone of unbaked bread dough.

It seems that those articles both demonstrated a warped kind of PC, the likes we haven't seen in at least decade.

Yes, what will happen to those who have no voice, who want what affirmative action was put in place to do in the first place? To give those who are talented, smart, qualified, and who happen to be Chinese, Palestinian, Ghanian, Haitian, Puerto Rican, and good old Black American a fighting chance.

What will happen...?

bunnilove said...

Dear Anonymous,

I had the chance to read the NY Times article you referenced in your response. It was quite interesting...

On a LEGAL principal, I don't want to see folks that are non-White be promoted JUST to fill a quota. So, from this perspective, I support this firefighter. Imagine yourself having worked hard to achieve a certain status, only to be working with someone who didn't work quite as hard, but is there only because the company you work for is trying hard to deflect a lawsuit. I know I would feel pretty nasty about that.

But on a MORAL principal, if I were this firefighter, I would have kept my damn mouth shut. Like I said before, the man was definitely feeling himself too much. Affirmative action got him there in first place! And now he forgets where he came from! I really don't fault him: many, many people of color go through this type of amnesia. You achieve an amount of rank, and it's as if you suddenly become reborn, and anything before that goes poof into thin air.

What I think should have been done on the part of the Black firefighters that had been very vocal about this is look into the promotional test that is given and investigate WHY the level of non-White test takers are so high in their failure rates. That raises a lot of red flags. Don't disregard the test, I feel that promotional tests are fair in principal, but modify it. But modification DOES NOT mean dumb it down.

NYS Regents tests have been severely dumb down, although many urban school students are still lagging behind in their scores than their suburban counterparts. What this is creating is a clear divide.

This situation reminds me of the company I work for and the school curriculum we use. In schools where there is large White population, the curriculum works very well. In schools with a large non-White population, it fails. Why? Many of the processing questions contain frames of references that THEY CANNOT RELATE TO. Remember, we are the sum total of our experiences, not just some. So the students just zone out.

While the firefighters promotional test should be investigated, it should not be extinguished.

lelocolon said...

Dear Bunnilove:

As a dyslexic man and second language learner, I have gone to the experience of being acknowledged because of a test result. A score in this society not necessarily summarize you, but some how transforms you into either a winner or a looser. Tests for me are a nightmare specially if they come on a form of multiple choices, or if they come with a rhetorical question requiring a written response, that the examiners can agree with you. Questions that had very little to do with your job but somehow by your attempt to answer it proves how savvy you are.

I have been a teacher in New York City for years but I was not totally certified until I past the Praxis 2. No matter how I got my degree and from where I got it, my score was going to determine my clearance to become highly qualify as an art and elementary school teacher.
Out of the 120 questions on the test, ask me how many related to my daily tasks of being a teacher and I will tell you zero.

Everyone knows that testing others has become a big business in America. I wont be surprise if pretty soon ass cleaning will require a test. The sad part about it, never the examiners are the ones put into questioning. Because in answering on how do they arrived at making tests that have little to do with anything, will lead to the consideration that perhaps the test was useless to begin with.

In the case of the Puerto Rican firefighter, affirmative action got him the door to the fire engine truck. A job, that perhaps he is great at, but in other for him to get a promotion, now he needed another test. A test that perhaps has little to do with shit but in order to for him to move ahead, he needed to score high. What I found most fascinating about him, is that he only became affected by affirmative action right after finding out that his scores were among the highest. Refuting thereafter affirmative action while pledging allegiance to his white colleagues. Prior to that he probably would have had the “cojones” to switch bands. Now his scores help him stand against those standing against the test.

Now he can even go further and say that he does not want his Wallingford children to experienced reverse discrimination. Spelling out, I am out of the ghetto; “see you, hates to be you.” Yet he is still working on one of the most poverty stricken cities in Connecticut, where he grow up. Did he ever wonder what his dissention means to the rest of young blacks and latinos from the hood that unlike him will be force to a test to prove whether they belong on the engine truck or not. A test he avoided the first time around. All those he thinks that we can not see threw his bull shit and call it for what it is. He is kissing ass for a higher pay and a bigger house maybe in a higher scale city other than Wallingford. Hey his voice made it to the New York Times his dissention got him National attention. His career and his pay check is secure for life. Maybe that is what a test can prove that you can move ahead if you are a sell out.

Anonymous said...

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