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The 80s Belong to Michael Jackson
Yesterday, June 25, 2009, I watched and listened in horror as headline news announced the deaths of Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett. As the musical tributes and biopic of MJ popped up on most of the major television networks, I could not but reminiscence of the 80s and what that mean to me and many of my generation. For those of us who came of age in the 80s, Michael Jackson's music and Farrah Fawcett's reruns of Charlies Angels was much a staple of the day as apple pie and American. Even though I grew up outside of North America, MJ was a major part of my coming of age. Michael Jackson's music had international appeal, to even the most prude of our world.
Lets forget for a moment, the weirdness, the child molestation allegations, the baby dangling fiasco, and focus if you will, on Michael Jackson, not only as an artist, but as a human being. He is unequivocal The King of Pop and the holder of the title for the best selling record of all times for Thriller. I think of him as the little boy who was trust in the spotlight at a tender age of eleven. He was a boy who charmed us all with his wicked dance moves, amazing singing voice and dazzling smiles. I think of him as a boy who only wants to be loved and will do whatever it takes to make you love him. That need for our love had driven him to change his appearance. Unlike most of us, he did not have the opportunity to develop as an adult without the preying eyes of the world. And yes, he made the choice or perhaps his family made the choice for him to enter into a business that would chew him up and spit him out. He had millions of fans all over the world, as well haters who want to see him hurt.
We all struggle with demons, whether its our weight, not feeling pretty enough, not feeling smart enough, not being accepted. Imagine for a moment, playing all that out under public scrutiny. A pimple on your nose suddenly becomes news in the Tabloids, what would that scrutiny do to your still developing psyche? Factor in the notion of a domineering father figure and then you have the recipe for a narcissist.
I watched in horror as MJ transformed himself to a person that if you were from another planet and didn't know of him before you would be confused about his race. What are the underlying reasons for his transformation? Have you ever thought that maybe if you didn't receive unconditional love, and re-assurance from your immediate family, you may not have turned out to be the person you are today? How about if you grew up in a society that made you feel inferior no matter how good you are at what you do? How about if you felt that you were a commodity, then it would be easy for you would change your packaging or improve your brand to meet market expectations to gain market share? Think for a moment about the above questions and then think about the result on the human psyche.
Micheal Jackson's music was evidence that he struggled with the socio-political atmosphere of the time in which he lived. For instance the videos of Scream, Black or White, Beat It and even Thriller depict the social consciousness and reactions to of some of the evils of our society. The question is, what is the irony of his transformation?
But I digressed. I was thinking about growing up in the 80s. Yesterday as I watched MJ's videos, I was reminded of the 1980s when I graduated from high school, graduated from college, started my first professional career, fell in love, gave birth to a 'love child', got my heart broken, became politically aware of such issues as apartheid in South Africa, Reaganomics, The Falkland Island Crisis, Thatcherism, Democratic Socialism, Invasion of Grenada, Famine in Ethiopia, We Are The World - US for Africa.
Even with the turmoil in the world, the 80s were the happiest time of my life. Artists such as Michael Jackson, Madonna, Prince, Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springstein and Lionel Ritchie enhanced that happiness. Many of us can remember dancing or making out to the music of these artists. I would argue that the 80s belong to MJ. Most of the boys I knew wanted to be like him, they tried to emulate his dancing, and his style of fashion. The one hand white glove and white socks have shown up at many parties. Many dancers could be seen doing the 'moon walk' or the crotch grab. Michael Jackson's influence can still be seen in the dance moves of artists as Usher, Justine Timberlake, and many others.
My Favourite Songs of the 80s: Like many people from my generation, the ones in between the boomers and generation X, we grew up listening to varying types of music. The disco era was just about ending and a new art form in terms of music was emerging. Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Prince among others were emerging as rising stars of the Pop genre of music. While I can appreciate most music, some of my favourite popular music of the 80s:
- 1981 - Celebration by Kool and the Gang
- - Endless Love by Diana Ross & Lionel Ritchie
- 1982 - Thriller by Michael Jackson
- 1983 - Billie Jean by Michael Jackson
- - 1999 by Prince
- - Let's Dance by David Bowie
- 1984 - Dancing in the Dark by Bruce Springsteen
- I Just Called to say I love you by Stevie Wonder
- 1985 - Careless Whispers by WHAM
- I want to know what love is by Foreigner
- Material Girl by Madonna
- 1987 - Bad by Michael Jackson
Hottest TV Shows of the 80s: Growing up in a tropical country, I spent most of my days outdoors, at the beach, playing tennis, soccer, volleyball or just relaxing with a book under a tree. I did not watch a lot of television, but from what I remember, there were some great family shows. I've seen some of them on reruns lately. The 80s reminds me of some of my favourite tv shows:
- The Little House on the Prairie
- Happy Days
- Charlies Angels
- The Jeffersons
- The Duke of Hazzard
- Knight Rider
- The Cosby Show
- Family Ties
- Three's Company
- Miami Vice
- Growing Pains
- Who's the Boss
- Different Strokes
The world has lost a few gems this week; Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. They will each be remembered for their contribution to the art. Michael Jackson will always be remembered, for his music and dancing as much as for his 'weirdness'. It's all a part of who was this complex genius. A true American Pop Icon. The King of Pop! May his soul rest in peace! Peace Farrah, may the angels greet you.