Michael A Man of Contradictions

By Mumia Abu-Jamal, Prison Radio, July 5, 2009

click here to listen to audio column

Michael Jackson was, in many ways, a living contradiction.

Born Black, he would, through usage of plastic surgery, die with a somewhat white appearance.

He passed at 50, yet kept a certain child-like quality about him.

Although ostensibly apolitical as a worker in popular culture, and an artist, he inevitably had impacts that had political effects. As the first Black artist to breach the white walls of MTV, he entered millions of white homes, and introduced them to a vision, tempo and sound that rocked their worlds.

He studied some of the best dancers of his youth, and integrated many styles into one -- finally developing his own, an amalgamation of Jack Kelly, Fred Astaire, James Brown and Frank Sinatra.

He was both a Peter Pan and an astute businessman.

He was also a living symbol of the explosion of Black pop culture in the '60's, '70's' and '80's -- yet he never (as far as we read, at least) chose a Black woman to carry his seed.

He was dumped on and damned by the corporate press -- as an oddball, a child molester, or a has-been; yet his loyal fans were legion -- and loved him and his art, unconditionally.

For all that, he was reportedly achingly lonely.

He was so commercially successful that when he put out an album, and only 1 or 2 million copies sold, it was considered by the corporate press -- a flop (because it didn't match or exceed the sales of his "Thriller" album).

Ask any artist currently working if they'd be happy with a million sales!

Through it all, he treated his life much like a stage, and resented performances almost as dazzling as his dancing.

The Japanese nationalist writer, Yukio Mishima (1925 - 1970) once said, " I want to make a poem of my life."

Michael Jackson seemed like he wanted to make a song of his.

It may be a carol of contradictions; yet it is most certainly art, of enduring quality.

--(c) '09 maj

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