Michael Jackson: Beat Me, Hate Me, You Can Never Break Me

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by Mitchell Warren

Once upon a time, a boy named Michael Joseph Jackson made a deal with the Devil.  And because of that deal, some say he gained the world but lost his soul.  It is quite eerie and mysterious, if you think about it, how this one man, who virtually appeared out of nowhere, acquired unprecedented fame and incalculable fortune in a conspicuously short period of time.  Even at a very young age, the music industry called Jackson a King among men.  Even though countless years had already passed, and the music industry had already seen icons and legends come and go, like Elvis Presley, John Lennon and the Stones, this one man—a child in many respects—was still capable of turning the music world upside down and making history.

No doubt, Jackson revolutionized music for the here-and-now MTV generation.  He was an innovator of song and dance, described by his peers as a master of his craft, even a genius.  Some said the way he sang and danced was so amazing it was almost supernatural.  Some compared Jackson’s movements to an angel, and others, to a demon.  Movies like Men in Black even portrayed a very wicked thought that he was an alien doing a poor job masquerading as a human being.

Jackson’s otherworldliness will no doubt continue to separate him from the musical archives and isolate his legacy as royalty, something monumentally achieved only once a generation.  Jackson is the Gen X’s answer to Elvis Presley, a prince who became a king, and a life that we vicariously shared through the media.  He is also Gen Y’s answer to John Lennon, an iconic and politically incorrect media shyster that brilliantly promoted himself even while outwardly dreaming of a perfect, not-quite-possible paradise world of tomorrow.

His controversial personal life will only help in characterizing him as one of the great eccentrics of modern time.  Jackson’s weird behavior transcends the self-destructive spiral of Elvis and the bare-ass posing of Lennon and aims to an even more perverse level worthy of Howard Hughes or King Solomon.  The fact that so much of Jackson’s legacy is stained with the voices of violated children and angry business associates makes us wonder if indeed the Devil came to collect on Jackson’s soul about twenty years too early.  It also reminds us of the familiar tragedy that is the American Dream: where else but in America could a brilliant black man die as a white woman; where else could the world’s most successful singer die $200 million dollars in debt?

Jackson’s life, when not triumphantly reaching for the stars, painfully reminds us that the answer to happiness is not merely hidden in money, power, sex or fortune.  In the weeks prior to his death, Jackson was reluctantly going on a world tour in an effort to pay off some debt.  Everyone claimed he looked sickly and unprepared for the ordeal.  The question is, was Michael pushing himself beyond physical limits or did no one think to stop him from exerting himself?  We can only imagine the devil’s cachinnations, as Michael’s brow-beaten and concert-beaten body is finally lowered into the ground.

Jackson’s legacy will not only be remembered but will continue to dazzle and dwarf the American zeitgeist.  His musical style, his theatricality and his grieved androgynous high tenor voice, will continue to permeate much of what we hear musically in the 21st century.  He is the type of god, the type of king, the type of master teacher capable of eliciting worship from our own self-chosen idols like Madonna, Paul McCartney, Diana Ross, Eddie Van Halen, Sheryl Crow, Mariah Carey (and the list goes on).  People say you can tell a lot about a person’s life from the genuine praise that his friends give him.  What does Jackson’s collection of star-struck, obsequious eulogies say about him?

I suspect Jackson’s legacy will never die in the minds and hearts of his enemies, critics, friends and fans.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that Jackson’s ghostly face continues to haunt Never Land long after his death, or that MJ sightings continue to be reported in nightclubs all across the world.  Never dying would be a fitting tribute to the real life Peter Pan, a boy that rebelliously and meekly chose to never grow up.

In the end, I can’t help but think that Jackson’s lyrics for his 1982 hit Beat It somehow symbolized his own view of how the world would one day come to betray him.

They’re Out To Get You, Better Leave While You Can

Don’t Wanna Be A Boy, You Wanna Be A Man

You Wanna Stay Alive, Better Do What You Can

So Beat It, Just Beat It

You Have To Show Them That You’re Really Not Scared

You’re Playin’ With Your Life, This Ain’t No Truth Or Dare

They’ll Kick You, Then They Beat You,

Then They’ll Tell You It’s Fair

So Beat It, But You Wanna Be Bad

Jackson’s death was imminent, and by lacking the courage to get out of the public eye or compromise his lifestyle for the politically-correct, Sarah Palin-esque mentality of the United States, he let “US” destroy him.  Fortunately, his legacy will continue to be something untouchable to the masses, somewhere between heaven and the stars, though his life was always at the Devil’s disposal.

19 Comments on “Michael Jackson: Beat Me, Hate Me, You Can Never Break Me”

  1. Indeed it seems his life was towards the end the Devil’s Playground. I feel badly for him. A troubled person whose personal fame and fortune made it all too easy for him and those around him to screw up his mortality. While I would argue about him being the King of Generation X, Y or anything, it is unarguable that his mark made a complete change both in production and marketing in the music world. Let us hope he and those whose lives he touched both for good and ill can rest a little easier now.
    Good article Mitch.

  2. Oh yea verily doest he go into the valley of shadows. I couldn’t stand the guy’s music nor cared for the overblown media coverage of the night of June 25th but I do feel slightly sorry for the man who was a prisoner in his own life. I will also say that at the time the molestation charges were leveled against him, I did not believe that he could do something as vile as that. For all his errors in his life, I think at as an adult he was trying to ‘make up’ for not having a childhood and a part of childhood is having peers. He grew up with managers, agents, p.r. and security so it would be natural, to me, that if one has an opportunity to see the world through the eyes of a child that they had missed out on, the only way to do so is with the eyes of a child.
    A nice write for the man who would be king, a doff of the baseball cap to ye, Mr. Warren…

  3. Someday, a great psychologist is going to use MJ’s biography in a study of identity crisis. This is what he symbolized to me. I followed him as a cute kid who could dance and sing, but by the time he was grabbing at his crotch, i was rocking down on Bob Marley. Michael’s messages didn’t belong to me, but i accepted that they belonged to some people. It disturbed though when he became obsessed with changing his appearance; from kinky hair to curls, bleached skin, a smaller and smaller nose, feminine features. A true case of the man who looked in the mirror and didn’t like what he saw. A man who recreated his image. There is something shaky about this type of rejection; emphatic statements suddenly become bravado because they are hidden under the veil of not who you are but who you wanted to be. Hollywood devours its children, making them every home’s darling one day, and the subjects of Esquire scandals the next. Nothing illustrates this massive appetite to exhalt, to capitalize, to maim and destroy then the life of Michael Jackson.

  4. I never understood MJ’s need for physical change, other than him not being satisfied with his appearance. But we can’t all convince nor get convinced by other’s words of wisdom and advice. Michael was creative and a perfectionist when it came to his work. He did leave a massive imprint on this world, although I disagree with the idolization of superstars. Why do people go insanely mad over celebrities? It’s not like they’re getting anything out of it. They’re people doing jobs, they don’t ward off illness, disease, poverty, or hunger. So why all the hocus pocus? Micheal should have been respected as well as his privacy. But as usual, there’s a heavy price to pay for stardom.

  5. Wonderful article. I grieve for the little boy lost that was never found and the tired soul that knew no rest(“Rest is not quitting the busy career:Rest is the fitting of self to one’s sphere”–Johann Wolfgang Goethe) I believe he was lost in his own fantasy world and never made it back to reality. There’s a saying, ‘faithful are the wounds of a friend’;makes me wonder if anyone ever ‘wounded’ him in a good way and encouraged him to step back into reality, enough so as to live a life of balance and happiness. Maybe there was someone like that but he was beyond being helped. Whether we liked him and his music or not; he has left a mark on the world and will be painfully missed by many.

  6. Michael Jackson was like a family member to me. I’ve been dealing with his dying and it has been incredibly tough for me. I cannot believe how he moved the industries around the world. I wish his family the best. Thank you Michael for the most amazing life!

  7. Speaking of celebrity: Elvis Presley VS Michael Jackson, who was the best? To be frank they were both brilliant entertainers in their own right.

  8. Me & my fellow classmates use your blogs as our reference materials. We look out for more interesting posts from your end about the this kind of topic . Even the future updates about this topic would be of great help.

  9. Hey….I would certainly like to discover what some other persons think on the topic…there are several different views and i would really like to see some more responses on this

  10. Aloha! Just putting a quick little note in your guest book to say hello from Chilliwack, which is up in Canada. I’m fascinated with the level of quality of writing you’ve got yourself here, and I’ll certainly be back to say hi again later on. In any case I won’t occupy any more of your time, I just desired to say hiya and have a good one.

  11. I dont generally leave comments on sites….but this write-up is about my favorite Musician in the entire world….i know people often say negative things or dissaprove of different life choices,these Artists might make…but one thing is for sure that the Musicall skills and the Songs they make are top notch……

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