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Monday, September 5, 2011

Reflections



With everything Michael wore, it became a symbol of who he was, a trademark, completely owned by him. The glittery glove, the sparkly socks, his military-style jackets with colored armbands, the high-water pants, the fedora, the mask, and especially the oversized sunglasses were all a part of the Michael we knew and loved. He was fearless in the ways he expressed himself, both through his music and attire. Not afraid to be different, he challenged society’s conventions.

And no one else can quite pull off that air of mystery and intrigue that surrounded Michael, when he stepped out into public hidden behind those large aviators. Many have tried, and still do, but they are missing something integral and important; something other than just imitating the look that Michael made solely his. They are missing a reflection in those glasses that is impossible to replicate. Why? Because they are not one of the most-loved and hated men on earth. They are not the most-famous or photographed entertainer. They are not one of the most-ridiculed, feared and extorted celebrities. They are not the man whose life was lived on the world stage, allowing for neither privacy nor normal life. They are not the man whose appearance and every word or action, was dissected and twisted into something strange, weird, and sinister. They are, simply, not Michael. The reflections that appear in their glasses are quite different from what we see reflected in Michael’s....




Look closely at the masses of adoring and loving fans, whom Michael loved equally as much as they do him.




See the voracious media with their intrusive cameras and microphones.




See the securitypeople, business associates, hangers-on, curiosity seekers and those infatuated by his celebrity.




See those who eyed his wealth and fame—greedily swarming around him, pushing and pulling, all hungry for a piece of him and ready to take him down to get it. They all there somewhere, reflected in his glasses. This was the world he viewed: a world that surrounded him wherever he went.

Of all the speculation and intrusive curiosity over every aspect of Michael’s life, the most ridiculous was the time spent by the media debating his choice of wardrobe. It disintegrated quickly into something embarrassing and dehumanizing—almost as if they couldn’t or didn’t want to see the “man” himself. Perhaps it was because Michael could not be defined; he didn’t fit into preconceived societal norms, and the more they tried to pigeonhole him, the more angry and fearful of him they became. He made them uncomfortable.

They concentrated their efforts on nitpicking over why he wore this and why he wore that, insinuating that Michael’s penchant for the military style was based on something darker than making a mere fashion statement.  And, as with the surgical mask he wore, people were very interested in the reasons behind his wearing the large sunglasses even at night (as if Michael were the only person ever to do this). There were snide comments made about him trying to cover up more plastic surgery, and some went so far as to imply that he was hiding the effects of drug use.

Everything about Michael was turned into a negative by the media; a consistent analysis was brutally waged against him because some could not accept him for what he was and others felt he had stepped out of his place as a definable entity. Still others saw Michael as a means to satisfy their desire for fame and fortune, and power. Michael trusted to easily, simply because he came from a place of love—though in reality, there were very people he could trust at the end of the day because they came from a place of greed, mistrust, fear and plain old jealousy.

Michael once said that he didn’t like to look people in the eye—a reason why he wore the sunglasses, almost as if he were creating a protective barrier to guard what vestige of privacy he had left. The eyes are the mirror to the soul, it is said, and Michael’s soul was bruised and battered. He was lonely, he had lost his childhood, he found it difficult to find a true friend or someone to love him as he was, and his trust had been broken by too many claiming to be his friend—his life had become a platform for the media to stand upon and espouse far and wide all that was wrong with him and why we should be suspicious of him. They called him names; they ridiculed and debased his humanity. He felt the pain of all this, and no doubt it was reflected in his eyes; the hurt and disappointment, and the betrayal.


    
 
   



“I cut and bleed like anyone else”, he said, but still they wanted more from him. With the advent of his 2005 trial, the media went into overdrive and, as we know, very little of went on in that courtroom—the testimonies that were presented in Michael’s favor—were reported by the press. Instead, they chose to report bits and pieces—a mishmash of discredited witness testimony that placed Michael in a bad light—because that provided the fodder for sound bites: easy revenue based on sensational and biased reporting at the expense of a man’s life and reputation. What was left of Michael’s soul was in danger of being lost forever. His very private and intimate personal life was laid bare for the whole world to pick over like hungry vultures. You see it in his eyes, peering out from his wire-framed spectacles: trauma from a life inspected, used, abused and, finally, crucified. There wasn’t much left of him.

Well, no more will we see his beautiful, soulful eyes, because they have been closed forever by a man who took an oath to preserve and protect life. A man who held Michael’s life in his hands, and then systematically turned his back on his patient to make some “phone calls”, leaving Michael without the required monitoring equipment, abandoning him to the propofol filling his veins—leaving him alone to die. This man will shortly stand trial for manslaughter;  yet, knowing this, the media are still calling it the Jackson trial, and while the defense plays the “blame the victim” game, Michael’s life is once more examined. Michael’s life is once more being prepared for crucifixion.

The spirit lives on—I firmly believe that. Michael’s physical essence has departed this place, and no more will he have to endure the pain or hide behind the frail barrier of masks and glasses. We will no longer see his world reflected in a pair of lenses, but, I believe his spirit is fully aware of the events taking place. His legacy is at stake! His legacy is now in the hands of those who wish to protect it, for no other reason than  for the love of a man who was misunderstood and hated without reason. For no other reason than that we know and understand the importance of Michael’s life, we know what the gift of his life is to us, and to the world, really means. Knowing this, when we don our glasses tomorrow, whether it is to protect us from the sun or to enable us to see better, the reflections we see in our glasses should mirror that legacy. He is relying on us, he trusts us and we will be there to protect and preserve what he no longer can.

Based on the idea by Debby Barker

By Valmai Owens

© 2011. All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission from author.

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