I've been debating in my noggin that past few days on how to best "blog" about Michael Jackson...him, his death, his history, his remembrance, and most importantly his music, which is his art. It's been a long time since his Thriller days as we've most recently been associating the words "court" and "plastic surgery" with Michael Jackson, but between the 1.6 million fans vying for a ticket to his memorial today in Los Angeles and the fact that it feels like 1984 again on the radio ( I head Man in the Mirror three times yesterday), it is clear that most of the world is celebrating his accomplishments by dis aggregating them from portions of his life most likely ruined by his fame.
This disaggregation is an important topic of discussion when referring to Michael Jackson and many other artists today and in our history we may find morally objectionable. Liz Smith of the Washington Post wrote a great article on how Michael's talent triumphed his eccentricities. She questions whether or not the public is "selling out on our own ethics" by quoting retired music critic Dimitri Drobatschewsky, "Unfortunately, there are so many 'unsavory characters' in the world of art, science, literature and general culture that if you boycotted their given genius, there would be precious little art left to enjoy." She goes on to make comparisons to Amy Winehouse's souful and beautiful voice alongside her barefoot drunk antics in London and Woody Allen's films and weirdness and state that Michael Jackson's music isn't a reflection of his personal life.
I also enjoyed a discussion on theartblog started by Libby on the physical transformation of Michael Jackson over the years, suggesting that a performer or a performance artist is the art, not just a creator of the art. She discusses that Michael was not only the medium, but the message itself and question whether or not his many plastic surgeries could ever be considered art. I especially enjoy the comment, "Van Gogh cut off his ear....Michael cut off his nose."
Love him or leave him, MJ has made a lasting impact on our world. He's created a culture that has left us with the moonwalk, a white glove and a Thriller video. Artists of all time can admire the power of one person to use a medium such as performance art to change the way the world looks at certain things.