My Michael Jackson Post
I was the youngest of five children. Which means that I had NO control over the radio dial having never had the right to sit shotgun in the front seat. Hell, I was happy for the days I got the back seat and not the way-back backward-facing seat of the station wagon.
I grew up listening to what my brothers liked on the radio. Except when my parents objected to the satanic ones–yanno, KISS (they WERE Knights In Satan’s Service, after all) and Black Sabbath (that Ozzie biting that bat’s head off did him in for my ‘rents). Consequently, I listened to a lot of Supertramp (“Breakfast in America” is still the best overall album made EVAH), Yes, Styx, Led Zeppelin, The Police, Jethro Tull, The Kinks, Rod Stewart, Chicago, Billy Joel, you get the idea.
I also grew up with no cable television. Yeah, a moment of silence for that sadness. My father was CONVINCED that cable meant naked ladies. Even basic cable. Naked ladies. Teenage boys + naked ladies = no cable for us. My grandparents and cousin had cable. I still hear HBO’s music for the start of a movie and think of summer nights spent at my grandparents.
I spent several weeks during the summer that “Thriller” was a hit video at my cousin’s. Cable! No brothers controlling the dial! No father telling me music was evil! Oh, that sweet freedom. I LOVED MTV. “Stray Cat Strut” was one video I especially liked.
But the pièce de résistance of that musical summer was Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video. I already owned that album (on cassette) and “Thriller” was not my favorite song, but I liked it. I liked all the songs on that album. And I liked the “Beat It” video too. (My all-time fave MJ song is still “Beat It.”) But that video! It was unlike all that came before it (even my limited exposure knew this one was special). It was a mini-movie. It had a story. For Pete’s sake, it had VINCENT EFFING PRICE. It WAS scary. My cousin and I weren’t frightened but we were spellbound when it came on. And we’d watch that extended video every time. In wrapped attention.
It was my first one-day-I-will-be-an-adult-and-able-to-choose-for-myself span of time. It was a taste of freedom. And it was glorious. And the soundtrack to that promise of a future filled with freedom was MJ’s “Thriller” album. Well, and some Barry Manilow too.
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I know not everyone is a fan of MJ. And I know his personal life was messy. But that’s not what comes to mind when I hear the first notes of “Beat It.” And I get why so many people were affected by his death. I did not follow the coverage, I did not have interest in his memorial service. But neither was I annoyed by it. I heard many complain that it was wrong to give such a fuss over a pedophile. My response to that is, do you want to censor all art from all sexual deviants since the dawn of civilization? Because we’d not have many museums or libraries or theaters or music halls.
I heard others complain that it was just too much coverage. What doesn’t the media over-cover these days? HELLO! Princess Di! John John’s plane crash! Jessica in the well! Anna Nicole Smith! Gov. Sanford! The blue dress! America WANTS that trash. The ratings prove that. So if you want to make a change in what’s being covered in the news, change the channel, or turn it off. Because now we ALL have cable. And hundreds of channels with naked ladies just waiting to be watched.