The fact that I’m making bad puns from Michael Jackson lyrics should tell you that I took his death harder than I needed to. My sadness surprised me, until I read this quote from John Mayer, of all people:
“I truly hope he is memorialized as the ‘83 moonwalking, MTV owning, mesmerizing, unstoppable, invincible Michael Jackson…I think we’ll mourn his loss as well as the loss of ourselves as children listening to `Thriller’ on the record player.”
I think you’d be hard pressed to find anyone my age who doesn’t currently have Billie Jean on their iPods, who didn’t think they’d be the coolest kid in fifth grade if only they had a red leather jacket bedazzled with zippers, who can’t remember where they were when they saw the Thriller video for the first time, who wasn’t in awe of Michael’s first moonwalk across the stage.
I still vividly remember going to my neighbor’s house after school to watch Thriller. We didn’t have cable at our house (oh, the horror!) so he taped it for us. And even more totally awesome was my Easter basket that year, overflowing with Michael Jackson shoelaces, a purple vinyl Michael Jackson Thriller purse, Michael Jackson pencils, a Michael Jackson poster, and a Michael Jackson necklace, with a pavé-rhinestoned glove topped with “MJ.”
And if I thought too hard about it, I would probably have to admit that my musical tastes to this day are influenced by Thriller. It cemented my love of pop music and is probably responsible for the dearth of Britney and Justin and Fugees and Kanye and Kelly on my iPod.
Yeah, I know, I know, he got awfully creepy over the last decade or so. But I don’t think I’m really mourning somebody who might be one of the last global superstars; instead I think I’m sad that a big part of my childhood just died.