07.01.09

mjatthegrocerystore.jpg

I have been wanting to get this off my chest for a few days now. Michael Jackson was a big creative influence on me as a child. I wanted so badly to be famous and emulate his success. Growing up, I was a music and stage prodigy in my small midwestern town and held tightly to the desperate dreams of world stardom. I told my mother at the age of 5 that I would someday move to LA and be a movie star.

Our generation was fed dreams of Michael Jackson meets Michael Jordan fame and stardom for breakfast. It’s what compelled many of us to push our way into the world and a promise the world could never keep (remember Fight Club?). I ate Wheaties for breakfast, moonwalked across the linoleum kitchen floor in my gym socks and begged my parents for a pair of Air Jordans. Hollywood beckoned.

So now that the ‘King of Pop’ has passed and I find myself in the beginning of my middle years it is hard not to take it in and ask, ‘where is all of this going’? Is fame worth the price paid? And even if it is, what does achieving it accomplish. Yes, there is the obvious. This is a given. You gain access. Access to a world that few people experience. You get to sleep in a room with a 30 foot high ceiling. You can board a private flight to your villa in Paris anytime you feel the urge. You can eat or drink or inject anything you can think of. This much is true and indisputable. There is a genuine and compelling draw there. But after all of the gold dust settles, what are you left with? The desire to genuinely love and be loved? The need to feel fulfilled and experience a sense of purpose? Does fame and fortune provide these things?

News is breaking today that Michael Jackson was an insomniac. I battled insomnia as a child, maybe it is some kind of strange creative curse. He was also spending somewhere between 48,000 to 100,000 on prescription drugs. Yes, that might be overstated hype, but even if it is one-fifth of that amount, that is a lot of drugs. What was he drowning out? Why couldn’t he rest? He had reached the very top. What did he see from that vantage point that all of us think we wish we could see? Maybe a climb to the top only reveals the same mountain range we all face in a clearer view. I don’t know. But I do know he was a tortured man. You can derive that from just the heresay.

So have we been fed a lie? Is fame bullshit? I think it is. Where is our culture and our society heading if we pour all of our hopes into singular individuals at the behest of the masses? When will we begin to usher in the era of societal awareness where we acknowledge that each of us is in fact, an absolute conclusive fact, a citizen of the Earth. How can you feel fulfillment or purpose when the carrot is dangled just far enough out that not only can you never reach it, so that if you actually do the effort will corrupt and destroy you.

When will we have enough of this? I think there is a natural limit to things that we are usurping. This race that we are engaged in does not account for the wasted human potential that we are shedding everyday. Balance and a sense of purpose cannot be attained in a society that lifts it’s entertainers to the level of God while promising it’s teachers, scientists, fathers, mothers, workers, engineers, architects and designers IOUs. It’s a bald faced lie that is making the pursuit feel worthless. We are on a wheel that is spinning and not going forward. There are outer limits to every structure and we have reached the wall in our capitalist pursuits. What about our souls?

After all his fame and fortune, Michael Jackson wanted what we all want. He wanted to be loved. He wanted to be a father. He wanted to shop for groceries and feel like he brought home food for his family. He wanted friends. He wanted to be understood and appreciated for who he really was. He wanted to rest peacefully at the end of the day knowing and feeling these things. After all that access and all of that wealth, he still craved for the simplest of things.

That is something to think about. And it is a reason to wonder if there isn’t another way of living, loving and sharing that we are denying ourselves in this modern society. Maybe it is time for a change. We have had our share of empty promises. Isn’t it time for grander pursuits and an acknowledgement for our worldly responsibilities to our fellow man? Fame is about an individual, and that leaves everyone but 1 person out of the picture. But this world still has room for all of us, and we are all still very much in the picture.

There is something about all of this that bothers me and sometimes keeps me up at night. And that feeling is always in the back of my mind and just won’t go away. I hope Michael Jackson found someone who really did know him. I hope his children loved him for who he really was. I hope he rests now in true peace where he is finally free from the bonds of a confused and misled public.

I hope that we one day turn away from this flawed deceitful pursuit and turn inward to find the core of our spirit and uncover the true reason that each of us chose to come here to inhabit the space we have been allotted on the third planet from the sun.

written by Christopher | tags: , , ,

19 Responses to “Musings on Michael Jackson”

  1. Christopher Says:

    Sorry for the non-design related rant. I just had to get it out. This whole circus surrounding his death is really sad. I just feel for the man and his family. He was snatched up from an early age (the moment his talent was spotted), molded and formed into a public persona only to be discarded when it was revealed that he had serious issues. He was damaged and confused so once again the wolves circle. Throw another pop song on the fire and let it burn I guess. The vampires need another soul to suck dry so they can nurse us all on the blood.

    Am I a cynic? Maybe so.

  2. Martijn Says:

    I liked reading your thoughts, they felt so true.

  3. taco Says:

    Halfway through reading this, an MJ song came up on the radio (surprise surprise), but this time it was Heal the World, and there was this moment…. where i felt like spinning and falling down on my knees… but no, seriously.. really good piece. MJ’s death has left me strangely more affected than I thought. And in the same sort of re-appreciation/media-anger/sadness kind of way.

    anyway

  4. Jason Says:

    Great post, thanks.

  5. Kirill Says:

    Very insightful post as it relates to Michael Jackson and the tragic last 10-15 years of his life, as well as its relation to everyday life. Fame took Michael to unbelievable highs but I imagine it left him in lows that none of us can ever begin to comprehend. RIP MJ

  6. margot Says:

    Interesting post! You’re so right. I’ve often thought about what a tricky beast perspective is and how it can so falsely mold people’s perceptions about things, especially with fame or perceived success. But in the end everything is relative and we are all just humans, doing the best we can you know? I wish there were an easier way to keep people’s eyes on that instead of money/gossip/negativity etc…

  7. Sheep Says:

    Yes, it’s all true but do we really need to go so in-depth in a design blog? We see enough of this stuff on the news and the oh so many never-ending talks and discussions about him. I do think it’s sad, but let’s all forget about it and move on. He is one person. There are millions of people on Earth who suffer/suffered more than him.

  8. Christopher Says:

    I will go as in depth as I please. No one is paying me to run this blog. You can surf design porn all over the place. This is more than just a design blog. Sometimes it’s healthy to actually engage in discussion as opposed to look at pretty pictures and click links. What the hell is the internet for if it isn’t here to further communication in our disjointed civilization? Occasionally you can actually use it to express views and communicate true feelings.

    Yes we see and here these stories and more on the news, but what is always missing is the truth. That’s what I am getting at.

    Try these links (there are only pictures and almost no words to get in your way or make you think too hard):

    http://www.ffffound.com/
    or http://www.dropular.net/

  9. Laz Says:

    Well said! The “access” part of fame is something I’ve always wanted, too. Well, okay, just the private jet / villa part really. Seeking fame for the sake of fame itself is as poisonous as any lethal drug, but fame as a result of doing good for community, society, and the world over can be a crowning jewel. I’m not sure that Jackson’s ills were his fault. He had a rough childhood that was stolen from him. I always felt sad for him when I heard about his issues in the news. Your words speak truth, and they are important for artists all over.

  10. JollyBeGood Says:

    Very well articulated. I have several famous friends, and that kind of lifestyle really does bare a weight on them. Because once you reach it, there is no break from it. It’s not like you get to test it out for a while. Its a tattoo, its permanent. I dont think its necessarily bad or good. But its like show is always on whether you preforming or not.

  11. Sheep Says:

    Actually, I didn’t mean that you can’t write what you want. My point was people like visiting Change The Thought (me included, obviously) for design inspiration or even “writings” on those projects.

    When I see yet another article about Michael Jackson I want to scream because it’s invading our lives. Yes he was great, yes I feel sad that he’s gone but let’s move on.

    If people want information on a “disjointed” civilization, then they can go to other blogs that aren’t about design.

    There’s also no need to get testy, I was merely making an observation.

    I do love your blog, so I am not trying to be mean, just stating how frustrating it is to see so many articles about a pop star when they are so many others that suffer – 10x more than him. But because he’s famous we all focus on him. It’s sad.

  12. Christopher Says:

    Sheep, I am sorry man. I appreciate you reading the blog. In all honesty I was having a really crappy day yesterday and lashed out. I realize that this blog serves a certain purpose and there has been a Michael Jackson news overload lately. So I understand where you are coming from. I just wanted to get my real feelings out and see how other people feel not just about MJ but about the fame game and the rat race. His death just brought out a lot of those emotions and ideas. So I opened up the round table here on the subject. I think blogs are a healthy place for people to talk about these things without feeling like someone is watching them. You can speak honestly and openly here.

  13. Melatonina Melatonine Says:

    there would be no other King of Pop like Michael Jackson. he would always be the King.

  14. Gustave Says:

    Thank you for writing this.

  15. Murray Says:

    It makes you think… if “fame” with all its wonderful trappings isn’t worth it (consider not just MJ but all the other stars who suffer from loneliness, depression, futility) then why, O why, do people still rush after it? Haven’t they learnt from the myriad thousands who have gone before them that all these things won’t bring them true and lasting happiness?

    Since we’re encouraging communication and discussion here; I also wouldn’t mind you explaining by what you meant in your last line, Chris. You say, “… each of us chose to come here to inhabit the space we have been allotted…”

    What I would ask is:
    1) How did we “choose” to come here?
    2) Who allotted this space to us?

    Might seem a bit deep for a “design blog” (which I enjoy btw) but if wealth and fame and fortune are not good for human beings, not an ideal pursuit for us all… then what is?

    Either way… I agree with your words… fame is indeed a “flawed deceitful pursuit”.

  16. Cory Dies - Former Philippine President Corazon Aquino Dead at 76 Says:

    Michael Jackson will be the greatest pop singer in the whole world. Everyone will miss him.

  17. Lamar Mckitrick Says:

    I really miss Michael Jackson. He is truly the greatest pop singer of the century. Farewell king of pop..

  18. Grace Brown Says:

    i will really miss the King of Pop. michael jackson is truly the best pop artist in this lifetime.;”.

  19. Mary Beul Says:

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