That Wacky King of Pop
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Funny that a site of this name should be run by a man who has spent much of his life deriding American popular culture.
Fret not - I got over myself long ago.
On a certain level I think Sam Cooke the exemplary figure: coldly and carefully he crafted pop tunes to appeal to the masses. That hasn’t left me any less a secular saint.
And few people under my age can understand exactly how popular The Beatles really were when the group was still together.
So I’m coming to terms with the King of Pop: with Michael Jackson.
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Much of his career as beloved pop icon - as opposed to witlessly abused man who will forever remain a confused by - pass without my attention. I’m not one given much to radio or television. Give me a CD or DVD: don’t foist your schedule on me.
It began when I caught - long after the fact - the video for Thriller.
Growing up there were three movie theaters within a block of my house. I spent my childhood in movie houses during one of the golden ages of the horror film. Roger Corman was active; Hammer Studios in the UK had fresh releases rich in buxom barmaids in low cut dresses if there were no other special effect.
Christopher Lee was Dracula. And Vincent Price was …
How often did a horror movie starting Price arrive each year?
So I was predisposed to a musical horror video. And how could I not melt when Vincent Price’s voice spoke from the tomb? Michael Jackson probably enjoyed his hammy performances at the same time.
Eventually it sunk in - some times these things go surprisingly slowly - that I also enjoyed the music.
Backtracking I realized that I enjoyed many of Michael Jackson’s hits.
That this supremely popular man with an awful childhood deserved his portion of fame, huge as it was.
And so - with his career in decline, not from any fault of his powers but the cold realities of mass appeal - acquired one more fan.