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With over 800 career honors, Michael Jackson is currently the most awarded artist in music history. Not bad for someone who, at the beginning of his career, was convinced he had a voice similar to that of Minnie, Mickey’s girlfriend, and for this reason he had doubts about a possible future musical success. Joe Jackson, a moderately successful former musician who had to hang up his guitar after his marriage to Katherine Esther Scruse, a saleswoman with a passion for singing, was decidedly more confident in the talent of his progeny.
It was Michael’s father (with whom he had a complicated relationship) who pushed him and his brothers into the world of music, thus starting the career of what for many remains, exactly 64 years after his birth, the only true king of pop.
An eternal child, an ageless Peter Pan
The very young Jackson 5 took little to be hired by the historic soul label Motown and to climb the charts. Michael, Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Randy and Marlon arrived in the seventies to place 4 number one singles, becoming real mini-celebrities. Over time, however, the Jacksons became more and more Michael’s group, who already showed a precocious talent for dance as well. With singles like ABC And I Want You Back those kids had created one of the first groups capable of breaking down racial barriers in an America where even musical tastes ended up saying something about who you were. The Jackson brothers, apparently so harmless, were able to please anyone across the board. From the very beginning, almost paradoxically considering his personal history, the man who went down in history also for the change in the color of his skin had managed to combine blacks and whites.
Dad Joe’s project had succeeded on a musical level but had left many traumas in the children, especially in Michael who will always search for the childhood lost in those years by surrounding himself with children and always remaining in the balance between adulthood and childhood. If you search Wikipedia, you will find that “Peter Pan” was one of his nicknames. Today perhaps for this reason it is even more strange to think that in 2022 the star would have turned 64. An elderly, retired Michael Jackson is almost anachronistic, it sounds like a bug in the system. Perhaps he thought so too, who with the surgeries ended up looking more and more like an alien with an indefinite age at the end of an existence that ended too soon, just over 50 years old.
An alien that everyone liked
It is difficult to consider Michael Jackson an African American “tout-court” and it is complicated if not impossible to define him as white. Nor is it easy to perceive him as a totally American artist: his music was global. Along with Lionel Ritchie Michael Jackson was the man behind We Are The World, the pop song par excellence able to become synonymous with peace and union between peoples in 1985 (when certain operations capable of involving an entire music scene were still almost unheard of). When he bought the company that owned the rights to the Elvis and Beatles songs that same year, he almost seemed to say, “I’m appropriating what has been the epitome of pop because I’m the next ring. of conjunction “. And when you think about it, it was a bit like this: Jacko was the only one to rival Presley and the Liverpool four at an icon level for at least thirty years. He was the man who did not seem to come from this Earth, the one who, paraphrasing Caparezza, could have “come from the moon”. It is no coincidence that, as a great dancer, he invented a step called Moonwalk, inspired by the mime Marcel Marceau. He also replicated the move in the video of one of his biggest hits, that one smooth Criminal in which he wore anti-gravity shoes he had patented himself.
Jackson was the man who danced with the zombies in the video for Thriller before other stars would do it with wolves (metaphorically). He was the man who, assisted by a great director like John Landis, launched the era of the video clip and used it in Black or White to say once more that there are no races and ethnicities. In Michael Jackson’s world we all look alike and we are all the same different but we should accept each other unreservedly. On the one hand it seems a banal message, on the other it appears as the umpteenth utopia of an artist detached from a reality with which he is unable to get in tune. Michael Jackson lived for years in Neverland, a kind of large, unreachable playground that really felt like it was on another planet. The man who broke sales records with his records was a being condemned to feel perpetually out of place, even if his words were sung even in Laos or New Zealand. He wanted to live in a world that perhaps existed only in his dream dimension of him and perhaps for this reason it did not surprise anyone to discover that he wanted to be Morpheus / Dream in a product based on the comic. The Sandman.
There is still a great biopic about Michael Jackson and maybe we will never have it: too many questions left open, too many controversial aspects. But maybe come to think of it, a film about Jacko already exists: that Willy Wonka played by Johnny Depp The Chocolate Factory by Tim Burton is perhaps the most faithful cinematic alter-ego possible. A colorful and desperate genius, locked up in his factory of successes and unable to manage the traumas of childhood, in a world too cynical for him.
Even 64 years after his birth.