Thursday, June 25, 2009

Black and White

What's the chance that the world would loose two of it's biggest pop culture icons in one day?

Granted, these two icon's glory days were pretty much behind them, but still, they both made enough of an impact on America (if not the world) that they were, more or less, ingrained in the the mythos of the late 20th century zeitgeist .

Many of us were saddened, but not shocked to hear of the passing of Farrah Fawcett earlier today; she'd been ill for some time, and her sickness has been filer for the media for the past several months - however, when word arrived that Michael Jackson had also bought the farm, I think most of us felt like we'd been hit over the head with a brick.

If you came up in the 70's like I did, you became aware of Michael Jackson early on when he fronted the singing group, The Jackson Five. Back then, Michael was an angel faced youngster with a terrific voice and some incredible dance moves. His brother's may have all been talented, but the pint sized lead singer of the group was the one we all paid attention to.

It did not take long for Michael to set him self apart from his family. If memory serves, he had his first big singular hit in 1972. A sweet little love song called Ben. No matter that it was about a rat, and served as the theme song to the movie about said rodent, Ben hit big and suddenly, Michael was a force to be reckoned with.
Several years later, with the advent of a sophomoric television show called, Charlie's Angels, the world was introduced to a blond haired beauty, who, for whatever reasons, really struck a chord with the populace.

Suddenly, everywhere you looked, there was the face of Farrah Fawcett Majors (she was married to TV's Million Dollar Man, Lee Majors at the time). Magazines, fell over themselves to run puff pieces on her, women went gaga over her coif (I am pretty sure that were it not for Farrah, the curling iron would have never happened), and of course, there was the infamous poster of her, the one were she's in the red bathing suit, all smiles, while her perky right nipple is making itself known at the same time.

Interestingly enough, Farrah only did one season of Charlie's Angels, and then she departed to find fame and fortune on the big screen. Sadly, Sunburn, and Somebody Killed her Husband were both duds and eventually, Farah faded from public view ... for awhile at least.

It was in the early 80's when Farrah made a come back in the TV movie, The Burning Bed. Gone was the glam gal, and in her place, a plain looking woman who was suffering from abuse from her louse of a husband. Guess what she does to avenge her self in this movie? After The Burning Bed, came Extremities, another film were Farah goes from Charlie's angel to Avenging angel.

There were some stumbles after this, a rather, seemingly, doped up appearance on Late Night with David Letterman, a Playboy center spread the featured our gal rolling around in paint...but eventually she seemed to find her way and made several other decent movies (my fave being The Apostle with Robert Duvall). She even tried her hand at reality TV with Chasing Farrah, in 2005.

Sadly, Farrah's most recent bit of notoriety came with her public struggle with cancer. A passion play that we all watched until it's cancellation today.
Meanwhile, in the early 80's, Michael Jackson burst back upon the scene as the ultimate entertainer with his mega-selling album, Thriller. Make no mistake about it, Thriller was probably one of the most ground breaking albums of all time - right up there with The Beatles' Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band, and Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. Everyone owned a copy of this record back in the day, and anyone who claimed that they did not, was probably lying.

Featuring great songs, ingenuous arrangements, and fantastic lyrics, Thriller also spawned several of the greatest rock video's ever made including a mini-horror film inspired by the title song, directed by John Landis.

Michael kept busy during his Thriller years, appearing everywhere, selling out concerts, showing up on talk shows, and he was still seemingly normal, and, dare I say it? Kind of sexy in his tight pants, while doing his moon walk...

After Thriller came more hit albums and more hit singles, as well as Michael co-writing We are the World ...for a time, everywhere you looked, you saw Michael Jackson...

...and then things got weird.

Over time, Michael started to change physically, his skin grew lighter, his face changed, his speaking voice became softer and more child-like ... and then of course, there were the allegations of sexual molestation of young children. Things got ugly fast, and several years after being at the top of his game, Michael was suddenly something of a pariah. If he was not in court, he was dangling one of his children off a hotel balcony, or showing up for yet another court appearance in pajamas ... and then those photos hit that showed his face physically falling apart ... frankly it was all rather disgusting.

In the past few years, Michael became something of a one man freak show, no matter what his past accomplishments might have been, it seemed like he'd never get back to the top or regain that "King of Pop" title he seemed to want to cling to so desperately. In a way, he became Norma Desmond.

And now, today, Thursday, June 25th, Michael Jackson is dead. His final act, and from the look of things, he'll finally get all of that attention he wanted again. Sad, how stuff turns out, don't you think?
Tonight then, raise a glass to the memory of the beautiful blond who gained some fame, got a bit of notoriety, but ultimately went out with some class. And then, by all means, do the same for the man who gave us hours of musical pleasure - forget the ugliness, the shattered lives, and try and remember the good , don't judge him too harshly, his life was probably not as black and white as you think it may have been.


missmagnoliathunderpussy said...

Darling Pax you really do have a gift for the written word, a beautiful tribute indeed. That said, I mentioned earlier what I felt about Miss Farah and while not the biggest fan she did go out with class and strength, expected and sad.

As for Jackson, well dear I am that one person who never had a Thriller album and in fact never saw the video until this evening. You know my tastes in music Pax, all my life it's been the 20's, 30's and 40's and it's never veered an inch so Michael Jackson as well as the Beatles etc. thankfully passed me by. When I tuned into CNN during the dinner hour and first heard the news the first thing to go through my mind was, poor Miss Elizabeth now she'll have to find someone else to buy jewelry for her.

et said...

Great writing, Pax. Yes, it is true, Michael did lose it, but he never lost me....

I did/do love and appreciate his artistic talents, of which there were/are many. When I heard the news of his death, I was struck dumb with sadness.

Cerpts said...

A really fine piece of writing, Daddy Pax. Reading this, you even forced me to open my big mouth and blog about it. As problematic as he was, the so-called King of Pop's leaving the scene will finally allow us to actually focus on the music again instead of his trainwreck of a life.

Virginia Gal said...

I love your last line of tribute to MJ, beautifully said.

Even I had the Thriller record, at age 7 : )

mommanator said...

O Paxie you should have a column in a local paper or maybe the NY* TIMES!
Keep it up buddy!

Liz said...

OMG Pax! You just reminded me that I went to the movies to see "Somebody Killed her Husband." So funny.

I adored Michael's Off the Wall and Thriller albums. I played them over and over. Lisa Marie wrote a really nice blog about trying to save Michael and how it never worked. Apparently he was ill for at least the past 14 years according to her.

Frank said..., I lived with both of these. I loved the Michael Jackson/Donnie Osmond tussles in Tiger Beat...had a Farrah poster in my freshman college dorm room.

I'm not sorry to see Michael the Pedophile, gone. I do think he had quite a talent.

Farmer Ted said...

And what about Billy Mays? Now THERE'S a man worth a tribute. :o)