Death of the 80s…Goodbye Captain EO

26 Jun


June 26th, 2009-

My wife and I were standing in line for Public Enemies last night, up at the Muvico Egpytian at Arundel Mills, when cellphones started going off in unison, the tap-tapping of furious texting filled the air, and people were gasping loudly. My first thought was that Kim Jong Il finally pushed the button. And then I got wind of the real issue; Michael Jackson is dead at 50…heart attack.

It wasn’t long before the entire line of all 482 of us were buzzing about it, most of us shocked, some distraught, some cracking jokes and some bewildered by the extreme reaction. A few years ago this man had fallen harder than most and under some  bizarre circumstances. I secretly hoped that the particulars of his death did not involve a hotel room in Bangkok, he didn’t need any more zaniness associated with him.

All of this coming on the heels of the death of Farrah Fawcett earlier that day, although I think it safe to say that Farrah’s was expected and Jackson’s was not. He had a major comeback tour planned, the kind of thing that probably went  a long way to speeding this current event along; there were 50 tour dates being set-up and this would be his return to glory. Based on the reaction I saw last night, I think it would have worked for him. It seems like deep-down people still wanted to like him, did like him, in some instances loved him and may have been willing to overlook the past debacles.

Me, I hate to sound cavalier, but I was never much of a Jackson fan outside of my youth, where I ate-up the zombie coolness of Thriller and yearned to see the Gilliam/Lucas looking madness of Captain E0. Still, Thriller was and is a groundbreaking and awesome album. During the 80’s Jackson ruled, and I believe the decade wouldn’t have been as crazy and as unique as it was without him. He was pioneering so much back then, and working with other pioneers. How cool was it for a monster fan when Jackson teamed up with Vincent Price. Outstanding. It’s still one of the best moments ever for either one.

Outside of the music, which was amazing, he was always dabbling in the tricks and trades of cinematic magic. The stuff he was doing on the special effects front and the fantasy venues he was involving himself in led others to follow suit. I sincerely doubt that David Bowie would have co-habited with muppets in Labyrinth if Jackson hadn’t already made that sort of thing seem logical and normal. And, the presence of Michael among puppet-like creatures is decidedly less disturbing than Bowie’s Jareth, prancing in spandex around a goblin mileu.

Then, there were the later years and the madness that followed. If you were a fan, it was a crappy place to be no doubt, and as a more distanced observer, I didnt know what to make of it. It was a situation with primarily victims, it seemed. If he was guilty of what he had been accused, then it was inexcusable. And yet, he was such an odd duck by the end, a man-child trapped within a constructed reality that was actually wierder than the fantasies it was based off of, that it seemed quite possible that he was only guilty of flakiness, bad judgement, and naivete. I’m not sure we are ever going to know, but I think either way it results in a tragic situation.

Over the net, far and wide, Michael Jackson is being eulogized. My wife was sincerely sad about the situation and remarked that if this had been the 80s, people would have been crying in the streets. I thinks he is right. However, such was the impact of Jackson’s heyday that I wonder if there aren’t still people out there crying in the streets.

Exploited, mismanaged and shunned by some of his friends, associates and confidants, Jackson has seemingly attained their respect and forgiveness in death. Isn’t that always the case. Even the likes of Corey Feldman, who railed against Michael when he was called as a witness in the court cases a few years back, is coming out of the woodwork to sound contrite. To clarify the situation, Feldman denied any improper behavior or molestation occurred, but instead bad-mouthed the King of Pop for not paying more attention to him. Either way, expect to see more of this behavior.

Incidentally, Jackson was a big fan of Edgar Allan Poe. He had tried for decades to get a movie made about the man in which he could play Poe. Undoubtedly, that would have been perhaps the wierdest thing ever committed to the screen. It is odd then to think that Jackson’s life is possibly odder then than Poe’s and his untimely demise no less unfortunate. When Poe left, he did so with very little fanfare or mourning. Now he’s the father of the modern mystery novel. Jackson has left us as The King of Pop, and its a title I expect he was always hold in the hearts of fans and the culture at large.

Check out the awesome zaniness of Disney’s Epcot 3D ride, Captain EO, HERE. The dark witch in the movie–that’s Angelica Huston. Cool huh?

2 Responses to “Death of the 80s…Goodbye Captain EO”

  1. Jen B June 26, 2009 at 11:47 am #

    So sad!

  2. The Great Fatsby June 26, 2009 at 1:19 pm #

    The sad thing is, that with today’s society, if Kim Jong Il actually DID push the button last night too, Jackson would be the headlines in all the morning papers today anyway.

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