Misplaced childhood

It’s lunchtime and the BBC newsfeed in the lobby still says “Breaking news: Michael Jackson is dead”. Well, it’s hardly going to change, is it? The news reveals the astonishing facts that (a) he’s dead and (b) his friends miss him. Well, did you ever.

Today I leaned a new word: Huxleyed. It means, roughly, to be reasonably famous such that your death should generate a few column inches, and then have that completely swamped by someone even more famous dying at the same time. The word originates from Aldous Huxley who carelessly died on 22 November 1963 shortly before JFK was shot. With slightly fewer knock-on effects for the future of planet Earth, Farrah Fawcett today found herself completely Huxleyed by the weird non-black guy.

I love the British sense of humour. During WW2, official Nazi news channels ranted about the alleged Jewishness and degeneracy of the royal family and Churchill. We retaliated by singing “Hitler has only got one ball”. We won. So it came as no surprise at all to log on first thing this morning and find a bulletin board already posting Jacko jokes. Now is not the time to repeat any, but some are quite funny.

What isn’t funny at all – in fact, heartbreakingly sad, once you’re past the vomiting – is this collection of memorabilia that he was selling off to pay his bills. A common theme, apart from the gag-retching awfulness of it all, is children having fun – rather, Jackson’s idea of what constituted children having fun, which isn’t necessarily the same thing at all. And it’s obvious he never had any at all. Fun, that is. Other interpretations will be up for discussion for a long time to come.

It’s not often you can genuinely say “I hope he’s at peace” but in this case I’ll give it a go. He was a hugely unhappy guy and the only people he really made happy himself were the ones who couldn’t get enough of him and therefore fed his unhappiness. I can’t say anything for his legacy, apart from making the Today programme presenters talk about him as if they cared and bringing high production values to the world of music videos. That latter is frankly a dead-end alley as far as the evolution of civilisation goes. All those videos today of hundreds of people dancing exactly the same way with joyless robotic precision probably come down to him. As for the actual music … well, “Billie Jean” had a certain toe-tapping something. I never could see the big deal about “Thriller”, and Lenny Henry’s version was much better.

 

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