I still remember what I was doing 5 years ago when Michael Jackson died. I was in my room, playing on the computer and watching Netflix (boy, how times have changed, right?). My friend Alex called and asked me if I knew that MJ had died. I laughed, thinking he was just making a morbid joke. When he finally convinced me that he was telling me the truth, I panicked, started to choke up and told him I needed to go. I checked Twitter. Yup. It was trending.
I cried. I called my mom at work, and I cried.
There have only been 2 celebrities I’ve cried over their deaths. Princess Diana and Michael.
I’m not a huge celebrity watcher. At least, not by choice. But MJ was different. He inspired me when I was little, and not in ways you might think. Sure, I learned all his dance moves. I loved his music. I thought his writing was fantastic. But he introduced me to a lot of things that I still carry with me now.
I actually became interested in filmmaking through MJ. His videos were unlike others (he called them films, not music videos) – he worked with some of the best directors. Thriller made me fall in love with costume makeup, to the point I would check out books on how to create body parts and change your face from the library. And boy did I love thrift shopping after that – stores filled with things from which to create! He helped me take my imagination out of my head and bring it into reality. He was special that way. Probably because he lived so much in an imagined world that he created, because the rest of the world was hard to deal with.
But the most important thing I got from Michael was the idea that one should always fight for others. I wanted to be a champion for those that couldn’t fight for themselves. Not a lot of people remember him as an activist, but oh he was. The Earth Song stabbed my heart like a dagger and made me care. I remember I got a C on a class assignment because we were supposed to do a project on something America did that was a great impact on its people, and I did mine on how America policing the world (my example was Croatia) created a ripple effect back to the States. I was 13, my teachers were pissed and I ended up have to do extra credit.
But to be serious – Michael was tortured. We all know that. He had so many demons. I’m sad for him, but I’m mostly sad for his kids. He was one of those people who created a lot and gave to the world, but have a hard time connecting to all of it.
So here’s to all those inspired by Michael Jackson: create, love the world, make it better and inspire others.