Last night, I bore witness to a group of men all several years older than me get drunk and gyrate to YouTube videos of Michael Jackson and Jojo Alejar dancing. I'm not saying this to poke fun at them (well, a little). I have my own MJ experiences I want to live down. I confess that I used to dance to his songs when I was six years old during family gatherings. I can only thank the heavens none of my relatives were tech savvy enough to have a video camera back then. They would bribe me with money to dance, put a tape of "Beat It" in the tape deck, and then they would watch me scar myself mentally for life.
It's almost a week since MJ passed away, and the world is still gripped with grief at his passing on one side and a celebration on the other side that is nothing short of a renaissance of his awesome musical legacy. I've been listening to his MP3's everyday going to work since Friday last week, and I'm still not tired of his songs.
I recalled specific MJ instances in my life: watching the "Thriller" video in the US during a family vacation (I even had a real LP of "Thriller," I wish I kept that properly), seeing the video of "Bad" for the first time in the canteen of my dad's office, and buying my tape of Dangerous in the Landmark department store. I even had a VHS tape of MJ's movie Moonwalker. I would watch that repeatedly even though the plot made as much sense as a Senate hearing on sex videos.
I would often rewind to the scene where Michael transforms into a bulletproof silver sports car then speed away from Joe Pesci's generic goons. I can't forget the scene where he's racing through the tunnel and his headlights are reflected on the tunnel's walls, like a laser beam traveling along the barrel of a laser rifle. It was just so cool.
Moonwalker video clip from YouTube by Panoz1985
The car in Moonwalker was a Lancia Stratos Zero concept, and like the Dodge M4S concept in the movie The Wraith, it's interesting to see what designers envisioned future cars will look like back in the 80s.
In the 80s no one could have predicted the turmoil that would engulf Michael Jackson once the 90s set in. The 80s was when he was truly invincible (and not in 2001). When he crowned himself the king of pop, no one protested.
He ushered in MTV and the concept of merging choreography and visuals with infectious pop melodies, giving us new ways to appreciate sound. His music connected people from all over, even as he became disconnected from the world he united. Now that he's no longer here, we look for him where we remember him best, in his music videos and in our music collections.
There will never be another MJ. Like Sinatra, Elvis, and The Beatles, he was an icon, a musical force of nature who left the world of music and entertainment different from the way he found it. Most of all, he showed us that a man can walk on the moon.
(DVD image courtesy of Ultimate Productions; Lancia image from CarBodyDesign.com.)