for when you don't know what else to say

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Human Nature

As CNN's morbidathon has raged on over the past two weeks, it took a little girl to make me cry for the first time about losing one of my childhood heroes. The memorial service for Michael was as outsized as his career, with some nice moments (Stevie Wonder) and some horribly fake, cheesy overblown drama class pieces (Usher, I'm looking at you). Little Paris Jackson's touching statement at the memorial service was the tipping point. She made Michael real, and human again. Cutting through all the stories of chimps and allegations, and bizarre behaviors, Paris gave Michael back his humanity. Yes, he was odd, yes he was the most supremely talented human being we've ever experienced. But when you take that away, MJ was at his core a father, a brother, a son, and friend to so many.

It's surprising how easy it is for icons to lose that human side. We see them in the tabloids and they become like characters in a bad TV show to us. Being the most famous person on the planet has a ton of drawbacks, and one of those is surrendering who you are to the world. They use you up and spit you out, just as happy to condemn as to cheer. And MJ's last years were so strange, that I suppose a part of me imagined that he was already dead. Paris and her powerful statement cut through all of that noise.

I found myself crying. Not just because of Anderson Cooper's touching remembrance of losing his dad that introduced the clip. Or the fact that any dead father story makes me remember and miss my own Dad. It was just her words. Simple, heartfelt, and maddeningly necessary. The press has had their way with her father his entire life. And his family had controlled him in many ways too, creating the eccentricities that would make him a target later on. The fact that this brave little girl felt the need to make statement that was basically a plea for people to recognize that she loved her father and felt that he was a good man is heartbreaking.

I hope that the Jackson children are well-cared for by Michael's family. I sincerely pray that they are left alone to grow up beyond the glare of flashbulbs, helicopters and the 24-hour news cycle.


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