Michael Jackson’s Annual Memorial, Not Bad, But King of Pop Deserves More

Michael Jackson’s later life caught a terrible break when he was accused and put on trial for child molestation. A jury acquitted Jackson, but the experience had a significant aging impact on how the king of pop lived the rest of his life.

Recent research into the pop idol’s life suggests that Jackson may have been grossly misunderstood throughout his entire adult life. The record seems to indicate that Michael simply found it easier to relate to children, which is a far cry from having sexual interests in them. When adults age, childhood interests usually gives way to what we call adult curiosities. The theory here suggests that Jackson never makes this common transition. The facts may be that the legendary performer had no hidden agenda other than his obvious desire to remain young as long as humanly possible. Such a desire would largely explain Jackson’s behavior, often filmed playing with water guns on his estate with children unloading gallons of water on each other and the pop star during these playful activates.

Three years since his death, instead of uncovering hidden occasions of sexual deviancy toward children, we find in its place a humanitarian philanthroper who was at times completely consumed by efforts to help those less fortunate than himself.

So what’s my point?

To put it simply, if we do not transform the mild (in comparison to Elvis) annual celebration of Jackson’s birth into something much more far-reaching and significant, we do Jackson’s memory a grave injustice.

This is not to disrespect the accomplishments and legacy of Elvis Priestley and what he has meant to his devoted fans, family and friends; but only to point out that Michael Jackson deserves recognition on at least the same level as “The King of Rock.”

Jackson fans, friends and family, this is not only something we ought to do, this is something we must do, for when he was alive, we allowed so many to persuade us into misjudging his true and enormously kind  character as we all followed the mob and its chants; “off with his head.” Celebrating “The King of Pop” on a broader scale than we presently exhibit, won’t right wrong, but it may remind us enough so the next time we’re perfunctorily going through the motions of simply following others without considering the consequence of our actions, we might remember Michael and consequently become mindful not to repeat history.

With that said, it was a welcoming site to see that by Wednesday night a throng of several hundred milled in front of a temporary stage at 2300 Jackson St., peering into the fenced yard at distant Jackson relatives and intimates on the lawn.

“This is where it all began,” said Carlo Riley, a Jackson devotee from Denver who wore a futuristic, military-style uniform that mimicked Jackson’s late-1980s “Bad” fashion sensibility. “I’m actually surprised there are not more people here. If this were Germany, or anywhere else in the world, people would have been camped out here for days.”

The Rev. Jesse Jackson agreed. “It all started here,” he said, pointing at the two-bedroom house just off-stage. “(The Jacksons) didn’t come out of Julliard.”

In the years since Michael Jackson’s death, the vigils have grown less impromptu. Smaller crowds return on that anniversary, and the city has hosted celebrations on his birthday each year.

This year marked the first time Jackson’s family has been actively involved in planning the event, Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said Wednesday at a news conference at the city’s Majestic Star Casino.

Jackson’s mother, Katherine, and his three children, Prince, Paris and Blanket, are expected to participate in commemorative functions planned for this week, including making appearances at a baseball game and a concert, local officials said.

Freeman-Wilson’s predecessor, Rudy Clay, courted Jackson’s father, Joseph Jackson, and sought to create a Graceland-style tourist attraction around a Jackson Family museum. Freeman-Wilson said the plan is no longer on the city’s front burner but that it was important the city celebrate its most famous native son.

“Miss Jackson came to me and said, ‘I want to be integrally involved,’ ” Freeman-Wilson told a crowd of reporters and fans at the news conference, which Katherine Jackson did not attend. Jackson said she wanted Michael Jackson’s children “to know where their dad grew up,” according to Freeman-Wilson.

The mayor seemed to play a role in cajoling the reluctant younger Jacksons out of their sport utility vehicle to accept a set of T-shirts Wednesday afternoon.

About 30 minutes after Gary Chamber of Commerce Director Chuck Hughes introduced “the most famous offspring in the world,” Prince Michael and Paris climbed out of the SUV — Blanket remained inside — and collected their Team Gary T-shirts from the mayor, saying thank you so softly that their voices were nearly drowned out by the clicking of camera shutters.

The King of Pop and the rest of the Jackson clan lived in the two-bedroom house until shortly after the Jackson 5 hit single “I Want You Back” rose to No. 1 in 1969. The house remained in the family. An uncle, who did not enjoy visits from fans, lived there until 2009.

This year the Jackson festivities, themed “Goin’ Back to Indiana: Can You Feel It,” were to stretch over the week, continuing Thursday with the children attending a game at the city’s minor league baseball stadium and ending Saturday with a tribute concert at West Side High School.

Kathleen Mittler, a 28-year-old fan from Dresden, Germany, said she planned a trip to the U.S. to coincide with Jackson’s birthday and arrived at 2300 Jackson around 11 a.m. “I just love his music,” she said.

Freeman-Wilson, the Mayor of Gary, will host a special dinner on Friday to commemorate the life of the King of Pop as well as honor Michael’s mother Katherine.

While at the moment this year’s celebration is honorable and quite a tribute to a fallen gift that gave so much. Let’s hope that between now and next year, leader step up to give this annual event the notoriety, prestige and grandiose spectacle worthy of “The King of Pop.”

9 Responses to "Michael Jackson’s Annual Memorial, Not Bad, But King of Pop Deserves More"

  1. Doris Bohun   September 3, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    “Three years since his death, instead of uncovering hidden occasions of sexual deviancy toward children, we find in its place a humanitarian philanthroper who was at times completely consumed by efforts to help those less fortunate than himself.”

    Beautiful prose. Brought tears to my eyes.

  2. juney07   August 31, 2012 at 11:59 pm

    America will never give Michael Jackson the tribute he deserves. After all, the American justice system did it’s best to excoriate and make the last 20 years of his life a living hell, along with an out of control media that hasn’t lost a step. Listen to his songs and view his concerts if you want to know the heart of the man. Too bad, as with most things, people recognize what they have lost too little and too late.

  3. PenDragon   August 31, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    Whilst many admit that Jackson was misunderstood and he is still very much adored by an outstandingly loyal fan-base, the damage done by a malicious and scandal-hungry media to his image in the public psyche is immeasurable. Even his supporters are labelled as crazies (whereas Elvis fans are treated with benevolent tolerance). Interestingly Michael Jackson is regarded with more reverence in other parts of the world – Africa, Japan and the far-east particularly – places where the ridiculously trashy tabloid tales probably never surfaced and he was judged on his merits. Sadly, it’s true that “a prophet is not without honour save in his own country.”

  4. siddharth choudhury   August 31, 2012 at 6:39 am

    Hello, i am new the king of superhero, Please i love Michael Jackson the king of pop.Because Michael Was innocent Man he was tell the truth speech on 1993-2005. and then FBI Flies That Michael Was Innocent man understand no hater make it Love Of MJ or elvis presley understand. stop white people Hate black people this very bad talk its very bad talking after jesus angry make it white people black people good friends and relationship make it mind control
    Thank you
    The King.

  5. ButterflyKisses   August 31, 2012 at 12:51 am

    To further exacerbate things, the Estate is very disengaging unless of course you’re one of their proxies. Go figure. Most attempts are met with opposition and outright negativity. Had they allowed the fans to have a place like Neverland to honor Michael Jackson, instead of tributes dwindling, they would be monumental; the kind that Michael Jackson deserves. But this is America, Michael’s homeland, and we NEVER treated Michael with the dignity and respect he deserved. Truth be told!

  6. Stanley Driver   August 30, 2012 at 11:57 pm

    I honor the earnest intent you express here in suggesting that someone “up the ante” and pay annual tribute to Michael Jackson in some more significant manner. However, keep in mind that so far, attempts to do something like this have been met with storms of cynicism, scorn and outright hilarity from the broken and biased media system that contributed so profoundly to undermine his later career and cast him adrift in a sea of lies. And tributes in any form cost money, paid either by the sponsor or the participants or both. In a deadly economy this is a tough call. The only official organization with sufficient funds to create a worthy tribute is probably the Jackson Estate, and as they make further inroads in clearing the artist’s remaining financial obligations, perhaps funds might become available if fans are willing to travel to an event. The U.S. likely would not appreciate it; the rest of the world would. The proof that it could be a regular success? The huge success of the Cirque Du Soleil Immortal tour, now going international to great demand. They will open a home stand show honoring Jackson in Las Vegas as well in 2013. The best tribute anyone could ever want for Michael Jackson, however, is the truth: that he was a hugely caring and hugely talented individual who never stopped trying to make a positive difference in his world and make people happy, and was innocent of any wrongdoing. The conversation in the media needs to change significantly in scale for this to happen.

  7. E. Wade   August 30, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    To liberti: It’s dismissive and insulting to reduce an individual, who lived under an excruciating amount of pressure, as an “ordinary human being”. There was nothing ordinary about the obstacles he faced and what he endured (both as a child and as an adult), or what he succeeded in achieving. Take the time to learn about who Jackson was, as opposed to accepting the caricature the media and tabloids love to portray, and you’ll find a lot to be inspired from (much of these “extraordinary character flaws” you write of are the result of falsification). Regarding his children, they are hardly “reluctant” and are positive about their father and his legacy (just yesterday his daughter took to multiple platforms wishing her father happy birthday and proclaiming her unyielding love for him). Lastly, it’s paradoxical to say “let him rest in peace” when there’s hardly any peace given the magnitude of misinformation and scorn directed Michael Jackson’s way, both in life and death. The author of this article has it right, Michael Jackson does indeed deserve more.

  8. liberti   August 30, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    Good attempt at gilding the lily marred by unfortunate spelling mistakes. MJ was an ordinary human being propelled to extraordinary fame because of his obvious talent. That said, he had extraordinary character flaws which should not be glossed over by feeble attempts to canonize him or squeeze out more money in attempts to keep a legend alive. Even his children seem reluctant to participate. Let him rest in peace.

  9. gp   August 30, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    ‘Elvis Priestely’ ?? How did you manage to butcher the spelling so badly? I stopped reading after that – you’re a writer, take time and proofread your work! You lose all credibility.


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