The late Michael Jackson started his transformation from a black male to a white woman long before it was popular. The country has now hailed Caitlyn “Bruce” Jenner a hero but scoffed at Jackson. It is only fair that America be patient especially if the African-American community has a delayed appreciation for Jenner, they never celebrated Jackson’s insecurities when he dared to become a Caucasian Diana Ross. Was he an unappreciated hero?
To society’s credit, the perception of gender has gone through a great transformation as a whole. Perhaps, Jackson attempted a change long before it was popular or maybe he failed to have the courage to live in his truth. Before condemning the King of Pop for lying to cover up his obvious disdain for the reflection he saw in the mirror, one must first wonder if he was taken too soon.
Jenner did not have the courage to live as the woman he believed himself to be until recently, at the ripe age of 65; in comparison, Jackson died 15 years Jenner’s junior. Had the Black or White singer lived longer maybe he would have found the courage to acknowledge his truth and perhaps America would have been in a more receptive state of consciousness. Who really knows?
As a youngster, Jackson was an attractive, black male. Although reports state he began having plastic surgery in his late teens, his appearance started to become noticeably augmented in his 20s. By his late 30s the Man in the Mirror singer seemed to have lost all of his African-American features. Jackson’s wider nose and darker skin had become almost non-existent as he continued the process of looking more like a white woman.
As Jackson went to great lengths to alter his appearance the world continued to buy his music, all while feeling great pity for the man who was not comfortable in his own skin. The blame shifted between his unusual childhood, not being able to play with kids his age or attend regular school, to an allegedly abusive and overbearing father. Whatever the reason, he was never publicly encouraged in his transformation or celebrated for becoming who he envisioned.
As the years progressed the world witnessed Jackson with a different face on each album cover. Jackson’s Thriller album, not only marked a major transition in his musical style, but was also the highlight of an obvious physical transformation. Jackson’s own mother warned the songwriter that he was going overboard with his facial transformation. To these accusations the Bad singer replied:
The greatest joy I ever had was knowing I had a choice about my face. Once you have ‘it’ done, you’ll never stop looking in the mirror. That’s how great you’ll feel about yourself.
Was he an overlooked hero who should have been celebrated for more than his music? The world vilified him, but he continued with his outward transformation. Was Jackson crazy or courageous? Many of his fans justified the multiple surgeries with claims that Jackson hated his father so much he was doing all he could not to look like him. His critics believed he wanted to look less African-American and more Caucasian.
The last decade of the singer’s life was riddled with undeniable controversy. At the time of Jackson’s death he reportedly wore a prosthetic nose and was bald; his lips were thinner, eyebrows higher, he had a cleft chin and looked more like a white woman than a black male. The P.Y.T. singer went so far with his vision of life, that he created a family to adequately reflect his reality. At the end of it all, what is more important than his outward transformation is, the musical genius died without owning his truth.
The world can only wonder if Jackson had lived to be 65 would he have found the courage to be as bold as Jenner. On the flip side, had Jenner died at 50 he would have taken his truth to his grave, just as Jackson did….an unsung hero. In the former Olympian’s own words, Jenner stated:
If I was lying on my deathbed and I had kept this secret and never ever did anything about it, I would be lying there saying, ‘You just blew your entire life.’While America is hailing Jenner as a hero, initially he too denied that he was making “the” change. Just one year ago, when asked if Jenner was transitioning, he replied, “Absolutely not.” Reports now state, his denial was all planned in order to allow him the opportunity to change gradually. Now, after various procedures and much psychological counseling Jenner has reintroduced himself to the world as Caitlyn.
While America is hailing Jenner as a hero, initially he too denied that he was making “the” change. Just one year ago, when asked if Jenner was transitioning, he replied, “Absolutely not.” Reports now state, his denial was all planned in order to allow him the opportunity to change gradually. Now, after various procedures and much psychological counseling Jenner has reintroduced himself to the world as Caitlyn.
Many may consider the reality TV star a hero, but one woman named Emily Suzzanne is not buying into the hype. She wrote:
Bruce Jenner is not a hero. A hero is someone who has done something brave or noble, who has sacrificed for others. Bruce Jenner has done none of these things. He is a man who has posed in women’s clothing on the cover of a magazine, garnering excessive media attention. What’s more, he has waited to do so until the optimum moment when he was most sure to receive praise and acceptance. Heroes risk much and gain little. Bruce Jenner has risked little and gained much. I am sure there are many people out there who do things to deserve the title of “hero,” but Bruce Jenner is not one of them.
In no way is this article designed to demean Jenner’s transformation from his pain, through each experience and to his new-found identity. However, Michael Jackson was not deemed a hero during his long journey of transformation, he was considered mentally ill. It makes one wonder how all of the media, money and celebrity status fits into the grandeur of all of this. Perhaps, the world is simply changing and embracing things once viewed in a negative sense as positive and liberating. Whatever the real deal is, ready or not, Caitlyn Jenner is here and has landed the cover spot on the latest issue of Vanity Fair magazine. Nevertheless the question remains, “Michael Jackson became a white woman long before Bruce Jenner, was he a hero?”
Satire By Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
Daily Mail: Did Michael Jackson want to be white?
Anomalies: A Photographic History of Michael Jackson’s Face
Fox News: Bruce Jenner debuts new identity: Caitlyn
Top Image Courtesy of Sean – Flickr License
Inside Image Courtesy of Tony Fisher – Flickr License
Inside Image Courtesy of Duncan Rawlinson – Flickr License
Inside Image Courtesy of Vanity Fair
Featured Image Courtesy of Antonio Manfredonio – Flickr License