MJ, King of Pop? Yes indeed! : Making sense of MJ, the 'brief version'"The moon looks all the more expansive when the skies couching it are flanked by the mouth of a well. ~ ed
But credit cannot just go to MJ - we have to respect Intellectual Property don’t we – for if it wasn’t for his harem of ‘fans’, we wouldn’t have a market lobotomised enough to elevate ‘pop’ and its epitome, MJ, to its Icaric heights.
In a nutshell, people had to become quite small for MJ to be magnified in stature. Hence, the King of Pop.
Let me explain by drawing a parallel between this situation and my observations of Indians in singapore. The Indians I knew back in the 70s and 80s were relatively intelligent, creative and very adept at looking at things from various angles. Underlying these was passion. Rice on the boil with a dollop and a half of spice, is what comes to mind. Now, after a few decades of living in an increasingly Confucian milieu, the ‘Indians’, and especially the younger ‘Indians’ are, at best, left with the ‘passion’ bit, but minus the aforementioned means by which passion was articulated. We have to thank the top-down enforced, ‘don’t think so much and just eat-cum-do as everyone does’, Confucian/Legalist culture for that.
When I look at the ‘pop’ culture of the 60s through to the 80s, there is one constant. Passion. But the means via which it could have been articulated was diminishing. For instance, the 60s, or the ‘Age of Ideology’, in the ‘pop’ular arena saw music mobilising the common folk against the AAV, or, American Aggression in Vietnam (I don’t like ‘Vietnam war’…seems to detract consideration of causation), racism, for civil rights, etc, in America. Yes, you could point to band-aids of contemporary times and argue for its having continuity. But when one looks at the content of lyrics these days, you’re not going to find the level of metaphysical, introspective, activistic and generally out-of-the-box approaches as one might with Pink Floyd, the Doors, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zep, Dylan, Sex Pistols, The Clash, amongst others. And what’s more, these groups weren’t in the periphery but were the main fare served up ‘rare with no garnish’ for many ‘pop’ular minds.
This began to peter out in the 80s, though we still had the radical spirit around with Prince, New Wave, Gothic styles, Rap, amongst others, and which complemented the general anti-estab spirit that was quite pervasive amongst the youth. After this, ‘pop’ got INC.orporated and all that was left was the passion and vibrancy with as much of a head as a pint neglected for a minute past its pour-by date. Pop became metaphysically and politically ‘secular’. No more highly critical or metaphysical pieces such as Black Sabbath’s ‘War Pigs’, or Jimi’s rendition of the ‘Star Spangled banner’, or Uriah Heep’s ‘The Spell/Paradise’, or Rainbow’s ‘Sixteenth Century Greensleeves’, or Wishbone Ash’s ‘The King will Come’ or ‘Warrior’, or Sex Pistols’ ‘Anarchy in the UK’, or The Doors’ ‘The End’..…
Who had time for such shit. We just wanna feel alive! We just wanna feel young! We just wanna assert ourselves through the former two!
In a sense, we could, in part, blame the elevation of music as the source of mobilisation and enlightenment. People just didn’t realise that music, for all its feel-good vibes, was not really structured for communicating anything truly meaningful given the limitations of the lyrical form of communication. Hence, the best it could do was to give people a signpost, whilst the ‘fans’, already getting quite the kick from the immediate gratification that music delivered, spurned the written and thus ‘verbose’ thesis that provided the blueprints to make their way out of the shite that was piling up faster than their arses could absorb.
So thanks to Lennon et al, people were trained to appreciate the signpost provided by musicians as the destination itself. And these musicians not minding getting paid millions, and hence being further overvalued in the eyes of the increasingly ubiquitous ‘fan’, didn’t help either. So it’s not surprising that the elevation of the musician to heights previously occupied by prophets, saints, gods, and philosophers, led to the undoing of the people. With the immediate gratification that the said elevation of musicians trained the juvenile to appreciate, it was only a matter of time before the tedium of thought that might be induced by more insightful musicians would be less preferred to ‘hoo-ha-ers’ and crotch-jerkers as it delivered gratification without the cover-charge of thought.
Who would have thought that the well-intentioned and overpaid dylans and so on would actually deliver the perspectival docility that it took to perpetuate that which they purported to address?
And with that, the ‘teen’, the future of humanity, got INC.orporated. It became all about asserting youth through youthfulness articulated through the language of self-perception cum self-absorption constructed by The Corporation. That just leaves us with plain old passion unfettered by inquisitive and critically introspective intinerant preoccupation with 'The Meaning of Life', 'Ideology', and 'grand theories' of any sort. In other words, the definition of 'the beyond' was determined by nothing other than the 'sci-fi channel'. The stage was set...
Enter Michael Jackson.