Why MJ was not 'the Greatest Entertainer of his Age'“
The relative prominence of any celebrity indicates the relative predominance of a singular facet of an otherwise multifarious human persona. The question is, what is being brought to the fore at the expense of what is thus relegated its diminished position in the background of the human persona. ~ ed
Richard Williams, The Guardian.
Michael Jackson was the greatest entertainer of the Juvenile Age. That is, he appealed to the juvenile amongst and within us in his juvenile vibrancy, self-assertion, arrogance, self-absorption, animation, youthfulness – not all bad, but not all good either. But the bad and good of it all is determined by the degree we might be inclined to view him as ‘the greatest entertainer of his age.’ I’m sure Mickey Mouse might be the greatest entertainer of those of a particular perspectival age, but who might be confused for ‘the greatest entertainer of his age’ amongst toddlers just as do those who think likewise of Mike. In a sense, this nonsense is just another man-infestation of western cultural hegemony.
But entertainment is not a singular phenomenon in itself. That which we are entertained by is diagnostic of what we are. For myself, the youthful, fun-loving and self-assertive aspect of my persona is ‘entertained’ and reinforced by, amongst others, MJ, but when it comes to the intellectual, inquisitive, spiritual, aesthetic aspects of the potentials of personality, a personality I did not allow MJ to completely define (though I’m more of a Prince person myself), I look elsewhere.
In relation to this, the singularly developed might think that MJ was a great dancer.
His dance and music was of the genre of ‘juvenile self-assertion’. The quick definite movements, the angularity of it, short spurts of multidirectional movements, and complemented by a style of singing with it's yells, 'hooos', sharp in/exhalation, self-confident and semi-aggressive facial contortions, says as much and little besides. You could say that, in this, the masses' self-assertive propensities were directed away from anti-establishmentism and intellectual inclinations by way of self-assertion being presented without any intellectual or confrontational qualities. And with him, amongst others, serving as cultural icons, the juvenile masses didn't have much of a reason to seek beyond them for something more. And whatever energy that was diffused amongst the multitudes found articulation through the socio-economic system since it didn't have an ideology or a direction to begin with - unlike in the 'hippie' 60s. You could say that MJ, amongst others, served as the element within the spirit of the 80s that enabled the overthrow of any semblance of anti-establishmentism that was inherited from the 60s and 70s.
That was, in essence, what Michael Jackson stood for - but it's going to take more than the ubiquitous 'fan' to realise that.
Dance is a many-splendoured thing. We have the gracefulness of ballet, the philosophical depth of Bharatanatyam, the earthy tones of the Aboriginal dance form, the confrontational spirit of the Maori and certain Zulu dance forms, the supernatural qualities of the Indonesia ‘horse dances’, etc. To allow one wo/man to monopolise the idea of ‘the greatest dancer’ or ‘the greatest entertainer’, hence, is, another form of cultural fascism that narrows the appreciation of oneself in more ways than that which is afforded a spotlight led by an increasingly juvenile and ill-educated mass. In this light, I would recognise MJ as the abstract epitome of the arrogant, self-absorbed juvenile individualism that was brought about by a myriad of factors, that MJ fed and fed on, and which has become the hallmark of these times. In this sense, I suppose one could say that MJ was the 'greatest entertainer of his age', amongst those sharing his mental age and having it define a significant portion of their persona that is - and I have to admit, I was one of them in my rebellious teen years in the 80s. But instead of allowing MJ, amongst a host of others to incorporate my rebellious streak and just have it articulated through pop culture, I used the rebellious spirit which they aided in enhancing, to overthrow their hegemony over the entirety of my personality.
Hence, I do not stupidly believe that a singer ought to earn millions for it as it, compared to humanitarians, thinkers, and activists, does far less for the all-round progress of humanity. For all you weeping, mourning 'fans' out there, go get a multifaceted life. If not, that aspect of your personality which is brought to the fore by the pre-eminence granted these 'stars' will see you forking out millions for a vicarious existence, along with ensuring that those who come after you will know no better for the miscast spotlight you helped in directing.
But, I still appreciate the ‘self-assertive’ and youthful essence contained within MJ’s songs – which is a resource that bears fruit when applied in higher planes of life – especially in the 70s which was more youthfulness-cum-vibrancy as opposed to the brash-cum-self-absorption numbers he churned out in the decades thereafter.
Thanks for the primitive fuel Michael, and...
...Keep well in the next life.