The falling of a star

Nov 202003
Authors: Christopher J. Ortiz

I can remember as an adolescent, pulling the vinyl out of its

sleeve and placing it in my mother’s record player, being careful

not to put the needle on the third track because at, 9 years old,

“Thriller” was too scary. I remember growing up, singing every

lyric and trying my hardest to do that silly Moonwalk dance.

Thursday’s arrest warrant for Michael Jackson for child

molestation was a devastating blow for this lifelong fan of the

superstar. In recent years, I have had to settle for being a closet

M.J. fan because the guy makes it hard for people to like him.

Growing up, you would have been hard-pressed to find more than a

handful of households that did not own a copy of Jackson’s

“Thriller” LP. The 1982 album would go on to sell more than 25

million copies, competing with “The Eagles’ Greatest Hits” as the

largest-selling album in history.

I’m not sure what exactly it was about M.J. that separated him

from my staple of favorite artists growing up. Maybe it was the

mystery behind the single white glove or the hiked up pants that

showed off the sparkling socks. It could have been the

breathtaking, gravity-defying moves on the dance stage or his Gene

Kelly-like innovation of music on screen. Whatever it was, it was

showcased by his music. Before the excessive plastic surgery and

the non-sequitur lifestyle, there was a Michael Jackson that people

weren’t embarrassed to be fan of. There was a time when posters of

the former Jackson 5’er that adorned bedroom walls of adolescents

without drawing a worrisome look from parents. There was once a

Michael Jackson who sold 25 million records and lived a lavish

private-jet type of lifestyle that was typical of your superstar

who was one of the most recognized people on the face of the Earth.

Before the media proclaim of “Wacko Jacko” there was the

self-proclaimed “King of Pop”.

Long after he was selling Pepsi to America, Jackson became an

all too common punch line to jokes from molesting children to

changing from an African American man into a Caucasian woman.

When allegations of child molestation came in 1993, I refused to

believe them. Like a child who doesn’t want to listen to something,

I covered my ears and sang out loud, hoping for it to go away, but

it didn’t. Years after the allegations that didn’t result in any

criminal charges, this national treasure became a national joke. It

is ironic that when the announcement for Jackson’s recent arrest

came out, he was shooting a video for his new single, “One More


Seeing footage of Jackson being taken to jail handcuffed was the

final blow to destroying that innocence in me – the innocence of a

young fan seeing his favorite star shot down to Earth in a crashing

blaze. What is going to happen to Kobe Bryant’s young fans if he is

found guilty of rape?

Despite what the verdict is (Santa Barbara police said this case

will go to court and a civil settlement is unlikely), Michael

Jackson the star is no more. This column might seem a bit selfish

as I talk about myself and how much I have lost because of this,

but I do feel for the families and people involved. As much as I

hope for Jackson’s innocence, if it ends up with Jackson being

found guilty for molesting a child or multiple children, he needs

to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of California’s law (which

is eight years in prison).

I know people are going to tell me to separate the artist from

the person but in situations as ardent as this, it is hard to. For

me, the Michael Jackson I’ll always remember will be the man who

captured my attention when I was younger. The pop star who always

seemed bigger than life will be the King of Pop I’ll always

remember. I’ll still listen to “Billie Jean” and still practice

that silly Moonwalk dance.

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