Growing up, I went through a Michael Jackson phase.
Knowing me, I never get into anything half-assed. So, it’s pretty fair to say that I was Nutto over Jacko.
I had all his albums. I read the biographies. I read the books. Bought the magazines. Pulled out his pictures from the magazines and put them in neat little binders and scrapbooks. I had all his videos. I would watch his videos almost every day. I had tons posters like these two:
In fact, I had a life-sized poster of him on my wall that my dad insisted was TERRIBLE and that I put it down immediately. I was super bummed because I had spent 300 Pesos of my allowance on that poster.
His videos were always so elaborate and awesome. They always told a story. Videos these days are all about flash and cash, and I think it’s really sad. My favorite videos (not necessarily songs) were Remember the Time, The Way You Make Me Feel, Smooth Criminal, Thriller, Beat It, Jam and In the Closet.
In Remember the Time, I wanted to be the girl on the phone…till dawn, to three…
In The Way You Make Me Feel, I wanted to be the pretty baby with the high heels on…
In Smooth Criminal, I wanted to defy gravity like he did (and don’t think I didn’t try!)
In Thriller, I did the zombie dance (and oh, so did my mom and aunts!)
In Beat It, I really believed he could beat up a guy by dancing…especially with that backwards running man move…
In Jam, I had my two BIGGEST IDOLS of ALL TIME, Michael Jackson and Michael Jordan hanging out.
In In the Closet, my adolescence got all worked up wondering what needed to be kept in the closet.
The MJ phase lasted from 1992 to 1996.
Our house burned down in 1996 and took all of my lovely memorabilia with it. I was too lazy and too poor to recreate what I had. In fact, some of the stuff I owned probably would have paid my rent now. They were collectibles, damn you evil fire, you!
In all that time, I talked about Michael Jackson, sang his songs, and wished every Christmas to get to go to one of his concerts and cry like those silly girls (and boys) as they basked in his majestic aura. Heck, I even wore band aids on my fingertips (which always got me in trouble with the nuns in school.)!
In those days, MJ was my hero.
Mind you, I lived in the Philippines at that time. News from the United States traveled kind of slow and was always filtered. Internet was brand-spankin’ new and only my dad could ever figure out how to get online. So, the whole MJ-molested-a-kid thing never really took off in those parts of the world. And I think, for the most part, his fans in the Philippines cared about his music and talent first, and his personal life second. We were not quite as privy to it as most Americans were in those days.
So, I went on in my world of obliviousness, loving Michael Jackson and thinking he was the bomb-diggity.
I memorized his songs. I knew every time he went “Heee!” on every song. I could predict every “Ooooh!” and scream “Aw!” in time with him.
In 1997, my father passed away and life got a bit more complicated.
In 1998, I moved to the United States and life got even MORE complicated (Dude, Americans can be a mean, judgmental people — but that’s an entirely different experience and a whole ‘nother story).
I also, for the first time, saw the video where MJ came out and declared his innocence.
I’d have to admit, I was pretty sad to hear the news. From that time on, I learned to separate the person from the music.
I still know every “hee!”, “aw!” and “ooh!” on his records. I still remember all the awesome videos. But I found that I had lost the desire to meet the man behind the genius.
When news of his death spread, I received nine personal messages from my friends from the Philippines who remembered that I had gone through that phase. There were texts that said, “I remember you used to love MJ.” There were e-mails that reminisced on my MJ antics. Even my friend who bought me MJ posters from Hong Kong reminded me that I still owed her 100 pesos for one of the posters!
It’s kind of really geeky to say this, but MJ was a big part of my growing up. He entertained me, gave me something to look forward to and enjoy, and just made the world a little bit bigger for me. Growing up, I spent a lot of time in hospitals, schools, and academic day cares. MJ just made all of that a little bit bearable.
So, despite how everything turned out; despite the way he looked by the time he died; despite all the allegations that never really stopped haunting him and his fandom; despite the whispers and his fall from grace…Michael Jackson still has a fan in me. Always.
Rest in Peace.