Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Michael Jackson: The Magic & the Madness (book review)

Michael Jackson: The Magic & the Madness (Author: J. Randy Taraborrelli)

I woke up one morning to the memories of the King of Pop being recalled over radio – Michael Jackson. Even before I heard the words announcing his death, my mind asked the question... and then it was confirmed: “Michael Jackson is dead at age 50.”

For some very strange reason I felt such a sadness about this. I came across a biography about his life and decided to find out more about the man. How did he become who he was?

The magic and the madness is a good description, depending on what your definition is of “magic”. “Madness” there was plenty of!

In general I thought that the book was well written. The author has befriended Michael as a young boy, before fame and fortune. He had become rather well acquainted with many of those who were sources for the book. I thought that he gave a lot of attention to quote as accurately as he could, or merely referring to it, indicating that it was according to close friend/relative/etc. He creates the impression that he wanted to write with integrity and I think it rightfully resulted in him creating the kind of work that the Daily Mail described as “The most authoritative book ever written about Michael Jackson”.

I enjoyed the photographs that were included in the book, even though rather limited for the life of Michael Jackson. Sadly there are simply too many, but the ones included gave good visual meaning to the story (people and events) as written about in this book.

In a few ways I thought that Michael was a brilliant talent – such phenomenal creative ability – and yet in more ways I thought that Michael was broken, lonely, wounded, scarred for life. He never seem to have found out what real love is, yet he yearned for it all his life, and he tried to give it as best as he knew how. But how do you give something that you don’t have...? His pursuit of it, though, cost him dearly, and much more than could ever be measured in currency.

Around the three quarter mark the events became a little repetitive. You almost didn’t care that it was millions anymore, because virtually everything was millions in Michael’s life. The only thing that started being of any significance was how many millions – whether a record deal, earnings from record sales or other sources, concert tickets sold, spending OR paying to settle a law suit of some sort.

One has to be so careful not to pass judgement, but I thought his life story one of brokenness and tragedy. By the time he was thirty five he had made his fair share of mistakes, but then he made a fatal one: he started repeating them. One can’t know whether he was unable to learn from his mistakes, or whether he plainly and stubbornly refused to do so. Either way it still cost him dearly. Almost ironic that he had spent so much in pursuit of love and acceptance and yet never seem to have found it – not the real McCoy anyway.

The fact that he never seem to be able to even love and accept himself created quite the challenge for the little bit of joy and happiness that he experienced doing the one thing that he was brilliant at: his music and performing. Being perfect is a heavy burden to bear; when nothing is ever quite good enough... and yet, in the eyes of the world he was the “King of Pop”!

The best description of Michael, I thought, was “man child”. For the kind of life that he lived I can understand how one would feel a yearning to never grow up; how Neverland could be your ‘heaven’ and Peter Pan your hero.

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