Michael Jackson was one of those pop cultural phenomena I try my best to avoid. Of course, if you watch what passes for TV “news,” or even wait in the checkout stand, you can’t avoid some exposure. So I have a scattershot knowledge of Jackson, just like I have a scattershot knowledge of some other celebrities.
I’ve also glanced at a few Christian blogs on his death. What is there to say?
One thing that strikes me as how overrated he was. I keep running across the phrase “musical genius.” All I can say is that I don’t define musical genius the way some folks do.
What was it that made Jackson a bigger star than Ray Charles or Tina Turner or James Brown or Al Green or Johnny Cash or Ricky Martin or Henry Belafonte?
Does he have more talent? Charisma? Stage presence? Not that I can see.
At his peak he was a very energetic performer, but that’s a truism of youth. Aren’t we all energetic in our teens and twenties? And there are lots of hyperkinetic performers to choose from.
I guess that in his prime he was a good dancer, but you could say the same thing about a number of other entertainers.
I read about what a great singer he was. Oh, please!
To begin with, if you need a microphone, then you’re really not solo material.
But even by the inferior standards of pop vocalism, I can think of far more talented singers. Take Marion Williams.
So what makes him stand out in the pantheon pop culture? I think it has more to do with a calculated effort to redefine human nature. Transhumanism. Jackson was transhuman. He denied his race. Denied his gender.
Tina Turner isn’t my type, but one thing you can say about her–she’s all woman. There’s nothing ambiguous about her sexual or racial identity.
By the same token, entertainers like Johnny Cash and James Brown exude masculinity.
Entertainers like that are threatening to an ideology which is hell-bent on the subversion, inversion, and perversion what it means to be human. What it means to be male and female.
Take operas and musicals. Although these are often rather decadent, they are also quite heteronormative. Boy-meets-girl set to music.
By contrast, Jackson came to look and sound like a drag-queen. That makes him the poster child of transhumanism. Everything about him was fake. Ersatz. Ambiguous. And he had a lifestyle to match.
It’s a frontal assault on any residual Christian values. The futuristic face of secular humanism.