A FEW THOUGHTS ON MICHAEL JACKSON, FAME, LIFE AND MENTAL HEALTH
Today would’ve been Michael Jackson’s 59th birthday.
As a fan, I still find it hard to process that he is gone. Although we all know that death is inevitable, it still comes as a shock when it happens, especially, in Michael Jackson’s case where we know his premature death was due to negligence.
Before I begin to dissect what we know about his story and the lesson we can learn, I want to highlight how many awards he won throughout his career.
American Music Awards — 26 wins
Billboard Music Awards — 5 wins
Brit Awards — 6 wins
Mobo Awards — 1
Grammy Awards — 13 wins
Danish Music Awards — 2 wins
Guinness World Records — 39 wins
MTV VMA Awards — 18 wins
Soul Train Awards — 12 wins
World Music Awards — 16 wins
Michael had many highlights in his career, he was essentially what Beyonce is today. He travelled the world, made loads of money and had people worshipping him. He was a great singer but what people were more mesmerised with, and I’m talking creative wise, was his dance moves and music videos. ‘Remember the time’ ‘Give in to me’ ‘Beat It’ and ‘In the closet’ are a few of my favourites.
Michael definitely had me trying to imitate his moves which I failed miserably at. He got me feeling very venomous and jealous towards Iman, Naomi Campbell, the woman he chased in ‘The way you make me feel’ video, the other woman in the ‘You rock my world’ video, that other woman he breifly danced with in the ‘Smooth Criminal’ video, all the women he hugged on stage whilst on tour where security literally had to drag them away from him.
However the price of fame had a negative impact on him professionally and personally.
Michael’s story is similar to the popular guy you knew at school, or the popular guy who was exceptional at sports. That charming guy everyone loved, who naturally had a few jealous haters lingering about but the majority of people adored him and looked up to him. The guy looking for a genuine friend but continuously failed to find one because people were more interested in his status. The type of guy who was always the exception to the rule. As long as he could keep up the outstanding performance he could spend his money carelessly, wear what he wanted, hang around with people who pretended to be his friend because of his status. The kind of guy no one wanted to correct or advice because they didn’t want to upset him. The guy that wanted to be friends with everyone and help everyone even those who didn’t deserve his help. The guy who was naive and believed everyone around him had his best interest at heart but deep down he felt lonely and couldn’t call most of them friends. The kind of guy who was easily hurt by those who were not afraid to tell him the truth — those are the one’s he would cut out of his life and keep the no good people around him.
Then when he’s no longer that popular or doing well, people begin to dissapear then he’s left with the people who were benefiting from his success. They stick around but they change towards him, instead of feeding his ego they start putting pressure on him to do better. All they care about is making money rather than a persons well being. They see how far they can push him. If they don’t get the outcome they want they simply give up and walk out of his life.
Michael was that guy and his story highlights that fame isn’t for everyone. It’s a struggle to uphold an image that people have of you and in Michael’s case it was a struggle from a young age to grow up and go through physical changes with the whole world watching him.
Lets not forget that for many years critics constantly suggested that Michael wanted to be white and called him hurtful names as over the years his skin got lighter, not knowing or choosing to ignore he had a skin condition called Vitiligo. Till this very day I still have debates with people who still doubt whether or not he really had a skin condition.
I always believed he had vitiligo and I can understand why he opted to control his skin by using make up or anything else he applied to even out his skin. I understand why he didn’t feel comfortable going on stage in front of thousands of people. It takes a person with inner confidence to do that and not care.
We now have Winnie Harlow, who is a international model and a inspiration for many young girls who have vitiligo.
I think Michael would’ve benefited with having someone to look up to in terms of his skin condition. Furthermore I think he would’ve benefited with an early intervention on dealing with fame and mental health rather than being pushed beyond what he was capable of dealing with. The industry is so demanding and fast paced that people struggle to take a step back to breathe, reflect and pay attention to their overall health..
Maybe if Michael Jackson didn’t have the incident with his hair during the pepsi ad, had help dealing with or accepting his skin condition and wasn’t so hard on himself in general things would’ve been different. But what I honestly feel is he was not mentally capable of dealing with the pressure. He loved being an artist but he didn’t want the lifestyle that came with it.
He spoke numerous of times in his songs such as ‘Childhood’ and interviews of not having a childhood. He sang about wanting to be left alone in ‘Leave me alone’. He sang about people using him when he came to the realization that people were not genuine in ‘Money’. He sang about the legal industry taking advantage of him in ‘They don’t really care about us’. Despite singing and talking about these issues he remained in the industry and things just went from bad to worse. Michael definitely had psychological issues prematurely in his career which were not dealt with or managed very well.
There’s this strange culture where someone could be struggling in life, people won’t show up because you are no longer of value to them but the same people who dissapeared will show up to your funeral.
There are so many lessons we can take from Michael Jackson’s story. We need to be mindful of those who make us feel inadequate because we have less than what other people have. The people who push us to obtain goals that are unrealistic and detrimental to our physical and mental health. Those who encourage us to compromise who we are and do things we don’t really want to do. The people who remind you of how popular you used to be and put pressure on you to gain popularity. Those who tell us to do things that we are mentally unable to deal with. We need to take note that doing these things may bring some extra cash and all the finer things in life but none of that is worth it if doing the things we are told to do to get wealth is against our spirit and beliefs.
(This post was originally published on my Tumblr: Enakimoni.tumblr.com)