Saturday, December 26, 2009

Michael Jackson and the "What If..."

2009... the year of Michael Jackson.

I'm reminded, at the end of this year, not of June 25 but of March 5. A faded superstar making a public announcement of his intent to stage a comeback. The inevitable questions: would this be the hero making good, the legitimate comeback? Or would it be a fiasco that cemented his decline? I was on an internet group at the time, and I can remember the question: 'would you pay good money to see a washed-up celebrity in concert?'

Pretty harsh words, if you think about it. But there you had it: on the one hand, interest in the millions: unprecedented levels of demands for tickets. On the other hand: a yawn or a look of disbelief. It's not just that people wanted him to fail - everyone has their detractors who are out for blood. It's more that so many people just expected him to fail. An act of desperation. Michael Jackson doing it for the money. I can remember that it seemed pretty much that the chances of the This is It concerts being an artistic triumph were seen as next to nil.

And then... well, we all know that.

But what if? What if that fateful night had never happened, and the concerts went on as planned? Two things for sure: Michael Jackson's star would have shone brighter than it did a year ago today. But it would have shone much less bright than it has over the whole second half of the year 2009. And since the praise/criticism ratio has shifted so drastically since his passing, we have seen the film, CD and song through a rather uncritical lens. But had he survived, people would have been harsher. How woud the concerts have been recieved?

A sense of drama makes us want to believe that Michael Jackson was just on the edge of a triumphant comeback. But... was he?

We'll never know.

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