Arun is Bringing You...Your Daily Remedy

Friday, June 26, 2009

One Man's Influence Over a Population, and a Person

You never really realize the significance of someone until they're gone. It seems like everyone, including myself, is realizing today what Michael Jackson meant to the world, and to themselves.

From a grand perspective, it's impossible to ignore Michael Jackson's contribution to pop culture. He's the biggest selling solo artist of all time, owns the number one selling album in history, embarked on the most profitable tour ever, and is responsible for the two best selling musical home videos to date.

Not too shabby.

Michael Jackson broke barriers down not only for people of color, but for a musical style that everyone embraced. MTV wouldn't play black artists before Michael Jackson and he ushered in a new era of music video mini-movies.

I think it's safe to say that MJ is a musical and performance icon.

But what's often overlooked is the NON-music side of MJ; the sensitive, caring, and incredibly giving person that he was. Most people aren't aware that Michael Jackson made EXTENSIVE charitable contributions to charities world-wide. He co-wrote "We Are The World" with Lionel Richie which raised tens of millions of dollars to combat the hunger problem in Africa. He funded an entire hospital operation for burn victims with the settlement he received from Pepsi after his own experience with burning. (Please check out the video below).

He profoundly affected millions of people around the world....including me.

Michael Jackson was my first idol. He is THE reason I learned how to dance. My best moves are all modeled after MJ. As a musician, he's shaped precisely who I am when I perform. Seeing that I spend most of my youth belting out Michael Jackson tunes, I guess this is no surprise ;)

I love Michael Jackson, and I've never made this a secret. MJ has been unfairly brutalized my the media more than any celebrity in history. Is he eccentric? Certainly. But isn't that his prerogative? Look at where he came from:

He worked harder than most people do in their entire lives, at the age of four. Rest wasn't an option, and mistakes were punished with the force of a switch, belt, electrical cord, or any other convenient device. Most of us have family to fall back on when we are teased. His father and brothers teased him mercilessly about his "huge" nose and his acne.

Most of us battle incredible insecurity when a pimple pops up prominently on our face, but when you can't count on the closest people you know to comfort you, where do you go? To add to that, he had a skin condition called Vitiligo which completely destroys the pigmentation of the skin and mostly affects black people.

I can't imagine the feeling of identity loss and the psychological toll that would accompany such an involuntary transformation.

Most people don't know these things, and/or refuse to believe them because he was frequently portrayed as a freak by the media in order to boost ratings. As a kid, I learned a great deal about independence and confidence when I stepped up to defend the guy I idolized.

It's not easy defending someone who everyone makes fun of when you're in middle / high school. But I never once relented. I was frequently alone against the masses, but when it came to Michael Jackson, I ALWAYS had his back.

I never believed any of the ludicrous allegations against him.

I used to watch every interview and every music video. I read his autobiography at least twice. To this day, if I could meet anyone in the world, it would be Michael Jackson.

His passing yesterday was certainly a shock. I was excited for a forthcoming album and was ready to jump on the comeback train. For all the years his music and example supported me, I owed him my support.

I don't know how different I would be today had MJ never existed, but I'm sure I'm a better person because of him. His example of hard work, perfectionism, and generosity is one that everyone should embrace.

Michael Jackson didn't know me, but I certainly knew him.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well said, Arun. I loved him too - he was unfairly ostracized and ridiculed for his 'humanity' which he showed to the world in unusual ways, perhaps, unconventional by western norms, but, he was certainly a great soul.

-- AK Mom