June 26th, 2009

Sepia, RB Office

Celebrity Deaths from Yesterday

I'll admit, I seem to be having a bit of a different reaction to Michael Jackson's death than a lot of the people I'm seeing on the news and in online communities.

The thing is, I was never that fond of Jackson's music or performances. As a kid, I think I heard some Jackson 5 stuff, but none of it stuck. I've got very little of it in my personal collection (I think a couple of tracks from the Time-Life 1970's collections I acquire a few years ago and have loaded into iTunes/iPod) and have explicitly excluded some more recently (I removed, or at least kept from syncing to the iPod, the Jackson 5 stuff included as a bonus on the Pippin cast recording I got from iTunes a couple of years ago).

And then when Michael Jackson was in the peak of his career (mid 1980's), I was not being exposed to a lot of "mainstream" pop. For the most part the radio station I listened to was KOB-AM which in that era was a news/adult contemporary station. That was also the same time when, largely thanks to my brother whose tastes and sound system dominated the house, and our shared drives to UNM in 1984-1986, I was getting more into Jazz, Classical, Musicals and a bit of New Age music. Most of my friends that weren't into Jazz and similar were into harder stuff (not really Heavy Metal, though).

Then, even today most of Michael Jackson's songs leave me with kind of a "Meh" or "that was OK, I guess" reaction. I'll admit to thinking that the "Thriller" video was kind of fun -- but the song itself was just OK.

Of course his erratic and very disturbing behavior as it has come out over the last several years turned him into either a scary or perhaps pitiable figure -- someone who could never escape the demons that came from early fame and no escape from the spotlight.


Oddly enough, I don't recall Farah Fawcett the same way as I'm sure many men of my age do. I'll admit to watching Charlie's Angels, but it was another fun 1970's cop/detective show. Due to a combination of naivete, and probably some maturity factors, I was largely immune to the sexual nature of the show and could enjoy the story -- even if today it doesn't stand up very well.

If I have any memory of her from that era, it was the fact that she chose to leave a successful show in a very public way, and then mostly disappeared from view into a failed movie career.

I'll have to admit, both Jackson and Fawcett had a great deal of impact on popular culture and deserve a place in the history of the eras that they touched. But personally, they were just a couple more celebrities who personally mattered very little to me.