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Monday, 16 October 2017
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A tribute to the King of Pop       

By Hasha Herath

I wanted to write about the life and times of Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, and one of the last global celebrities.

He was an enigmatic figure, a recluse who built up walls around him; perhaps, he was just a product of the celebrity environment that hounded his every footstep.  He was Michael Jackson, a musical genius, whose songs would make you smile and dance, and just for a few minutes, all your sorrows melted away.  Yet, behind the exterior of this great celebrity, was even a greater man.

As the world says good-bye to the greatest entertainer of all time, we also pay our respects to a man who showed us humanity and compassion.  He raised awareness of diseases such as HIV/AIDS, and showed us the plight of people who are less fortunate.  He organized concerts, songs, and collaborations with other singers, with proceeds going to charities that would directly help those in need.  As it stands, Michael Jackson supported more charity organizations than any other celebrity, and a large portion of his estate will also be given to various charities. 

However, being one of the biggest celebrities on the planet opened him up to an obscene amount of criticism and tabloid fodder.  From sleeping in an oxygen tank to purchasing the skeletal remnants of the 19th century ‘Elephant Man’, these ridiculous rumors dogged him for years.  Perhaps the most prominent of all fodder was the notion that Michael Jackson had undergone a skin-color change in order to become ‘white’.  Granted, the changes in his facial features were evidence of a notable amount of plastic surgeries; but, then again, plenty of celebrities have gotten nose jobs, among other alterations.  However, it may have been the buzzes of a ‘race change’ that were one of the more hurtful stories about the King of Pop.  He was such an enigmatic figure; people seemed to believe just about every story.  Then again, there are so many people who wish to change a few features in their own appearance; some wish to have smaller noses, others wish to be taller, and some people wish to have darker skin, while others wish to have fairer skin.  Don’t lie and tell me that there isn’t a member in your household who hasn’t purchased a tube of ‘Fair&Lovely’ or any other lightening product; we are all human.  As it has been reported, Michael Jackson suffered from a disorder called Vitiligo, which causes depigmentation in the skin; basically, skin starts to lose its color as the disease progresses.  One of a few treatments for this disorder is for an individual suffering from Vitiligo to undergo chemical depigmentation, which is irreversible and leaves the skin with much less color than before; as in the case of Michael Jackson, he went from ‘black’ to ‘white’.   Not to mention, Michael Jackson was also diagnosed with lupus, a potentially deadly disease, but was in remission in his case.  It is the strength of Jackson’s character that allowed him to confront many of these rumors and lies, and go on with his life and career.  It is shameful to gossip and spread lies about someone’s situation, especially when that person cannot control the circumstances; perhaps, it is better to revert to the old moral of “don’t judge a book by its cover”.

Yet, there were two sides to Michael Jackson: the soft-spoken man, and the incredible entertainer.  The King of Pop was a musical phenomenon, and as many have said, “he broke the bar, and raised it.”  Michael Jackson shot to fame at a time when there was still civil unrest between the African-American and Caucasian ethnic groups in the USA.  There was even a time when MTV only featured white artists; that all changed with Michael Jackson.  He broke down the racial divide in music, his creativity and talent could neither be segregated nor ignored.  His musical influence reached all corners of Pop, R&B, and Hip-hop, and many artists of these genres credit Michael Jackson in allowing their music to enter the mainstream media.  You see, it was because of what Michael Jackson did that opened the doors for Hip-hop, R&B, and Pop to spread its influence around the world.

Aside from all of this, there is one thing that I would like to say.  If I ever had the chance to meet Michael Jackson, I would have said: ‘thank you’.  Thank you for giving us years upon years of entertainment, of song and dance, joy and laughter.  Thank you for showing us your strength of character when so many criticized you.  Thank you for making us more aware of the world and of other people’s suffering.  Thank you for showing us that it did not matter if you were black or white or asian or any other race, or that if you were rich or poor, but that success comes from hard work, motivation, inspiration, and talent.  Thank you for being an example to all of us, and showing us that you can start at the very bottom and reach the highest of heights.  Thank you, most of all, for showing us that with enough work, anything is possible.

It is said that heroes get remembered, but legends never die; the memory of Michael Jackson will live on.  To Michael Jackson: the King of Pop, the Greatest Entertainer of all time, may you rest in peace.

 
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