King of Pop leaves a bizarre legacy

Published 11:41 am Saturday, June 27, 2009

So a pop music icon died this week. There are a lot of things people will choose to remember about Michael Jackson. Some will remember him as the little boy who made the Jackson 5 listenable or as the man who made “Thriller” and a host of other albums that acted as the soundtrack for much of a generation.

Some will elect to focus on the unflattering allegations and incidents surrounding his time at Neverland Ranch or even the fact that he owned something called “Neverland Ranch.” I have always found it difficult to forget the joke I heard in junior high that pointed out the oddity of a poor black boy growing up to look like a rich white woman. It was a amusing then.

There is always Michael’s short-lived marriage to Lisa Marie Presley or his decision to purchase The Beatles’ entire catalog and irreparably damage his relationship with long-time friend Paul McCartney.

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For me, I will choose to remember that Michael Jackson named his child “Blanket.” Let’s set aside for a moment the images of Jackson dangling his infant child over a balcony and focus solely on the fact that this child’s name is Blanket.

The revelation of the name was mesmerizing and utterly surprising for most of us. But my question is, why? You know, other than the obvious fact that the child was in fact named after a piece of bed clothing.

I think it is because it was Jackson. See, Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin and his wife — actress Gwyneth Paltrow — named their two children Apple and Moses. Hardly anyone batted an eye. It was hip, original and “new agey.” Plus, it was Martin and Paltrow. So it was acceptable.

Michael’s fatherhood actually came after America had grown weary of his antics. So the scope in which society viewed his decisions had become tainted. So Blanket didn’t sit well with us.

Never mind the fact that it may well be the worst baby name ever and now this poor human being must go through life with the knowledge that it is named Blanket.

At the risk of making excuses for his bizarre behavior, we often seem to forget that Jackson didn’t have much of a childhood. He found success early in life alongside his brothers under an overbearing father. From the time he was a little boy, Jackson’s life was lived in the spotlight. Considering those pressures, it is little wonder that he died at 50 and it is no shock that he made the slew of bad decisions that punctuated his life.

So what’s the moral? Like Jackson’s life, you can see from it all whatever you want to see. For me, I guess it’s that we should encourage our kids without pushing them immensely, lest we end up with grandchildren named “Towel” or “Potato.”

The only thing that is for certain is that Jackson’s death is as bizarre and bewildering as was his life.