Friday, November 17, 2006

Off the wall

I sometimes think the life of Michael Jackson should serve as a massive cautionary tale. It has a bleakness that recalls Dickens’s imperilled child heroes Oliver Twist and David Copperfield but without the hope of a happy ending. The deep psychological flaws of a Macbeth or a Lear are as surely etched into his tortured face as the thousand scalpel tracks that signify a life fiercely devoted to delusion, but without the comfort of imminent death. A contemporary Prometheus, except with bits of his brain being eaten away rather than his liver, and not growing back. In short, a tragedy in interminable acts.

You wonder how, with a sizable chunk of the world acting as stewards, team Jackson could have veered so far off course so relentlessly. Is there no one who is prepared to caution against the wisdom of befriending say an Elizabeth Taylor or a Uri Geller much less little boys? Is it any wonder he ended up inhabiting a moral universe with no north? Still the fey one does seem to have been coated with Teflon, perhaps courtesy of one of those numerous vacations in Plasticland. He always manages to ride the sleaze train back to acceptability. Not even dressing his children up as lampshades and threatening to hurl them from thirteenth floor balconies unless a chimp trained in Shiatsu is sent up right now has alienated him from public affection.

But is this stroll along the tightrope of respectability about to get a little bit tricky? Elizabeth Taylor and Uri Geller are one thing but Sir Philip ‘Slime’ Green? Now that is a descent into bad company beyond the imaginings of even a Dickens. Yes, the reprehensible retailer recently rewarded with a knighthood for services to tax evasion, now counts the fey one amongst his err, friends. The two were discovered dining at Japanese eatery Nobu (to be renamed Nobhead in honour of their visit) on Tuesday night.

Following their intimate sushi and sake fest, the long dormant prince of pop was invited to a private viewing of the fine collection of apparel available at Topshop. He heisted a couple of shirts and a jacket when his host whizzed off to have a much needed whiz against the Oxford Street facing window. Sir Slime aimed straight for Marks & Spencer but ended up in a bit of a self fulfilling splash. He blamed it on the sake. Meanwhile his new pal was papped mid shirt grab. He blamed it on the booty. It was all sorted out amicably and the paps got the photo they really came for – the world’s two worst people, ever, together. The Guinness Book of World Records is doing the tally now but it will be close run. Who will be named the World’s Worst Person Ever?

Last night’s appearance on The World Music Awards at Earls Court probably puts Jackson ahead on points. He did pick up a Guinness World Record for sales of his 1982 album Thriller. The Guinness people are known to favour previous winners. This was a timely reminder that there was once a century in which Michael Jackson could sing and dance and even write decent songs, albeit with the aid of a room full of musical genius. Where are you Quincy Jones when we need you most?

Just to be clear, The World Music Awards are not about what all the people in the world like to listen to in terms of music. World Music is the name for all the weird stuff that most people don’t like and you don’t hear anywhere except on wildlife programmes and BBC3 dramas. That Michael Jackson has been invited at all should be an indicator. That he was asked to take a leading role and lots of people even sadder than he and Sir Slime put together paid amounts of money reported to be anything up to £500 to hear him sing, ranks it lower than an X-Factor outtake show.

Ticket holders were lured by the prospect of seeing their hero perform the title song Thriller. Did they honestly think the last twenty-five years would melt away? Well actually that did sort of happen. Apparently the severe stage lights had a corrosive effect on the Jackson facial reconstruction, and that was while he was still ensconced in his dressing room. Not even the charms of BeyoncĂ© could lure the fey one out to perform his 1982 classic. That honour went to R&B star Chris Brown, a person although very much still alive, was not the one fans paid a week’s wages to see.

There is a twilight sphere in which the artist formerly known as Michael Jackson is still visible and that is a stage filled with young children singing a song with only about half a dozen words in it. With the solid stiletto of BeyoncĂ© acting as incentive, the fey one was able to muster himself to mumble the few words he could remember of We Are The World, the charity tune he co-penned with Lionel Ritchie when they both still had some musical credibility. ‘We are the world, we are the children’, he squeaked in compensation before hurling his Topshop jacket into the startled crowd.

According to The Guardian, gallant husband and wife team Peter Andre and Jordan were the only people at Earls Court who put on a decent show. It doesn’t say what they did but presumably it involved amphibious craft and a good deal of slithering. Sir Slime would have enjoyed that. The last word on Jackson’s appearance must therefore go to Jordan,

‘He sounded really out of tune.’

I blame the parents, all of them, everywhere in the world.

Cartoon from


Hairdresser said...

I thinks its really sad how Michael Jackson turned out. I remember buying Thriller and showing it to friends on Tottenham Court Road when I got it. I was really happy.

That's so pants said...

I bet you're not too thrilled about his barnet either.

kris said...

How many more times does MJ have to be prosecuted for child offences before people say enough is enough?

That's so pants said...

Maybe a new offence is in order - grooming children to sing out of tune.

Mullet said...

I like the way he has his hair now.