Friday, June 26, 2009

"... for Generation X, a Really Bad Day"

From an article on Fox News: Two Lost Icons: For Generation X, A Really Bad Day

"These people (Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson) were on our lunchboxes," said Gary Giovannetti, 38, a manager at HBO who grew up on Long Island awash in Farrah and MJ iconography. "This," he said, "is the moment when Generation X realizes they're grown up."

It was a long time coming. Cynical, disaffected, rife with ADD, lost between Boomers and millennials and sandwiched between Vietnam and the war on terror, Gen X has always been an oddity. It was the product of a transitional age when we were still putting people on celebrity pedestals but only starting to make an industry out of dragging them down.

Its memorable moments were diffuse and confusing — the Ronald Reagan assassination attempt, the dawn of AIDS, the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger. It had no protest movement, no opponent to unite it, none of the things that typically shape the ill-defined beast we call an American generation.

These were the people who sent to the top of the charts a song called "We Don't Need Another Hero," then figured out how to churn them out wholesale, launching the celebrity obsession that is now an accepted part of American cultural fabric.

Farrah's death was indeed sad ... and the story of her illness is heartbreaking. May none of us have to go through that kind of physical agony.

But the sudden death of Michael Jackson ... WOW! When "Thriller" came out, I became a pre-teen obsessed with Michael Jackson. I was definitely of the "MTV Generation," and stayed glued to the TV to see his videos. Thriller was a special treat when it came on TV, and I'd get up and sing and dance (I mean really ... who didn't?).

I would take pictures of Michael Jackson when he was on the TV. I'd tear out pictures from magazines and put them on my wall. I'd put my tape recorder up to the TV and the radio when his songs came on (I don't know why I didn't just ask my mom to buy the cassette tape ... or maybe I did and she declined ... who knows).

I used to brag that I could just sense when a Michael Jackson song was on the radio. Well, sure ... that is because some radio station SOMEWHERE was always playing a Michael Jackson song.

One year, Santa even gave me silver socks for Christmas! :)

Over the years, his looks changed (why didn't he just stick with the face on the Thriller album?), and he became rather odd (and even more odd as time passed). My taste in music expanded and eventually, I moved on from Michael Jackson. But for a few years, I could sing every song on Thriller, and even to this day, when I Michael Jackson song comes on the radio, I'm singing at the top of my lungs.

Despite the fact that I'm 36 years old, a wife and a mother to a fabulous little boy, the death of Michael Jackson does indeed - as the article quote above says - make me realize I'm all grown up.

For me, Michael Jackson's death is the largest pop culture event I can recollect ... with the exception of Princess Diana's death many years ago (in fact, as a child I didn't like my name because it seemed EVERYBODY was named Jennifer ... I wished I had been named Diana instead).

As I watch the news coverage, sometimes I am just hit with, "Wow, he is actually dead!" I said to Jonathan, "Last night, Michael Jackson was probably doing just what we're doing ... sitting here watching TV and winding down from his day. And bam! A few hours later, he's dead." Wow, it could happen to any of us.

And as a mother, I think of his three children who have been a mystery to the public for their entire lives. My goodness ... they've lost their father. How incredibly sad!

As a friend of mine wrote on his Facebook page:
I hope Michael Jackson is better remembered for his performance skills than his eccentric and strange behavior - in his prime he was awesome!