Michael Jackson Revisited

Author: | Filed under: Great Performances, What To Watch

Tonight I saw “This Is It”, Kenny Ortega’s compilation of footage from Michael Jackson’s rehearsals for his doomed London concert series.

In a post I wrote about Jackson in June, shortly after his death, I included a clip of him in the studio preparing for the “We Are The World” session.  The clip struck me as an indication of the serious professional musician he was, and I was interested in trying to hold onto that characterization as the media frenzy surrounding his death began to take hold.

“This Is It” solidifies that characterization, and goes beyond it.

Even assuming that Ortega only chose to include footage that shows Jackson (and Ortega himself) in the best light, as many have theorized, it’s impossible to imagine any unseen footage that may have taken away from the impression we get of the depth of Jackson’s virtuosity and dedication as a performer.  And no matter what you may think of Jackson as a person, his tremendous gifts are difficult to dismiss as you watch this footage.

I was fascinated the most by the way Jackson communicates his vision at various times during the film.  It reminded me of synethesia, a cognitive condition which causes cross-sensory perception, such as experiencing sounds as colors, or colors as temperatures.  Jackson uses metaphors in just this way.  The complexity of his ideas, and the way he communicates them to the people around him, hint at layers that may be beyond our ability to fully comprehend.

Much has been made of Jackson’s strangeness in his later years.  But it has often occurred to me that the most gifted among us do not quite seem to reside in the same realm as everyone else – that they almost have an other-worldly quality.  Who can really know what it’s like to live inside that sort of brain, or how difficult it may be to live in the world when you have that kind of gift?

What I am left with, finally, is admiration for the way Michael Jackson was able to live among us at all.