11 July 2009

Bob Asten: I wonder when it was cool to champion Michael Jackson's blackness...

New Devoted Michael Jackson fans: When he died...

I tried, good gravy marie knows I have, to avoid serious discussion about Michael Jackson. His death is a sore spot with some who think that criticism of him is racist (It's funny how this protection never extends to minority conservatives...). His new Devoted fans believe we should gloss over his negatives and only focus on his minimal contributions to the music industry. Unless I've been in coma for the past 20 years, I haven't seen Jackson contribute anything of note to the industry. And if we are to believe the rhetoric coming from his newly devoted fans, why haven't I heard them give credit to Jackson, before his death, for going into music? Most of his music centered around the idea that people were out to get him, and he used his music to answer his growing phalanx of critics.

Throughout the 1990s, when Michael's skin color began to lighten, blacks dissed him and claimed that he wanted to be white. I do recall a common phrase in the early 90s was "Michael Jackson doesn't know if he wants to be black or white..." Now that the man who was fighting to remain relevant, musically, has been embraced by people that dissed him throughout his life. Meanwhile, demonizing any and everyone who dares question why so much attention is given to a man who didn't necessarily deserve it.

New Devoted Michael Jackson fan (1993): Dude, did you see how white Michael Jackson is getting lately?

little Bob Asten: Yea, I think he's getting chemical treatments.

New Devoted Michael Jackson fan: I don't understand why he has a problem with being black. I hate his music.

little Bob Asten: Dunno

New Devoted Michael Jackson fan (2009): Did you hear that racist Peter King? He called Michael Jackson a pervert!

Bob Asten: He may not be a pervert, but don't you find his behaviors at least questionable?

New Devoted Michael Jackson fan: He contributed a lot to the music industry, it's racist to call him a pervert and not recognize his positives.

Bob Asten: So how is it racist to question a white guy?

New Devoted Michael Jackson fan: What are you talking about?

Bob Asten: Didn't you promise that you wouldn't listen to Michael Jackson anymore, because you questioned his ethnicity?

New Devoted Michael Jackson fan: OMG! You aren't my friend anymore!

More of the overblown rhetoric came from Sean "Puffy" Combs, who claimed that Elvis nor John F. Kennedy had to face the hatred directed at Michael Jackson. I know that Combs hasn't really kept up the news, since he's had to fork out so much money in child support payments, but who doesn't know about Kennedy's sexual exploits and fumbllings, and Presley's bouts with drug abuse? To insert racism unnecessarily into the argument about whether Jackson should be heralded as some role model shows the inadequacy of his argument.

In the debate, I have never come from the perspective that I, nor any of the critics of race pimps, are without issues. That's an attempt to halt conversation. Wayne Williams, John Wayne Gacy, and Michael Vick have issues, but I don't see anyone rushing to become like them. Instead of making Michael a martyr, let's champion those who are actual heroes, and not those who, throughout their lives, engaged in every self-hating technique in the book. There are plenty of black musicians who have contributed more to the industry than Michael ever dreamed, and yet I don't hear too many people talking about Ella Fitzgerald, Scott Joplin, or Duke Ellington.

Some of my friends have deleted me for agreeing with Bill Orally and Peter King, that this man isn't worthy of the attention given him. He isn't the reason Barack Obama is president, he's not the reason more black musicians have chosen music for their careers. There were black musicians before him, and there will be black ones after.

Have a great day.

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