Race showed at MJ’s funeral
I was never a big fan of Michael Jackson but I always acknowledged the fact that he was the greatest entertainer of his times. He was very original and he was the master of both music and dance, a rare combination that catapulted him to unparalleled fame. The way he danced had inspired a whole generation of actors even in Bollywood and when one sees earlier movies of Govinda, Mithun Chakravarty and Prabhu Deva and now Hrithik Roshan, this legendary performer influenced them all. He had changed film choreography and Farah Khan has acknowledged his contribution in visualization of the dance sequences of films. His performances were electrifying in terms of energy and precision and his synchronized movements with the music were out of this world. People remember him for his Moonwalk and the numerous other albums he created thereafter or before that. Entertainment came naturally to him and even though he had a complex side in his overall personality, his popularity cut across regions and
continents. There was no star greater than him as long as he was on top and one can only perhaps put Elvis Presley and the Beatles at his level from amongst the greats of the past in terms of being iconic in the real sense.
But watching his memorial service at the Staples Centre in Los Angles live on the CNN I was pained that race showed very prominently during the proceedings. Michael Jackson may have been of the African American origin but he was a true celebrity, the kind of which America or the world will not see for a long time. Yet the last ceremony was conspicuous because of the absence of some of the America’s greatest white or Hispanic entertainers and actors. Brooke Shields was the perhaps the only one who came out to pay rich tributes to her close buddy and recalled how she and MJ shared a unique bond. She also disclosed that `Smile’ written by another legendary figure from the world of cinema, Charlie Chaplin was MJ’s favorite song. Towards the end, there were some other white celebrities who participated but that was it. Their absence from the speaker’s platform showed that MJ even had to fight a racial bias even after his death.
There were of course never the less many legends that paid homage to the great artiste. Messages were read out by Smokey Robinson on behalf of Diana Ross, one of the top most African American entertainers of all times who was very close to MJ and Nelson Mandela. Lionel Ritchie, Steve Wonder and Mariah Carey paid musical tributes besides John Mayer. It was left to Magic Johnson, the Basketball icon to reveal an interesting insight on his friend. He recalled that on being invited to his house to discuss a music video, the chef came to him and asked what he would want to have. He ordered for grilled chicken. But when the dinner arrived, he was surprised that while he was served grilled chicken, MJ had opted for a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken, something that reflected his closeness to his roots. Martin Luther King III and others also paid their tributes but instead of being an all American show, the impression one gathered was that it was reduced to being only an African American show. This happened in the country which defied all kinds of political calculations in creating history by electing Barrack Obama as the President of the US.
It was a sad feeling but maybe I over read the situation. Some friends had once told me that in the US, many of the African American icons are slowly tarnished and brought down. I know of at least two, Mohammad Ali aka Cassius Clay and Michael Jackson. They were hounded and they fought with their back to the wall. While Ali is arguably the greatest boxer of all times, MJ may similarly be the greatest entertainer. There were questions raised about MJ’s life but as one Speaker, a Congress woman very clearly put it, as per the law of the land, every person is innocent till he is proved guilty. MJ, may your soul rest in peace. You were truly the greatest entertainer on this planet.