Child wonder turned pop superstar Michael Jackson died today at the age of 50. TNR has written much about the singer over the years. Here is a sampling:
- "Over the (Bigger) Rainbow" by Stanley Kauffmann, November 11, 1978.
- "Migraine Heaven" by Jim Miller, June 19, 1980.
- "The Prisoner Of Commerce" by Michael Kinsley, April 16, 1984.
- "Beat It TRB", letters to the editor, May 14, 1984.
- "Thriller: Me And Michael Jackson" by Peter Sagal, March 30, 1992
Doctor, what has happened to Michael J.? What's happened is that Michael Jackson has become the most successful musical performer ever, if success is measured in dollars (as of course it is). His album Thriller has sold 31 million copies. His next tour is expected to gross $100 million. He's bigger than Sinatra, Elvis, the Beatles, Jesus, Beethoven--all of them. Michael Jackson's extreme abnormality is part of his act.
Unless the media are perpetrating a gigantic hoax, it's also genuine. He's a freak. This total merging of person and performance is central to today's rock music, and for all I know, it's art. But is it life?