Well, as I'm sure you've heard by now, Michael Jackson, the "King of Pop" passed away today after suffering a cardiac arrest at his home.
Based on reactions I'm witnessing on the various social networks I frequent, responses are decidedly lacking in nuance. Either people are acting as if a close personal relative has died, praising Jackson and ignoring his transgressions, or they're making crass jokes and focusing only on the bad things he's done. It seems to be that way with most things in life these days, and it's a shame.
The truth is that Jackson has made some of the greatest pop music the world has ever known, and is probably one of the top 5 most recognizable faces in the world. A lot of you around my age grew up listening to his music and watching his videos on MTV.
Unfortunately there's also another side to Jackson, including multiple allegations of child molestation, the strange fetish he seemed to have with plastic surgery, and his increasingly bizarre mental state. Don't forget that he does have children, and only time will tell the extent that his behavior has effected their well being.
As horror fans, a group that generally likes their movies dark and their music darker, Jackson has always been an anomaly. Most horror fans would rather be caught dead than seen jamming out to say "Remember The Time", but then there's the inescapable fact that the man made "Thriller". A groundbreaking music video of its time which was a bonafide love-letter to horror films, directed by American Werewolf's John Landis, and featuring a cameo from no less than Vincent Price himself.
We all grew up watching this video. If you're like me, you look it up on Youtube every Halloween or pop in a dusty copy of the old "Making Of" VHS that was released in the late 1980's. For many of us it has become part of what shaped us as young horror fans, and for myself, it will always be what I remember him most for.
Which is not to say that I will forget about the other details of his life. I would like to think that we live in an intelligent enough society that we can take everything into account when remembering someone like Jackson. Whether or not that happens (and signs are already pointing to "No"), Jackson will always present a strange conundrum for horror fans. At least Vincent Price will be getting a lot of face time over the next few days, a potentially odd side effect from the deluge of coverage that has already begun. Feel free to leave your own thoughts/memories in the comments.
(I was going to embed Thriller here but Youtube has disabled embedding on all of his videos)