Janet Jackson and Madonna both paid tribute to Michael at the Video Music Awards last night.
Firstly, Madonna took to the stage right at the beginning of the show. Dressed in black, she spoke from the heart as she compared their childhoods. They were the same age, both came from the Midwest. She was six when she lost her mother, but she said at the same age Michael lost his childhood. She continued by saying that he was one of the greatest talents she had ever known, with a voice at the age of eight, that could move adults to tears.
She continued by saying that he could move his body like Fred Astaire and Mohammed Ali. That he’d performed in soccer stadiums, sold hundreds of millions of records and dined with Prime Ministers and Presidents and that girls loved him and boys loved him.
She spoke of his shyness and insecurity and how she had invited him to have dinner with her. She drove them both to a restaurant, and asked him to take off his dark glasses and in response, he threw them out of the car window and said “Is that better? Can you see me now?” They later watched a movie at her house where he held her hand, but she knew that he wanted a friend, rather than a romance, and she was happy to oblige. She then explained that they went out a few more times but then lost contact.
Madonna continued by saying that Michael had become the target of one negative story after another and the ‘witch-hunt’ had began.
“I felt his pain,” she said. “I know what it’s like to walk down the street and feel like the whole world has turned against you. I know what it’s like to feel helpless and unable to defend yourself because the roar of the lynch mob is so loud that you are convinced your voice can never be heard.
When I first heard that Michael had died I was in London, days away from the opening of my tour. Michael was going to perform in the same venue as me a week later. All I could think about in that moment was that I had abandoned him. That we had abandoned him. That we had allowed this magnificent creature that once set the world on fire to somehow slip through the cracks. While he was trying to build a family and rebuild his career, we were all busy passing judgment. Most of us had turned our backs on him.”
Madonna ended her tribute by saying; “He was a king. But he was also a human being and alas, we are all human beings and sometimes we have to lose things before we can truly appreciate them. I want to end this on a positive note and say that my sons, age 9 and 4, are obsessed with Michael Jackson. There’s a whole lot of crotch-grabbing and moonwalking going on in my house, and it seems like a whole new generation of kids has discovered his genius and are bringing him to life again. I hope that wherever Michael is now, he is smiling about this.
Yes, yes Michael Jackson was a human being, but dammit, he was a king. Long live the king!”
When Madonna had left the stage, many dancers appeared dressed in various Michael outfits and began dancing to ‘Thriller’ then ‘Smooth Criminal’. The ‘Scream’ video appeared at the back of the set and then Janet Jackson took to the stage and began her tribute to her brother.
It was inventive, because as she danced, the video was playing on a giant screen behind her, but her image from the original video had been removed, so that Michael was alone on the screen, as she was alone on the stage. Yet they appeared to be dancing together. Her performance was full of passion and very emotional. The audience was obviously moved and receptive to the tribute paid to Michael by his younger sister.
At the end of the awards show, the trailer for Michael’s ‘This Is It’ documentary film was shown reminding us not only that Michael’s no longer with us, but that we have all missed out on an amazing show!