Michael Jackson First Anniversary Retrospective: June 25th 2009 – June 25th 2010
By Kate Allen
‘It’s been a year already’ – the phrase and sentiment we’re all going to be hearing and saying come 25th June. And this article is no different. The first year in a world without Michael Jackson has passed by frighteningly fast; so what’s changed over the past 365 days for us as MJ fans? Has the role and perception of Michael Jackson fans changed now that Michael has sadly and prematurely gone?
It certainly appeared that the aftermath of 25th June, 2009 showed that it was more than okay to be a Michael Jackson fan once again; I have encountered hostility for being an avid MJ fan since my school days, I cannot be sure that this is a common case for other MJ fans, but the media’s coverage of the saddest day imaginable – the day the music truly died – proved that Michael was still unquestionably the most famous figure on the planet. It may be a rather cold and detached method to gauge public interest for a figure we hold so dear, but the number of people searching for news on Michael on 25th June was so vast that it crashed Google News.
The news and media coverage over the following days again proved that the interest in Michael was there as documentaries were quickly (and somewhat shoddily) put together and memorial magazines flooded the shelves. But was there true care and compassion behind these multimedia tributes? I’m sceptical: minimal research went into many news reports, a key example being on GMTV news when they showed the first clip that was released of Michael in rehearsal for his ‘This Is It’ shows. They claimed he was practising a ‘not very well known or famous song.’ The song in question was ‘They Don’t Care About Us’ – seems rather fitting. Furthermore many of the ‘special commemorative’ magazines that appeared overnight were produced by publishing houses who also print weekly gossip magazines that did anything but support Michael over the years, and printed pictures of a young Randy Jackson with captions calling him ‘Michael’ – basic research and editorial practices went out the window as the media fell over themselves to take money from grieving fans. Needless to say, I didn’t waste my time even looking at the Michael Jackson 36 page special in last weekend’s Sunday News of the World. Plus with libel not being applicable to the deceased, disparaging stories quickly resurfaced once more.
However, what was even more prominent was the resurgence in sales of Michael’s music. It was inevitable as radio play-lists and music TV stations filled their airtime with Michael’s art once again. By the end of 2009, Michael had sold 31 million albums worldwide and 2.8 million single downloads. To put an anecdote to these figures, a week after Michael’s death I was in a branch of HMV and saw two children, no older than six or seven, run as fast as they could to grab the last copy of ‘Bad’ on the shop shelf. In fact, it was the last Jackson album left in the store. It was heart warming to say the very least, but I couldn’t help but feel that this sudden outpouring of appreciation for the happiness Michael’s talent and genius gave so many for so many years all came too late. Just like the countless celebrity statements that swamped news reports for months following, expressing their love and admiration for Michael – they came too late. Where were these people when Michael needed someone, anyone, to speak up and make a positive statement about him? Why did it take the end of Michael Jackson’s life for people to realise his true worth?
However, for those of us already dedicated to Michael, an interesting divide began to emerge: the fans who were mourning and those who were searching for answers and evidence of a death hoax plot. As with the death of any superstar, from Princess Diana to Elvis Presley, hoax theories emerged. Diana Jean, a contributor to www.seeingclues.blogspot.com went from believing that ‘Michael was truly gone’ to studying ‘the strange “coincidences” surrounding his death’ when the Michael Jackson Death Hoax website emerged quicker than a funeral or burial. Diana points out that there is plenty of variation amongst the MJ Death Hoax community as to the reasoning behind Michael faking his own death, but Diana believes ‘it’s either for an ultimate come back or to live a normal life. Michael has in the past he talked a lot about “making a comeback” or if you look back at his life you would notice that he’s a very lonely person who can’t do anything without being criticized and slandered by the media.’
Diana also points to various popular pieces of supposed evidence for Michael still being alive; the fact that Michael’s middle name is stated to be ‘Joseph’ on his death certificate and will, whereas his full name is stated as ‘Michael Joe Jackson’ on his passport, driver’s license and previous legal documents. Also, the ‘famous ambulance shot’ was taken by and belongs to a photo agency founded by a man called Ben Evansted who is actually friends with Michael Jackson. There are pictures of him and Michael together on the internet and it’s very clear they had a relationship. Also, the morning of June 25th 2009 Evansted had a photographer already at Michael’s house before the ambulance arrived. Since Michael and Ben were friends, it’s possible they made a deal.’ Plus, with Michael’s name missing from the Grammy’s ‘In Memoriam’ 2009 list, Diana argues that ‘many people thought that because Michael had his own memorial during the show, he didn’t need to be mentioned in the list. But Les Paul also had his own memorial and was also listed in the “In Memoriam” segment. At the end of Les Paul’s memorial they had a big “1915-2009” on the stage. At the end of Michael’s memorial there was only pictures of him, but nothing indicating that he had passed away.’ The search continues.
On the other side of the coin are the fans who have accepted that Michael has passed away and are now coming to terms with it. In order to help fellow fans with this healing process The Official Michael Jackson Fans of Southern California visit Holly Terrace at Forest Lawn Glendale once a month to deliver flowers, letters and gifts for Michael that are sent to them from fans worldwide. As Amy from MJFSC explains, ‘Forest Lawn is open to the public. Holly Terrace is not. We are allowed to visit the building area, but not allowed inside. It’s a beautiful and peaceful place to visit. We are honored and never take it for granted that we are so close [to Michael] and can do so much for Michael, justice, love, his family and the fans. We are blessed to be able to be part of it.’
So whether 25th June is a time of mourning or searching for you, rest assured that you are most certainly not alone. Let the day not be the sole time we remember and commemorate Michael Jackson, but instead just another day of our lives that we miss Michael; celebration of Michael’s life should not be restricted to one day of the year. I’ll leave you with a few lines from ‘One Day In Your Life’ – the only Michael song that I haven’t been able to bring myself to listen to since this time last year. The lyrics say it all:
One day in your life
When you find that you’re always waiting
For the love we used to share
Just call my name
And I’ll be there
You’ll remember me somehow
Though you don’t need me now
I will stay in your heart
And when things fall apart
You’ll remember one day