June 26, 2009

Child Stars

The unexpected passing of Michael Jackson quickly upstaged the expected passing of Farrah Fawcett. I suspect for years there will be speculation that the Three Kings; him, Elvis, and the Lizard King wander not the Orient, but convenient stores in the midwest, never aging, but specters of Madame Tussaud's visions.

I remember watching the Jackson 5 cartoon and singing along with ABC, it seemed as easy as 123. Then in high school, Thriller hit the charts and no school dance was ever the same. We all tried pathetically to moonwalk while wearing zippered jackets and parachute pants. As if we could capture the mystique that was MJ.

Then, he got weird. Really weird. He carved his face with plastic surgery, lightened his skin and appeared more and more androgynous each month. He married, divorced, dangled children from balconies, and built a Neverneverland tribute to his seeming lost childhood. Did he ever have a chance to be normal? He entertained us, but he always seemed like a lost soul. In his attempt to capture the youth he never had, he stole the youth of others. My skin crawled and my heart cried. The manchild was neither, he became one of the monsters from his Thriller video.

That's the thing with child stars. So few grow up to be adjusted adults. From Judy Garland to Robert Blake, from Danny Bonaduce to Britney Spears. These wind-up machine children who entertain adults are denied the very essence of who they are. They grow up lost, confused and exploited. They don't learn impulse control because the adults around them are so busy milking their money train they don't realize they're also building a future train wreck. It's tragic.

I guess all I can hope now is that Michael Jackson really does Rest In Peace. I don't know how he could.


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