All I can say is WOW. I am still reeling 5 days after seeing Michael Jackson’s This Is It. I can’t seem to get it out of my head… I struggle to even write a review of it, as the experience was more visceral than anything for me, making it incredibly hard to put into words.
I’ll begin by placing myself on the continuum of Michael’s fans. I’m not an MJ obsesser, nor am I a MJ hater. I like to think of myself as an MJ Appreciator. Thanks for letting me get that out of the way up front.
I realized after his death that the mere mention of Michael Jackson made me quite uncomfortable. Opinions were so disparate and I felt like I had to make a case as to whether the value of the contributions of his music outweighed the negative impact of his misunderstood behavior. To like him was to defend that he was sane. To not like him was to deny the quality and impact of his work.
For me, the movie provided the resolution I needed to this internal conflict. It was a stunning compilation of his final project, portrayed in a very raw, intimate way. It was impossible to deny his innate talent when watching the film – even at age 50, his gift as a musician shone just as brightly as the video footage of when he was 20. Even the dancers were struggling to keep pace!
When you stripped away the hype of his personal life and just focused on his ability to make music, it was impossible not to be moved. He knew his songs backwards and forwards and was a step ahead of all the other supporting performers. Other than the emaciated look of his body (which was hard to ignore), nothing else suggested that he was incapable of executing this tour. And so it was with immense joy that I just sat in my seat and let his music wash over me. I lingered over memories that his music brought up and found myself clapping in between songs along with the rest of the theater. It was incredibly therapeutic to embrace him for all that he was (good and bad) and mourn that I wouldn’t get to enjoy any more of his music.
I had always secretly hoped that Michael would go out on top. I wanted him to be remembered for his contribution to music, not the tabloids. And as I walked out of the theater with a wide smile on my face, I was relieved to realize that somehow this movie made it all right. In the space of that 2 hours, all was right with the world. So go to the movie, all you lovers and haters, and make your peace with MJ. It’s time to put this debate to rest.
In closing, I leave you with one of my favorite MJ medleys by Sam Tsui: