So, that was it-what a final show. Now when Michael bumps into Princess Diana in that great big eighties theme night in the sky and during a Duran Duran slow set the topic of funerals comes up, MJ can hold his head up high. Yes, Diana may have been coronated the Queen of Hearts and serenaded by an Elton John with a twitchy eyebrow but Jackson has just been ordained saviour of the world.
Turns out he was not only the greatest entertainer ever known, best friends with Brooke Shields and a lover of KFC; he was also the most generous humanitarian of his generation. Yes, the man who blew his fortune on the type of crap you’d usually see for sale in pound shops except it cost millions was actually a charity man. The money he donated to hospital wings , the foundations he established, the secret donations he slipped in impoverished bank accounts, like a moon walking Father Christmas, was probably nearly, nearly as much as he spent on private funfairs, personal zoos, big vases and awkward lawsuits. His philanthropy to the legal professions must mean he has at least a library dedicated to him by now somewhere, albeit in a very, very specific legal field. And that is before we get onto the innovations his patronage funded in the field of cosmetic surgery. Where were their representatives? I think in honour of their role in his life they should have taken his beautiful gold casket at the start of the performance and then in a big reveal at the very end, brought it back completely and utterly bashed up, misshapen and unrecognisable; it’s sadly what he would have paid for.
Cynicism aside, it was heart warming to see so many celebrities singing their devotion to him. He was loved, they trilled, they’d be there, they warbled, he was not alone, they promised, I’m sure the singer who died, let’s be honest, most definitely alone-ish, surrounded by paid yes men, drugged up the eyeballs and broke would have appreciated the sentiments.
What was missing in consistency was made up in sheer God Bless America, Uncle Sam, this is the best goddam country on Earth chutzpah. There was nothing reserved, quiet or reticent about this affair. Get the cute pictures of him as a kid, book the gospel choir and finish with his daughter sobbing that she loved her Dad, we are going to have emotions and we are going to enjoy then. Mariah was there, clearly moved and actually fully dressed so you know she meant business, then there was Usher, proving what a talented singer Michael was by boring us to death with his version of “Gone too Soon”, then there was the mighty Jennifer Hudson, The “Dream Girls” star who’s let’s remember entire family had been murdered in the past year, brave, beautiful, belting out a classic and oh my days pass the tissues, heavily pregnant. I now love Jennifer Hudson, with a sincerity I thought only Jo Wood could inspire. She makes me wish I could turn into a one woman gospel choir and just follow her all the time around just bigging her up. She summed up what the service had that was so thrilling- big old embarrassing, non ironic, sincere emotion. People wanted to love Michael, and now dead, it no longer matters what he was really like, he can become whatever they want him to mean. If a broken, lost man can be reclaimed as a symbol of love and inspiration to millions, than so be it. I just wouldn’t like to be the little boys that accused him of molestation or their families as they watch his canonisation.
I cannot imagine the same thing working in the UK. The British just don’t do non ironic displays of emotions and passionate declaration in their faith in God. Americans have Kanye rapping about Jesus, the UK has everybody wishing Cliff Richard shut up. Even with Princess Diana, we were more upset that she had been messed about in her life than we were celebrating her magnificence. In the US, they know for certain that MJ is enjoying salvation in the Lord, in the UK we knew for certain that Prince Charles would be feeling like a complete shit. MJ’s bother urged us to smile through our fear and sadness, Diana’s started laying into the Queen. When Britain’s closest pop equivalent, Paul McCartney dies, which he will one day, those perky aloft thumbs won’t save him forever, the most he can expect is a BBC special, a barrage of Heather Mills jokes and possibly a drum solo from Ringo. Keep munching those vegetables Paul.