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06. Michael Jackson's Fans Need to Get A Life?

I came across this video the other day of Donny Deutsch, an American businessman, author and television personality, talking about Michael Jackson’s death.  Please watch the video before you read on. 

Let me preface this by saying that Donny Deutsch is an amazing businessman. In addition to hosting his popular show on CNBC, The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch, he is also the Chairman of Deutsch Inc., a 2.5 billion dollar ad agency and he serves on the board of directors for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. Having said that, he clearly does not understand the impact Michael Jackson has had on the world.

He expresses his disbelief about the level of attention Michael received when he died, comparing his death to other people who passed away that have made an impact in the world. “In the last few days there are other Americans that have died,” Deutsch said. “Kenneth Russell…he flew 253 combat missions in three wars; Sylvia Levin…she registered more than 47,000 voters 6 days a week; Lieutenant Brian Bradshaw, fighting for his country in Afghanistan.”

He went on to say, “He was a wonderful singer and dancer. That’s what he was. He brought music to us. But I would have thought I was watching one of the great world leaders of all time and I think as a country we’ve lost our way a little bit.” I beg to differ. 

Michael Jackson wasn’t just “a wonderful singer and dancer,” he was also a great humanitarian. He was passionate about healing the world and making it a better place and he truly understood the concept of giving back. He gave hundreds of millions of dollars to charities and used his global fame as a force for humanitarian causes around the world.

However, his most significant achievement is the loyalty he managed to create with his fan base, which numbers in the millions. Loyalty promotes long-term devotion, and it comes from making people feel like they matter. With loyalty comes commitment. His fans were there in good times and bad, and his appreciation of that did not go unspoken. He made his fans feel like family and those actions have compelled people all over the world to make a difference in his name in ways that most people don’t even know about.   

One of the things fans are doing now is carrying on his humanitarian work, helping people in need, such as Joshua, a young boy who received the devastating diagnosis of Leukemia on the same day his family had tickets to go see This Is It. Fans all over the world rallied together to help him and his family. Gifts, donations, and prayers were abundantly sent to them in the name of Michael Jackson. Thankfully, he has been officially declared “in remission.”

Then there is Treasure, a young girl with vascular malformation of the tongue, who Randy Jackson helped. Fans came together and donated to the non-profit foundation her mother set up to help other children with this affliction.  

Hundreds of humanitarian organizations have been created because of him as well. One such organization is A Million Trees for Michael, created by a fan named Trisha Franklin, to plant trees in his honor. Michael loved trees and cared deeply about the planet, so her mission is to have a Michael Jackson Memorial Forest on every continent.  She inspired fans by saying, “What if we could plant millions of trees for him, all over the world, and make a significant contribution to the welfare of the world?”  Fans have had over 21,000 trees planted in Michael’s honor to date. 

There is also the Voices Education Words and Violence Project, created by educators, education advocates, and fans of Michael Jackson, to address the subject of violence toward others using words, spoken or written. They have developed a curriculum in memory of Michael Jackson and Lady Diana Spencer (both of whom were subjected to that kind of cruelty) to educate kids of all ages about the effect hurtful words can have on another person. 

The Michael Jackson Tribute Portrait, a one-of-a-kind art project uniting fans in more than 180 countries, started an initiative called Michael's Angels in an effort to inspire fans to carry on Michael Jackson’s humanitarian work by helping various organizations in need. Since its inception fans have contributed to many causes that were close to Michael’s heart: helping kids at various schools get the supplies they need, bringing toys to children in hospitals to brighten their day, and doing things to take care of the planet. 

More than two years after Michael’s death fans are still actively doing things to make the world a better place because of him. Uniting together to help famine relief in the Horn of Africa and donating to causes like the street kids of Haiti, where children have been subjected to slavery, humiliation, beatings and rapes. That’s just a very small sample of the thousands of things happening in this world because of Michael Jackson. 

The love he showed his fans created such a strong loyalty that many people now work tirelessly in spreading his truth, resulting in top-rated international websites being created, such as Deborah Kunesh’s Reflections on the Dance. Others have dedicated their time, talent, and resources to getting justice served in his death. Some have even formed groups such as CADEFLAW to enact a law that would provide an avenue of legal recourse for family members when a deceased loved one is the object of defamation.  

The relationship between Michael and his fans is one that is hard for some people to understand as Deutsch’s next statement suggests: “People were crying in the streets that don’t know him. They need to maybe get a little bit of a life.” But those people who were crying in the streets are just proof that you don’t have to know someone in order to have an impact on them. Not only do the fans of Michael Jackson have a life, but they are using it make a difference in others’ lives. 

That loyalty to Michael has also resulted in fans stopping slanderous books from being published about him, preventing a documentary about his autopsy from airing, and getting his name uncovered from the Gardner Street Elementary School Auditorium, in addition to keeping his music alive and spreading his message of love. 

Mr. Deutsch didn’t think Michael Jackson changed lives. Not only has he changed lives but I have personally spoken to fans who have credited him for saving their lives. A young woman I wrote about previously told me that she wouldn’t be alive today if it weren’t for Michael Jackson.

If more people could grasp the significance of what he did with his fan base and apply it in their lives, businesses, families, and countries, this world would be a much better place. He knew that what all people need at the most basic fundamental level is to know they matter – as fans, as employees, as customers, as family members, as citizens…as human beings. 

In his speech at Oxford University in 2001 he said, “Before you know if you have red hair or brown, before you know if you are black or white, before you know of what religion you are a part, you have to know that you are loved.” That’s what he did for his fans. 

My thoughts and prayers go out to the families mentioned in the video. Every life is valuable and I honor them with the utmost respect through this article, but Michael Jackson deserved every bit of love he received and is still receiving. He, too, was an American, and his dream to “unite the world through love and music” is being carried out through his fans. A true testament to the power of love. 

He may not have been a “world leader,” but Michael Jackson brought together people from countries all over the world, united them, and then inspired them to make it a better place. How many world leaders can say they’ve done that?

Linda Higgins
Director of Community Development

P.S. Donny Deutsch said that he doesn’t think music changes lives. Tell that to the artists in this video.  

If you can't view the video above CLICK HERE

© 2011, Linda Higgins, All Rights Reserved

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