31. Why We Love Michael Jackson
With the passing of Michael Jackson, fans all over the world have joined together in a common purpose; to do justice for a man who experienced so much injustice. For some reason, this tends to baffle those outside of the MJ Community. They mock our loyalty, our dedication, and sometimes even our sanity. I’ve seen several references of fans being labeled "as crazy as he was."
They think we are crazy for loving a man who they criticized for his changing appearance. Maybe they don’t understand that the color of a man’s skin doesn’t make the man. We loved him when he had the appearance of a black man and we loved him when he had the appearance of a white man. His skin color was irrelevant to us. They don’t understand that we didn’t care how many plastic surgeries he did or didn’t have. That was a personal matter for him.
They don’t understand we weren’t bothered by his eccentricities, and his love of animals and children wasn’t strange to us. They don’t understand why we didn’t convict him in the court of public opinion. It’s because our opinion of him was based on his character, not lies. In the words of John Wooden "Your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are."
They wonder how we could still be caught up in "Michael Jackson." They can’t believe we still think about him every day. They are blown away by the fact that we can still get emotional about his death.
The love we have for him goes deeper than the admiration of an Icon. It has developed into a genuine respect for the man. Apart from his music, which speaks for itself, we admire the strength and resilience he exhibited in the face of challenges he encountered. His kindness, caring and compassion for humanity is something we all now strive to emulate, but most of all we love him because of how he made us feel.
Have you ever had anybody show you unconditional love? Have you ever been told directly and repeatedly that you are important? Have you ever had anybody dedicate their entire life to you? That’s what Michael did for us.
He understood the power of expressing love. It was his emotional interactions with us that made us feel like we mattered. Whether it was an excited wave outside his hotel window to a sea of fans, a heartfelt "I love you more" during a concert, or him singing so intensely that he broke down in tears on stage; those things had an impact on us.
Michael spoke the tenets of what he referred to as a "Children’s Bill of Rights," in his Oxford Speech in 2001; the first of which was "The right to be loved without having to earn it." He may not have realized it, but that’s also how he treated us.
He understood the significance of appreciating fans in a way that few other entertainers have grasped. It helped him become very successful, but the sacrifice that came with it is one that most others are unwilling to make. He couldn’t leave his house without being mobbed by fans, yet he didn’t let that stop him from showing love to them. Here are some examples:
At a trip to Disney World in 2002, he was mobbed after exiting the Peter Pan ride. With his entourage in tow, and his son Prince by his side, he took the time to stop and acknowledge some fans and sign autographs for them. (Click here to watch the video)
Another time, he was shopping for a birthday present at a mall with his daughter Paris, when he suddenly had a trail of people following him, all feverishly trying to get near him. Still, he was gracious and loving, reaching out to shake the hands of several fans, and once again expressing his love to them.
When he performed, he constantly expressed his appreciation verbally and physically to his fans. With a sweeping gesture of his arms and a hand held close to his heart, he would declare his undying love to us. He would let one girl come up on stage and spend a few minutes showering her with affection. A passionate embrace and a love song sung directly to her was a move so poignant that some girls would faint in his arms.
He didn’t only show his love to fans on stage. There were many times he expressed it in writing. In an excerpt in one such letter released to his fans via various fan clubs, he wrote: "I would like to thank you for the beautiful cards, photographs, messages, videos, and gifts sent to me on my birthday. I was overwhelmed by your kindness. Your continued love and support means so much to me. I really love and appreciate you all... from the bottom of my heart."
Even at his trial, he took the time to acknowledge the presence and love of his fans, much to the criticism of the press. One of his last gestures to his fans was during the planning stages of his concert This Is It. He wanted to sing the songs we wanted to hear, so he put up a website and let us decide which of his songs would be included in the show; a great way to illustrate who really mattered.
He gave so much to his fans, that we now feel an obligation to honor him with love. How each fan goes about that is different. Some feel they can best show their love by making sure the truth is told. Others feel a sense of responsibility to ensure justice is served in his death. His humanitarian work is carried out by fans who feel they can honor him best by continuing his work with children. Some fans simply want to spread his message of love. I feel I can honor him best by keeping him alive in the hearts of fans through my articles and videos. Jerry Biederman felt he could honor him best by organizing a tribute. David Ilan felt he could honor him best through his artwork. That’s why the Michael Jackson Tribute Portrait exists today.
To those of you who wonder why Michael Jackson’s fans are so loyal, it’s because he was loyal to us. If you question why we are so dedicated to him, it’s because he was dedicated to us. His constant love, acknowledgment and appreciation of his fans, has made a difference for people all over the world in ways outsiders couldn’t possibly know. Some fans have even credited him with saving their lives.
His sincerity in those gestures has created a bond with him and an allegiance to him that is unbreakable. It is a testament to the power of Love and it has left us with a feeling of gratitude that we will never forget.
That is why we love Michael Jackson!
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© 2010, Linda Higgins, All Rights Reserved
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