Michael Jackson was loved and idolized throughout the world, but wasn’t numb to suffering as other human beings would. Although he was once known as the King of Pop, Michael can be considered a tragic hero. His lack of self-confidence, sexual molestation charges (for which he was acquitted), and the loss of a happy childhood likely led him to an addiction to painkillers which caused him to die earlier than expected.
Michael’s self-confidence was weak from the start. At 5 years old, Michael joined his family group, known as the Jackson 5 and immediately impressed audiences. Due to his striking range and depth, he became the groups lead vocalist. His father, Joseph Jackson, was passionate about his sons’ success. He was particularly hard on Michael because of the potential he saw in him. His father was known to become violent and short tempered with his kids, forcing them to spend endless hours rehearsing and polishing up their act. Their hard work payed off which lead to the Jackson 5 becoming famous immediately. The group and their father were infatuated with the positive responses except for Michael. He was the most talented of the group but ironically was a quiet person off stage. He never seemed to feel comfortable with media attention and giving interviews. Despite his shyness, when the Jackson 5 split up in 1979, Michael continued a solo career. For the next few years Michael’s career prospered. His first album made Top 10 Hits, he received Grammy Award nominations, earned several Guinness World Records, and he made it to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but none of these accomplishments seemed to change the person he was off stage. Along with being shy, Michael was noticeably self conscious about his appearance. At his career peak in 1984, he signed a $5 million commercial deal with Pepsi-Cola, and was badly injured while filming. He suffered burns to his face and scalp but got plastic surgery to disguise the scars. This event triggered his recession; Michael started abusing the pain killers prescribed after surgery, and started experimenting with more plastic surgeries. His identity drastically altered from all the procedures. He and his children would appear in public hiding their faces under surgical masks and veils is just further evidence that proves his attempts to cope with his insecurities.
In the late 1980’s, Michael bought a ranch in California that he referred to as “Neverland” and made it his fantasy home. The ranch had amusement rides that he sometimes opened for children’s events, and it had many exotic pets. It seemed Michael used the ranch as an attempt to recreate his unhappy childhood, but might have unknowingly taken it too far. During this time, Michael released new albums. While his music continued to leave listeners intrigued, his actions began to defeat his reputation. Rumors started that Michael would have sleepovers with adolescent boys in his “Neverland” ranch, served them wine and molested them. The police investigated, but found no evidence to support the rumors. Shortly after this, Michael married and divorced different women twice, resulting in the birth of his two children. Fans claim he married these women as a way to regain his innocence and respect from the public. Michael received full custody of both his children, but his odd behavior still continued. Michael’s reputation suffered a dramatic decline, but his music continued to sell. In a later conversation, Michael admitted to having sleepovers with children at his ranch. Even after the previous accusations, he said he would have some of the children sleep in his bed with him. In an attempt to justify his immoral actions, he said things like “Why can’t you share your bed? That’s the most loving thing, to share your bed with someone”. The actions he took despite the consequences, prove he was determined to relive a happier childhood.
The final months of Michael Jackson’s life consisted of a different lifestyle than he had in the past. Unfortunately, Michael’s insecurities got the best of him and took over his judgement. He had to sleep in the bed he made for himself and accept the consequences of his earlier actions. He no longer had financial security because he had to pay off his legal bills and other debts. Michael no longer had the original appearance that he was born with and began to look odd. He was trying to make a major come back and perform a concert, his “This is it Tour,” to capture the love of his audience one last time. Before he could again be the star that he was in the past, he suffered from cardiac arrest as a side effect from painkillers and other drugs he was abusing. The world lost a talented individual on June 25, 2009, due to failure of appreciation of the prior “wake up calls” he
experienced that could have prevented this tragedy.