Recently I participated in a blog discussion about the social and cultural impact of Michael Jackson, the man and his art. I was posting comments on someone else’s blog – the author and their interviewee come from academic backgrounds, as well as being genuine MJ fans.
My own ‘qualifications’ (other than also being a fan) are purely as a mature age student through the Open University. I don’t have a degree and am never likely to unless higher education becomes much more affordable (or free) – but as things are, I have chosen to spend my savings on travel. This therefore limits my ability to participate in some discussions from a sufficiently qualified perspective.
However, I felt that my experience as a former environmental activist with an international organization, as well as my ‘world-view’ meant that I could add intelligently to the discussion. I subsequently got so caught up in stating my point of view on the topic that I ended up feeling quite frustrated, and finally withdrew from participation on the blog.
Many of you have probably been in a similar situation – and it is important to emphasise that everyone commenting on this particular blog post was arguing for what I consider ‘right’ and ‘valid’ reasons. Rather I was frustrated by what I perceived as the narrow focus of their argument. It seemed that Michael’s creative output was being assessed in terms of a single issue, rather than the broader context I felt was required.
In my attempt to get across my own point of view, I sort of forgot that we were all on the same side in the debate. We were all ‘good people’ who were participating in the discussion with the best intentions i.e. we all want Michael’s art appropriately acknowledged as impacting and influencing social change for a better world.
Some of us have a different focus or perspective – that is only natural. Michael’s fan base, academic or otherwise, is global. We can all only argue effectively about what we know. It isn’t possible for us to ‘walk a mile’ in everyone else’s shoes to truly appreciate where they are coming from when they express a point of view.
Sometimes, in wanting desperately to help ‘make that change’ we lose sight of something important – Michael Jackson was first and foremost an entertainer; it was his art that brought him to world attention. He believed it was incumbent on him to use his art as a medium for advocating social change. The music, the dancing, the short films – these are his ‘contributions’ to improving the human condition, and they have stood the test of time.
As fans who want to promote Michael’s invaluable offerings as tools for social change we occasionally need to step back from the heat of debate to enjoy those offerings.
We – I – just need to remember to be tolerant and respect the informed arguments of others. And, if necessary, take a breather and reconsider. It certainly helps to TURN UP THE MUSIC or, even better, watch the spotlights highlighting Michael’s fluid moves as he performs in concert in his HIStory tour gold pants!
This may not be the cure for everything – my frustrations with certain debates included – but it comes pretty close!
“You and I were never separate
It’s just an illusion
Wrought by the magical lens of
– Michael Jackson, “Heaven is Here” (1)
Article © by Kerry Hennigan
Originally published on Facebook, 12 August 2015
(1) Michael Jackson, “Dancing the Dream” Doubleday (1992)