anne_mikolay_120Michael Jackson’s memorial service at the Staples Center in Los Angeles was, for the most part, a moving tribute to the man’s legacy. However, there were some things during the service that were somewhat incongruent, and smacked of celebrity self-indulgence.

Jackson’s grieving family, friends, and fans were joined at the Staples Center by celebrity publicity seekers who often looked out of place at the dignified service. For example, Mariah Carey’s choice of funeral attire, a slinky black dress with plunging neckline, was in striking contrast to the tasteful attire of Jackson’s sisters, brothers, and children. During the performance of “We Are The World,” those in mourning, intent on honoring a man they loved and admired, stood side-by-side with performers who were obviously tickled pink to be on stage, and on camera, at the Staples Center. Paris Jackson’s public farewell to her father, and the instinctive, protective circle the family formed around her, was deeply moving. Reverend Al Sharpton’s address to the Jackson children, however, despite the audience’s enthusiastic reception, was not.

The Reverend said: “I want his three children to know, wasn’t nothing strange about your daddy. It was strange what you daddy had to deal with, but he dealt with it.”

The word “strange” paired with the word “daddy” is not exactly an appropriate offering of comfort. The Jackson children have lived a sheltered, pampered life, apart from the “real” world, and might not be aware that some people regarded their father as “strange.” Was their father’s memorial service the proper place to tell them? To suggest to the surviving children that the deceased was something other than the loving father they adored, or “strange,” showed poor judgment. Was Sharpton seeking to offer comfort, or seeking self-indulgent applause? Compare his words to the touching eulogy offered by Brooke Shields. As always, one’s character speaks volumes through one’s words. (Note to Reverend Jackson: the use of a double negative, “wasn’t nothing,” created a positive; in effect, you yourself called Michael Jackson strange.)

I learned a few things from the Michael Jackson Memorial Service. In watching the Jackson children, I realized that, despite varied public opinion of their father, to them he was  “daddy,” a beloved father, and while the world dissects the man’s life, his children mourn his loss. I realized that in death, Michael Jackson has achieved mega-icon status that will never fade, and that he remains, sadly, an income producing commodity for many. I learned that someone you love can be honored in very simple or very lavish ways (the simple, single, glittery glove worn by each of Michael Jackson’s brothers, versus Jackson’s solid bronze, 14-Karat gold plated, $25,000 coffin).

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Jackson Pines and Cranston Dean in residency at Langosta Lounge in Asbury Park
Jackson Pines and Cranston Dean at Langosta

More importantly, I learned that I will miss the Michael Jackson of my youth, that cute little guy who sang higher, and danced better, than anyone else, that young man with such talent and promise. The music world is diminished by his loss.

That stated, I will follow my own previous advice to the media, and let Michael Jackson go. May the man find his peace. May the rest of the world let him.

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Anne Mikolay

Anne M. Mikolay joined The Atlantic Highlands Herald as a columnist in 2008. Prior to penning “The Armchair Critic,” Anne wrote feature articles for The Monmouth Journal. Her work has appeared in national...