On this date in 2009 — while you were in your office, or on an elliptical machine at the gym, or perhaps, as I was, driving home from work — you learned that Michael Jackson had died.
Whether you were a Jackson fan, a lapsed Jackson fan or a Jacko detractor, it was a major news event and one of the more significant celebrity deaths most of us will see in our lifetimes.
Which is why Jackson’s death will likely be a subject of conversation every June 25th from now until the end of time. Here’s a brief round-up of what’s being said today on the Internet about the legend who gave us “Thriller.”
■RIP Michael Jackson and RIPMJ have both been trending topics on Twitter, with tributes pouring in from everyone from Wiz Khalifa to Instagram to members of the Jackson family. Perhaps the most poignant entry comes from Jackson’s daughter, Paris:
RIP Michael Jackson .. Dad you will forever be in my heart <3 i love you— Paris Jacksoη (@ParisJackson) June 25, 2012
■Conrad Murray, the doctor convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Jackson’s death last November, appears in a video clip that was recorded in 2009 but released today by TMZ, in time for the anniversary of the singer’s passing. In it, Murray says he was not aware Jackson was addicted to any medications. He also says, “Next time you look in the mirror, before passing judgment or condemning someone, take a good look at yourself, and if you’re not 100% sure that when scrutinized no faults can be found, then you may have earned that right to criticize.” So, in summary, Conrad Murray is now asking us to talk with the man in the mirror so that we can change our ways.
■Jermaine Jackson tells the British newspaper the Independent that America has not done a very good job of memorializing his late brother. “I think America has let Michael down,” he said. “If he was from any other country they would have erected permanent tributes to him for what he’s done for music.”
The third oldest Jackson brother also connects the election of Barack Obama to MJ, via the transitive property of Oprah Winfrey. “Michael invited her [to Neverland] and that was the moment that put her in 90 countries around the world and made her successful. What did she do with that success? She put it behind Obama,” he explains. I’m going to give Jermaine Jackson the benefit of the doubt here and assume that what he said made a lot more sense in the context of a broader conversation with this Independent reporter. A) He’s obviously still grieving the loss and B) because I still enjoy “Tell Me I’m Not Dreaming.”
■Personally, I think the best way to remember Michael Jackson today is by recalling his impact as an artist via previous stories, photos and videos.
So read Vulture’s 2009 look at some of the best tribute to Jackson that circulated immediately after his death.
Or watch this video of Jackson fans in D.C. recreating the “Thriller” dance.
Or read the Post’s J. Freedom du Lac’s assessment of his music.
Or reconsider my and Liz Kelly’s attempts to process his death around the one-year anniversary of that sad event.
Or look at photos from his all-too-brief life.
Or just watch a very young Jackson with his brothers in the Jackson 5, performing on national television while wearing the flyest hat of all time and singing the bejeesus out of “Who’s Loving You.” (The Vietnamese translation is just an added bonus.)
As great as the “Off the Wall” and “Thriller” eras were, it’s the images of Jackson as a kid — when a whole long life of potential success and happiness still stretched out before him — that will always make me the saddest.