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Hilton Als: Michael

Als describes Jackson as a calcified figure towards the end of his career. Never again to become more than what shaped him. Als classifies Michael as white girl because of the sexuality he alluded to in his earlier work. Als cites the fact Michael would “date” young starlets and trail around singers such as Dianna Ross and embody their personalities. They were him in a sense and it is this Als goes further to explain why he is calcified.

While reading this essay I had a difficult time completely following his argument. I thought back to the album XSCAPE, released in 2014 after his death and the somewhat emotional yet lyrically empty song featured on it “Love Never Felt So Good”.  I agree that this example was evidence of a artist at a standstill while still moving forward but the aforementioned song was also a draft not meant to be released to the public. As a person Michael was seen as eccentric and odd but also childlike. Though there is mention of his possible inappropriate relationships with children nothing is made out of it. I often thought one of the most interesting aspects of him as a person was the child-like persona he meticulously crafted both in his high-pitched voice and with his Neverland estate.

The mental immaturity is not explored by Als and this is not a critique of his not exploring it but it made me more think more about that aspect of Jackson. I think it would not have fit in the narrative but I also think it is also fair game of evidence that Jackson was calcified. I would argue he was calcified long before as a child and I would argue Neverland and his apparent need for young companions is proof. Als focuses on his music that was once an anthem for many gay men had then become more popish and devoid of the undertones it was known for because Michael was not Michael without a +1.

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