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Lou Harry's A&E

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Arts & Entertainment, etc.

The further deification of Michael Jackson

March 8, 2011

We still don't know much of the summer music schedule or the big A&E events for the fall.

But we do know that the "Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour" will be coming to Conseco Fieldhouse next February.  The show--the creation of the Cirque du Soleil folks and Madonna's creative director Jamie King--promises "a unique view into the spirit, passion and heart of the artistic genius who forever transformed global pop culture." It takes place "in a fanastical realm where we discover Michael's inspirational Giving Tree--the wellspring of his creativity."

Whatever the merits of the show turn out to be (and I look forward to seeing anything that comes from the Cirque minds), I continue to be a little baffled by the deification of Michael Jackson.

Yes, I know, he was phenomenally popular, an amazing dancer, a singular singer, and a trend-setter.

But his reign at the top (not to downplay his earlier solo work or his Jackson 5 years, of course) lasted from about 1982--with the release of "Thriller"--through about 1988, when "Bad" singles stopped getting to the top of the charts. (Quick: Name a song from 1991's "Dangerous" besides "Back or White"?) 

After that, he became a national joke, better known for dangling babies and fighting court cases than for creating music.

Yes, I know, Jackson was creating a comeback tour when he died. But the contrast between the popular attitude before and after has been jarring. I can still appreciate what Jackson pulled off musically when he was on fire. But everything he created wasn't gold (I'm looking at you, "Captain Eo." And even Elvis didn't squander his creative capital the way Jackson did. 

My question: What am I missing? Yes, he achieved a popularity in the music business unlikely--in an increasingly segmented world--to ever be seen again. But what did he actually create in the last 15 years of his life besides source material for late-night comics? 

And am I alone in thinking calling the show "The Immortal" is a little much? The Cirque Beatles show was at least, humbly, called "Love."

Your thoughts?

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