In his weekly blog, Fr Paddy Byrne reflects on Michael Jackson’s untimely death and the controversy that continues to surround him.Michael_Jackson

Fr Paddy Byrne has a weekly column in the Nationalist Papers.

This column appeared on 8 July 2009

The shocking news of Michael Jacksons untimely death spread like wildfire across news sites and social media networks. Even his passage from this life seemed to spark an air of drama and endless speculation. Michael Jackson will in death perhaps be as controversial as in life. Allegations of abuse and inappropriate behavior with minors have distanced many people from this tragic figure and no doubt victim from the cult of celebrity. Numerous tribute sites have appeared with posts praising Jacksons unique talent. A typical one talks of how the world has lost a great musical genius. Fans worldwide speak of Jackson as being the soundtrack to there teenage years and focus on his great contribution to the music industry. The memory of Michael Jackson has reached superhuman proportions. His fans are calling for a little perspective and mourn the fact that Jackson has no real childhood, was ill-treated as a youngster and paid a high price for his genius in creativity, bearing psychological scars and subject to media scrutiny for his entire life.

The problems associated with celebrity seem to have contributed to Michael Jacksons increased sense of isolation and vulnerability. People have a fascination with success, celebrity and beauty. There is no doubt that Michaels amazing voice, stunning performances and sheer passion for his craft endeared him to many. Its ironic that the unrelenting adoration led to the situation where he tried to escape the public gaze and, in latter years, became a mere shadow of his former self. The lesson of Michael Jacksons life is that people can indeed be famous but so very fragile. The gift he gave the world was his music that will continue to be legendary, his dance and his iconic image. His triumph turned so quickly to tragedy.

A climate of condemnation and rush judgment has also quickly followed since his death. Judgment about his life style, his extravagant spending and the allegations that have accompanied him now for decades. In reality, only God knows what went on in Michael Jacksons heart and mind. What the public saw was not the Micheal known and loved by those who were dear to him. In his short life he was also an active philanthropist. He was very involved in the Make a Wish, and Heal the World foundations. The music website, the Source.Com lists hundreds of charitable events and projects which involved Michael Jackson. They conclude with the statements With 750 million records sold, Michael Jackson has given more than $300 million to charities In a culture that has been consumed by celebrity and success perhaps this most vulnerable man reflects its dysfunctional legacy. His preoccupation with image and style masked the great wound that never was healed in his life. It might be an apt time to reflect on the words of Michael Jacksons Man in the Mirror

Im starting with the man in the mirror. Im asking to change his ways and no message could have been any clearer, if you wanna make the world a better place..Take a look at yourself and then make a change.