Don’t knock the gloved one

Everyone is talking about Michael Jackson these days. We are about to go to war with Iraq, yet the covers of the newspapers feature Jackson’s antics and “Joe Millionaire” sweetheart, Zora on a regular basis. If the King of Pop is the talk of the town, what is stopping me from giving into the temptation, as well? Absolutely nothing.

He loves water balloon fights and climbing trees. Covering the faces of Prince, Pony and Blanket (his children) is a priority. He also thinks serving milk and cookies to young children as they snuggle into his bed is a beautiful thing.

I guess Mike has some problems, but what the hell does any of that have to with the fact that he is one of the greatest performers of all time? If you asked me, I would say nothing. I don’t care if Jackson has had 2,000 surgeries on his face or if he does live with scores of monkeys. He is still – and will always be – the man who brought us “Thriller.”

No matter who you are, you have listened to and enjoyed a Jackson tune at least once in your life. Whether you flat-out purchased his albums for your own collection or sang along with Alien Ant Farm when their cover of “Smooth Criminal” flooded the airwaves, you have let Michael enter your musical life.

There is no need to be ashamed – M.J. is amazing. The bizarre thing is, before any of this “scandal” came to light, people were embarrassed to admit they didn’t like Jackson. Teenagers in 1987, modern-day Germans and my housemate Lisa all share an unparalleled love for the gloved wonder. Are they ashamed? Hell, no, and you shouldn’t be either.

Everyone has personal problems, but did anyone see Jackson seriously break it down in his 30th anniversary special? I thought the white and frail remains of the man would not even be able to stand up, let alone perform all of the Jackson 5 hits with the same fervor he showed when he was a young boy with an afro. So what if he is a little crazy? No one can do a spin-slide combo like him.

I can’t think of a popular artist today who does not mention Jackson as an influence in his career. His eloquent execution of innovative dance moves have impacted modern choreography more than any one wants to admit. His white tube sock-stuffed black loafers glide effortlessly over any type of surface. I am convinced Jackson could moonwalk on a tar pit and make it look flawless. He is like liquid in motion moving to the beat.

The trick is to replace everything ridiculous you have heard about Mike with a fond memory of the Jackson he used to be. When you hear about him hanging his baby over a hotel balcony, think “ABC.” When allegations of child abuse start to fly, think “Beat It.” And when Jackson proclaims his hero is Peter Pan, think “Man in the Mirror.” Eventually you will start to realize that for every rumor and eccentricity there is a moment of greatness to back it up. For me, “Billie Jean” is way more important than what Martin Bashir has to uncover any day. So, Jackson, in the words of Jimi Hendrix, “Let your freak flag fly.”