People who know me well (or who knew me when...) will not be surprised that I went to see This Is It yesterday when it opened. For those of you who don't recognize the movie by its title, it's the footage from Michael Jackson's rehearsals for his last concert series scheduled for London's O2 Theatre this year.
From interviews I've listened to and read, I believe MJ gave the concert this name because he intended for it to be his crowning achievement, a lasting legacy for his children and his fans. This girl believes it definitely would have been.
I was fortunate enough to see Michael in his heyday - 1988 for his Bad tour. (I still have the ticket stub - I paid a whopping $25 for the experience. Think of that....) He was everything you'd expect, and I remember the feeling I had just being in the same building with him. No matter what else you say about the man, you have to acknowledge his creative genius.
Bad was the last album of his that I bought. I didn't continue to follow him, except for the snippets of news I would get nightly on TV or in the headlines of my local paper. I was never able to form an opinion as to what I thought about the allegations of molestation that plagued him in the recent past. The teenager that fawned over him in the '80s couldn't conceive of the idea that he would hurt anyone. The mother I am now shivered at the thought of what he might have done with those kids. All I know is that the criminal case foundered and he was never convicted of anything. I know his wealth would have been a beacon to unscrupulous people looking to make some money. Really, it doesn't matter what I think about that, does it?
The fact remains that a performer I was fanatical about as a teenager died so much sooner than he should have, taking his genius with him. Kind of. Because what we have left - This Is It - is a wonderful celebration of Michael at his best. The concert would have been phenomenal - amazing stage sets, new films shot to play behind his live performance on stage, choreography worthy of the King of Pop - and I would have paid several hundred dollars to see it. Thousands of people already had when he died.
This Is It does not exploit Michael Jackson. It does what he wanted his concert series to do: It plants him firmly back at the top of the pop charts. It gives us one more look at the performer who broke records - and hearts when he died - all around the world. It gives us a chance to remember him at his best.
And when it comes down to it, isn't that what all of us want when our time's up? To leave the best of ourselves behind? Michael did that. This Is It is it.