Being an R.E.M. fan, I would often get into verbal squabbles with people attempting to separate the lives of the musicians with their music. It has become standard in our society to try to understand what makes them tick as individuals rather than the music that they release. Any ‘character flaws’ by some would be vigorously defended to the death as if a snub by Michael Stipe to a fan on a streetcorner is really a flaw. Or in other words, who cares?
However, as I reinvestigated these issues, they seemed to drive a wedge amongst fans because many will search for the story behind the story.
Musicians, much more than actors or actresses play a much more prominent role in our own lives. Their music is constantly blaring through our iPod buds, our speakers, the phrases, the sounds and the music become part of our lives. This is not to say that actors and actresses are not important or that movies cannot move us but we listen to the same sounds over and over again. Could I put a “Number” on the times that I listened to ‘Gardening at Night’? Maybe in the thousands, but I am not really sure to be honest with you. Even my favorite movies of all time I cannot say that I have seen them in the triple digits minus possibly the Star Wars Prequel.
When I set this site up years ago, I wanted to escape the “Tabloid” aspect of what R.E.M. meant to me. I never wanted it to be about whether Michael Stipe was gay or not. To me that is irrelevant. It was important to separate the artist and the music as much as possible and not go “Down that Road”. Stories that I have posted I find in many cases humorous, and they should be taken with a grain of salt.
Michael Jackson is in many respects a completely different story and very difficult to comprehend how he became as much a caricature, i.e. someone out of a fantasy world as much as a musician. However, it also speaks of our worldwide obsession for how we deal with celebrity status and his upmost desire in return to remain in a bubble.
Ultimately, it was his success that became his biggest failure. ‘Thriller’ made him a larger than life character and his self-proclaimed title, ‘The King of Pop’.
Michael Jackson should be a reminder to fans as well as performers of the dangers of superstardom. I do not want to get in the case of whether the controversies surrounding him are true or not but rather did his success drive him in the direction that he did, becoming more and more isolated from society?
I think the thing to remember is that when music is released, we own the songs but we do not own our musicians. We are not shareholders in their lives.