Catherine Naylor: Growing up with Michael Jackson's world

Share
Related Topics

It was 1989. Hair flying everywhere, our brown lace-ups scuffed and knee-length socks falling down our shins, we stood together on the hot bitumen, ignoring the boys’ bulrush games as one by one, we tried to make our nine-year-old legs do the moonwalk.

Oh the innocence of it, when we had no qualms about spending a whole lunchbreak imitating a Pop God, when it was still the pure genius of Michael Jackson, unburdened by claims of child sex abuse, or shrinking noses, or baby-danglings over balconies.

Michael Jackson was one of those rare events – and his presence was too big to be contained within the human form – that pierced the self-encompassing nature of our Eighty-Baby childhoods. We might not remember the Berlin Wall coming down. Or Tiananmen Square. Or the Chernobyl disaster. But we remember "We are the World" and the famine in Africa.

Then as teenagers, when the weird stuff began and Jacko became Wacko, we felt a little horrified, a little disillusioned, like when you find out that your parents are not so infallible after all. We were embarrassed that we had been so foolish to do moonwalks in the playground, and angry that the innocence of our childhoods had now been somehow tainted by this fallen idol. We abandoned him, hid our cassettes, let them gather dust behind our new CDs of Pearl Jam and Nirvana and the Chili Peppers.

But he could still make us dance. At university, as we first experienced the freedoms of adulthood without the responsibilities, it was Michael Jackson that provided us with the anthems. It was Jackson that made us work the dance floor at those garish Retro-themed bar nights, when we would all, en masse, perform the "Blame it on the Boogie" routine or crink our necks doing "Your Black, Your White". We revelled again in the music, stripped of the headlines that had followed it the first time round. And then, perhaps, stilettos discarded, stockings laddered, we would attempt another moonwalk on the footpath that led us home.

And so yes, I am saddened to hear that Michael Jackson is gone, with all his fallen, tainted genius, and that this man who could make nine-year-olds dance under a hot lunchtime sun in Australia, and still dance 10 years later into the wee hours of the morning, had lived in the end such a devastated life.

But death can be kind to those it enfolds. The 24-hour music channel is playing all his hits. On Facebook, my friends write of their shock and sorrow, of how they looked up "Man in the Mirror" on YouTube and got all choked up, and how this death almost seems to mark the end of their youth, of our youth. In a way, it has resurrected the genius of the man, and made us remember the way he made us feel, when we did the moonwalk in the playground, trying to avoid the cracks in the bitumen and fighting over who really knew how to do it like Michael.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Travel Customer Service and Experience Manager

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing travel comp...

Recruitment Genius: Cleaner / Caretaker / Storeman

£15500 - £17680 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A position has become available...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Sales - SaaS B2B

£60000 - £120000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This conference call startup i...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital and print design a...

Day In a Page

Read Next
File photo dated 11/3/2014 of signage for the main entrance and emergency department at a hospital  

Weekend opt-out is stumbling block as BMA and NHS negotiate new consultant and junior doctor contracts

Charlie Cooper
The alleged meeting between George Osborne and Rupert Murdoch is said to have taken place in Downing Street in late June (Getty)  

Rupert Murdoch's private meeting with George Osborne: The mogul always likes to back a winner

James Cusick James Cusick
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms
What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist? Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories

What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist?

Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories
Chinese web dissenters using coded language to dodge censorship filters and vent frustration at government

Are you a 50-center?

Decoding the Chinese web dissenters
The Beatles film Help, released 50 years ago, signalled the birth of the 'metrosexual' man

Help signalled birth of 'metrosexual' man

The Beatles' moptop haircuts and dandified fashion introduced a new style for the modern Englishman, says Martin King
Hollywood's new diet: Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?

Hollywood's new diet trends

Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?
6 best recipe files

6 best recipe files

Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
Ashes 2015: Steven Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Middlesex bowler claims Ashes hat-trick of Clarke, Voges and Marsh
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years