Thursday, July 09, 2009

The Flying Fickle Finger of Fate

When I was a child, I recall that Rowan and Martin had a routine on their "Laugh–In" show in which the Flying Fickle Finger of Fate Award was bestowed upon someone or something for some questionable accomplishment.

The name of the "award" apparently was inspired by a movie from the mid–1960s called "The Fickle Finger of Fate."

I say this as a way of making an observation about Michael Jackson.

I hope this will be the last time I feel the need to write about Michael Jackson. I may not have the same kind of personal connection to him that some people apparently have, but I did like him. I liked the Jackson Five when I was a child. Although I never bought any of the albums he recorded as an adult, I always admired his talent.

And it seems to me that, even though I am sorry he died so young, perhaps the fickle finger of fate did him a favor. In memory, he will always be a young man, doing the moon walk on stage, performing astonishing moves to "Thriller" and "Beat It." The "old" Michael Jackson will never exist in the public mind, just as the Kennedys and Martin Luther King and Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe and Princess Diana will always be young.

It is the tradeoff one makes when one dies young, even if he/she is not famous. To die young is to be forever frozen in memory.

Sometimes I look at obituaries and see an obituary for a person who was elderly — but the picture that runs with the obituary was taken during the Korean War nearly 60 years ago. Such a person may be remembered at different stages of life by different people. But no one will have a memory of an arthritic Michael Jackson, no longer able to do his famous moon walk. No one will remember a Michael Jackson with gray hair or wrinkles or weak eyesight.

That Michael Jackson will only exist in speculation.