Now that it’s 2013, I have been “remembering” myself of what I enjoyed precisely 30 years ago. Like most of the globe, I adored Michael Jackson. A boy in sixth grade wrote in my yearbook, “May you one day marry Michael Jackson’s son,” which just seems odd now, since he had no son at the time, and his sons now are both minors. No matter! I would have preferred Michael himself as my betrothed. In 1983, he was at the top of his game, at the apex of his attractiveness, or what Rosie O’Donnell would have called a “cutie patootie” back when she was dubbed “The Queen of Nice.”
I contend that no video showcases his adorably charismatic personality more than “Say Say Say.” No leather jackets, no gang fights, no pink socks, no Annie-Are-You-Okay leaning to the side. Just “Mack and Jack” dueting as harmless, lovable scam artists. (At the time, I didn’t grasp that they were hustlers. They just seemed to be having oodles of fun.) I offer the scene where he and Paul McCartney are shaving (Mike was famous for his Grizzly Adams beard) in the lavatory, symbolic of a literally then-squeaky clean image, and the cutest Beatle dabs M.J. with shaving cream. Scrumptious!! Indeed, scrumtrulescent!
Then there’s the scene with him in suspenders at the bar. His nose was not the original model, but still retained properties of a human nose. He should have stopped right there, frozen himself in time, before he jacked it up to high heaven. His eyes were bright and lucid, his vitiligo-less face perfectly smooth and caramel, and his smile was contagious as he flirted with the lady in the feathered headpiece. Wait, hold up. That lady is pre-Playboy-posing Latoya Jackson. His sister. Huh? Ewww. Okay, I know it’s a video, and it’s pretend, and I can hear Jon “Master Thespian” Lovitz saying, “ACT-ing!” Yes, I know it’s acting, but double ew. Why cast your sister in that role?
Fast-forward a decade and Michael had pinkish white lab rat skin, a flatironed First Lady hairdo, a snub nose, mauve lipstick, and one of his many Sgt. Pepper Lonely Hearts Club ensembles. Not a cutie patootie, but still Michael way down deep under all that distortion. Yes, I realize it’s Elvis’s birthday; the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll would have been 78 today. But tonight, I raise my glass to the King of Pop, to that sweet, freshly-scrubbed beret-donning, beaming young man in the “Say Say Say” video. Rest in peace, Michael. Rest in peace.