Let’s pay tribute to the legend of Michael Jackson by reflecting on the “true” magic of his GLOVE.
The most potent and intriguing symbol of celebrity during the 80’s is that of a piece of sequined apparel: Michael Jackson’s single white glove. It is a piece of cultural archeology safely ensconced in history along with his very profound and eclectic career and life. I, like millions of people have fond memories of Michael Jackson.
While a student at the School of Fine Arts, my classmate Nevin regularly wore the red-zipper-jacket seen in Michael’s “Beat-it” video. He even donned a Jheri Curl. Now, all of the artists at our school, including me, loved Michael Jackson. I must admit that I actually wrote Michael once at his fan club’s Cahuenga Boulevard address in Los Angeles. I was so excited to receive an autographed photo from this evolving legend. But I was still somewhat bewildered that Nevin actually “thought” he was Michael. He emulated his soft voice, moon-walked the halls at school, and wore The Glove.
This iconic Glove first appeared when Michael became extremely popular with his break-through masterpiece, “Thriller.” This Glove that he wore during various public engagements and during a televised performance became an instant and spontaneous symbol of his popularity. Michael once commented that The Glove represented the “Magic” that he felt was his mission to give to an audience.
As I reflect on the life of this legend I now understand what he meant by “Magic” and why Nevin and scores of fans wanted to be an extension of Michael’s divine gifts and talent. God indeed blessed Michael Jackson with the gift of magic. He was born to perform. He was on stage by age five, signed to Motown at 10 and on the pop-charts by 11 years old. At the time of his death, he had sold 750 million albums worldwide. He was a unique genius. During his career he merged musical styles, brought theater to music and created monumental and prolific videos. Without him there would be no MTV.
But this isn’t the only magic. Beyond the accolades, the videos, costumes and awards…. Michael Jackson’s “Glove” also represented his magical and indelible connection to people. He touched and changed lives on and off stage. Michael was colorless not only in his physical features, but in his heart. He meant just as much to a young Japanese fan as he did to a European fan as he did to a young Black kid in Los Angeles or an old white woman in Montana. He was a committed servant-leader and humanitarian who transcended race and culture long before Tiger Woods and Barack Obama.
While today’s music is filled with lyrics that tout the pursuit of material wealth and other self-destructive acquisitions; Michael realized that the airwaves are sacred. He had a beautiful heart and did everything in his power to impact people with his music. His lyrics mattered. When he wrote “We are the World” with Lionel Richie, his mission was to provide relief to the impoverished people of Africa. This phenomenal collective raised $100 million dollars and the considerable profits were used for relief of famine and disease.
God has called us as His people to be good stewards of the gifts which He has given us. He has given all of us the gift of time, talent, and treasure.
The way we respond to God’s gifts to us…. becomes our gift to HIM.
Throughout his life Michael Jackson multiplied his talents and used them to glorify God by helping mankind. Music is powerful rhetorically. Through his music, Michael was like a psalmist. He preached in a way that had the meditative, emotional, imaginative, and collaborative effect of a biblical poet. He took his audiences to church … touched hearts and left them whole.
We’ll never know what seeing him perform again would have been like. As Michael was preparing for his much anticipated tour; God called him home. On June 25, 2009 at 2:26pm he had his final curtain call.
Rest in Peace Michael Jackson.