OK, let me just say, it was one of the heartbreaks of my young life that I did not look like Farrah Fawcett. Look at her in her prime…..LOOK AT HER! And while it was her blonde, big smile beauty, without question, that made her a star…to her credit, she went on to also become a serious, Emmy Nominated actress. She lived her life in the public eye, with a great deal of grace and poise, for the most part. Sure there was the occasional stumble like on David Letterman’s show that time…still not sure what that was about…but she always seemed like a genuinely nice Texas girl, who also happened to be one of the world’s great beauties. And her documentary Farrah’s Story, watched by 9 million people that night, was a tour de force(if you missed it you can watch it here on Hulu and it’s also airing again tonight on WBAL at 9 pm)….an unflinching look at what it’s like fighting cancer. See her without her hair? Sure no problem. Throwing up in a pan? Bring it. Farrah was in the end a brave, tough lady. R.I.P. F.F.
Now, Michael Jackson. There’s a “complicated” legend for you. And it would seem the redefining of the life has already begun. As announcers, news anchors and commentators kind of tiptoe around the untidy later portion of his life(see? I’m tiptoeing too…), referring to his “weird” life, appearance and “choices”…Vanity Fair’s Maureen Orth, the late, great Tim Russert’s widow…pretty much said out loud this morning on NBC’s The Today Show, what a lot of people have been thinking, and saying privately. She referred to the victims of Michael Jackson….two boys…the only ones who accused him publicly of child sexual abuse. One he settled with out of court, reportedly a multi-million dollar settlement…and of the other….the reporter said, “He was exonerated in that trial“. Orth said, “He was exonerated largely on the basis of his celebrity, and a very good lawyer who managed to put the Mother of the boy on trial.” I remember that….the questions were asked…if you thought your little boy was being abused, why did you let him go to stay at MJ’s house? Bad mother, bad! Good question and possibly she was a mother with questionable motives(hey, parents exploiting their kids ain’t nothing new, alas-check out the breaking news of the Duke University official and his 5 year old adopted son), but it still doesn’t change the fact the child said he was sexually abused by MJ. Most experts agree, kids don’t make this stuff up. What made the man as peculiaras he was? Carlton Munson, Ph/D, at the University of Maryland School of Social Work, and an expert in child psychology has researched the impact of trauma on great artists in our time. He said this, “Often, children who grow up as entertainers and on movie sets as adults have a hard time distinguishing between what they do and who they are.”
So what remains of the legend? For those of us who grew up loving his music, his life doesn’t change the fact that he was a brilliant musician who made a huge, lasting impact on the music world…but it sure shades it.