Friday, July 03, 2009

While Brock was in Texas last month we stopped to grab some food after a quick trip to Dallas. The TV at the restaurant was locked into an all-weekend tribute to Michael Jackson (who had died a few days earlier) and it was hard to not get sucked back into a time warp to our childhoods when the original MJ was omnipresent on the radio, TV and in print. The music had well-established channels in our heads and we talked a bit about that, but the thing that really struck us as we watched footage from 20-30 years ago was how daring Michael Jackson was on the fashion front. Part of it was certainly because his life was never grounded in reality, but what that produced was someone who would try just about anything and usually pull it off. Look again at that picture above with the Reagans; who else would even ponder wearing a sequined faux-naval jacket and glitter glove to meet the leader of the free world? Only someone who had no fear or reservations about expressing himself.

But that's just one example of dozens. The leather vest/jackets, The Glove, the glitter shirt from "Rock With You," the whatever the hell it is he's wearing on the cover and video of "Bad," or dancing around like a goddamn pharaoh in "Remember The Time" - the guy would try anything. While it usually raised eyebrows, he made his choices work for him and traces of the things Jackson tried sartorially usually trickled into mainstream fashion before too long.

So what do we take from this? Don't be afraid to step out on a ledge to express yourself, but if you do you have to own it 100 percent. MJ had the money and fame to wall himself off from naysayers (for a while, anyway) but I'm willing to bet that even if he didn't he still would've rocked most of the apparel and looks that he did. Having that need to stand out is just how he was built. And while a lot of his life (especially its second half) was a cautionary tale about the effects of fame, one thing we can all hold him up for is an example of how to constantly take chances you believe in.
-Chad Swiatecki

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