Yes Michael: That Was IT!

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Even though he’s gone now from this space and time, his music will forever play on as an enduring legacy for us to enjoy. 

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If you’ve ever had any doubt about the depth and breadth of Michael Jackson’s true talent, then you must see This Is It
If you’ve ever loved to dance or sing, then you must see This Is It
If you only go to see one more movie in a theater this year, then it must be This Is It
Michael Jackson’s This Is It is not at all like a classic rockumentary, conceived as a public relations project to make an artist look good. 
No, This Is It is much more thoughtful and complex. It’s an awe-inspiring, extraordinary celebration of the incomparable talent of one of the greatest stars to ever walk the earth. This Is It, really is it: an electrifying, enlightening, uplifting and soulful experience that fans and 
non-fans of Michael Jackson can’t afford to miss.
As a forever MJ fan, I feel incredibly fortunate to have been born at the right time in history; a time when I was lucky enough to witness the evolution of his brilliance as a recording artist and music video pioneer. While I always recognized and appreciated Jackson’s musical genius, seeing him at work in This Is It, up close and personal, raw and real for the first time in a very long time, was a very special treat that I will treasure for the rest of my life. 
Through interviews, rehearsals, and backstage footage of what would have been Jackson’s last tour, This Is It reveals just how committed Jackson was to perfecting his craft, raising the bar, and bringing out the absolute best in everyone around him. He was dedicated body and soul to giving his fans the greatest performance of his life. Seeing the visionary superstar pursue his passion for excellence. Seeing the artistic mastermind repeatedly blow the minds of his collaborators with his razor sharp attention to every detail of the show.  Dancers, musicians, singers and others working with him were astonished and amazed, completely flabbergasted and bewildered by Jackson’s generosity, intelligence, and all encompassing talent. 
After seeing This Is It, one thing I know for sure is that Michael Jackson wasn’t crowned the “King of Pop” by accident. He worked his butt off throughout his entire career, onstage and off, to live up to the title and show fans that he was deserving of it. Even at fifty years 
young, Jackson popped and locked and glided across the floor with more charisma and skill than other dancers half his age. Not to mention, his voice was in fine form too, as strong and clear and melodious as ever. 
The This Is It concert tour was definitely going to be it: one of the most dynamic and thrilling entertainment events the world has ever known. Jackson himself was indeed it: the maestro, the virtuoso, the greatest entertainer of his generation and perhaps of all time. The highlight of the two-hour film for me is Jackson’s performance of his iconic hit song “Billie Jean.” It’s my all-time favorite MJ tune, and it has always struck a sentimental chord with me. The powerful, thumping beat is infectious. The smoothness of the intro, the anticipation of Jackson singing the first line, all coupled with my childhood memories of him performing his revolutionary moonwalk dance on the Motown 25 anniversary special for the first time in 1983. I can’t help it: I have to get up and dance and shake my body down to the ground, each and every time I hear it! No doubt that’s exactly how Jackson wanted me and every one of his fans to feel. 
The scenes of Jackson rehearsing “Billie Jean” are truly magical. As he sings, the music flows through his body, expressing itself through the halting, sharp thrusts and distinctive, trademark gyrations of his dancing. I’ve never seen anything like it—EVER! No one moves, grooves, or croons like Michael Jackson. It’s an immutable fact that Jackson was a complete original, a one of a kind, magnificent shooting star that briefly blazed across the galaxy of our lives.
Sadly, despite his phenomenal impact on music and humankind worldwide, many people refuse to recognize Jackson’s greatness. A few days ago I overheard several kids in their late teens talking about new movies playing in theaters. One person asked if the others had seen This Is It. A lone girl replied that she had indeed seen the movie, but she wasn’t impressed by it. She warned her friends not to waste their money because it wasn’t anything special, “just rehearsal.”  
I was dismayed, completely taken aback, and thoroughly insulted by her comment! “What do you mean, just rehearsal?” I wanted to yell. But before I let loose, I got ahold of myself. It occurred to me that rarely have today’s young people ever been exposed to an artist who possesses true, natural talent, that doesn’t require digital enhancement to make it sound better. No artist of Generation Y has composed and performed a catalog of music that will likely stand the test of time. Today’s young musicians, and I use that term loosely—especially regarding rap artists—don’t invest the necessary time and effort to grow and develop their skills. Why should they though, when they know their material is completely disposable? Hot today. Forgotten tomorrow. Next!
It’s sad, really, but the expendable, frivolous mentality that is so pervasive in today’s youth driven culture is exactly why the genius of MJ doesn’t register with young people. Teens and 20-somethings have no concept of what it’s like for the entire world to be so captivated and infatuated by, and head over heels in love with, one special artist at one special moment in time. They have no idea what it would be like for everyone in their school to want to meet one celebrity, and one celebrity alone. They can’t imagine what it would be like for one artist to influence his peers, rule pop radio and the Billboard charts for years at a time. Michael Jackson’s inimitable flair, style and virtuosity could have smacked them in the face, and still these kids today would remain ignorant and oblivious. 
Thankfully, as far back as I can remember I was never oblivious to Michael Jackson’s pre-eminence as a performer and humanitarian. I regret that I never got to see him live in concert, but I’m so glad for the gift of This Is It. Thank you Kenny Ortega for reminding the world that Michael Jackson’s talent wasn’t a myth or fiction: it was 100% fact. Even though he’s gone now from this space and time, his music will forever play on as an enduring legacy for us to enjoy. 
Long live the King of Pop. Michael Jackson, you are indeed it. | Retannical D. Russell          

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