By any thinking persons standpoint, Michael Jackson was
a genius. These intelligent persons may not even like his music
or showmanship, but the facts are obvious to them nonetheless.
For example, I sheepishly confess that I find Tolstoy an absolute
bore. There, Ive said it. But I certainly wouldnt
try to claim that Im a better writer than one of the two
greatest novelists of all time. I prefer Dostoevsky. His emotions
resonated more deeply with me. But is Tolstoy a genius? Yes.
My opinion is really irrelevant in this matter.
A person doesnt have to like Michael Jacksons oeuvre
to understand his genius. The man is a powerhouse of creativity.
He is an inspiration as no other, who has inspired millions
upon millions of beneficent or creative endeavours. People have
been moved by his genius to pursue their own dream or to try
to create something, from murderers n prison learning teamwork
as they choreograph themselves dancing to Thriller,
to becoming a sushi chef, to starting a charity. The lavish
spectacle of entertainment, in every costume and performance
and point of intrigue. His disco era in music was genius alone-
never mind the impact of what was to come. His sense of theatre
was always on full throttle. He did nothing halfway. His work
was sublime and ridiculous; gargantuan, yet he held back and
you can feel it. You can feel that if he had let out every creative
impulse that was inside of him, he would implode. The whole
world would explode. It damn near did.
Detractors tend to make two assertions to deny Jacksons
genius heritage. The first is something along the lines of Genius?
Hes a man in a dress.
The second is Genius? The guy doesnt even play a
Jackson existed outside of norms. He could care less whether
we thought an outfit was absurd, futuristic sci-fi, or supremely
tailored and smoking hot. He played dress up and we were entertained.
Its showmanship. Its also simply a fact that he
could wear what he pleased. He was a highly imaginative person,
a boyish imp who loved having fun and being silly as well as
serious. He loved characters in musical, literary, and stage
history. He looked different each and every day, yet was instantly
Truth be told, I prefer a man in makeup by a long shot to a
man who is constantly blathering about his inescapable virility
and masculinity. Yech. Who says flamboyant silks are for girls?
Kings and aristocrats have donned all kinds of colourful, ridiculous
getup throughout time. In fact, high heels were invented for
MEN- to show commoners that rich men need not have their feet
on the ground! Jackson is an eccentric. If he wanted to wear
something bizarre one day and something beautiful the next,
that only contributes to the conclusion of genius. After all,
historically, every genius has existed separate from the social
norms. Some were harmless theatrical diversions.Other quirks
were downright offensive. Van Gogh never bathed and took charity
to hookers, the forgotten class. Lord Byron wore lacey frills
and boasted that hed made a baby with his sister. Da Vinci,
the indisputable genius of art and science was a work of art
unto himself. Once these bashers who warble on about men
in dresses zip up their pants, I encourage them to learn
how to read. Any bio will show that Da Vinci was weird in a
That never played an instrument thing always makes
me howl. Now, I would love to have the musical ability to play
an instrument. I respect it. Its hard work and its
beautiful. But there are several million people able to play
a musical instrument. Teenage boys in garages play fantastic
drums and jazz hopefuls have taken up the horn, and sadly for
all their efforts, their talents will never see the light of
day. Michael Jackson, on the other hand, didnt need to
play a musical instrument (though I cant verify for sure
that he doesnt or cant- someone enlighten me. I
seem to recall that he was quite skilled at piano but I cant
find anything now.) Michael Jacksons whole being WAS THE
MUSICAL INSTRUMENT. He was a livewire transmitting creative
energy from the great beyond, translating it into dance and
rhythm. Not only that, but all of his senses converged to channel
the musicality and rhythm of his dancers, writers, performers,
anyone who works with him. He can hear every layer and merge
those layers together. His knowledge of theatre, film, literature,
history, classical music, theatre music, soul and gospel, and
pop and rock were outstanding.
Emperors and ambassadors and Elviss daughter loved him:
every single person in the music industry thanked him for creative
inspiration, and for keeping money flowing through the business.
Call it crass commerce if you want to- but somebody had to.
Of course thats been going on in spades. Regardless, he
was infusing the whole marketplace with jobs at every level,
from factory manufacturing key chain jobs in China to genius
sound technicians whose names well never know but whose
sound we hear to dancers to fashion designers to book publishers
and so forth. His voracious studying of all art, literature,
theatre, and music, from silent film to modern art, never stopped.
He made video an art form because he saw the potential of the
short horror film. He could make anyone laugh or smile anytime.
This quality alone is a rare and radiant light.
But genius? What is a genius anyways? Shakespeare? Einstein?
Genius means a few things. It means a person gifted with an
extraordinary capacity for something, far above the average
persons propensity for said thing and still above the
above average persons in that category, too. It
means an extraordinary intellectual power manifest in creative
activity. It means a special, distinctive, identifying character
or spirit. And it means a spirit- you know, a genie. This latter
is where the word was born- in Arabic legends. A spirit that
could be angel or demon- torment and beauty.
Lets see- does Michael Jackson fit into any of the above
categories? Which one fits?
Yep, all of em. He practically defines the word.
There are some who feel the word shouldnt be thrown
around lightly, thus diminishing the intensity and impact
of its meaning. Jackson still qualifies regardless,
meeting all of the criteria in spades and more. But it has also
been argued that the more one recognizes the quality in another,
the closer one can get on their own. Letting go of the ego and
learning from the masters can only improve our own work, no
matter what it is. Appreciating someones talent in a realm
where you have none can only expand your other skills and make
you smarter, happier, and wiser.
As Arthur Conan Doyle said, Mediocrity knows nothing
higher than itself, but talent instantly recognizes genius.
People have been discussing Michael Jacksons genius for
some time. I decided it would be interesting to reflect on what
they said and take a look at new conversations on the topic.
What do people think about Michael Jackson as genius?
Christopher Hart writes in the Daily Mail:
He made me believe in magic, says P. Diddy.
His wonderment and mystery make him legend, gabbles
Steven Spielberg. He was a genius, claims Justin
Timberlake. Really? What, like Shakespeare and Michelangelo?
With the best will in the world, I dont think anything
in Michael Jacksons back catalogue can quite compare with
Hamlet or the Sistine Chapel. Enough of this delusional postmortem
hype, please. A handful of Jacksons tunes will last as
long as people love pop music thats no mean achievement
and at his peak he could dance like Fred Astaire. But
he was also a deeply flawed individual who lived a life of consistent
and cowardly denial and evasion. For whatever messy psychological
reasons, Jackson could never be honest about himself. At least
we should be.
Ummm, wow, how embarrassing. What like Shakespeare and Michelangelo?
Yes. Absolutely. Theyd both say so. Does dude think Shakespeare
or Michelangelo were more exemplary figures? Hed better
pick up a book. Cowardly denial? Now that the autopsy confirmed
a lot of things Michael had been saying all along
Also postmortem, FBI had fifteen years of NOTHING after following
him around, exonerating him for the crimes from which hed
already been exonerated by the court of law. Not that moral
character one way or another obliterates genius. If it did,
MJ might be one of the few left standing. explanation.
But I digress. Sorry.
When he did his iconic moonwalk, I was shocked. It was
magic. Michael Jackson went into orbit and never came down.
Though it ended way too soon, Michaels life was beautiful.
Motown Records founder Berry Gordy.
He was a true gift and there are very few that have come
to the magnitude of influence that he had on the world.
Neil Portnow, president of the National Academy of Recording
Arts and Sciences.
We have lost a genius and a true ambassador of not only
Pop music but of all music. He has been an inspiration to multiple
generations and I will always cherish the moments I shared with
him on stage and all of the things I learned about music from
I cant stop crying over the sad news. I have always admired
Michael Jackson. The world has lost one of the greats, but his
music will live on forever!
The last legend.
I am absolutely devastated at this tragic and unexpected news
was the consummate entertainer and his contributions and legacy
will be felt upon the world forever.
The point about Michael Jackson is not that he is odd but that
the man is a genius. As a dancer, he ranks well up there with
Fred Astaire and Rudolf Nureyev. As a singer, he has been dazzlingly
brilliant since he first cleared his throat on stage when he
he is the best, the most electrifying mover in
the business. To see him dance, and hear him sing, is one of
the most exciting experiences that Western show business has
Like all bereavements my heart goes out to his family and close
friends. But a genius? The greatest
entertainer of all time?
God rest Michael Jacksons
soul but to me it is a sacrilege to rank his limited range alongside
the likes of Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra, and Gene Kelly.
These men could act, dance, and sing.
That boy moves in a very exceptional way. Thats
the greatest dancer of the century.
Everything Michael Jackson does on stage is exactly right.
Sammy Davis Jr.
(Michael was an honorary pallbearer at Sammys funeral.)
The world has lost the greatest entertainer the world has ever
Martin Bashir (wtf?)
Michael was the biggest star on Earth.
he was right there.
He made you believe in yourself.
Michael Jackson was a brilliant troubadour for his generation,
a genius whose music reflected the passion and creativity of
an era. His artistry and magnetism changed the music landscape
forever. We have been profoundly affected by his originality,
creativity and amazing body of work. The entire Sony family
extends our deepest condolences to his family and to the millions
of fans around the world who loved him.
Sir Howard Stringer Chairman, CEO and President, Sony
Michael was the kind of amazing talent that comes along
once in a lifetime. He was an incredible recording artist, an
insightful businessman, an unmatched performer, and a true icon.
To all of us at Sony/ATV Music Publishing, he was also a trusted
and passionate partner, who was very proud of our accomplishments.
He will be dearly missed. We wish his children and entire family
our deepest condolences.
Martin Bandier Chairman & CEO of Sony/ATV Music Publishing
Rarely has the world received a gift with the magnitude
of artistry, talent and vision as Michael Jackson. He was a
true musical icon whose identifiable voice, innovative dance
moves, stunning musical versatility and sheer star power carried
him from childhood to world wide acclaim. A 13-time Grammy recipient,
Michaels career transcends musical and cultural genres
and his contributions will always keep him in our hearts and
Neil Portnow, CEO of the Recording Academy
There is no one in the world like MJ! Never has been!
Never will be! We all know him in one way or another. In some
way he has touched us, been the voice of one of our sweetest
memories. And what a wonderful, genuine, compassionate, soft
spoken giant so full of love. He gave us love, excitement, one
of a kind moments in a mundane world. I cant believe he
wont be with us here on earth anymore. But long from now,
when we are all dust, he will still never be forgotten
To the best that ever did it! You are loved, admired and respected
forever Alicia Keys
Michael Jackson was the worlds greatest entertainer
but more than he was great humanitarian and a great, humble
individual. The people of Gary, our hearts are full of tears
because of the loss of Michael Jackson.
Mayor Rudy Clay Gary, Ind.
Michael was a dear friend and a consummate professional.
This was the most exciting collaboration of my life with a man
who has inspired me like no other. He will be deeply missed.
I am terribly sad. We had a 25 year friendship. This is all
too much to comprehend. This was the worlds greatest performer
and the world will miss him. My heart goes out to his family
Kenny Ortega producer, director and choreographer
Being a huge fan, I was of course extremely
nervous to meet him. Michael was unquestionably eccentric, but
to my surprise, he was warm, curious, amusing, and un-temperamental.
I was particularly struck by how this legendary megastar became
just another affectionate, playful, protective big brother whenever
Janet was around.
I took the opportunity to chat with him between takes and he
always skewed the conversation away from himself. He asked about
my childhood, my favorite films, if I knew how to swim, my religion,
etc. My mother visited the set, and Michael immediately charmed
her, asking her to hold his jacket while he filmed, giving her
a warm hug and kiss as he left the set each day. My mom felt
like she had a new best friend. The chance to experience the
phenomenon of his gift from only a few feet away was the treat
of a lifetime. Over those ten days of filming, I felt like I
had the single greatest job in the world. And I think, perhaps,
I actually did. Im sorry his life became so horrendously
complicated. As a person, he didnt actually seem that
complicated to me.
Mark Romanek Director of Scream video
I know that people looked at Michael and thought he was
strange, but to me, he was fascinating. He was the most inspirational
person in my life. His one dream was to cure all the sick children
in the world. And when Id say, Isnt that impossible?
Michael would just start to cry. He was very emotional about
things that moved him. I guess youd have to say he was
a pure innocent in a world that wasnt so innocent anymore.
Brett Ratner Director/ Producer -
Best known for his films such as The Family Man, After the Sunset,
Red Dragon, the Rush Hour series, and X-Men: The Last Stand
and directing numerous music videos.
Michael Jackson was extraordinary. When we worked together
on Bad, I was in awe of his absolute mastery of
movement on the one hand, and of the music on the other. Every
step he took was absolutely precise and fluid at the same time.
It was like watching quicksilver in motion. He was wonderful
to work with, an absolute professional at all times, and
it really goes without saying a true artist. It will
be a while before I can get used to the idea that hes
no longer with us.
He was a very good friend of mine. He was
an amazing guy, but beyond all else, he was the greatest entertainer
Ive ever known. He had magic. He was a genius. He was
also a really good person, and when you got to know him, you
realized how smart he was. He was brilliant. We were at the
Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. There were thousands of people
literally crushing us. We had 20 bodyguards, but it was really
dangerous. He dropped to his knees and started crawling to the
exit. He did it so routinely, I thought he fell. And I said,
Michael, is it always like this? He goes, Yeah,
this is nothing. Japan is much worse.
Now, Michael wasnt the same Michael for the last
10 years. He was not well. He had a lot of problems, a lot of
difficulties. But Michael in his prime theres never
been anybody like him. His life was different than anybody Ive
ever known. But he had a very rough 10 years. He was embarrassed
by it. He was embarrassed by what was happening to him. But
hes not going to be remembered for the last 10 years;
hes going to be remembered for the first 35 years.
He light that he emanated from the stage will
live on with all of us who saw him for what he was and always
will be a great teacher, pure musical inspiration.
I just remember him as the ultimate performer. Mike was
the guy that made everybody want to be better. He raised the
bar for what fame became.
Samuel L. Jackson
Im hurt. But Im celebrating his life and his music.
Dancing and crying and dancing in public. Holding heart-to-heart
conversations with complete strangers about one of the things,
if not the only thing, we share in common, That Is The Legendary
MoonWalker Himself. A white guy in a pickup truck pulled alongside
me on the expressway and shouted to me, had I heard about Mike?!?
Its surreal and its everywhere!!! Every time I feel
like getting sad, one of his songs comes on, and Im just
filled with happiness and start singing and smiling. He was
the best to ever do it. Salaams, Peace & Blessings. May
Allah have mercy on his soul. We Love You MJ!!!
He could sign like nobody else. You know, he was a genius,
like Ray Charles, like Stevie Wonder, like people that
like people that have a gift
they just have this gift.
You dont know where it comes, you dont know
how long it stays, you dont know what the impact is going
to be, but he was able to connect with people.
He was also one of the greatest entertainers that ever
lived. I loved him very much and I will miss him every remaining
day of my life.
I am so saddened by the loss of a great idol and icon,
Michael Jackson. He was, to me, the greatest entertainer of
all time. He was a huge inspiration for performers across all
music genres. He taught us all how to light up the stage. Wow.
American Idol judge Randy Jackson
Michael was one of the most brilliant musicians Ive
ever known. The world will be a sadder place tonight because
he is gone. Neil Diamond
Besides the musical, dance and technical genius of the
man, and the influence hes had on four decades of artists,
Michael loved Zombies. Anthraxs Scott Ian
Michael Jacksons done and accomplished so much
that theres not even words to explain what hes done
to urban music and pop music. Every artist that I personally
know has been influenced by him. Akon
True genius transcends time, race and generations much like
William Shakespeare did in literature and Leonardo Da Vinci
did in the arts; it transcends the limitations of accepted logic
and creativity much like Einstein did in science and Frank Lloyd
Wright in Architecture; true genius is immortalized in human
history and enshrined in memories, both owned and inherited
much like the genius of Bob Marley or Ritchie Valens, people
who died before my time. And that is what Michael Jackson is,
the manifestation of musical genius with respect to his talents.
Kwapi for Now Public
Absolutely ridiculous I cant believe people are
seriously saying that Michael Jackson was a genius. The comparisons
with Shakespeare and Leonardo Da Vinci are simply laughable.
I can only hope this is intended as a spoof.Brian Brown responding
You cant seriously claim MJ was a genius AND hold onto
some nobody named Anne Fern
Guess ALL of the artists in the music industry have no dignity
Everything Michael Jackson does on stage is exactly right.
Sammy Davis Jr.
Artist of the century- American Music Awards
Most successful entertainer of all time. Guinness Book of World
I could never decide whether I wanted to be Michael Jackson
or marry him. I dont care what people say about him now
because hes a fucking genius. Thats it the
* Amy Winehouse
When we first met, around 1988, I was struck by the combination
of charisma and woundedness that surrounded Michael. He would
be swarmed by crowds at an airport, perform an exhausting show
for three hours, and then sit backstage afterward, as we did
one night in Bucharest, drinking bottled water, glancing over
some Sufi poetry as I walked into the room, and wanting to meditate.
That person, whom I considered (at the risk of ridicule) very
pure, still survived he was reading the poems of Rabindranath
Tagore when we talked the last time, two weeks ago. Michael
exemplified the paradox of many famous performers, being essentially
shy, an introvert who would come to my house and spend most
of the evening sitting by himself in a corner with his small
* Deepak Chopra
From the beginning of my career, he was my idol in show business.
He was a genius and an incredible artist!
* Celine Dion
The incomparable Michael Jackson has made a bigger impact on
music than any other artist in the history of music. He was
magic. He was what we all strive to be.
If it were not for Micheal Jackson I would not be where or
who I am today.
Ludacris, via Twitter
A major strand of our cultural DNA has left us.
John Mayer via Twitter
I still have all his stuff on my iPod.
Back to Michael Jackson´s