Saturday, November 07, 2009
This Is It
"Let the one among you without sin be the one to cast the first stone." John 8:7
Michael Jackson left the world in late June 2009 - his voice silenced for the last time. But his spirit comes alive in This Is It, a film from concert producer Kenny Ortega who, with Jackson, was developing a London concert experience when the artist unexpectedly passed away.
The movie is part documentary and part music video - a delight to anyone who enjoyed Michael Jackson's music, dancing, and ground-breaking concert experiences.
But underneath the songs and choreography is the image of a simple child-like man who just wanted to perform for his fans. While it's true that Michael Jackson has endured much scrutiny in recent years (some deserved, most not), the musician-artist in this video is far from the monster that a number of people have painted him out to be.
Throughout the movie, you can hear Jackson apologizing to the dancers, musicians, and crew, not wanting to offend anyone by his direction - or gently telling others, with utmost sincerity, "God bless you." It seems all he wants to do is love others completely for who they are.
It's evident that the public negativity has affected Michael, despite his genteel demenour. With passion he belts out the troubling lyrics of "They Don't Really Care About Us"... You're raping me of my pride, O for God's sake, I look to heaven to fulfill its prophecy: set me free. These words (and the other haunting lyrics of the song) show us a Michael Jackson beat down by those who just didn't understand him or humiliated him before the world.
The situation that Michael Jackson had to undergo reminds me of the biblical story of the woman caught in adultery. In John's Gospel, the scribes and Pharisees chase an adulterous woman to the feet of Jesus who admonishes the crowd: "Let the one without sin be the one to cast the first stone." (John 8:7). Jesus reminds us that it's easy to point fingers in accusation, to see the speck of wood in another's eyes without tending to the beam in our own eyes (cf. Mt. 7:1-5) - so easy that we forget our place in judgement.
But in This Is It, we see a gentle spirit beaten down from years of hatred - one who responds not with vengence, but with reminders about the environment ("Earth Song"), about racism ("Black or White"), about war ("Heal the World"), about comforting others ("I'll Be There") and about self-reflection and discernment ("Man in the Mirror").
Michael Jackson was not perfect, but through his songs, he was a prophet and an inspiration. Seeing the impact he made on the crew and the other dancers on stage, we can see how he impacted the world for the better, no matter what insults came his way.
Let us all pray that we will be slow to judgement and abundant in kindness, that we might be as blessed as Michael Jackson to make a difference in this world.