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Michael Jackson was real American thriller CommentsJune 26, 2009Say what you will about Michael Jackson � and everything will be said in the next few days � he was an American thriller, one of the most brilliant talents of our times.

It is easy to forget this now.

It is even easier, if one is young, to never have known.

It is easy to see Michael Jackson only in the disturbing images of his last two decades � the freakish plastic surgery, the children he covered with paper bags, the alarming stories that leaked from his secretive California ranch, the unsettling Neverland.

But there was a moment � Michael�s moment.

And a sound � Michael�s sound.

And a way of moving � Michael�s way.

And nobody could do it better.

We watched Michael Jackson grow older, if not really grow up.

He was the stunning child singer who fronted the Jackson 5 � the family singing group from Gary, Ind.

The group played �The Ed Sullivan Show� for the first time one Sunday night in 1969, and afterward Ed offered his crooked smile to this 11-year-old kid with the big Afro who had just twirled and sung like he�d been working the stage for 20 years.

Ed could see what we all could see � a natural-born star.

Could the kid handle it? In his art, Michael Jackson swallowed whole everything good in America.

His music was funk and rock, black and white, power chords and ballads.

And utterly infectious.

But in his personal life, he was America gone too far.

He was the train wreck of a celebrity culture gone off the rails.

He was America�s belief in reinvention taken to a grotesque extreme.

No matter.

Not today.

Michael Jackson is dead, and all we really want to remember is how we danced to �ABC,� how we thrilled to �Thriller,� how we scraped across the floor trying to copy that moonwalk.

We couldn�t do it.

Nobody could.

There was only one Michael Jackson.,editorial-michael-jackson-062609.article
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