We Belong: An Article on Michael Jackson’s Fans

The Estate of Michael Jackson appear to be confused as to the process that funds their revenue streams. They seem to assume that Michael’s fans will naively bankroll the billion-dollar tax fine served upon them. A penalty levied as a result of their apparent ineptitude (as starkly unlikely as the excuse of incompetence may be, considering John Branca’s career success and pedigree).

Considering Michael’s deification of his fans – with his humble acceptance of it being our love that energised him, and his oft-repeated recognition of how essential to him our unwavering support was, in spite of the ad hominem vitriol we experienced – I’d even go so far as to say that Michael deserves fan representatives on the panel of the Estate. Fans should, naturally, be entirely involved with any decision-making when it comes to potentiating Michael’s artistic and personal reputation (not cynically utilised as gullible pawns, as they were in that abysmal ‘Behind The Mask’ promo drivel).

Of course, the current charlatanistic mercenaries at the helm of the Estate would never entertain such a concept. Though entertained by the notion they may well be, as they superciliously presume sufficient fortitude in their green paper thrones – usurped, ermine seats of ominous usury; intrinsically expecting that there exists enough terror-fuelled tenacity in said chairs to bear the weight of such flagrant, sprawling arrogance. Whilst they cough and guffaw upon costly cigars, and point with utter derision at the King of Pop’s contemptible mourning paupers.

They dismiss us; wave away our disgruntlement in the mistaken belief that we’re little more than an imbecilic throng of zealous lunatics – willing to buy anything with Michael’s name on it, regardless of quality control.

We need to unite. We need to demonstrate that this prejudice they possess is by no means the case.

Our community is larger than any other fandom – but this magnitude is both our strength and our weakness – due to its manifesting so many distinct factions. Though this happening is nothing more than an inevitable consequence of the machinations that drive human nature – in particular, the intrinsic need we feel to belong. This, combined with the vast spectrum of individuals that Michael’s oracular genius managed to reach.

The time has arrived for fans, as a collective, to overcome our trivial differences, and instead, discern our mutually agreed core issues. And stick stoically to them. After all – perhaps more than any other community – we are trained experts at steadfast support. We are comprised of doctors, lawyers, artists and journalists. We have torrents of talent; lakes of intellect. But more than this, we are a deep, deep pool of immutable, pure passion – replete as a result of myriad individual lifetimes spent dedicated to indomitable loyalty.

The memory of Michael cannot be tainted or bastardised anymore. We cannot afford to negligently allow the miscarriage of the pregnant potential inherent in Michael’s unrivalled fame. Certainly not because of pettiness and a stubbornness to build bridges.

To do so would be a tragedy, in the sincerest sense of the word.

Two fundamental issues I’m convinced we can all reach consensus on, are the continuous defence of Michael against the slanderous perception of his having been a danger to children (as we all know, the polarity is the actuality), and that his sacrosanct canon of work must be handled with a diamond-encrusted glove – that is, with the relevantly exalted reverence it deserves due to its unique beauty. Particularly with regards its unprecedented potential for shaping the world into a better place, through its inspired intention for peace amongst humanity.

We all feel the need to belong. And we all do. We are blessed to belong to Michael. We must do the regency of his memory proud – by working together to prevent the denigration of his legacy at the expense of corporate greed.

 

The themes in this article concerning why Michael’s fans are so easily and so often branded as lunatics, and what the responsibilities of Michael’s fans and Estate might be, are explored in more depth in my book, The First Book of Michael.

Available in paperback and on Kindle at http://amzn.to/1GycUw1 and for all other eBook devices at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/511371

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Frozen In Time: An Article on Michael Jackson’s Next Generation

In The First Book of Michael, I write how

“…barely a Disney or Dreamworks animation goes by without the obligatory inclusion of the film’s characters performing the ‘Thriller’ choreography as part of the DVD extras.”

And – true to form – the same applies to the most recent Disney phenomenon, ‘Frozen’.

As a matter of personal principle, my children have limited access to all types of media. Nevertheless, via everyday conversation with their peers, and through the unsolicited deluge that is the gratuity of commercialism we are all naively exposed to, my daughters have become veritable connoisseurs of the characters, the songs and the storyline of said movie – in spite of them never having actually seen it.

Any parent of preschool children will duly confirm how inescapable this phenomenon has been.

Any parent of preschool children will also empathise with how mutable principles become, as they watch their children sitting on the couch, interminably scratching at their chicken pox.

However, not every parent will have been so easy to manipulate as I was when my daughters managed to persuade me that – apart from the traditional treatment of calamine they already strongly emanated of – the only other recognised pacifier for chicken pox known to mankind was the song ‘Let It Go’.

And not, they insisted, the version sang by me.

I refused to acquiesce to their demands. But I compromised.

I put on some Michael Jackson.

Of course, they’d seen Michael’s videos before, and heard his music many times – he’s the sole soundtrack to any journeys in the car. But such is the terror of chicken pox – and with my daughters becoming increasingly adamant, with each video played, that Michael’s work was also a tried-and tested panacea for the condition – we ended up having a Michael video binge.

The elder daughter had contracted the dreaded pox first, which meant that she was basically now over it. However, having been the recipient of the initial wave of neurotic parental nurturing, she assumed a war-veteran sense of experience, and ergo, an entitlement to belittle the ongoing suffering of her three-year-old younger sister. Any time the younger complained about her sickness, the older would immediately tell her that she wasn’t as poorly as she, had been the week before.

As the ‘Smooth Criminal’ short film played, my younger daughter, feeling somewhat put-out after having stoically managed days of this perpetual undermining of her illness by her elder sister,  responded to the song’s refrain, “Annie, are you okay?” by shouting defiantly at the monitor screen with the words, “No, Michael! I’m not okay! I’ve got chicken pox!”

And her name isn’t even Annie.

There was a fascinating instance as the girls were watching the short film, when, during the segment in which the young character Zeke is dancing outside Club 30’s, after claiming he taught Michael “everything he knows”, my elder daughter told the younger, “that’s Michael.”

The younger acknowledged this information with no concern whatsoever for race or chronology. They simply, indiscriminately accepted that the black child representing a young Michael Jackson, dancing outside the place in which the adult, physically dissimilar Michael Jackson was simultaneously performing, were one and the same person.

A generation of people will grow into adults that retain this same lack of prejudice. This is the pregnant power that Michael’s legacy contains. It simply cannot be overstated how culturally significant Michael’s life was. The uniqueness of the trajectory it followed, with its Truman-esque documentation and synonymous sacrifice, combined with the benefit of hindsight and the distance of history, will mean that the destiny of Michael Jackson’s very existence will ultimately become one that is universally, exponentially exalted.

As we continued to watch ‘Smooth Criminal’, I found myself flagrantly boasting about how I could dance like Michael. After the girls requested I gave this claim credence by demonstrating ‘The Lean’, the subject of Michael being magic then came up.

I quickly diverted their attention to the subsequent YouTube offering that began to play. After all – what better demonstration of Michael’s magic than ‘Earth Song’, in which Michael summons the divine to reorder time, so as to rejuvenate the hopeless war-torn, and resurrect massacred elephants?

“Why is Michael making mud pies?” they enquired.

I decided it was perhaps more age-appropriate to show some less-abstract Michael-magic. Remember The Time seemed the obvious choice.

And I managed to avoid spoiling the ambience of the piece – captivated as the girls were – by resisting the temptation to provide a running commentary on the profound subtleties and political nuances contained within it.

But therein lies its genius.

The oracular Michael Jackson consciously captures young hearts through the medium of pure entertainment. He stokes their curiosity to hold their attention for long enough, so that over time, those awestruck feelings evoked by witnessing Michael disintegrate into golden sand, mature into critical thinking – into thoughts that question why the protagonists for the Remember The Time short film are exclusively black, and why the story’s narrative concerns black royalty, when the school history books are practically devoid of such information.

Michael knew that he was playing the long-game. That the extent of his unprecedented fame carried an inevitable longevity meaning his art would continue to be interpreted for millennia to come.

We couldn’t quite escape ‘Frozen’, though. That golden sand I just mentioned?

“Actually, daddy – that’s ice.”

 

For an in-depth exploration into the art of Michael Jackson and its cultural significance, get a copy of my book, The First Book of Michael.

Available in paperback and on Kindle at http://amzn.to/1GycUw1 and for all other eBook devices at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/511371

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Happy Mother’s Day: An Article on Katherine Jackson

There’s a system of belief in which the idea is promoted that human beings, in-between our earthly existences, gather together with all the souls we are bound to encounter in our next corporeal adventure. The night of August 28th, 1958 must have been quite the event.

The subsequent day, Katherine Jackson gave birth to her eighth child. Another boy. Her mother suggested she named him ‘Ronald’.  Katherine – thankfully – ignored that, and opted for ‘Michael’ – after the patron saint of soldiers. A name that means “Who is like God”.

With typical tenacity, Katherine Jackson is refusing to bow to the injustice of the original verdict of the AEG Live Trial.

The trajectory fans followed in the preparation for the This Is It concerts was a familiar one: journeying as we did from the press conference, to the excitement of hearing reports from fans listening to rehearsals, to watching him starve with stress in front of our eyes, fans telling Michael it wasn’t worth it – to stop putting himself under all that pressure.

As had become the pattern, we accompanied the man on his rise to an angelic apex, before descending alongside him in his fall from grace.

And this time he died.

The trial was an attempt by Katherine and Michael’s children to uncover the truth as to why and how this happened. It saw Michael’s elderly mother having to once again defend her family from an onslaught of unwarranted abuse. She is a stoic woman. Not only is this a woman who has given birth ten times, she is also someone who has managed to cope with the grief of losing two of these children.

But the AEG trial was the first time the octogenarian had been in court every day as a plaintiff. The previous occasion in which Katherine had attended court every day was in 2005, as a supporter of her son the defendant: throughout which, she remained composed and gracious in her stolid knowledge of the truth. Yet the salacious details Katherine had to endure through the AEG trial put even the 2005 accusations in the shade. The pornographic details describing her son’s physical and mental demise towards death evoked painfully evident tears, both for justice and remorse. Her recounting the moment she learned Michael had died was nothing short of harrowing, “everything went dark, and I just heard screaming.”

Katherine regaled many intimate details to the AEG court – of which, she was the veritable queen – including such anecdotes as the sleeping arrangements of the poverty-stricken Jackson 5: a triple bunk bed – Jackie on his own in one, with the other four brothers sharing the other two. (Perhaps Jackie smelled a bit.)

In the opening of the AEG case, the defence threatened “we’re going to show some ugly stuff.” Katherine’s lawyer, Mr. Panish asked her, “And how does it make you feel to hear that they’re going to tell everyone that your son is a bad person?” To which she replied, “Makes me feel real bad, because I know my son was a very good person. He loved everybody. He gave to charity. He’s in the Guinness book of records for giving the most to charity of all the pop stars. I’m so nervous. I’m sorry.”

Panish also asked, “And why is it that you’re here to testify today?” Katherine replied, “Because I want to know what really happened to my son, and that’s why I’m here.”

Thirty years ago, on Katherine’s 54th birthday, Michael performed his mother’s favourite song for her:

Such immense love between a mother and son. The poetry Michael wrote for her; the album dedications; even the iconic song, ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’ – written for Katherine after she’d requested a song with a shuffling rhythm. As Michael himself said,

“All my success has been based on the fact that I wanted to make my mother proud, to win her smile and approval.”

Michael’s adoration of his own mother is well documented, but in the foreword he contributed to a recipe book, he reveals an appreciation for the magical nature of motherhood in general:

“Remember when you were little and your mother made a pie for you? When she cut a slice and put it on your plate, she was giving you a bit of herself, in the form of her love. She made you feel safe and wanted. She made your hunger go away, and when you were full and satisfied, everything seemed all right… You may think that your apple pie has only sugar and spice in it. A child is wiser… with the first bite, he knows that this special dish is the essence of your love.”

Maybe at that pre-terrestrial meeting the night before Michael’s birth, Michael signed up for a corporeal life of sacrifice: that he courageously adopted the responsibility of being a messenger to attempt to guide humanity along a more peaceful path. Mothers that have faith in their children ultimately see their faith qualified. Katherine had every faith in Michael, and the qualification is there for all to see.

Happy Mother’s Day, Katherine Jackson.

The world is forever indebted to your strength.

 

This article includes edited extracts from the First Book of Michael by Syl Mortilla, available in paperback and on Kindle at http://amzn.to/1GycUw1 and for all other eBook devices at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/511371

On March 11, I appeared on the King Jordan radio talk show to discuss the book. Here is the YouTube video edit of the interview:

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Atlas: An Article on Michael Jackson’s Earth Song

Michael’s hit ‘Earth Song’ was at number one for seven weeks in the UK, including the much-sought after and contested position of Christmas Number One. It became his biggest-selling UK single.

The song was included on the HIStory album, which was much-maligned by a malicious press hell-bent on undermining Michael after the 1993 allegations. Michael chose to include ‘Earth Song’ on the HIStory album in spite of the inevitability of a cynical media reaction. Michael had faith that the ordinary people of the world cared about Mother Nature as much as he did. An instinct that was proven to be irrevocably correct.

Michael was dismissed as having a mindset far too disparate from the common man, what with most of his life having been one of financial security (as hard-earned as that was, and as mercilessly as that financial wealth was ultimately leached from him). Yet, the sensitivity Michael had for humanity, a congenital one galvanised by his unique position of having encountered more people than anyone else in history, meant that he felt the plight of the common man as intensely as anyone could.

Following the Brits ‘96 performance of ‘Earth Song’, fellow philanthropist Sir Bob Geldof introduced Michael to the stage, so that he could receive what Geldof described as the “one-off – like the man himself” Artist of a Generation award (albeit, “…what generation?” Geldof enquired, “…at least three have been listening to him already”). Geldof welcomed Michael using these words,

“…the most famous person on the planet, God help him… When Michael Jackson sings it is with the voice of angels. And when his feet move, you can see God dancing…”

Michael promoted ‘Earth Song’ with appearances on shows all over Europe, utilising notoriously provocative Christ-like imagery (most notably during his turn at the Brits ’96 – recently voted the greatest Brits performance of all time). As an erudite human being brought up in a Christian household, it’s impossible to consider that parallels between himself and Jesus Christ did not occur to him. Nevertheless, and much to his critical detriment, Michael decided to explicitly market Christ’s message to a vacuous capitalist society.

The controversy the performances evoked, with the consequential publicity, ensured Michael’s message of concern for the environment was relayed to as many people as possible.

The day after Jarvis Cocker’s infamous stage invasion of Michael’s performance of ‘Earth Song’ at The Brits ‘96, one newspaper headline read, “The Night Our Young Dreams Were Pulped”.

This surprising message of media support for Michael was ephemeral, however. Once it had been noted that young and trendy Brits were not in agreement with the media stance, the backlash began. The following week, Cocker was interviewed on cult TV programme, TFI Friday. The programme contained a live audience of young adults, who mocked Michael and championed Cocker throughout. The host, Chris Evans, concluded the interview with the words, “We all support you and know it was just a bit of a laugh.”

What it actually was, was a cultural watershed: a paradigm shift in the morality of a generation. Those children who had grown up entranced by Michael transforming into cars and robots in an effort to defeat a drug baron, suddenly became ‘Cool Britannia’ Blairites. But it was okay. At least they were all ‘Sorted for E’s and Wizz’.

(Never mind that Cocker’s finale at the conclusion to his band’s appearance on the show involved him ascending from the stage.)

The performance of ‘Earth Song’ on the ensuing HIStory tour made away with the religious iconography, though remained controversial. It is one particular set-piece of the HIStory tour that critics disdainfully discuss. At the conclusion to the song, Michael stands – Tiananmen Square-style – in front of an encroaching tank, before facing off the disembarked soldier, removing his gun, and replacing it with a sunflower: a gesture clearly referencing the iconic photograph of Jan Rose Kasmir at an anti-Vietnam war rally at the Pentagon, in 1967.

Michael chose to kick off the HIStory tour in the recently democratised countries of Eastern Europe. The significance of these visual symbols for the audiences, considering the contemporaneous events of that region, cannot be understated.

What people overlook, is that Michael – with his being a uniquely global figure – had to communicate his message without having to rely on spoken language. Something he did through creating dramatic, easily-interpreted visual statements. Michael wasn’t about to let the slight inconvenience of 6,500 extant languages become an obstacle in his mission for peace. The ‘Earth Song’ performance is the ‘Heal The World’ lyric, “turn their swords into ploughshares” made manifest. This Biblical concept formed part of the practical solution in the fulfilment of Michael’s dream: a common-sense notion as old as time, yet perpetually dismissed by greedy and fearful governments across the globe.

‘Earth Song’ in itself isn’t exactly devoid of ingenious musical and linguistic nuances – what with the chorus itself being a plaintive cry for the plight of the planet and her “weeping shores”. As well as its unmistakable melody, of course. Michael always said that melody is king, that melodies remain eternally unique, and are what people will still whistle in a hundred years’ time, regardless of progressions in technology and future production techniques. Melody knows no language barrier.

I remember a discussion I once had with a friend in 1993, when I was a teenager. The friend asked me if I thought Michael had written his best song yet, to which I replied that I didn’t believe he had. I explained that I imagined his best was to come, because the grief he would feel when his mother died would stir in him an artistic expression at a level we hadn’t hitherto witnessed. He wouldn’t be able to help but write a song about it. As an artist – to try and manage the situation – it’s what he would have had to do. Of course, Michael didn’t live long enough to write that song about the bereavement of his mother. Though his sadness at the self-destructive nature of humanity towards Mother Nature provided us with an equivalent. It was a sad day indeed when Michael Jackson, of all people, was moved to record the words, “I used to dream / I used to glance beyond the stars / Now I don’t know where we are / Although I know / We’ve drifted far”.

The last time I saw Michael perform live was at the 1999 charity show Michael Jackson and Friends. (The event was subtitled ‘What More Can I Give’ after a song Michael had written before recording with a celebrity supergroup – the song was scuppered by Sony.) During the event’s rendition of ‘Earth Song’, the front part of the stage was elevated to create what Michael himself had titled ‘The Bridge of No Return’. No return, indeed. The dramatic prop suddenly and swiftly collapsed, falling into the orchestra pit. But being the consummate professional he was, Michael spontaneously leapt from the debris to continue performing.

The last performance Michael ever made of ‘Earth Song’ was his last performance ever – in a rehearsal the day before he died – meaning that some of his final utterances on stage were, “What about children dying? / Can’t you hear them cry?”

Though it is not only humankind that Michael laments for in the track.

The proposed This Is It concerts were heavily themed on environmental conservation, with a 3D reimagining of ‘Earth Song’ being created, which incorporated an impassioned voiceover from Michael, in which with palpable sincerity, he says,

“This is why I write these kinds of songs – to give some sense of awareness and awakening and hope to people. I love, I love the planet! I love trees, l have this thing for trees – and the colours and changing of leaves. I love it!  I respect those kinds of things.”

Included in the subsequent posthumous This Is It album was a recording of Michael reading the poem ‘Planet Earth’ from his book Dancing The Dream, the words to which reinforce the idea of his relationship with Mother Nature being an exalted one, and of the gravity of his assumed responsibility for Her welfare being analogous to the position of the Greek God Atlas:

“You are my sweetheart gentle and blue
Do you care, have you a part
In the deepest emotions of my own heart
Tender with breezes caressing and whole
Alive with music, haunting my soul.
Planet Earth, gentle and blue
With all my heart, I love you.”

Michael had mastered the soulful evocation of romantic love by the time he was a teenager. It’s no wonder he evolved to write love letters to planet Earth.

I recently recorded an interview for an exciting new project for the Michael Jackson fan community. Podcasts concerning Michael are few and far between, so the creation of The MJCast (www.themjcast.com) is an important development that fills a niche woefully underrepresented. The conversation I had with the hosts was the inspiration for this blog post, as they asked me what I believed to be the most positive thing to have happened since Michael’s passing, as well as what I consider fans’ responsibilities to be in representing Michael’s legacy, and what I think the most important lesson that people could learn from Michael and his life is.

My answer for all three questions concerned Michael’s unprecedented humanitarianism. The importance Michael placed on this aspect of his life and career is intrinsic to the human being he was. It is why I chose the registered charity Michael Jackson’s Legacy (www.michaeljacksonslegacy.org) to be the recipient of a percentage of the proceeds from my book, The First Book of Michael.

After the charity’s phenomenal success in raising the money to build a school in Haiti – in Michael’s name – their new project is focussed on working alongside the International Elephant Foundation. In doing so, they aim to assist in the conservation of an animal totemic in its status for environmental protection, an animal of emotional intelligence that Michael identified with and was an advocate for. “What about elephants?” we heard Michael implore in ‘Earth Song’. And “The elephant is dying!” Michael incongruously exclaims in the intro to ‘Whatzupwitu’, his 1993 duet with Eddie Murphy.

Michael often said that he had to possess ‘rhinoceros skin’ in order to remain unaffected by the perpetual media-bashing he was the victim of. However, I’ve often thought that the elephant – the less-grumpy, more-gentle of the pachyderms – would perhaps have been a better metaphor.

In a further piece from his book Dancing The Dream, entitled ‘So the Elephants March’, Michael discusses the curious phenomenon of how in order to survive, elephants must stay upright.

As fans, we must similarly persist in standing proud and tall in defence of our hero’s true legacy.

 

This article includes edited extracts from the First Book of Michael by Syl Mortilla, available in paperback and on Kindle at http://amzn.to/1GycUw1 and for all other eBook devices at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/511371

On March 11, 9:30 EST, I will appearing on the King Jordan radio talk show to discuss the book. For details, please go here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/jordan-king

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Certain Powers: An Article on The First Book of Michael

Those that have read The First Book of Michael, will have been left in no doubt concerning my sincere and genuine love and respect for Michael Jackson.

It is starkly, blindingly evident.

These many fans, unfettered by the mendacity propagated to try and undermine my tribute to Michael, have unanimously bestowed the book with positivity and praise. Not least due to its attempt to unify the Michael Jackson fan community. A community tragically fractured; with the inherent tragedy being the knowledge that – unified – we could help realise the manifestation of Michael’s dreams. The intention of the attempted lynching of my work was to divide and conquer.

With the launch of The First Book of Michael came a vicious attempt at undermining a piece of work I had sacrificed a great deal for. Such was the influence of those that ruthlessly disseminated the malicious lies about the tribute I worked tirelessly on, the message in the book became nullified. Parts of the book evoke dangerous questions that are unsettling to certain powers.

Why should those who have not read The First Book of Michael opt to ignore the insidious campaign waged against my heartfelt testimony to our hero -a targeted operation of egregious, slanderous accusations; a witch-hunt that utilised images of my pre-school aged children?

The reason is because you are a Michael Jackson fan. And in being such, are clearly aware of your privilege at having been blessed by Michael’s majesty, and therefore naturally appreciate that such underhanded tactics are of the ilk Michael himself suffered: the wanton, audacious promulgation of misinformation.

My book is – at heart – a love letter of gratitude to Michael Jackson, thanking him for providing me with a lifetime of guidance and support. And, as Michael’s confidante of three decades, Karen Faye, writes in the foreword to the book,

“I know everyone who has been touched by Michael will enjoy this book, and those that didn’t understand Michael, will find clarity in Syl’s writing… Michael’s life spoke, and Syl Mortilla was listening.”

The cover image was provided as a gift from Michael’s official photographer, Harrison Funk.

These people are friends of mine, and they were friends of Michael’s. They have been so generous in their endorsements of my book because they intrinsically understand that I love Michael entirely, and am striving to do my best for him and his legacy.

Central to the smear campaign was the suggestion that I am a recent, fair-weather fan of Michael’s. In contention, I’d like to offer evidence to the contrary:

These are two articles I wrote for MJNI’s KING! Magazine in 1997:

kingarticlekingarticle1

I travelled across Europe and saw Michael nine times in concert. This is a picture of a sixteen-year-old me attending the first concert of the HIStory Tour in Prague, 1996:

This is a song I wrote for Michael:

 fb.me/78VleoK4P 

When Michael was found innocent, I ran into the streets and wailed in ecstasy. When Michael died, I wandered the streets, bereft and lost.

I am donating a percentage of profits from sales of the book to the registered charity Michael Jackson’s Legacy (http://www.michaeljacksonslegacy.org), who carry out inspiring work building schools in disadvantaged parts of the world.

This is precisely what I perceive Michael’s legacy to be, and I am extremely proud to be in a position to be able to assist them.

In an attempt to address some of the slanderous accusations made against me and my work, I am appearing on the King Jordan radio show on March 11, 9:30 EST. To join the group event, please go here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1010792482268270/?ref_newsfeed_story_type=regular

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I feel humbled to be appearing on the same show that the legendary Mr. Thomas Mesereau regularly features on.

All I ask is that people come to informed conclusions regarding my love and respect for Michael.

To order a paperback copy of The First Book of Michael, go here: https://www.createspace.com/5303207 The digital copy can be purchased on Kindle here: http://www.amazon.com/The-First-Book-Michael-Mortilla-ebook/dp/B00SM2ULU2 or for all other eBook devices, from here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/511371

Go here to watch the commercial for The First Book of Michael: 

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A Hero of HIStory: A Song by Syl Mortilla

I wrote and recorded a song for Michael.

Click here to listen to the track: https://soundcloud.com/syl-mortilla/a-hero-of-history

I spent eighteen months and sacrificed everything to write a book for Michael. Dedicated to Michael.

Click here to download your free sample of The First Book of Michael:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/511371

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Dedicated To Michael: An Article Defending Syl Mortilla

I am writing this blog in response to the attempted undermining of the message of my book by those seemingly driven by sinister and envious opportunism.

In the Author’s Note that precedes the body of The First Book of Michael, I write:

“This book is my heart. My sole hopes for this book are that it contributes as a counterbalance to the perpetual undermining of a culturally crucial figure, whose career was motivated and galvanised by historically unprecedented efforts of philanthropy and humanitarianism; and that at its conclusion, the reader is left in no doubt with regards the magnitude of respect and love that I possess for Michael.”

The book is dedicated to Michael.

There are malicious forces intent on sabotaging my work; sinister machinations that have had to resort to unearthing a six-year-old article that I hastily composed to fulfil the expectations of a brief I was presented with by an irrelevant, now-defunct online music magazine. The brief asked for a sardonic and satirical take on Michael’s appearance at the O2 press conference. As I was known for my encyclopaedic knowledge and love of Michael, I was chosen as the obviously qualified person to fulfil the task. Yet, even when shackled by the constraints of this brief, I still attempted to use the opportunity to force readers of a magazine that wouldn’t normally question their ingrained perceptions of Michael, to do so.

It is interesting that the articles I used to write for MJNI’s KING! Magazine – written as I grew up an adoring follower of Michael – have not been similarly disseminated.

During the eighteen painstaking months it took me to write The First Book of Michael, I often found myself lonely and hungry, as well as homeless at times. I sacrificed time with my two young children. I voluntarily put myself in this scenario in order to bring to fruition an ambition of mine – one that is intrinsically entwined within me – that I might somehow manage to manifest my love for Michael with an effort to galvanise his legacy.

I have spent a lifetime defending Michael at every turn. I did not always agree with his choices – but as with any true friendship, the love lies in the loyalty. But yes, I occasionally became frustrated with some of Michael’s decisions. However, I love him. I love him so much. I will never stop loving him. And true love remains because of a capacity to acknowledge a person’s idiosyncrasies.

I entirely immersed my heart and soul into writing The First Book of Michael. It is an honest, genuine reflection of my thoughts on the life and soul of my hero (although the term ‘hero’ doesn’t come close to doing my feelings justice. Michael is an intrinsic part of who I am).

The book laments the fractured state of the Michael Jackson fan community and offers hopeful advice on our being able to rectify it. There are many insidious, self-serving individuals hell bent on keeping us divided.

I am not the enemy.

During the past six years, my paternal idol Michael has died, and I have become a father myself. Those kind of experiences shape a soul.

I am proud of mine. I am proud of my words that honour Michael.

Please, decide for yourself:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/511371

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The First Book of Michael Out Now!

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Syl Mortilla authoring a biography on the life, works and soul of the icon Michael Jackson has been eagerly anticipated by the fan community since the inception of his popular blog in 2013.

Mortilla’s unique insights on Michael Jackson led to his writings being endorsed by longtime friends of the man himself – with Karen Faye, Michael’s make-up artist and confidante of thirty years providing the foreword to the book, and Michael’s official photographer Harrison Funk providing the cover image. The book is further advocated by fellow esteemed Michael Jackson bloggers Damien Shields and Charlie Thomson.

The onus of this distinctive biography is on the utilisation of Michael Jackson’s art as a window to an understanding of the man largely considered an enigma. The book explores Michael’s evolution from pop star to global figure, with Mortilla questioning whether the people of planet Earth can afford to dismiss the totemic value of Michael Jackson’s unrivalled fame and legacy with regards an opportunity to promote world peace.

A percentage of proceeds from the book are being donated to the registered not-for-profit charity, Michael Jackson’s Legacy.
“Syl Mortilla has a remarkable and uncanny understanding of Michael Jackson that I do not see in any other… his writing is the blood pulsing from Michael’s heart to all of his fans… Michael’s life spoke, and Syl Mortilla was listening.” – Karen Faye

“Syl Mortilla’s work is like a tapestry of truth; an assortment of facts, quotes and insights plucked from the depths of Michael Jackson’s extensive body of work, carefully woven together with poetically articulated observations and interpretations of that work that’ll make you look at, listen to, or think about it in a whole new light.” – Damien Shields

“Syl Mortilla is a fantastic wordsmith with an encyclopaedic knowledge of Michael Jackson… a sensitive and sympathetic writer with a truly unique voice.” – Charles Thomson

Get your copy here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/511371

For The Children: Syl Mortilla’s Michael Jackson Biography

One of the many things that Michael said which has stuck with me, was how he spoke of his admiration for people that used their talents to further the prospects of children. This is what I aspire to do.

Towards the end of the notorious Martin Bashir documentary Living With Michael Jackson, when asked why the welfare of children meant so much to him, Michael, choking back heartfelt tears, responded with the words, “I’m just very sensitive to their pain.” Given a platform to speak at Oxford University, Michael used the occasion to propose a Children’s Bill of Rights, with one of these being “the right to be loved without having to earn it”. Michael promoted these beliefs until his dying breath, as evidenced in the gut-wrenching recording that Conrad Murray made of Michael as he groaned in anaesthetised oblivion, where he is heard talking about his dream of building a children’s hospital. Indeed, the last performance Michael ever made was of ‘Earth Song’ – in a rehearsal the day before he died – meaning that some of his final utterances on stage were, “What about children dying? / Can’t you hear them cry?”

To promote a universal freedom of opportunity for children to fulfil their potential is surely a faultless philosophy, with perhaps the only drawback being its vulnerability to abuse by the laziness of cynicism.

Cynicism such as the absurdity contained with the charges made against Michael regarding denying his own race – he is one of the United College Negro College Funds all-time largest contributors. Michael made his reasons for supporting the cause very clear during a speech in 1988, when collecting his honorary doctorate degree of Humane Letters, from Fisk University in New York City. He said,

“There is nothing more important than ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to an education. To want to learn, to have the capacity to learn, but not to be able to, is a tragedy.”

Michael’s single-mindedness in being an advocate for children was his only vulnerability; a pressure point that was exploited with aplomb. As he lamented, “They try to use my love for children against me and it’s so unfair, I’m very upset about it you know?”

Michael’s artistic riposte to the 1993 extortion attempt is dedicated to all the children of the world, who he claims responsibility for. Michael loved all children the way any mother loves their own. When conspired against and confronted with the most expensive attempted character assassination in history, Michael remained dignified, before defending himself by utilising his art. The HIStory project was an uncharacteristically angry sting from Michael. Yet, as cathartic as the work must have been for him – like a normally peaceable bee stinging out of terror – it also commenced the process of ripping out his heart. The eventual trial of 2005 tore it out completely.

And his death orphaned us all.

Human nature is self-sabotaging. And of all the dichotomies involving Michael, perhaps the most poignant is how a man that strived so tirelessly through his creativity to make the world a better place, became the man the world strived so hard to destroy. But Michael was appealing to a consciousness beyond the current human state.

My ambition as a writer is to help enrich the lives of children. As well as my writings on Michael, I am also a children’s author. I have written a biography on Michael Jackson, and my hope is that I can utilise the success of the book to generate publicity for my children’s books. They are all written in the spirit of Michael, and as such, I will be donating a percentage of all sales to the non-profit organisation, Michael Jackson’s Legacy (http://www.michaeljacksonslegacy.org).

The First Book Of Michael by Syl Mortilla will be with you very soon.

Book Cover

Peacock: An Article on Michael Jackson as a Unifier

“In the beginning, the land was pure – even in the early morning light, you could see the beauty in the forms of nature. Soon, men and women of every colour and shape would be here too – and they would find it all-too easy not to see the colours; and to ignore the beauty in each other. But they would never lose sight of the dream of a better world that they could build together – in triumph.”

And so ends the Michael Jackson-penned voiceover, spoken as the camera pans across a gorgeous vista displaying daybreak over a deserted landscape; the ending of which, signals the horns to ignite the iconic rhythm of The Jacksons track, Can You Feel It.

In spite of the short film’s inclusion in a 2001 poll listing the 100 Greatest Music Videos, the spectacle that is the Can You Feel It promo is nowadays often overlooked. However, in 1981, the year of its release, the video’s state-of-the-art visual effects popped the eyes and blew the minds of anyone that watched it, as demonstrated quite clearly by the gasp of disbelief accompanying the introduction of its premiere on American Bandstand. Prior to Can You Feel It, the accepted format of music videos was that of a band in a studio, pretending to sing and perform their instruments in front of a static camera. The conception and execution of the Can You Feel It project was nothing short of revolutionary. It was a vanguard; it was the work of a visionary.

(In a fortnight, Beyonce will be presented with the MTV Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award: an award named after Michael in 1991, in honour of the culture-altering contribution that was his dedication to utilising the music video as a credible artistic medium. Still, between the years of 1993 and 2005, the award was only intermittently presented. 1997 was one of the years in which it was – when Mark Romanek was granted the prize, after having directed the short film, Scream. However, since Michael was cleared of the child molestation allegations, they have been a frequent feature of the MTV Video Music Awards show. MTV would do well to remember that they would not even exist if it were not for Michael Jackson.)

Upon leaving Motown,The Jacksons created their own production company – Peacock Productions. They explained their choice of name for this venture by saying, “Through the ages, the peacock has been honored and praised for its attractive, illustrious beauty. Of all the bird family, the peacock is the only bird that integrates all colors into one, and displays this radiance of fire only when in love. We, like the peacock, try to integrate all races into one through the love of music.” The peacock feather is utilised in the Can You Feel It video, as an emblem of hope that descends upon humanity, after the light of the sun is extinguished by an eclipse. It’s a truly touching moment.

The significance of a group of black men, products of the decade that brought an end to racial segregation in the United States, wielding their substantial influence cannot be understated. Their message was to encourage progression – that, in spite of their forefathers having suffered the torture and inhumanity of slavery, any ambitions of world peace involve every one of us moving forward, united. Accusations were levelled at The Jacksons that the video was a mass Jehovah’s Witness promotion and recruitment attempt. And that’s cynicism for you. However, a connection does indeed exist between Christianity and peacocks: in the religion’s early incarnation, the peacock was utilised as a totem for immortality. This was due to the fact that after a peacock died, its feathers remained fresh and vibrant, in spite of the decaying flesh beneath.

One of the jackets that Michael wore to perform Jam on the Dangerous Tour (the artwork on the associated album also featuring an image of a peacock), in which he took to the stage to strut and state, reminds me a great deal of the shimmer and sheen of the peacock’s feather. At first glance, both the jacket and the feather are made up of what are ostensibly solid colours; but with closer inspection, it is revealed that they are actually comprised of myriad, minutely varied colours that integrate to appear as one. The same can be said for the many layers that combine to create a song; or the words employed to write a book.

As such, the peacock feather provides us with a perfect metaphor for the political and philosophical leanings of Michael Jackson. It is one that suggests that the growing individualistic nature of the people of the world (Michael himself taking individualism to its ultimate conclusion), in which the shackles of patriarchy are being dismantled (one of the consequences being a new-found freedom to provide one’s child with a name not dictated by cultural expectations – think more Prince, less Peter), need not necessarily be an ominous thing.

So long, of course, that we coalesce: that each of us take pride in our position as a requisite speck of light on the peacock’s coat; that we contribute to its immortality; that we do so – in triumph.

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