I remember years ago reading about the final days of Howard Hughes. A genius whose life touched us in many ways; not the least of which included aircraft and cinema. Genius that slowly, but surely, crossed the line into madness. He ended up saving jars of urine, being deathly afraid of germs, isolated in the top floors of casinos and letting his hair and fingernails grow to incredible lengths.
Here’s a guy that seemingly has it all. Arguably the greatest pop performer of all time. The records sold, the massive tours, the millions and millions of dollars…
And, yet, in spite of “having it all” we have seen this slow turn to madness. His appearance could fill pages, but let’s sum it up by calling it what it is… bizarre. He has changed his face into some freakish clown mask. And his behavior is beyond bizarre; he walks around in a surgical mask, apparently afraid of germs, in spite of charges of impropriety several years ago, he continued to have young boys share his bed, he lives in a virtual amusement park!
And twice now, he’s tipped his hand that he’s out-right lying; when he was originally arrested he claimed he couldn’t raise his arms above shoulder height and yet video show him waving to the fans that same day. And then last week, when he was late to his trial because he had “hurt” his back, his handlers, hand on his arm to steady him, help him out of the big black SUV and, very slowly, start to walk him toward the courthouse. Oh, the pain must have been awful. Until the meager fans gathered, started to yell out his name. Michael suddenly whips around, raises his hands and waves to the crowd. The handlers quickly correct him, probably not wanting him to further the excruciating injury to his back, and continue the slow, painful, process into the courthouse.
I fully anticipate Michael will end up a free man from this episode; his money alone will allow him to “beat it”. But, I also anticipate Michael will begin to withdraw, holing up at “Neverland” or possibly, being near the entertainment Mecca that he’s always been so close to, the upper floor of some mega-casino in Vegas. Only being seen in short clip video or the front page of the Enquirer. His affairs being handled by the multitudes of ever-present handlers.
We’ve seen this many times; Elvis, Beethoven, Howard Hughes and now, Michael Jackson. We begin to see a phenomenon that effects the genius’ of this planet; the slow, almost imperceptible arc from sanity to madness.