Originally published May 12, 2010[DE] Deutsche Übersetzung
[ES] Traducción al español
[HR] hrvatski /Croatian translationOne in Love: Michael and His Fans
- (c) 2010 by BeGodsGlow / www.majorloveprayer.org / May 12, 2010
Something that has always puzzled the media and others, but which fans completely understand, is just why those of us who love Michael Jackson have remained steadfastly loyal to him throughout it all, over all the years of ups and downs, and even now we will defend his legacy through thick and thin. The short answer is just one word: LOVE. The long answer would probably fill the Library of Congress a few times over. Of course, love doesn't require an explanation to anyone, but for the sake of celebrating it and hopefully awakening others to it, I'd like to give the world a tiny slice of my insight into the beautiful relationship between Michael and his fans.
First, the word "fan" (coming from "fanatic", for you non-English speakers) never seemed like the right word to me. If you really like a sports team, a television series or the newest trend, you say you're a big fan of it. The word often carries with it a sense of the frivolous, sort of a roll-your-eyes patronization. Dictionary.com defines a fan as "an enthusiastic devotee, follower, or admirer". Enthusiastic is definitely a word I'd use to describe MJ fans! But if you ask us how we truly feel about Michael we'll tell you immediately that it goes much, much deeper than that. We can explain to you that we're not celebrity-chasing simpletons bedazzled by rhinestone socks ("Oooo, sparkly man!") or swept up in a momentary hysteria of paparazzi and the crush of the crowd. And we aren't just dedicated to Michael for his music, his moves, his art or performance. (Although we'll certainly point those things out. He's a groundbreaker, a trendsetter, a unique, beautiful one-of-a-kind, record-holding phenomenon, channeling cosmic creative energy through stunning talent, perfected through a lifetime of hard work and discipline. Michael is amazing. And when you experience something amazing you want to share the joy, hence our occasional near-proselytizing ;)
Behind all of this awe and excitement, though, those of us who love him found someone even more amazing... someone everyone could have found if only they'd looked a tad harder to see through the tabloid headlines and the "shocking, startling, disturbing!" plugs for 'news' segments. If you're still believing that garbage, I can only implore you to read between the lines and seek out facts, not sensationalism shamelessly concocted for profit. The pen may be mightier than the sword, but LOVE trumps them both and Michael's millions of fans are hard proof of this.
The person, the amazing human being behind the talent, was a caring man, a wonderful father and a humanitarian whose heart bled for the children of the world. He was a man who, despite being repeatedly attacked, belittled and subverted, was able to retain a childlike innocence and kindness about him that most adults aren't even clever enough to envy. Even after suffering through the unwarranted 2005 trial and the lead-up to it, with month after agonizing month under threat of what would amount to death if disbelieved, of being accused of hurting those he cherished most (imagine that pain, if you dare), he was still able four years later to speak of LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, to continue the mission of healing the world and spreading kindness with "L-O-V-E".
Did you know that while on concert tours, even when he was already donating all his profits directly to charity (see Victory Tour and Dangerous Tour for examples of this unparalleled generosity), he visited orphanages and children's hospitals everywhere he went? Most of these visits went unnoticed by media outlets and he wasn't asking for publicity. Kenny Ortega told the following story (video on left): "I was with Michael in Eastern Europe and we got off a plane and he said, 'Do you want to go to the hotel or come to the orphanage with me?'" Kenny chose to go with Michael directly to the orphanage. Once they arrived they found the conditions were quite grim and he observed Michael whispering to a couple of people. Later Kenny learned what Michael had whispered - "This orphanage will be turned around. There will be new beds in here, there will be clean sheets in here, there will be more people in here taking care of these children by tomorrow or I'm not going to go on stage." The situation was turned around in 24 hours. This was how Michael lived and what he stood for. And he visited places like this everywhere he went. How many of us would truly take the time and make the effort to do the same? I mean for real, not because it was just pointed out to you.
Neverland is another case in point. Time and again we have seen programs showcasing the "eccentricity" or "extravagance" of the place, with its Disney-like themes, sculptures and artwork, movie theater, train and amusement park. Now question how often we are reminded about the constant stream of sick kids, underprivileged children and those who were near to their last breath who were entertained and given moments (sometimes stretching into months) of joyous sanctuary at Neverland. Fans were sometimes welcomed onto the grounds to ride the rides and have some ice cream as well! And these things happened whether or not Michael was there. Neverland wasn't only for his own amusement and it wasn't just his attempt to make up for a smidgen of his missed childhood - it was also a gift to the inner child of the world. It was a place for healing and delight, created by a genius of innocence. Thank you so much, Michael. You're Peter Pan in our hearts too.
And now, back to those fans, of which I have been one for over 26 years. Michael's love was not reserved only for the lucky few who were closest to him, but was freely given to the huge crowds who attended his concerts and who gathered in loving frenzy wherever he appeared. (For better at times and for worse at others, one can't very well be the King of Pop without a whole kingdom of followers, right?) What may seem from the outside like a one-way fantasy affair, the relationship between Michael and his fans was anything but. Despite the stresses and pressures of fame, Michael dealt with those who loved him with a calm grace that can only be described as angelic. He would be present in the moment with us, would hug, blow kisses, he would reach out his hand... at least as much as he could, given safety concerns. He frequently expressed admiration for posters and artwork made for him and would thankfully accept these and other gifts from fans. He was patient with autograph seekers and gracious with the hysterical and crying (you know who you are ;) who only wanted that one sublime moment of contact, that one blessed chance to tell him "I love you" in person, and be heard. And isn't that what love wants most... to be expressed, to be given? And hopefully welcomed? Michael must have understood this, for he gave it, accepted it and validated it. "It's all for love."
And after the television crews went home and the crowds thinned, another side of this partnership could be experienced. Groups of admirers would camp outside hotels, waiting for any glimpse of Michael and for one more chance to declare their love. He frequently rewarded them with waves and smiles from his hotel window or balcony. Sometimes his personal videographer would film messages for him from people in the crowd. When it was cold Michael would send down blankets via security personnel. When they'd been waiting outside for hours, singing him songs or cheering him on, he would order a big stack of pizzas just for them. If they stubbornly stayed throughout the night he was known to send down pillows. He would play what fans call "window games" with them, like playful sessions of peek-a-boo behind the curtains in response to their calls. When they held up elaborate signs and posters they'd made for Michael, he would send someone down to pick the items up. If his room was close enough to the ground floor, he'd been known to talk with the remaining fans on occasion late at night. And a great many of them over the years were invited up to hotel rooms to meet with Michael personally.
When fans would hang out in front of Neverland's gates it wasn't so unusual to be given food, drinks, treats and sometimes a welcome to come in for some hours to enjoy the rides. In 1999 Michael personally met and spoke with a whole group of very lucky fans for an entire hour outside a friend's home in London. He also personally attended parties and events organized by fans, such as his 45th Birthday Party and the Killer Thriller Party. And he always showed great concern for individuals in potentially dangerous situations, always watching out for everyone, not wanting anyone to fall and get hurt or be injured by one of the vehicles. There are so many stories and videos demonstrating these moments. One I'd like to share is found in the book "It's All About LOVE". In 2002, a woman named Marjorie, who was receiving chemotherapy treatments at the time, was waiting in Pasadena for the American Bandstand 50th Anniversary taping. The gathering of fans was fortunate to be very close to Michael for some moments. He accepted the artwork Marjorie had made for him and then, to her surprise he reached out and pulled her into a tight hug and whispered, "You should have stayed home. You look very sick." This is but one example of the caring gestures so many received. How many celebrities would notice, and care and hold her in their arms without even receiving any word about her condition? But then he had seen enough sick and dying children in his life to know what someone in the midst of chemo looks like. And he cared.
Another not widely known show of affection from Michael to his fans was the written word. Besides the many personal notes and autographs that exist out there in the world, there are many that were simply written to us, his fans at large. He would often write little love letters on papers, on pillows or whatever was around at the time. Sometimes given away by security, sometimes dropped from hotel windows or handed out of car doors, these tokens of love are sweetly meaningful. Some of them have been compiled in the video to the left (Letters of Love). And Michael always did this. He did this many years ago, all the way up through 2009. Some of them show a vulnerable side ("Please love me always") or contain a plea for us to help him heal the world ("Remember to love the children", "Always help the children. Love them."), while in others he promises to do his best for us and expresses things such as "Thanks for all your loyalty and support" and "You make me so happy, I can feel your energy through the walls". Mostly, though, they were all about LOVE: "I love you", "I will always adore you all", "I truly miss you all and love you from the bottom of my heart", "I love you so much", "Just know that I truly love and appreciate all of you", "You are my life always", "I am recording tonight, for all of you. You are my true inspiration forever", "I truly love you all forever, I promise."
The things fans can take to heart here are: 1) He really meant it, and 2) He wrote these things to ALL of us in the larger sense, you and me as well. Although we may not have been there at the hotel window that night, we could have been. You could have caught that pillow. I could have caught that note. Perhaps you hadn't discovered Michael yet. Perhaps some of you hadn't even been born yet when a few of these things were written. It doesn't matter. As the message from Michael declared on michaeljacksonlive.com for the 'This Is It' announcement: "It is now I see and feel that calling once again to be part of a music that will not just connect, but make all feel ONE, one in joy, one in pain, one in love, one in service and in consciousness." This is echoed in the film when he's again heard saying, "We're all ONE".
♥ ONE IN LOVE ♥
So now we are back to the original question of why Michael Jackson fans stuck by his side through it all, why we seem so crazily devout to those on the outside who can't catch the vibe. I'm sorry for those who can't, really. To truly understand, I suspect you simply must catch that wave. But rest assured, there really is thought behind our fanhood. For some of us, the many years since falling for Michael have given us enough time for a great deal of thought, in fact. To be rational, we intensely enjoy with the utmost zeal what he shared with the world, his talent, the joy we get watching him, listening to him, and we respect the discipline and time it took to become that great. But it's so much more than that. We also supremely appreciate that someone this amazing, the biggest superstar in the world with the biggest selling album in history, could still be such a loving and kind person, someone who cared for the sick and needy and the Earth and actually tried to do something about it again and again and again. And he didn't stop there. He wanted us ALL to heal the world. That must be a quality in the heart, in the soul. You can't fake that, at least not for 50 years. But it's even more than that, isn't it? We all basked in the blissfulness of joy and the certain thrill of excitement together with Michael, smiling and innocently flirting through the windows of our souls. We have missed him while he missed us. We have laughed with him while he laughed with us. We have felt that burst of transcendent emotion that blazes through us and crescendos in a divine moment of oneness ... at a concert, who would have figured? We have prayed for Michael and supported him through his struggles, and whether known or not, he was there for us through his music and inspiration when we needed him most. And his continual courage in the face of opposition cannot go unrecognized! For Michael we have cried our happiest tears... and our most devastating. In the end I don't think any of us could explain in a way that wouldn't involve a knowing in the deepest part of who we are, which is something we fans can share at our core. And at that core is love. We just love Michael. Period. As a human being and forever in spirit. So yes, it's all for love. L.O.V.E. And as I said in the beginning, that doesn't require an explanation. ♥
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