Wednesday, June 30, 2010
michael, may you now be at peace: a reflection (no. 55)
okay... chris brown... i don't want to focus too much of my energy speaking on him necessarily, but all of this is interrelated.
we are conditioned to make heroes out of remnants of that which we idolize... rather, it's not the people we honor, but the cultural traits which resonate. we create idols out of specific characteristics as opposed to looking within ourselves and realize we could bring the same gifts to the table if we applied ourselves pro-actively.
we look to chris brown to being a culturally specific heir to you, michael; but really, it's imperative to know that everything has its place. chris brown can no more take your place than you could take james brown's place. the point is, that wasn't your goal. you embodied what mr. brown has taught you in many ways, though what you did was never designed to take his place. you embodied many cultural signifiers and used those things to enhance your creative output. you never used those signifiers as a crutch.
it seems like in these instantaneous times we use these signifiers as a crutch, so it's easy for someone like chris brown to be called 'the next michael jackson'. it's easy for him to fall back on the things which inspired him, instead of looking within himself to hone his talent. i can't say i am into his music (i know you said you were); but he's had some fame for a number of years, and i'm sure it's because he utilized some of the skills he had on his own to reach audiences. you were just the guide through which he felt inspired. in the midst of this we encourage chris brown to never reach his full potential, because we keep comparing him to you.
and thus, we collectively were upset when he was not allowed to perform on a tribute to you due to his 'domestic abuse' incident, in which he beat up his girlfriend severely... honestly, i feel two ways about it; having grown up in an abusive environment (as you have) i find his actions reprehensible. i think that his performing is too soon. at the same time i cannot be the judge of his level of development or therapy. on another level, how fair is it of me to cast him off as immoral, when i still listen to the music of ike turner, james brown or marvin gaye? shouldn't we hold these artists to the same standards, regardless of generational factors, or whether or not we like their art?
i knew that i didn't want to talk about this all day, but i had to frame it in a way so you'd grasp what i am trying to say. despite everything i just said, his association with you does not sit right with me. i suspect that much of it has to do with the concept of how we view art in these times. for chris brown to perform a few of your songs and emulate a few of your moves does not encompass the true nature of your work, your art and your teachings. the way you moved to me, was a tribute to the ancestors... it was a connection with a spiritual convergence. it was, to paraphrase you, another part of all of us. when i see chris brown i see a singular act, a gesture to iconic symbolism.it's as if he was inspired by performance, and not the message which came with that performance. he is preoccupied by the mechanics of the dance, and not consumed by that which encompasses it. all that there must be for him is, as you once stated, "the dance."
this is the only way to attain that higher purpose.
but alas, he is still young. is this attainment something that is within us the whole time, or is it something we have to strive for, with outside assistance? i believe the question is already answered but we collectively struggle with this in these times.
with that i have not seen this recent performance of his (which so many are discussing), where he cries during his performance of 'man in the mirror'... personally i have no interest in seeing this performance; as i told you before i'm not all that interested in seeing every dedication to you posthumously. i speak of chris brown here in light of the fact that we still have not dealt with ourselves- our HIGHER selves- and yet our dialog moves between whether or not chris brown was sincere in his tears in performance of a song in which the message is about accessing the higher self. he has some demons to deal with for sure; but really, in his dedication to you AND in our sympathetic (or critical) renderings of his performance- not to mention the fact that so many of us are still emotionally attached to the symbols chris brown seemingly echoed/reflected in this performance- can we say that any of us have really heard the message?
this is a call out not just to others, but to myself. i am but a humble student here on this plane, and i aim to do my best in sharing what you have taught me with others.