Friday, October 23, 2009

This May Be It For Michael Jackson But Is It Necessary?...

Michael Jackson has been called the “greatest performer of his generation” by many and even the “greatest performer of all time” by some, albeit perhaps overzealous, music fans. Naturally, everyone ate up his words when he announced his final concert during a press conference only a few months before his untimely death. Now the footage is being released in theaters and being billed as not only just a feature film but instead a full-on fan experience. The most jaded observers of the entertainment industry have not been surprised by the mad rush to capitalize on Jackon’s extraordinary performance style, but it is hard to think anyone imagined just what a spectacle this has all become.

The most diehard Jackson fans lined up and camped out overnight for days to have the chance to be among the select few who not only got the opportunity to see This Is It, the documentary about the making of Michael Jackson’s final concert, in the first screenings but also received commemorative gold tickets that could be pressed into scrapbooks and shown to their children and grandchildren. Some fans brought their young children with them while camping out, determined to show them just what a legend Jackson was and how many people shared a love for him.

This Is It will only be screening for two weeks, so the fan outpouring to get their hands on the tickets is understandable. Considering this is the last time (at least until “lost footage” from the eighties gets “leaked” when his estate dwindles even more) anyone will see MJ on stage, the fan frenzy is even expected. However, in the day and age of the internet, camping out for the first tickets to watch something on a screen—not even have the person on stage in front of you—just seems excessive.

The fans, though, don’t seem to think they are doing anything out of the ordinary, even those who have worn black everyday since learning of his death, or have scoured memorabilia sites looking for rare tour tee-shirts from Jackson’s old concerts. MJ himself stated that the reason for his concert was “all for love. L.O.V.E.” To the man who quickly blew up into a flamboyant character, the fan reaction surrounding this documentary is probably nothing more than fitting. There is no doubt that their actions are out of love.

"The fans meant everything to Michael," Director and Choreographer Kenny Ortega explained in an interview about why the raw rehearsal footage was being cut together and released as a product that did not have the final polish of an actual Jackson show. "They were his food, his fuel, his life source, his energy, and he was energized by them and he appreciated their loyalty more than I can ever say. This film is for the fans."

Jackson's family-- sister Latoya and mother Katherine-- have already both said they refuse to see the film. Are they crying exploitation? Not quite, but for those who loved and knew him, this is just too much, too soon.

There is also no doubt that even those who have already secured tickets by waiting in line those few weeks ago will still wait in line again during the day and night before the film’s eventual release. This Is It is proving to be a bonding experience for fans who may have never met before but will be able to talk for hours about their common interest.

What do you guys think: are you planning to see This Is It in theaters? Can it possibly live up to the hype that fans, and other media, are making it out to be? Would you camp out for MJ or for any celebrity, for that matter? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

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