The movie "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" would appear to be, at first blush, a totally fictionalized piece of work.
After all, it's about a man who is born old, and gets younger as his life goes on--physically and mentally.
And it was good enough to rake in a bunch of Academy Awards earlier this year. Ever since "Forrest Gump" came out, such fantasy films have been Oscar-worthy.
But I submit that "Button" isn't 100% fiction. Artistic license wasn't exhausted on the story, not completely.
Michael Jackson was as close to Button as anyone who ever existed in the so-called "real" world.
The more I thought about Jackson, who is being memorialized in Los Angeles as I write this, the more it occurred to me that he was like Button, and maybe not as weird as you think.
Before you tell me to lie down while you fetch a thermometer and hunt for my doctor's phone number, let me explain.
Jackson's lack of a normal childhood affected him much more than most child stars, emotionally. It wasn't just the lack of normalcy; it was suffering under the suffocating cloak of an abusive father.
Jackson has been on record as saying that he would weep, openly, at the end of a long day of recording or rehearsing, when he'd see "normal" kids playing in the street or in a park. For he knew that such a life was beyond him. While other kids were watching TV, reading comic books, or spending the day at a sandlot field, Jackson and his brothers were in a studio.
Even the seemingly mundane routine of getting up to go to school was a fantasy.
Celebrity and money enabled Jackson to try to have a childhood, after all.
Of course, he was a grown man at the time, and that's where it got complicated and weird.
I believe that Jackson absolutely was of the mindset that spending all that time with children when he himself was old enough to be their father (and then some) was innocent, and why was there all the fuss?
Jackson couldn't be a child while he was a kid, so he tried to be one as an adult.
It's rather sad, really.
It also makes me wonder whether Jackson's brain ever really matured. Clearly he didn't mature emotionally. And I don't say that to be a smart aleck. Maybe it's possible that his mind's growth was stunted, thanks to his abnormal childhood. Hence him thinking that certain things were OK and innocent, when society clearly says that they are not.
He turned to drugs, obviously, and that, ironically, might have been the most "normal" thing about him, because celebrity and drugs have gone hand-in-hand all too often.
Michael Jackson got younger as he grew older. At the very least, he plateaued in his emotional growth.
That might make him weird in your eye.
To me, it makes him the end result of weird formative years.
Jackson created a world for himself that few of us, if any, have ever inhabited. Or ever will.
It's OK to be glad that we never inhabited that world, but maybe not so much to mock it, because we'll never understand how it came about.
I don't think that Michael Jackson was ever truly happy, at any time in his life. I think that he went at the symptoms, but was never able to cure himself.
Do with that what you will.