Before this week, Time hadn't published a special commemorative issue (between regular issues) since right after September 11, 2001. So, what led the magazine to decide that Michael Jackson's life and death deserved the same attention as a major world event?
"I think because Michael had such a distinctive life. His fame was so much higher than other pop stars' fame," Time editor-at-large Belinda Luscombe told MTV News on Monday (June 29), when the issue hit newsstands. "Thriller was a huge best-seller. Secondly, he was young and it was really unexpected, and his life had been much, much loved and much talked about. Plus, it was a chance to write about his highs — which were very high — and his lows."
The issue examines Jackson's life, death and career, which included hit records, as well as controversy and mystery. "His life is such a puzzle," she said. "The only thing that we can be certain about Michael Jackson is the brilliance of his music ... and that's why you do a cover of Time. He influenced so many, and his life tracked the arc of fame. The only thing you really knew about it was the brilliance."
Luscombe, who covered Jackson in the '90s, added that even when he tried to explain his actions, his just came off as bizarre. "He was a disastrous explainer of his own life, and you do enough weird things, and people are just going to think you're weird," she said. "He was foolish public-wise. He was too secluded, and he couldn't see [that] what might have been innocent ... looked suspicious to other people. He tended to stay out of the way of people that gave him advice that he didn't like. He would not always listen to the people who had the best interest."
For the issue, Time spoke to everyone from Donald Trump and Berry Gordy to Ice-T and Deepak Chopra, the famous doctor and friend of Jackson who didn't hide his distaste for some of Jackson's other acquaintances in the issue. Chopra said Jackson was "totally enabled by these Hollywood mafia drug-dealer doctors who have medical licenses and should be brought to justice."
"I think Deepak is quite enraged," Luscombe said. "He really went on about [how his friends were enablers], and he's come out and said this is something that was dangerous."
After his death, despite all those years in which people just thought of Michael as eccentric and bizarre, Luscombe said his friends and fans are remembering him for what he was: a brilliant musician. "I think people are looking through the weirdness," she said. "People realize they forgot the music and how great it was."
For complete coverage of the life, career and passing of the legendary entertainer, visit "Michael Jackson Remembered."
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