Jacko, you maniac. What have you done?
We learnt yesterday that Michael Jackson has postponed the first few dates of his O2 residency. The delay is due to emergency “flesh-saving skin cancer surgery” according to The Sun – although knowing Jackson it’s just as likely to be down to a legal crisis, or a conversion to Islam, or an impromptu magic-carpet ride to the moon.
Whatever the reason, Jackson needs better advisers. The sole benefit of launching a live comeback – apart from the obvious financial reasons (and let’s not forget, before these dates went on sale Jacko’s estate was more ‘leveraged’ than RBS) – was to restore the public goodwill that had been eroded by decades of lurid rumours about oxygen tents, monkey butlers, and… well, you know the rest.
When it emerged that he was going to return to the live arena, I thought: at last, he’s finally got the point. People don’t want to worship him as a god, they just want to see him perform. It’s what he’s good at, or used to be. Even at the time, though, I thought, perhaps I’m being a little over-optimistic here.
And so it has proved. At a stroke, that career-saving oxygen-blast of goodwill has evaporated, replaced by needling resentment amongst long-suffering fans who will now have to wait until 2010 to see their fallen idol play ‘Billie Jean’, having been formerly first in the queue. OK, it’s only four dates, but – as with MPs billing taxpayers for duck-houses and moat-cleaning – it’s not about the gravity of the crime, it’s about how it looks, the perception it creates.
And the perception now, amongst people who spent hours on the phone back in March to snap up over-priced tickets, is that Jackson has let them down yet again. And who’s to say this isn’t the start of a series of postponements? Back in March, I said: this is Jackson’s one chance to rescue his legacy for the ages. Let’s hope he doesn’t blow it.
Well guess what? He just has.