I Used To Love Him: Michael Jackson (AKA Teenage Idol)

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“Hey spider, you’ve got a Michael Jackson stuck to your butt…”

Who did you idolise as a teenager? Did you go crazy for the Beatles? Ga-ga over Duran Duran? In love with Justin Bieber? Did you think Elvis was the livin’ end? Via The Daily Post (January 11th 2016)

Justin Bieber? How young do you think I am?! (*Fluffs hair*).

It’s been quite a pressured week, so I’m taking time out to do a blog prompt because sometimes I like to seek inspiration rather than think for myself, alright? So sue me.

Obviously this week we very suddenly and shockingly lost a true legend in the shape of Bowie, and the world is still reeling. I haven’t seen this much widespread grief since Diana (or the person I’m about to wax lyrical about) and it’s incredibly sad.

It’s made me think on and off about heroes growing up, personal influences and how they mould us as young people and how we carry them into adulthood, like pretty, shiny talismans (men?).

I was obsessed with Micheal Jackson from a very early age. Like OBSESSED. Every video, album, film starring my boy – I was all over it. My Mum made me a ‘Bad’ birthday cake and there were MJ themed parties. I even convinced the girl next door, who was terribly uncool and ate only oranges and peanut butter, that I was named after my hero.

“Michael can be a girl’s name too, you know” is what I’d haughtily respond when she questioned me. I wish my name had been Michael to be honest but alas, my parents were not major fans themselves nor mind readers.

I would lie in bed at night with my Walkman plugged in, lip syncing the Vincent Price bit at the end of Thriller to myself. I knew all the words to Liberian Girl.

Man in the Mirror actually did make me look inside myself and ponder if I really needed to change. I decided the answer was no, I was only ten and perfect as far as I could see. 

Alas, my hero did some heinous things that caused his shine to all but extinguish. I won’t rehash those things here, nor will I deny them because I believe the accusations are true. There’s no defense and no amount of love for a former idol, who carried you through the awkward years into adulthood, that can excuse what he’s done.

My hero was messed up and then he messed up very badly. I think even before he died I’d forced myself to move on because good people don’t hurt the vulnerable, they don’t hurt anybody, even if they themselves seem vulnerable and childlike.

My ultimate hero wasn’t going to be a bad man even if he was Michael Jackson, King of my Heart. The first man I ever loved who wasn’t my father.

I can’t remember how I processed all that but I must of because by the time he died I was very sad but accepting. It had seemed only a matter of time, judging by his frail outward appearance and rumours of drug abuse. And again, how could I forgive him?

I still feel sad for the loss and that I’ve never felt the way I did about him since, about anyone. No more idols for me.

Actors and Musicians I like very much, sure but nobody I’ll ever pretend to be named after.

We Could Be Heroes #2: Alabama Worley (Fictional)

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ICON, in every way

It’s hard to pick favourites when it comes to film, books and songs. I mean, there are so many amazing works out there, to pick just one as your champion is nigh on impossible. Plus, these things tend to undulate with your moods.

I have two* favourite movies that always stick and they have something in common, that old chestnut: the strong female lead.

I know Hollywood talks about the strong female lead like it’s doing the world a favour and it can be annoying. A lead is a lead surely, regardless of gender. But alas, this is the world we live in (for now) and this isn’t a post about that.

Both films have a Tarantino influence; one is directed by him, the other written by. Which shows me that, while he might come across as a annoying arse at times, he knows how to give us great female characters. Not great actually, THE BEST.

But to the subject of today’s post. Step up here, Alabama Worley (née Whitman), you angel.

Played fantastically by the beautiful Patricia Arquette, Alabama is True Romance (1993). Actually she is everything; a badass, a fighter – an ICON and surely one of the best characters in movie history.

Let’s look at the evidence. To the untrained eye you could be forgiven for seeing her as just another ditz, along for the ride with her bad boy husband, nothing but a giggling slice of arm candy with no real function. You’d be wrong though.

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True Love, Innit

While Alabama narrates her own love story, she is anything but an empty vessel. Sure, she’s a romantic, impulsively marrying Clarence a day after meeting him, even proclaiming it”…so romantic!” when he later admits to killing her pimp in a violent showdown. Sure, she’s feminine in an overtly sexual way; all tight leggings and short skirts (best personal style ever).

She’s nurturing and pure of heart; she even tastes like a peach if Clarence (and his father) are to be believed.

My kingdom for Alabama's wardrobe
My kingdom for Alabama’s wardrobe

But all these qualities live comfortably within a resilient, smart woman. Not once does she ask for help from her man, or anybody else for that matter. This is no damsel in distress. Clarence spirals out of control because he struggles with the idea that his wife was once a call girl. She’s cool with it and unapologetic. Clarence is the one who feels like he has something to prove: his own masculinity.

Alabama is strong and she’s brave too, taking a horrific beating mid way through the film from the mob’s hit man, Virgil (I’m writing this assuming you’ve all seen this film, ain’t nobody got time to explain plot). It’s horrible to watch but also illustrates who she is.

Alabama emerges victorious, proving that for love she will fight tooth and nail; and she’ll fight with her wits. It’s beautiful, once you come to terms with the violence and even Virgil has to concede that she really is something else.

Afterwards, bloodied and bruised, ‘bama’s still okay, still smiling and still standing. She is a BADASS.

“Don’t worry babe, I got this”.

I don’t need to tell you that she also saves her husband’s life in the end, when shit hits the fan on a messed up drug deal. As the bullets whiz past her and the blood flows, Alabama gets up and she walks her badly injured lover right out of harm’s way. She drives him to safety, never looking back.

It’s a happy ending (thankfully, the original script allegedly WAS NOT) and it’s the best. I will never tire of True Romance; of the characters, of the dialogue, of the aesthetic.

I even have a “You’re So Cool” tattoo on my wrist, homage to the loveliest mantra:

Amid the chaos of that day, when all I could hear was the thunder of gunshots, and all I could smell was the violence in the air, I look back and am amazed that my thoughts were so clear and true, that three words went through my mind endlessly, repeating themselves like a broken record: you’re so cool, you’re so cool, you’re so cool.

I guess that’s why I love Alabama so much, she’s real and a romantic, just like me.

*I’ll share my second favourite film in another post soon. Promise.

All image via Google.

We Could Be Heroes #1: Daisy Steiner (Fictional)

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K.O

Just before I moved to Brighton to follow my own path, I fell in love with a television show called Spaced. It was 1999 and I felt like it was written just for me.

That it became popular, and then pretty much a cult classic later on didn’t matter, back then I thought it was mine. Specifically, I thought Daisy’s character had been written with me in mind. The dufus other half (though not romantically) of Tim Bisley, I wondered how could she exist when she was so similar to me and my friends. Here was a normal woman, who looked normal, dressed eclectically and accidentally threw around the peace sign in job interviews.

Together, Tim and Daisy felt like the voice of my generation: slacker edition.

Today, I still watch Spaced with the glee of a child. The characters are nailed so brilliantly, from chain-smoking Marsha the landlady to Brian the tortured artist and his on-again-off-again love interest, Twist. Mike, Tim’s best friend and would be commando, Tyres – you can’t not love every single last one of them as they bumble through life, job searches, dole offices, petty rivalries and affairs of the heart, by way of club nights and street fights.

Yep. Me too.
Yep. Me too.

But Daisy Steiner. What is there to say? From the moment she bustled into that greasy spoon and bonded with Bisley over the accommodation section of the local paper, it was love. Not for them, mind but for the rest of us. As they convinced Marsha they were a professional couple in order to secure the keys to her downstairs flat, a beautiful friendship was born.

Daisy was an aspiring writer with a penchant for procrastination, though she eventually birthed such literary gems as ‘Bogling – is it the new Tango?’ and ‘Winter Skincare – do’s and don’ts’. She was (is) a happy-go-lucky lady-child with the sort of over-enthusiastic nature I can get behind. When Tim’s heart is broken (twice), she’s right there with him and when he’d rather mope, she takes him to the pub.

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:/

But the beauty of Daisy is her tendency to put her foot right in it. Social interaction isn’t always the most successful as she likes to waffle and just loves to get involved in other people’s business, mainly so she doesn’t have to do any work. In short, she’s a more extreme version of me, though can’t we all see a little of ourselves in Daisy?

It’s easy to forget what the nineties was like for TV, but a brief flashback reminds me that this was probably the first time something like Spaced appeared. It showcased superb comedy writing (by Simon Pegg and Jessica Hynes née Stevenson), contained references to films and television shows I truly loved and was the antidote to the piles of shit I’d been watching before it.

It was the opposite of serious dramas like Cracker and Band of Gold (which were admittedly brilliant) and a different humour altogether from popular comedies like The Vicar of Dibley and Ab Fab. Spaced was as different as you could get from favourites like The X Files, Twin Peaks (very early 90’s) and my personal favourite, This Life.

So I ate it up and will love it for the rest of my days. It’s quoted daily in our household and how many other households across the country, honestly?

Daisy was best when she was finding herself, getting off with the paper boy, quoting the Spice Girls, rescuing Colin, her beloved miniature Schnauzer, batting away backhanded compliments from her BFF, Twist and bringing out the big guns in bar and street brawls with men in black/culinary school kids. In short, she was always the best.

So to you, dear Daisy, I say; Girl power forever.

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N’aw

We Could Be Heroes is a new series of posts looking a women (and sometimes men) I admire, sometimes fictional, sometimes real.

All images via Google.