This one clearly, sadly, qualifies as an In Memoriam also. Though we all know that 2016 has featured some shattering losses, this is one I can write some about because George Michael did mean something to me growing up. While, yes, I enjoy Prince’s work (making this random post in early 2016), and Bowie’s there was not the connection on a personal level for me.
As is often the case, this connectivity hit home for me more later on than during my formative years. So far as the links I perceived at the time:
- Yes, I had a jean jacket.
- Yes, I did my own attempt at the wiggle-dance (far less convincing than my interpretive dance set to “Into the Groove” or my imitation of Axl Rose’s “snake” dance)
- Yes, I even thought the boots worked for him if for no one else.
As tends to be the case when one is young, impressionable, and wont to react in fear and revulsion at new things; I was repelled from Michael in part as he drifted from the ever-present limelight but also when he was coming to terms with his sexuality and dealing with depression, into my early-20s stuggling with my own identity. It’s not a wonder that as I spent my purgatorial time in denial I went to knock his persona from that pedestal down some even if I didn’t know why.
My longing for discretion and so-called normality allowed more puritanical and uninformed impulses to dominate my sentiment toward him. Moreover, it made me make a mistake I am loath to make: confusing artist and man. Not to mention that posthumous reporting has shown he was frequently charitable but didn’t brag about it.
However, once I began to more fully understand, and embrace both myself, and understand some issues pertaining to gay culture and him personally (namely how he did didn’t run and hide from the scandal that officially outed him, but instead lampooned it), my view of him altered.
With time away from tabloid headlines I was left to wonder: “OK, with all this new awareness in societal (which followed my own), why aren’t more of us saying ‘damn, he’s good!’
Hence, it comes as no surprise that I got a great kick out of his prominence in Keanu.
So this film showed he had some legs as someone who could be believably revealed to tough guys in a goofy comedy. However, he and Wham! made their cultural impact along the way. Just take a look at the video for, and two parodies for “Wake Me Up (Before You Go-Go).”
Aside from that his videos were also statements: straightforward, restrained, and performance-driven for the most part, and iconic for it.
He was directly responsible for the impact of “Faith” as he directed it, a fact I just learned.
But these weren’t the only songs and videos of note. Here are some more…
Last, but not least, there’s the now-rare modern-era Christmas classic “Last Christmas.” The coincidence of his departing this world on Christmas Day is lost on no one.
If this isn’t enough to convince you he had a film legacy, consider the IMDb lists him on over 200 titles.
His art will live on, as will his impact, whether it was fully appreciated at the time doesn’t matter. What does is that he has made an impact, has been of influence, and continues to be.
Rest in peace, George.