There’s also an odd parallel in his story to the most acclaimed American movie of them all—“Citizen Kane.” While the fictional press baron Charles Foster Kane (obviously based on the real-life William Randolph Hearst) poured much of his fortune into his exotic and eccentric estate, “Xanadu,” Michael Jackson lavished untold hundreds of millions into his similarly peculiar “Neverland Ranch.” Both estates featured private zoos of unusual animals. Like Kane, MJ won widespread admiration for his youthful achievements, but then became better known for his quirks, idiosyncrasies and scandals. For his last word, Citizen Kane pronounced “Rosebud,” connecting him with the sweet joys of a distant childhood; Michael Jackson, touring the world from his earliest years, experienced those joys only in his imagination or his unfulfilled longing.
The connection with Elvis of course deserves notice and mention. Not only did MJ wed (briefly) The King’s only child, but his career followed the same trajectory: with undeniable talent leading to worldwide adulation, followed by a sad, self-destructive decline (which did little to diminish the ardor of their fans). In both cases, sudden and shocking death put short the hopes for a promised comeback.
Despite the depressing circumstances of his demise, Elvis Presley enjoyed even greater popularity and profitability after his death, and the same result is likely for Michael Jackson. Graceland became something of a national shrine, and it’s likely that Neverland will also turn into a pilgrimage destination. As with The King, the premature and startling death of The King of Pop will function to turn a mostly pathetic story into a truly tragic one—another distinction that the great performer has posthumously blurred.