There are some things we expected to last as long as we are around. The World Trade Center. The big auto manufacturers. Michael Jackson, and more. America has changed in our generation more perhaps than any since World War II. It is not the same. Certain things we may have taken for granted are no more. Love him or hate him, Michael Jackson was a part of America’s cultural identity.

When visitors from other countries would come to the U.S., including some of my friends from Europe, they would say, that when they think of America, they think of big money, big cars, big houses, fancy clothes, Elvis, the Beatles, Madonna, Brittney Spears, Disneyland, New York City, Hollywood, and Michael Jackson among more. Michael Jackson was the most famous living star on the planet. Those that questioned my statement of that fact didn’t doubt me after July 7th. Every major network in The United States halted all other news for live reports on the sad news. Michael Jackson had passed on.

Aside from his greatness as a talent, his genius as a singer, dancer, and performer, Michael Jackson influenced the world by the sake of his massive fame alone. It didn’t matter that he hadn’t made a record in years, he was still famous. Highly well read, he studied classic literature, history, philosophy, law, and more. The intellectual side of Michael Jackson was not known by most of the world. While media sought to focus on his facial surgeries or masks he wore, they didn’t bother to remind the world that he has suffered second and third degree burns on his head and face while shooting a commercial years earlier, during which an explosion scarred his facial tissue and left him in severe pain. There are two sides to every story, and the fact is, despite being the biggest star in the world, Michael’s side usually didn’t get out fairly. And when it didn’t, he often just didn’t bother trying to set the record straight.

Michael Jackson not only gave us great entertainment with his music, he also gave us great entertainment with his life as well. His theatrics, for better or worse, became nearly as famous as his sound. The world talked about Michael Jackson no matter what he was doing, or not doing, he had become thought of as almost otherworldly. Michael Jackson was a part of not only American pop culture, but the cultures of the world. He embraced fans in other countries, where he was just as big, if not bigger than his homeland. When Michael left us, a part of the popular culture identity we have through mass media changed. Michael Jackson was larger than life. And now that life is dead. It s a painful reminder, if Michael Jackson can die at a mere 50, maybe we should not take life so much for granted.

The death of Michael Jackson was a reality check, for other icons, for superstars, stars, celebrities, for his fans, and for the world. Life is not forever on this planet. We must act NOW. Michael Jackson is gone, but a part of him is still with us. Let’s make the world a better place like he always wanted, and let’s start with ourselves first. We dedicate this issue to the biggest star ever that I had the pleasure of photographing – Michael Jackson.

- Bruce Edwin, Editor, © The Hollywood Sentinel

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