Long before the King of Pop took over the world there existed a dance called the backslide. It was a slide step perfected most famously by Bill Bailey. The backslide would become even more famous as Michael Jackson's moonwalk. In the end, Jackson was so goddamn weird that his non-performer personality overshadowed many of his contributions, but when he busted that moonwalk out at Motown's 25th anniversary Special, I was floored. The dance was back, back in a body openly receptive to the old masters as well as the latest patchwork offerings of plastic surgery.
As one who's witnessed the complete tragic-heroic arc of his career, I'm at loss to derive much meaning from his death. Only the most innocent or sadistic could have hoped for his shape-shifting delusions to carry on much longer. It was an act both unsustainable and intolerable. Michael Jackson could never have been that crazy without first having been that rich. And he was rich because he was an amazing dancing and singing automaton for most of his life. That said, I can't imagine anyone truly thinking a return to performing was about to revitalize him or his career. The O2 gigs were fated. Destiny tinged with any glory was out of the question from the first announcement. Michael Jackson might have been a pop culture superman but in the end, he was just a cartoon.
*For a more astute point of view, check this superfly riff session about the Life & Death of Michael Jackson.