In the Presence of Greatness – Michael Jackson’s “This Is It!”

This is not another review of the movie.   It’s probably got enough publicity as it is, simply because of the millions of Michael Jackson die-hard fans.  But like all my (so-called) reviews, I just wanted to share my experience of the film and what I got out of it as a person, and more importantly, at least for this movie, as a mother and what it can impart to my kids. 

Don’t really know why I’m using words like ‘impart’ but it’s probably directly the cause of the movie  (l-o-v-e).  Even the most screwed up life can produce something good, and great and beautiful.  Cheesy but true. 

And if we can all agree on something, it’s that Michael Jackson’s life was so far away from normal that it was well and truly screwed up.  Read on for the rest of it.


Die doing what you love.  It sounds a bid morbid, because that is exactly what he did.  But with the person that MJ was, and having been born into the family/environment/circumstances he found himself in, not doing what he loved would have killed him anyway. 

The support (or pressure depending on how you look at it) may not be the same for us mortal folks but we could also take the lesson as making sure that we live doing what we love.  If you’re a computer programmer, work with passion on your projects, if you’re a couch potato, only watch shows that you’re passionate about otherwise do something else with passion. 

I’m a mother of three, I can assure you I am doing what I love to do everyday and then some.  It’s not always easy, and I totally understand the expression “this kid is going to be the death of me!” but ain’t no other way to go but be smothered in l-o-v-e.


He was true to his artistic vision. He knew what he wanted, and he communicated it to his ‘family’ (what he fondly called the batallion of people around him) as clearly as possible.

He was not afraid to make mistakes, and he fully believed that he had the best ideas and he stood by them.  No excuses, he believed he had a message to communicate to the world, and despite critics and naysayers, he did what he was compelled in his heart and soul to do.


Probably because of his pressure-filled childhood, he went out of his way to create a gentle, open environment where creative ideas freely flowed and the artistic jousting and direction was always communicated in the gentlest, kindest way possible. The only ‘firmness’ needed, if you like, was the fact that the direction or correction was coming from Michael Jackson.

If he said it, it stood. And he didn’t have to scream and shout for it. He had earned the respect that he commanded, and he continually showed that he totally deserved it. 

On a personal note, I’ve been exploring this idea of having a ‘gentle family’ this year as part of my resolution to create boundaries — where things, issues, people are handled gently because it seems that my default mode of dealing with things is quickly criticizing or some sort of short-tempered problem-solving.  It doesn’t make my kids feel good,  nor me eventually, and it may seem to solve things on the surface but the collateral damage creates more problems than the original problem. 

At the very least, I want to lessen, if not eliminate, yelling at the kids (except in life-threatening situations, or maybe if we were in a really cool ‘Amazing Race’ kind of situation).


Why do you think his body eventually conked out? He was there 110% no matter what!  If everyone around him worked hard, that’s because he worked doubly hard than any of them. 

As a mother, it’s a powerful lesson of living a life of example.  Really, if your kids see you doing your best everyday, despite a headache or traffic jams or missing pens when you need it, then they’ll show up in their own lives in the best way possible too. 

It’s a cliche, and this movie is full of it, but children do learn what they live. 

They don’t do as you say, they do as you do.  Be responsible and be 110% committed to living your best life (even if it means walking away from it all for a few minutes to regroup) every day.


L-O-V-E.  Just go see the film.  And spread the love around.


Fashion (and Filipino to boot!) - I was very proud to see Filipino-American Zaldy Goco designing Michael’s outfits.  Sadly, his creations will never really be used for what they were created for.

Music- Not an extra but, of course, center stage in this film.  It is of course Michael Jackson’s greatest legacy alongside his children.  Hubby and I got to rock the night away, while the kids tried to join in at times, other times just wondering how in the heck we knew so much of MJ’s music.  Which brings me to the third extra.

Memories - It was a bit of a history lesson, the kind I used to love when I was a kid myself, where I would listen to my Dad tell me stories about his childhood. 

Now it was my turn to say that I was in Grade 1 when that song came out, or I remember in Grade 6 when we got reprimanded for listening to “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” (it was one of those overnight camping school events and we were up in the middle of the night instead of sleeping in our tents).  Such fun!  I remember dancing to the ”Black and White” video in a tube top to look like one of those changing faces at the end, and working damn hard to remember those rap lyrics. 

Thanks for the memories, Michael!

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