Michael Jackson was someone that was always in existence in my memory. He was just a given, like George Washington and Mickey Mouse.
However, I am slightly too young to say that I grew up with Michael Jackson's Thriller, or Bad, even. I was a kid, sheltered, in a non-American household, and my only interests were cartoons and playtime. I do remember Bad, and I remember seeing the video "Black or White". Those were my initial MJ memories, but what also simultaneously accompanied those memories were the court proceeding details. When I knew who Michael Jackson was, I already had the impression that he was involved in something wrong.
I grew older, and I heard his music, and it wasn't revolutionary to me, but instinctively familiar. I think that's a testament to his genius. I didn't think about how amazing his songs were, but how it was already a part of my melody library. I watched him dance, and I was entertained, but it was already established that he was the best dancer in the world. He had already gone through 3 lifetimes and back by the time I started being interested in pop culture.
My past image of Michael Jackson was as conflicted as his legacy. I doubted him, I thought he was strange, and I definitely made unkind remarks about his appearance and choices. But I ALWAYS danced my heart out when his songs came on the radio, and considered him the King of Pop.
In retrospect, and with some wisdom that age has brought to me (ha... I feel stupid putting my age of 26 and the word "wisdom" together), I now only hear his music and mourn his tragedy. I think he was largely misunderstood. I think he made some poor choices, and demonstrated some lack of judgment. But I also think he suffered, and that the majority of his missteps were not intended with malice. I haven't been able to stop listening to his songs since the day he passed, and I don't think I ever will stop. I've grown to love and become obsessed with "Off the Wall" as an album, and come to crave his more mature tracks, like "Man in the Mirror" and "Human Nature". I find his dancing to still be unmatched, and truthfully, I hope it never will be.
I hope no one ever comes close to Michael Jackson, and that he is at peace. His artistic fame will truly be immortal, and that is probably what Michael Jackson wanted most.