Michael, take time out and heal thyself


February 01, 1993|By MIKE LITTWIN

Once, the Super Bowl was just about football and steroid-enhanced monsters crashing into each other for our amusement, capped by a few songs from Up with People. What more could you want?

Then it became a serious party, a national holiday, our midwinter Fourth of July, complete with fireworks and flyovers, not to mention several thousand tons of clam dip.

Now, after XXVII years, the Super Bowl has decided to save the world -- and party at the same time.

That explains how Michael Jackson ended up as the halftime show of shows.

Jackson is, of course, bigger than the Super Bowl, which is, after all, only a football game -- even if it's the Ultimate Football Game. Jackson is an extravaganza.

I'll prove it. Name any three defensive players on the Dallas Cowboys. Can't do it, right? Now, name Michael's pet chimp. You get my point.

But Jackson can't be there simply to play music -- just like the Super Bowl can't simply be a football game. In the first politically correct Super Bowl, old Mike has got to save the world in the process.

Did you see? Of course you did.

There he was, singing "Heal the World." He emerged from a puff of smoke, magically, sang a few of his greatest hits and grabbed himself a few times just to show it was entertainment. Then he got serious. The official estimate was that a billion people were watching. That's the biggest crowd Jackson has played since he gave Liz Taylor away in her most recent wedding.

But if there were only Michael Jackson -- and the 3,500 kids who joined him at the Rose Bowl -- that would seem to be plenty. But no. Garth Brooks, who has apparently sold more records than the Beatles and Elvis combined, was also there.

Brooks sang, well, warbled the National Anthem hatless, proving once and for all he does have a top to his head. I lost that bet. (By the way, who'd you have in the horse game -- Bird or Jordan?) Marlee Matlin signed the song for the hearing impaired. I wonder if she can sign in country-western.

But Brooks was not there to take a back seat on the world-saving front. Oh, no.

Introducing what must be the most heartwarming song since "We Are the World," he sang "We Shall Be Free," a video montage of most of the world's ills punctuated by Hollywood stars telling us we can solve the problems, if only we work together and maybe slow down on the clam dip. I know I was deeply moved by Jay Leno's plea to fight racism and poverty.

That didn't begin to match Michael, though. He is amazing. He sings, he dances, he dresses like he's auditioning for the Sgt. Pepper's album cover. He even wore the glove.

Nobody can suggest the guy isn't an amazing entertainer. They invented the word spectacle for his shows.

But if you're like me, the whole time he's singing "Heal the World," all you can think is, "Michael, wonderful sentiment and all, but maybe 'Heal Michael' is the way to go here. I mean, yeah, the world's a messed-up place, but Mikey, if you want to talk messed up, you don't have to leave the house."

This is a weird guy. Am I right?

Did you look at him? I mean, look at him?

Does the song "Whiter Shade of Pale" come to mind? Michael Jackson is now whiter than Dan Quayle. He is, in fact, and this is official, the whitest American not to own a refrigerator magnet.

What happened?

How did the King of Pop become the Prince of Bleach?

Well, he's confused. Take his songs.

Is he bad? No.

Is he dangerous? No.

Is Billie Jean really his girl? Of course not.

Does he look more like Diana Ross than Diana Ross? And this is the guy who's going to save the world?

Well, yeah.

If we learned nothing else from the Clinton inauguration, it is that the new president has been joined by pretty much everyone in Hollywood other than Charlton Heston and Tom Selleck.

Together, they will make everything better, bringing the best of America from all of us, even the please-let-us-have-a-team National Football League.

And, if the singers can't accomplish peace in our time, at least they'll sell some records.

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