Saturday, 7 January 2017

GEORGE MICHAEL: CHOOSE LIFE

1981: Fit and well, stardom in sight.

by Dave Yorkshire

We on the Right could easily dismiss George Michael. I myself have ridiculed him on numerous occasions - and with good reason; the life he led for the last twenty-odd years of his life was ridiculous, was worthy of satire, even if only as a warning to others about the dangers to both one's physical and mental health posed by such a lifestyle. Indeed, one can see both a physical and mental degradation over the course of his life.

Of course his sexuality immediately comes into focus, for all his problems stem ostensibly from here. Indeed, his decline rather paralleled his increasing willingness to self-define and be defined solely by his sexuality. In many ways, like so many in the postmodern age, he became little more than a cypher for Leftist politics that has used sex as a weapon against traditional society.

He claimed in interviews that he had been born heterosexual, but had started having feelings for men by late puberty. It appears that like with most homosexual or bisexual men, he was a product of an introverted childhood character, a distant uncaring father and an overbearing overprotective mother. If this seems a somewhat clichéd analysis, it is because it is remarkable how often these circumstances come up in relation to the family backgrounds of homosexuals: E M Forster, Angus Wilson, Colin MacInnes, Charles Hawtrey, Kenneth Williams and so on. It is interesting to note how the Left started preaching the "born homosexual" narrative at the same time as the narrative that race and gender were social constructs. All prior wisdom is turned on its head.

1986: On the precipice
Yet during his Wham! period, these feelings seem to have subsided as his confidence and success grew. He had numerous flings with women and only with women. One cannot help but notice the healthy influence of Andrew Ridgeley here. Always derided as the "untalented" half of the duo, his gift seemed to lie in keeping George Michael on "the straight and narrow". In fact, it was Ridgeley who gave Michael his first taste of social acceptance and confidence. So the tale goes, Ridgeley was charged with looking after a shy fat spotty-faced kid called Georgios Panayiotou by his mother, a teacher at Bushey Meads High School that the two pupils attended. Andrew was popular; Georgios was not. They became friends through their love of music and Andrew set about changing Georgios' image and in so doing, changing his fortunes. Andrew Ridgeley created George Michael, a brash, attractive, confident, successful young singer. That was Ridgeley's talent.

As is so often the case, ambition set up the duo's fall, destroying the one and casting the other into obscurity. Michael stated that the public's perceptions of Michael as the talented attractive one and Ridgeley as the plain mediocre opportunist had created imbalance in the two's relationship. He also later acknowledged that "I had no idea how much I was going to miss that support, how close to lunacy I would feel without that support." Ultimately though, he chose to abandon Ridgeley and the positive influence he had had on him.

1994: Doomed pair trying to smile
The change in Michael was almost immediate. Without Ridgeley, Michael's old insecurities came back to haunt him, as did his related doubts about his sexuality. His image reflected this. Where Michael had always dominated musically, Ridgeley, right from the outset, had controlled style. Michael's image increasingly reflected his thoughts: sombre and seedy. His songs became morose and the feel-good factor of a Wham! song became ever more a distant memory. Initially, his records sold well, but as time wore on, his comparative blandness wore thin. The euphoria over the album Faith subsided into relative apathy with regard to Listen Without Prejudice and Older. Their sales were not helped by Michael's erratic behaviour, refusing to promote or make videos for Listen Without Prejudice, as his lifestyle degenerated. The dispute with Sony was brought on his own head.

2013: Train wreck in a car wreck
His descent into seediness was hastened by his much-publicised arrest for indecency in a Beverley Hills public toilet in 1998. After officially "coming out", his music career seemed to revolve around the themes of homosexuality, debauchery and toilets, which reflected his lifestyle. Then there were the drugs, lots of drugs. A man happy in life does not need drugs. George Michael needed up to twenty-five spliffs just to get through the day. After crashing the car high on marijuana, he claimed it was a suicide attempt. Homosexuals call themselves gay, and yet they are some of the most unhappy people I have ever met. I believe there is a distinct correlation between homosexuality and depression in particular. Until 1992, homosexuality was still designated by the World Health Organisation as a mental illness and the behaviour I have witnessed by homosexuals suggests this is the case.

Then there was the occasional song about politics, such as "Shoot the Dog", the video to which is better than the song. As Alice Cooper has remarked, pop stars should stay well away from politics. There is the odd exception, but becoming vocal about politics is generally the sign of a fading star. Such has been the case with Geldoff and Bono. Such was the case with Michael. Invariably they espouse the politics of the left, for such is the nature of the entertainment beast: cultural Marxism sponsored by liberal capitalism. Yet the beast Michael defended was the one that was killing him, the one that endorses, legitimates and attempts to enforce his lifestyle for all.

George Michael's death thus raises a question. How would his career have panned out if the political Right provided the framework for society? Well, there are, of course, many versions of the Right, just as there are of the Left; but the kind of Rightist society that I would like to see is a paternal one, one where people like George Michael are mentored and pushed in constructive rather than destructive or deconstructive directions, one with mentors like Andrew Ridgeley - and also a maternal one, for who pushed Andrew into the mentor role but his own mother?

If this were the case, I believe George Michael would still be with us today. He would be a very different George Michael, perhaps with a wife and children and still recording. It is notable that for the last ten years of his life, his creativity, which had already gone into decline, left him completely. His last years were spent checking in and out of rehab and dealing with illnesses related to his lifestyle. His music too would be - dare I say it - gayer, fuller with the joys of life. Perhaps they would have been more like the Wham! songs he left behind. If so, I see nothing wrong with that, for Michael's real musical legacy is not the mediocrity of his solo career, but the foot-tapping tunes from a time when he was one half of something greater than himself.

First published at Mjolnir Magazine


 

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