I was thunderstruck to find this quotation from the late, brilliant James Baldwin’s essay “Here Be Dragons” (originally titled “Freaks and the American Ideal of Manhood”). The whole essay is in The Price of the Ticket:
The Michael Jackson cacophony is fascinating in that it is not about Jackson at all. I hope he has the good sense to know it and the good fortune to snatch his life out of the jaws of a carnivorous success. He will not swiftly be forgiven for having turned so many tables, for he damn sure grabbed the brass ring, and the man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo has nothing on Michael.
All that noise is about America, as the dishonest custodian of black life and wealth; the blacks, especially males, in America; and the burning, buried American guilt; and sex and sexual roles and sexual panic; money, success and despair–to all of which may now be added the bitter need to find a head on which to place the crown of Miss America.
Freaks are called freaks and are treated as they are treated–in the main, abominably–because they are human beings who cause to echo, deep within us, our most profound terrors and desires.
Thanks to whittles for posting it first.