Once every decade humanity experiences a death of an icon, a death that has touched the lives of everyone.
This decade, it happened twice. On 2005, Pope John Paul II died. As the decade nears its close, humanity sees another icon, albeit completely different, not as holy, but just as potent.
Perhaps what was different from Michael Jackson's death is that no one saw it coming, or to put it more aptly, no one expected it to be this soon, in this circumstance. People might have had expected a more bizarre death, like he fell off a hotel while dangling himself covered with a blanket, or probably of too much dizziness in riding those Neverland rides, or perhaps other more morbid things.
But he died via cardiac arrest. Not as creepy, but just as surprising, and mysterious.
Today's generation heard of Jackson via their parents, who were probably fanboys and fangirls of the man. They recounted to their offspring that they found their spouse at a record bar looking for the Thriller cassette tape, or at a bar while dancing to Jackson's music. He impressed your mom by embarrassing himself with his own heartfelt rendition of the moonwalk.
Another medium where today's generation learned of Jackson was via television that covered the latter years of life, away from Off the Wall and Bad – his numerous run-ins with the law, his 1993 sexual assault case that was settled out of court, his ranch turned into a theme park, his 2005 child abuse case that ended in a not guilty verdict, and now his death. We can even say the stars of today emulated him; Justin Timberlake with his grooves, and Britney Spears with her life.
We may never understand the man, nor even base it with society's standards of how a person must live, for he was different, not in the case that he was above us, but with the reason that despite we saw him everywhere, even in instances where we should've never seen him, we never really knew him.
Society treats people like Jackson differently; since he is a public figure, he should put himself above other people's expectations on how to live. Yet society overlooks the fact that people like Jackson, aside from being under the microscope constantly, had probably no idea on how to live a life worthy of society's whims; or even live a normal life.
That's why we may never understand Jackson, his logic, his morals, his life and how he displayed himself. Yet society will put those bad things behind him, and will remember Jackson not as the man who had a eccentric life, but rather as a man that was never understood, for he was an icon, who excelled in human endeavor in ways other people not scrutinized by society were never able to do.