In the majority of cases, a pop or rock fan who is asked about a particular celebrity will answer in unambiguous terms. Artists such as Elvis Presley engage the public in their entirety, their personae fully revealed as onstage and offstage personalities. Most artists are judged by what they say of themselves and their art, and fans can express in distinct terms why they like or do not like them or their music.
Michael Jackson, on the other hand, projected a different sort of fascination to the global public, based upon his many contradictions and hidden characteristics. The unorthodox artist was described by one author as "paradoxical and incomplete", and while audiences attended a Presley event to revel in a known quantity, Jackson's charisma depended in part on the audience's need "to understand, or fill in the knowledge that was missing". If anything the mystical, half-revealed Jackson was as strong an attraction as his more forceful and renowned colleagues, for by the end of his career he was "arguably the most notable popular culture virtuoso of the late 20th century" and had set almost every record known to his industry, all in an age that featured not only Presley but The Beatles, Barbara Streisand, and other superstars.