At a party over the weekend, a frequent topic for discussion was Michael Jackson. A life of unparalleled success but equally matched by utter tragedy and scandal also.
I have not watched the documentary – not an area of my interest being just one of the many reasons why.
I don’t know whether Jackson is guilty or not – people who have seen the film are in no doubt and yet, I am still reluctant to cast him as the monster we associate with this, the most heinous of crimes.
I think this because Jackson was not normal in any way. He was a one off. And just like Elvis before him, it was almost fitting and required that he died young to complete his legend.
But by this, I do not mean that his talents and achievements can ever excuse his alleged deeds. One law for us all is the only law that functions and serves.
What I mean is that Jackson’s life was so incomplete and abnormal – instantly becoming world famous as a child – how are we so surprised that Jackson lived such a disastrous and dysfunctional life? Again, not an excuse but at least the beginnings of an explanation.
It seems that Michael Jackson lived a wretched life – and if guilt is being heaped upon him posthumously, then it needs to extend way beyond the man himself and to include a great many vaunted ‘professionals’ who lived off him and utterly failed him.
Money corrupts most people and most things. But not as completely as never being held to account nor ever hearing the word ‘no’ – which imbues a sense of delusional certainty about everything and anything.
It doesn’t take a psychiatrist to look at a late photograph of Jackson to diagnose the most profound mental illness. His beautiful black face turned in to a hideous white one by his so-called doctors. These medics are emblematic of the exploitation that surrounded Jackson and these surgeons should hang their heads in shame. And no doubt a legion of other ‘professionals’ did just as well as these ghoulish medics in providing their services. Lawyers, agents, managers… Jackson’s own family members must have many questions that they would rather not answer and so too, the families of the accusers. All people complicit and contributing to this sense of delusion and the carnage that it wreaked?
As a dad – I am well aware of how difficult and continual a role it is. How demanding children are and the attention they require if they are to develop normally.
Michael Jackson genuinely had no one. A child who instantly became an adult and a golden goose – owned not just by the networks, record companies, studios and all dependent on his talents for their supper. ‘Do what you want, Michael, just so long as you keep earning.’
The case coming to light now is even more unedifying since it is dressed up as some moral rectitude when really, money is at hand, just as it was throughout his life.
And the circus will go on and on with lawyers, journalists and a raft of other people feeding very nicely off it thank you very much.
The argument is that there are no mitigating factors for the crimes that Jackson is accused of and I understand this. No excuses. That all such deviants will have their reasons or excuses and they are never enough.
But I don’t write this as an absolution.
Just that we should recognise that Jackson’s wretched life was not his own and equally, that his great failings are not his own either.
As the dad of a famous son – albeit, not in any way as famous as Jackson, I am ever more determined that Tom should work in show-biz but remain rooted in the real world with his family and friends. A world that is now even more intrusive and terrifying with the internet – ‘the greatest human innovation’ since the wheel?
I have no truck with the victimhood culture that has taken hold – as best witnessed recently by the successful actor in the US not being happy with his lot and needing to concoct a story and cast himself as a victim…
But Michael Jackson was a victim – just as much as he was a star.
He was utterly alone in a bubble with a bloody chimpanzee as his confidant – while everyone around him put their self-interests ahead of his, giving him no chance whatsoever.
Nowadays, there are a great many news stories that I just do not read. Too damn depressing and this one included.
And if everything is true – as repugnant as these acts are and appal me as they do – I can still feel sadness for him, the perpetrator and reaffirm that his guilt must be borne by many.
Inevitably calls are being made for him to be expunged from history and his music never heard again; a somewhat dangerous line. If artistes are to be judged by modern moral standards (or outrages) many greats will need to be cast aside, Charlie Chaplin amongst them. Elvis, David Bowie. Pete Townsend… and how many by-gone actors would survive a #metoo cross examination?
Not that paedophilia is newly distasteful of course.
But I do not see what banning Jackson and his music will achieve; virtue signals aside, which thankfully are becoming ever more hollow. Losing the entire works and career of Jimmy Saville, a predatory paedophile who our own and vaunted BBC, the police and NHS shielded from scrutiny during his disgusting life is something none of us will miss, but Jackson’s case and his output, I argue is different.