Jun 26 2009

Regarding Michael Jackson

It gives me no pleasure to speak ill of the dead. Yet, amidst all this gushing hagiography I feel I have to say something about Michael Jackson.

I’d like to point out that Michael Jackson hasn’t done a single interesting thing, creatively speaking, for 20 years. His recent recordings were bland, over-processed, and derivative. His famous dancing, which set the world alight in the 1980s, didn’t change a step since then. But so what? Many people peak early, and the body of work from his early years is truly impressive.

Then there’s the weirdness. There’s the excessive consumption — it’s reported that he spend on average $30 million per year more than he earned, and this went on for a decade. There’s also the identity issue, made highly ironic and even offensive in the face of his “Black or White” song. And of course the allegations of child molestation.

Those are just the obvious things, and again one could ask “so what?” Michael Jackson had no monoply on celebrity weirdness. Heck, for the most part I admire famous people who are able to live strange and unusual lives (RIP, Hunter S. Thompson).

Where it’s different in the case of Michael Jackson is the extent that his weirdness directly affected other people. Namely, the trio of Fauntleroys that are generally referred to as his children.

I cringe every time I see a photograph of Jackson with his gauze draped kids, and I wonder what kind of mental development issues arise when you’re brought up by a self absorbed Peter Pan who has, at best, a faint grip on the reality of everyday life. Here is a “parent” who repeatedly shows no understanding of financial, personal, or any other kind of responsibility, charged with raising three children without another parent on the scene to try to balance things out. It takes more than hugs and cookies and Coke cans filled with wine to raise children.

As the fans and the media continue to gush, I keep coming back to those kids, and my feeling that maybe now there’s a chance they’ll have something resembling a normal life.

Categorized under Culture,Music,Society

11 comments so far

11 Comments on “Regarding Michael Jackson”

  1. tbiton 26 Jun 2009 at 10:44 am

    brave of you to say your mind on a day when you will probably be comment-flamed by nutty fans.

  2. Kathrynon 26 Jun 2009 at 4:01 pm

    I am so glad that you posted this. Like you, it gives me no pleasure to think ill of the dead, however, I cannot say that I felt anything other than alarm about MJ over the last 20 years. We could, as the media seems to be doing, think only of the wonder of _Thriller_, but we need more honesty than that.

    Thank-you.

  3. Frankon 26 Jun 2009 at 4:22 pm

    As far as Michael Jackson himself, I’ve always given him a bit of slack considering he grew up under wildly different circumstances than most of us. He had a ton of demons in his psyche that I doubt he would ever overcome.

    As for the kids, they are really not that much different than most kids whose parents pass along their demons. It’s just that his demons were so much more pronounced and numerous than just alcoholism, smoking, insecurity, and anger.

    As far as the media and the fans, they are always going to go over-the-top for any big celebrity passing despite whether they deserve it or not. Some fans will mourn it more strongly than any other person in their life and that’s their problem.

    As for myself, I’ll ignore the media, enjoy hearing some of his songs again, and hope the kids can overcome all of this.

  4. Marthaon 26 Jun 2009 at 9:14 pm

    A very honest assessment.

  5. Anne Giberton 27 Jun 2009 at 11:07 am

    I always thought Micheal Jackson was creepy, even when he was a kid.

    And, by the way, I never quite understood why we must be nicer about people after they are dead. And that rule doesn’t always follow. After literary figures die suddenly all sorts of things about their sex lives get revealed. Like Stephen Spender and E M Forster. Why is that okay, but we have to be nice about scoundrels?

  6. Natalieon 28 Jun 2009 at 8:12 am

    EXACTLY, exactly what I have been thinking.Thank you for writing it, because the media hysteria is driving me nuts.

    Lots of people are abused as kids, but don’t grow up to abuse their own (or other) children. MJ could have gotten help for his issues but clearly chose not to. Instead he turned into a self-medicating freak. Now that he is gone, he’s being beatified and it’s driving me nuts. That said, I never did like his music!

    It seems to me that he viewed his kids as just three more possessions in his vast collection of STUFF. (And I still shudder when I think of him dangling his baby over a balcony railing. Anyone else would have been criminally charged for that!) Very, very sad. I hope that whoever the children end up with can give them a more normal life than they’ve had so far.

  7. Nicholas Robinsonon 28 Jun 2009 at 11:54 pm

    Ill of the dead . . . hmm. HE certainly ain’t going to care.

    Okay, he did some good stuff aided by a considerable music machine. If I had his budget and his producers, no doubt you would be hearing of me. But he was just a tiny tip of an awfully big iceberg, unlike, say, Paul McCartney.

    The kids . . . the kids. There is no doubt in my mind, despite the aspersions being cast on the numerous “money-grubber” accusers, that he was a bona-fide child molester, for whatever reasons. They all have their excuses and rationalise their behaviour — there’s an outfit called “man-boy love” somewhere filled with intelligent pedophiles rationalising their pedophilia — and dear old Michael, in his privileged position, no doubt “did” dozens of children from whom we shall never hear.

    “Troubled” is no excuse for harming children. Lots of people who were abused as kids go on not to abuse anyone. Lots of child stars (the Beatles were pretty much children when they became the most famous people on earth) never go on to becoming psychopaths.

    The guy pretty much wished himself into the grave. the children he had yet to abuse will no doubt thank him for it.

  8. The Sales Guyon 29 Jun 2009 at 7:01 am

    Michael Jackson is dead!???

  9. Harryon 30 Jun 2009 at 8:30 am

    I always expected him to die a la Mama Cass – but choking on a piece of jam-bone or sham-bone. Who’s Bad?

    Interesting to see that now that it’s safe to assume he isn’t fondling anyone’s sons, the world is again ready to listen to his music and not feel guilty about approving of his lifestyle. Sadly, this does nothing to erase the fact that they’re back to polluting the airwaves with pop music – a setting that will never break from overuse on my iTunes equalizer.

  10. vieux banditon 30 Jun 2009 at 1:11 pm

    I speak ill of the dead all the time. I ranted and ranted after Trudeau’s death and Bourassa’s death, when they became “saints”. My only rule is “if they were alive would I spit in their face?” and if so, then I go ahead while they’re dead as well (speaking, that is, not spitting…).

    As for MJ’s children… It’s sad to say, but is there really hope? The custody battle could be horrific (really horrific: http://www.inquisitr.com/27780/michael-jackson-you-are-not-the-father/), and I’m not sure who’s involved who could provide them with some sort of balance. Let’s just say I’ve never been happier to have had a simple nuclear family to be born into!

  11. Aimeeon 13 Jul 2009 at 8:26 pm

    Hear, hear. As a mother of two young boys, I cannot ‘forget’ the molestation charges as so many people seem to have done already.

    My heart aches for the children, though.