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Michael Jackson (1958-2009)

Adam-John Powell 

The obituaries claimed Michael Jackson to have been a genius yet a complex and misunderstood character. I think they got it wrong. Jackson was neither a genius, complex or misunderstood. He attracted hostility but that is not the same as being misunderstood.

He was catapulted to fame with his four brothers on the back of the American Dream and the civil rights movement. The Jackson represented the archetypal black American family at a time when the entertainment industry needed to distance itself from the abhorrent racism of the early 1960s. 

The Jacksons were a product to be marketed. They showed at (at least some) black people could be part of the American Dream too. It was the little Michael who captured people’s hearts as is so often the way with a youngest child. He was spoiled by the media and the general public if not by his parents. 

It was a life of high pressure and a brutal taskmaster of a father. Having lost his childhood in this way, it was not surprising that the adult Michael wanted to rekindle childhood through a series of young friends and his Neverland ranch. There was nothing complex about this. It were the hostile onlookers who experienced confusion. If they claim that childhood is such a great thing not to be contaminated, it rather begs the question as to why they cannot accept a man who wishes to have a childhood rather than not at all.

The downward spiral appears to have started with Jackson’s friendship with the nine years old Macaullay Culkin of “Home Alone” and “Nutcracker” fame. Seeing as Jackson and Culkin had a lot in common, the friendship should not be surprising. Both were abused by their fathers (Culkin’s father having stolen his money). Both were picked out in unlikely circumstances for their “cute” factor, upstaged older brothers and endured the pressures of early fame.

Photographs of Jackson and Culkin going to Toys “R” Us together did not help. It advertised Jackson’s interest in cultivating young friends leaving him open to opportunistic families. We do not know the truth about the thirteen years old Jordan Chandler’s allegations, put even if the allegations were true a compensation package of £18 million seems excessive. 

After Michaels death, Jordan has admitted that he had lied, under pressure of his father. The accusations were not true. 

[* See the articles number 4 & 5 in this section - Ipce.]

Certainly Jackson was naïve. I think that those celebrities who ran to his defense were genuinely fond of him. More fundamentally, like Jackson they were part of the American Dream:  neat capitalist packages, concepts to be sold. 

I am sure that the defense was as much about the New Money Establishment keeping a united front as it was about friendship or loyalty (and I think the same is true of the Roman Pawlanski case). 

Having been manipulated into believing in Jackson’s “genius”, his fans were not going to abandon their emotional investment easily. I am sure that this is why Jackson commands affection when other child lovers are universally despised.

Not being a fan of his music, I do not feel tempted to listen to Jackson’s songs in case there are lessons for child lovers in them. One thought comes to mind. When Michael and his song writer say that love is as “easy as ABC”, it might be difficult for me to say that it isn’t. I leave you, the reader, to make your own mind up.

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