In the last 24 hours I’ve been shocked by how, well, overwhelmingly glowing and one-sided the rememberances of MJ have been by celebrities, the media, and the public in general. Is reflecting on the undeniable strangeness — to some, grotesqueness — of Michael Jackson suddenly off-limits because he’s dead? I am a lifelong Michael Jackson fan. I went to Europe with my parents when I was five, in the early days of my Michael Jackson obsession, just after “Billie Jean” was released. My mom says that I would demand that she put a quarter in the jukebox at every cafe to play my favorite song. Later my feelings turned somewhat amorous for Michael, my girl boner at its, uh, peak during the “Bad” years. He has started whitening his skin then (vitiligo, my ass), but I found his leather jacket and attitude totally sexy. The lust eventually vanished — that nasty video for “You Are Not Alone” featuring then-wife Lisa Marie Presley did not help — and as a teenager I became acutely aware that the guy whose music I loved wasn’t just kind of kooky. He was really effing weird.
Michael Jackson was accused of being a pedophile not once, but twice. In 2003 he was accused of molesting a minor and settled out of court to the tune of $22 million. In 2005 he was accused again and that time he stood trial on four counts of child molestation. He was acquitted. Though he was never convicted of these heinous crimes against children, many believe Jackson was guilty. At the very least, what Jackson considered “proper behavior” is up for debate — in the 2003 documentary, “Living With Michael Jackson,” he told journalist Martin Bashir that he did not see anything wrong with sharing his bed with children, including children that were not his. “It’s very loving,” he said. “What’s wrong with sharing a love?”
His own children — who have no relationship with their biological mother(s) — have led secluded lives, appearing in public with their faces covered by masks. It’s not known what kind of parent Jackson was to Prince, Paris, and “Blanket,” though friends have characterized him as loving and doting. But being that Jackson was seemingly stunted in his own childlike world (thanks to the atrocious abuse he endured at the hands of his parents) — he didn’t name his former home “Neverland Ranch” for nothin’ — I’m sure being raised by Michael Jackson was unusual and isolating.
Michael Jackson was a phenomenal entertainer and his contribution to the music industry is absolutely one that should be celebrated. Last week it would have been completely normal and socially acceptable to say that Michael Jackson was a freak. Yesterday the rose colored glasses went on and a fairy tale began its first chapter. Jackson’s highs should be lauded — his incredible catalog of work, his contribution to charities around the world — and the fact that he won’t contribute more should be mourned. But to ignore his lows — which dominated the last 15 years of his life — isn’t respect, it’s denial.