Monday, April 18, 2005

Our Favorite Jacko Post

Just when we start complaining that there's nothing interesting in the news, Drudge flashes a Michael Jackson headline. Finally, something surfaces about which we've got plenty to say.

Geraldo Rivera -- yes, the Edward R. Murrow of our day -- apparently alleged on Los Angeles radio station KFI that the current case against Jackson is destined to fall apart when it finally goes to trial. Now, it's not that we'd doubt something Geraldo told us, but considering Jackson's past pay-offs and continuing bizarre behavior, we're going to wait until all the facts are in before making a judgment for ourselves.

Speaking of Geraldo's assurances that Jackson is innocent (of these particular charges, it should be noted), we've been bothered since this fiasco began by the "outpouring of love and support" from Jackson's fans, who say that they just know in their hearts that the King of Pop is innocent. Echoing the critical thinking skills of the left-wing die-hards in Evan Coyne Maloney's recent short documentary on inauguration protestors, the only evidence these Jackson supporters cite is their own love of his music. They transfer that love of a Jackson product over to Jackson himself -- a dangerous but not unprecedented behavior.

From O.J. Simpson to Kobe Bryant, fans of troubled celebrities have always rushed forward to maintain their hero's innocence, with little regard to the evidence or, more importantly, the victims of these alleged crimes. Perhaps Simpson and Bryant are poor examples, as both were exonerated (more or less -- neither was convicted of a crime) in the court system, but it's not as if their fans knew before the end of the trial that would be the case. Similarly, even if these charges against Jackson do not result in a conviction, the quality of his music will not be the reason why.

We should add say that we're also fans of Jackson's music, but that doesn't make us Jacko apologists. We find this situation very sad -- our sympathy goes out first to the victims (if indeed they prove to be) and we also find ourselves feeling sorry for Michael, though certainly not enough to excuse this kind of (alleged) behavior. He was a celebrity by age 9, but even before that he was a singer first and a little boy second. He never went to school -- the kind of school that you and I attended, where we developed our social skills -- a day in his life. His father, as has been documented, was not the most kind. Being a superstar kept him from having any semblance of a normal life, preventing him from being able to go out in public and imprisioning him inside the world he was forced to create. Remember, this was not the life that he chose, but one that was chosen for him.

And then there is his ghastly appearance. An accident in 1984, when his hair caught fire while filming a commercial for Pepsi, may have been what led him to plastic surgery (it's unclear whether he had gone under the knife earlier), which obviously for Jackson has become an addiction. But he also suffers from a rare skin disease called vitiligo, best described as "albino spots" caused by loss of pigmentation. This is a very real condition (several of our family members have it) and one that can be particularly destructive psychologically, especially for a black man and one whose job involves being in the public eye. Additionally, the 46 year-old Jackson also suffers from lupus, according to a source who worked with him on his landmark music video, Thriller.

As to whether Michael Jackson is guilty or innocent, we're not sure. But one thing is certain: his life, which we once thought was the quintessial American success story, is actually an American tragedy.

Original post date: January 26, 2005


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He's not going to be a very good sell to the jury.

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