They Thought They Really Had Control of Me, Part 2

Willa:  So I’m just going to be upfront about this and say that working on this week’s post put Joie and me into a terrible funk – the Great Depression, as Joie called it. It deals pretty explicitly with some very painful scenes from our nation’s history, including scenes of racial oppression and sexual abuse. But we felt it was necessary to provide that context to understand what happened in 1993, and everything that followed from that.

Joie:  And Willa’s not kidding when she said it sent us both into a Great Depression. This has been the hardest conversation we’ve ever had and it stirred up some really negative emotions in both of us. For a while we didn’t know if we would get through it; we were even worried about hurting each other’s feelings.

Willa:  We also didn’t want to hurt or upset anyone who reads this, and we’ve been especially concerned about new readers who may not know us too well. We gained a lot of new readers and new subscribers with the sex appeal post a few weeks ago, which was such a fun, feel-good post to write. Joie and I had a blast with it, and we’re planning to get back to some fun topics soon. In fact, we’re treating ourselves with a look back at Off the Wall next week.

But we both strongly believe that sometimes you just have to stand up and speak the truth, even if it’s unpleasant and upsetting. We believe the public’s refusal to look at things that are unpleasant is what allowed District Attorney Tom Sneddon to abuse the power of his office for so long. So while this was very painful to write, and while we tried to be as sensitive as possible, we felt compelled to speak honestly about specific aspects of our nation’s terrible history of racism and abuse.

Joie:  So this week, we continue with our conversation about Michael as a sex symbol and why that was both a significant and a dangerous spot for him to be in. And we ended last week with a discussion of the time period – from the late 1970s to 1982 when Michael’s career really exploded with the release of Thriller – and how the cultural attitudes were in a state of flux. Things were shifting a little bit and the time was right for someone with Michael’s broad-ranging cross-over appeal, and he didn’t hesitate for a second. He stepped up and took full advantage of the moment and became the biggest star the world had ever seen.

Willa:  Then in 1993, a White man, Evan Chandler, falsely accused him of a sex crime. Importantly, in a secretly recorded phone conversation, Chandler admits he has paid people to carry out “a plan that isn’t just mine,” saying,

“There are other people involved that are waiting for my phone call that are in certain positions. I’ve paid them to do it. Everything’s going according to a plan that isn’t just mine.”

He also says, “I’ve been rehearsed about what to say and what not to say,” and says there will “be a massacre if I don’t get what I want,” which is $20 million dollars. This is clearly an extortion attempt.

To understand what happened next, we have to go back in our nation’s history and look at some truly horrifying scenes. And we know this is hard to read. It was incredibly hard to write. But we both feel we can’t really understand what happened in 1993 without this background.

As we’ve mentioned before, there existed a cultural narrative that Black men were a sexual threat to White women, and this narrative was used as an excuse to oppress, demean, and abuse Black men and force them to be submissive. Black men who were not properly deferential could be tortured and killed. Importantly, the torture those men endured tended to focus on the parts of the body we designate as sexual, and their mutilated bodies were often displayed afterwards as a warning to other Black men.

So Black men weren’t just physically abused; they were sexually abused and put on display in very public ways. And this type of sexual intimidation wasn’t restricted to just a few isolated cases. It was systemic, and an integral part of racial oppression in the United States.

In urban areas like New Orleans, there were public whipping houses, and if you were a slave you could be sent there at the whim of your owner for something as trivial as having a defiant look in your eyes. The purpose of those places was to break your spirit and force you to accept the idea that you were a slave. Both men and women were sent to those places, and they did not whip you through your clothes. If you were a woman and were sent to that place, you would have to stand bare chested before a brutal man who made his living hurting people. He would bind your hands over your head to hold you upright as you were whipped, but he could also punish you in ways that were less painful physically but perhaps more damaging psychologically. He could molest you. He could take your clothing. He could force you to stand exposed for hours. He could demean and humiliate you as much as he wanted. And this was a public place with galleries for spectators, so there was likely a crowd of rough, jeering men who gathered in such places just to watch other human beings be hurt and humiliated.

In Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe suggests that the intense humiliation women (and men) experienced in those places was as cruel a punishment in its way as the physical pain they endured from the whip. A beautiful teenager, Rosa, is caught trying on a dress that belongs to her mistress, Maria. As punishment, Maria writes out an order for Rosa to be taken to the whipping house to receive 15 lashes, “lightly” applied. An older woman tries to intervene on Rosa’s behalf, saying, “But could not you punish her some other way, – some way that would be less shameful?” Maria replies,

“I mean to shame her; that’s just what I want. She has all her life presumed on her delicacy, and her good looks, and her lady-like airs, till she forgets who she is; – and I’ll give her one lesson that will bring her down, I fancy!”

The intense shame Rosa will experience in that place is not accidental:  as Maria says, “I mean to shame her; that’s just what I want.” That extreme public humiliation is intentional, and its purpose is to “bring her down” – to scorch her mind as well as her body and make her submissive – by forcing her to accept and internalize the idea that she is powerless, and a slave.

Joie:  You know, Willa, I have not read Uncle Tom’s Cabin since I was in High School but I have to say, just the little snippet you’ve mentioned here makes me remember how uncomfortable – and angry, and indignant, and horrified, and outraged, and hurt – I felt reading it back then. It is not a pleasant or an easy book for a Black person to read.

Willa:  Oh God, Joie. Some of those scenes are just terrible to read. I was in my 40s, and it was still really hard to take. And I can believe that reading it as a Black teenage girl would be a very different experience than reading it as a White middle-aged woman. Most of the worst things happen behind the scenes – for example, a weeping Rosa is sent to the whipping house and we don’t see her again – but still, it’s really painful and uncomfortable. A lot of White people don’t like reading that book either just because it is so painful, and because it can stir up a lot of feelings of collective guilt as well.

I know as a Southern White girl learning about slavery, I felt like I’d found out that my mother was a murderer. I just couldn’t hardly come to grips with it. And it really wasn’t that long ago. My grandmother loved her grandfather, and used to tell me stories about him and how kind he was. Looking back much later, I realized that he was 12 years old when the Civil War began. He was 16 when the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery. We tend to think it’s ancient history, but it really wasn’t that long ago. My grandmother’s grandfather was alive during that time, and we’re still dealing with a lot of those attitudes today.

Joie:  No, it wasn’t that long ago. My mother’s great-grandfather was lost in slavery. Sold to another slave owner and never heard from again. That’s just four generations ago.

Willa:  Oh God, Joie. That’s terrible.

Joie:  And even though that book is fiction, it is based on the very real experience of slavery in our country. And it is largely responsible for creating and ingraining most of the racial stereotypes about Blacks that we know today into the collective American psyche.

Willa:  You’re right, it’s fiction but it draws on the experiences of real people. Stowe’s husband visited a whipping house in New Orleans and wrote about what he saw there, including a naked teenage girl – a girl like Rosa – and scenes of just unspeakable cruelty. So a lot of the ideas for Stowe’s novel came from real life experiences.

But a lot of the racial stereotypes you mentioned – especially the stereotype of Uncle Tom – didn’t come from Stowe’s novel, at least not directly. Her novel was incredibly popular – the most popular novel of the 19th Century – and Vaudeville skits based on her novel became very popular as well. Those skits often featured White actors in blackface playing the role of happy slaves, including a happy Uncle Tom, and that’s where those stereotypes came from, but that’s not at all what her novel is like. Stowe’s Tom is no Uncle Tom. In fact, he is tortured and killed by his owner because he refuses to whip other slaves, or tell him where two slaves who escaped have been hiding. Judging Uncle Tom’s Cabin because of those Vaudeville stereotypes is like judging Michael Jackson based on Wierd Al Yankovic.

Joie:  I completely disagree with you. While it’s true that Stowe probably intended for the character of Tom to be some sort of ‘noble hero,’ and the stereotype of him as a subservient old fool who bows down like a good little slave and does everything he can to keep his White master happy was perpetuated by the many stage productions that Stowe had no control over, her novel is completely responsible for many other racial stereotypes. The lazy, carefree “happy darky.” The tragic figure of the attractive light-skinned mulatto female who’s used as a sex object by all the White men. The plump, motherly, dark-skinned “Mammy” with the kerchief wrapped around her head like Aunt Jemima. Even the “pickaninny” stereotype of Black children – “wooly heads and glistening eyes.” It’s incredibly offensive and it came directly from the descriptions and illustrations in that book. And as you pointed out, in its day, it was the single most popular novel of the 19th Century.

I’m not discounting its significance as an invaluable commentary against slavery. I’m just pointing out its complicity in creating and perpetuating all those racial stereotypes that we still struggle with today.

Willa:  You know, I don’t mean to make Uncle Tom’s Cabin sound better than it is. It was written in a very different place and time with a very different mindset, and I admit I winced quite a bit while reading it. But I think Stowe explodes a lot of those stereotypes by taking us inside the minds of those characters and making them real, human, complicated people – especially the women characters. The Mammy figure, Chloe, is a smart no-nonsense woman who says some pretty subversive things, and if Cassie had her way, she’d drive a stake through the heart of the man who forced her to be his mistress. She remains her own person and never becomes what he wants her to be. She’s no sex kitten. And Cassie is a crucial figure. One of the things I find so important about Stowe and the reason I keep referring to her is that, through characters like Rosa and Cassie, she shows the interconnections between slavery and sexuality – specifically, how abuse of power in terms of race, gender, and sexuality is intricately related and interwoven.

Joie:  Ok. First, I never said the mulatto female characters were sex kittens, I said they were sex objects (there’s a big difference) and a racial stereotype. Second, and most importantly, we are obviously never going to agree or even meet in the middle on our opinions of this book so, we should probably just move on.

Willa:  Ok. I shouldn’t have pushed that so hard. I apologize.

The idea I’m trying to get at is that racism and slavery are false ideologies – artificial human constructs – that are deeply abhorrent to the human mind. Everything within us rebels at the thought of being a slave, and it takes brutal measures to break us to the point where we’ll accept it. And in the American South, brutal measures were used.

And here’s the crucially important point, the reason it’s important to look back at all this terrible history:  those false ideologies were “made real” by being “written” on real human bodies. Those ideologies were literally written in the scars of whips or chains or a branding iron, but they were also written in less obvious ways through sexual abuse or even the public gaze of White men who thought they had a right to dominate the bodies of Black men and women, and refused to acknowledge their humanity. And this other type of “writing” on the body is perhaps more damaging to the psyche than physical suffering because it focuses on the areas of the body we tend to designate as sexual. These areas are more intimate and therefore more closely aligned with our inner being and sense of self, so it is more wounding psychologically when those areas are abused.

This is part of our nation’s horrible legacy of racial/sexual abuse, and this is the background for what Michael Jackson faced in 1993. In that secretly recorded phone conversation, Even Chandler says,

“This lawyer I found – I picked the nastiest son of a bitch I could find. All he wants to do is get this out in the public as fast as he can, as big as he can, and humiliate as many people as he can. He’s nasty, he’s mean, he’s smart, and he’s hungry for publicity.”

In other words, Chandler wants to control Michael Jackson – he wants to make him submissive and force him to bow to his wishes – by threatening to publicly “humiliate” him in a sexual way by accusing him of a sex crime. This is simply an extension of what Maria wants to do to Rosa in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. As Maria says, “I mean to shame her; that’s just what I want.” And in Michael Jackson’s final meeting with Chandler, when he refuses to pay him the money he wants, Chandler points a finger at him and says, “You’re going down, Michael. You’re going down.” Again, this is simply a modern variation of what Maria said of Rosa more than a century earlier: “I’ll give her one lesson that will bring her down, I fancy!”

When Michael Jackson refuses to give in to Chandler’s demands, the police are brought in, led by a White District Attorney named Tom Sneddon. Sneddon blindly accepts Chandler’s accusations despite all the evidence that it is an extortion attempt, and he sides with Chandler against Michael Jackson. Sneddon then uses his position as District Attorney to order a strip search. A few days before Christmas 1993, Michael Jackson is forced to stand naked on a platform while the most intimate parts of his body – the areas designated as sexual – are photographed and videotaped. If the civil case goes to trial, those photographs and videotape could be entered as evidence and made public in a courtroom.

The intense humiliation Michael Jackson was forced to endure during the strip search, and that he would have faced during the civil trial, is entirely in keeping with our nation’s horrifying history of racial/sexual abuse. Again, it is merely an extension of the humiliations slaves were forced to endure in the public whipping houses when the most intimate areas of their bodies – areas designated as sexual – were put on public display.

Joie:  You’re absolutely right, Willa. And you know, I have always had a difficult time reading accounts of that strip search, and for the longest time, I thought it was just because it felt so much like reading the account of a rape. And it does. I mean, putting yourself in Michael’s shoes as you read what happened during that strip search, it just feels like he’s being gang raped by everyone in that room – the photographers, the videographer, the DA’s physician, the police officers that were in the room – everyone. It’s just so uncomfortable to read; it feels like such a violation.

But, until we began working on this post, I never realized that perhaps another reason I have so much trouble reading about that incident is because it also feels very reminiscent of a slave being publicly examined and violated and humiliated before being sold or whipped. I believe Aldebaran and I talked about it briefly in the comments section a couple weeks ago.

You know for many Black Americans, reading about, watching on TV, or even just talking about slavery in any deep and meaningful way is very difficult and uncomfortable to do. And, as you know, Willa, I’ve had a very difficult time contributing to this particular conversation. I felt paralyzed by it. When you first mentioned that we talk about this, I avoided it for weeks. And I was very puzzled by it for a long time until I really just sat and thought about the reasons why. Why was I having such a hard time with this one? And finally, I realized that this topic is just so unpleasant for me for so many reasons. Slavery is ugly and I don’t like to talk about it. And rape is ugly and I don’t want to talk about it. And trying to have a meaningful conversation about how someone you love and adore was humiliated and raped and made to feel like a common slave is … unpleasant. To say the least. It’s ugly, and I don’t want to talk about it.

Willa:  You know, I felt that way for a long time. I’ve felt a deep connection to Michael Jackson since I was nine years old, and I always believed he was innocent, but I didn’t want to know any of the details. It was too ugly, plus I always felt his private life should be private. I never read any biographies of him while he was alive – actually, didn’t read anything like that until I was well into writing M Poetica, and noticed his later work kept pointing back to 1993. Then I felt like I had to learn something about what happened, just so I could understand what he was responding to and trying to convey.

And it was shocking. I didn’t know about the strip search. When I read a description of what happened that day, I felt physically sick for hours, just hollowed out inside – I can’t even describe it. And I definitely didn’t know about the photographs and videotape. As soon as I found out about them, I thought, Of course he settled. Of course. I would too.

But I didn’t know about them, or about that recording where Evan Chandler says, “Everything’s going according to a plan that isn’t just mine,” and says he’s paid people to help carry out that plan. I didn’t know Chandler’s son agreed to the allegations after being sedated, and I didn’t know the details of how Chandler interrogated his son – how he lied and threatened and manipulated his son until he finally agreed to the allegations. I kept hoping some evidence would appear that would prove his innocence. I had no idea that evidence was already available, but the police and press were ignoring it.

Looking back, I think Tom Sneddon was able to abuse the power of his office – and abuse and harass Michael Jackson – because a lot of people like me refused to look at the evidence and look at what was happening. You were a lot better about that than I was, Joie – you were working through the fan club to help make people aware, but looking back I feel like I was willfully, woefully ignorant.

Joie:  Well I wasn’t working with MJFC then. There was no MJFC back in 1993.

Willa:  I’m not just talking about 1993. I’m talking about the whole period from 1993 on. Tom Sneddon hounded him for years.

Joie:  Well, that’s very true; he went after him with a vengeance and I truly believe he was obsessed with Michael. But, I was very much plugged in to what was going on, even before I started working with MJFC. I made it a point to follow what was happening. And like you, I didn’t want to know any of the details either. I don’t think anyone really wanted to look too closely into the details because it was such an ugly accusation. And I feel like I keep using that word – ugly – and I apologize for that, but I just can’t seem to get away from it in this conversation.

But in order to prove what we knew to be true – that Michael was innocent – and in order to educate others about the truth (since the sensationalized news certainly wasn’t doing it) we had to look at the facts; we had no choice. And the facts clearly pointed to extortion. And how Sneddon and his minions could ignore that and go on a witch hunt instead still floors me. And there is no doubt in my mind that if it had gone to trial, Michael would have been victorious. But I understand completely why he suddenly stopped pushing for his day in court after the strip search and I can’t blame him. I probably would have done the exact same thing. Even though settling made him look guilty. And it makes me think of that part in Frank Cascio’s book, My Friend Michael, where he talks about how Michael would occasionally bring that up, saying,

“I have the whole world thinking I’m a child molester. You don’t know what it feels like to be falsely accused.”

Willa:  I agree, Joie. I would have settled. If that civil case had gone to trial, think of what that would have been like. Not only would it have been unbearably humiliating, it also would have served as a warning to other Black men of what could happen if they weren’t careful. In other words, it would have been an extension of the message conveyed by the bodies of Black men lynched in the past as a warning to be submissive. As in all those earlier abuses of power we talked about, the purpose of this intense sexual humiliation was to break his spirit – to control him, and subdue him, and force him to accept the cultural position set out for him – by “writing” this ideology on his body, by writing how powerless he was on the most intimate areas of his body.

But it didn’t work. It didn’t break him or control him or make him submissive. Instead, he became defiant – more openly defiant than he’d ever been before. The press called him uncontrollable, outrageous. It’s striking to me how many articles were written saying that someone needed to take control of him – his family, his managers, someone. And this isn’t a person who’s brandishing weapons or threatening people or causing massive property damage. He’s simply making people very uncomfortable through what he calls his “eccentric oddities.”

But his “eccentric oddities” weren’t random – they took a very specific form. He responded to the attempts to write the ideologies of racism and subservience on his body by completely confounding the way we read and interpret his face and body. He manipulated public perceptions of his face until it simply could not be read in conventional ways. Was he Black, or was he White? Was he masculine, or was he feminine? Was he handsome and desirable, a sex symbol, or was he ravaged by plastic surgery? Was he heterosexual? Homosexual? Bisexual? Asexual? Was he a pedophile or a victim? Innocent or guilty? Everyone who looked at him saw something different. We as a culture completely lost the ability to read and interpret his face and body because he scrambled the signifiers we’re used to reading.

And that wasn’t accidental. As he himself tells us rather explicitly through his work, it was an artistic decision. Specifically, the illusion of plastic surgery was an artistic response to the cultural constraints being forced on him, and it’s brilliant. In fact, as much as I love his music and his dancing and his films (and I do love them) I believe his face and body – and the illusions he created with them – are his greatest work of art. I believe future generations will look back at Michael Jackson and see him as a transformational figure, and the most important artist of our time – not the greatest singer or dancer or filmmaker, but the most important artist, period, including poets and painters and playwrights. And I believe they will see his face as his masterpiece.

However, his face isn’t just his most ambitious and most important work of art. It’s also an entirely new kind of art – an entirely new genre of art. It makes us uncomfortable because it is such a new kind of art and we don’t yet know how to interpret it. But it has the potential to “rewrite” the ideologies that have been written on our bodies, and alter the way we make sense of ourselves and our world. And that is truly revolutionary.

Joie:  Willa, I agree with you that everyone who looked at him saw something different. But I tend to think that was our doing, not his. Everyone saw something different simply because people see what they want to see. You yourself told us back during our discussion of “Is It Scary” that “if you look at someone with compassion, you simply see them differently than if you don’t.” And those people who looked at him and believed that he was ‘ravaged by plastic surgery’ or guilty as sin, or crazy as a loon or whatever, simply wanted to see him that way.

But I do agree with you that, in time, the world will come to realize that Michael Jackson was in fact the most important artist of our time. And that statement has nothing to do with his music or his dancing abilities or his short films. Instead, it has everything to do with the fact that he – the most famous man on the planet, the most successful entertainer in the world – was given the great responsibility of proving to the world that Black people and White people are all the same. And that responsibility came with a disease that he was ridiculed for and teased about and tormented with for the rest of his life. But he handled it with so much grace and dignity and humility and bravery. And he tried his best to use it to teach us some very profound lessons along the way. And you’re right. That is very revolutionary.

About Dancing with the Elephant contributors

Joie Collins is a founding member of the Michael Jackson Fan Club (MJFC). She has written extensively for MJFC, helping to create the original website back in 1999 and overseeing both the News and History sections of the website. Over the years she conducted numerous interviews on behalf of MJFC and also directed correspondence for the club. She also had the great fortune to be a guest at Neverland. She has been a Michael Jackson fan since she was three years old. Lisha McDuff is a classically trained professional musician who for 30 years made her living as a flutist, performing in orchestras and for major theatrical touring productions. Her passion for popular musicology led her to temporarily leave the orchestra pit and in June 2013 she received a Master’s degree in Popular Music Studies from the University of Liverpool. She’s continuing her studies at McMaster University, where she is working on a major research project about Michael Jackson, with Susan Fast as her director. Willa Stillwater is the author of M Poetica: Michael Jackson's Art of Connection and Defiance and "Rereading Michael Jackson," an article that summarizes some of the central ideas of M Poetica. She has a Ph.D. in English literature, and her doctoral research focused on the ways in which cultural narratives (such as racism) are made real for us by being "written" on our bodies. She sees this concept as an important element of Michael Jackson's work, part of what he called social conditioning. She has been a Michael Jackson fan since she was nine years old.

Posted on January 25, 2012, in Michael Jackson and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 49 Comments.

  1. Theresa Biggerstaff

    You two do a fabulous job. This was a great piece and I commend you for trying to articulate something so complex. I eagerly await your blog each week. Keep up the great work!!

  2. Wow, that was such a difficult yet hugely important piece and the two of you managed it so well – great job and thank you so very much! I totally agree with you: Michael was revolutionary and the power of his art and his legend will transform our collective awareness by rewriting “the ideologies that have been written on our bodies” and retelling our cultural narratives with his music and videos. To this day our raised standard of living is based on exploitation (especially of the so called Third World countries) and we need to face that. Not Michael was eccentric and had delusions of grandeur,but WE have, not he lived in his own naive fantasy world, but WE do, OUR face is ravaged so that we can´t bear the sight of our true selves anymore. But he taught us how to face it and make a change than. And God, I´m so glad he did… Thank you, Michael.

  3. I only can imagine what Michael went through. It wasn’t fair, but life isn’t fair I guess. I believe from my heart the reason Evan Chandler blew his brains out is because of guilt. He knew what he put Michael through, and facing death he couldn’t handle it, but he will have to answer for it one day. And he won’t be able to lie his way out. Michael will receive justice. It’s been three years and I still find myself missing Michael. Sometimes I can listen to his music, sometimes I can’t. I will never forget MJ.

    • Hi M.D. I completely agree with you about EC. I believe he killed himself over the guilt.

      I also know what you mean about listening to the music. There are certain songs that I have to just skip over now because I can’t do it. Not yet.

  4. I remember the first time I read about the body search. I had to stop, I just got so emotional. Michael went through so much and didn’t ask for any of it. All he tried to do in life was to give to those less fortunate and make the world a better place to live. Yes he had his faults as we are all do and maybe he could had done things differently but who are we to judge. We didn;t walk in his shoes. I would just like to think that I would live to see the day when ALL the Tom Sneddons would fess up and admit they were wrong in accusing Michael of what they did. What a day that would be! We all miss you so much Michael. You just don’t realise how much you were loved.

  5. We cannot deal with this topic without terrible discomfort, because WE are responsible for MJ’s pain. He was punished because white women found him attractive. As a white woman, I am responsible for MJ being punished. By loving him, I brought the horrors of racial hate down on his head. This is too painful to bear, so people blame MJ himself for the way he was treated rather than take the blame on themselves.

  6. Another powerful post, girls. Thank you. I remember all too well 93 and 2004 when Michael was raped and accused, I avoided the media during those times because it was just too painful to hear of those accusations- I did watch the trial though and that gave me strength oddly enough. As painful as Michael’s passing was for me, I am glad where he is he won’t have to deal with it anymore.

  7. Thank you for taking on this truly difficult subject. I have read details of the search on another very reputable site and could barely get through it. Also present at the “search” was one of Michael’s attorneys, I believe a man named Fields, and Bill Bray, a Jackson family friend who traveled nearly all Michael’s young adult life with him. I’ve wondered how these men could let that search occur! What modern day celebrity would succumb to such invasion of privacy? No one I can think of.

    What really happened with Evan Chandler in 1993, according to what I’ve read and surmised, is when Michael refused to pay $20M for Chandler’s script, evil Chandler put his scheme together to blackmail Michael, deviously using his son Jordan and vicious Tom Sneddon and his media allies to “make it happen”. Unimaginable. And to those who say why would Michael pay $20M to “get on with his life”, I say what parent, if his child were truly molested, would accept money rather than taking the perpetrator to court? RIP Michael, the truth is getting out there.

  8. Hi Willa and Joie — Thanks so much for these discussions. I think you are really doing very important work, here, and doing it well. Michael Jackson was — and is — a transformational figure. He lived his truth — and ours — in every cell of his body, in every song he sang, in every movement of his body, and in the life he chose to live. And it took such courage. Michael Jackson’s truth is beautiful — and still very dangerous to the status quo.

    I am so grateful to you both for getting these ideas “out there.”

  9. Thank you so much for taking on such a difficult subject. It is heartwrenching to have learned what Michael went through. I have seen this topic addressed in another very reputable blog, with equal passion and sensitivity. Based on what I have read, I surmise that Michael’s refusal to pay E. Chandler the $20M for his screenplay, caused the evil Chandler to pursue his plan to take Michael down using his own son and the racist vindictive Tom Sneddon to accomplish his goals. If Chandler couldn’t get his money one way, he was going to get it another. To those who say why would Michael pay it just to “get on with his life”, I say what parent would accept money if his child were truly molested rather than putting the perpetrator behind bars? I have read also that Michael’s attorney, named Fields, was present at the stripsearch, along with B. Bray, a Jackson family friend who had accompanied Michael on tours, etc., nearly all of Michael’s young adult life. Why would these men let this happen? Can you imagine one celebrity today allowing themselves to be subjected to such a thing? I can’t. Thomas Sneddon will have to account to a higher power for his actions concerning Michael Jackson. In my opinion, that day cannot arrive a moment too soon.

  10. Hello ladies, Willa and Joie, you are amazing. I look forward to Thursdays to see your work. This piece is so powerful and disturbing but so true. I also recall reading where Michael stated that during the raid on his Neverland property, besides ransacking and destroying his possessions, they also went through his journals, and he was greatly disturbed that they had read his most private thoughts about his mother, Katherine, and his thoughts on God. The horrible names they called him (w—o-j—o). Short of physically murdering him, they tried to destroy him every way possible – strip search, reading his journals, and taking away his own name. What despicable people they were and are. It has always made me very angry that no one shone a light on what these evil men, Sneddon and Chandler, plus the assorted others, did to Michael.

    What if Paul McCartney, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen or Bono were falsely accused in this manner. What do you think would have happened? I think at the very least, the accusers would have been scrutinized more carefully. I am sure they would never have been treated in the ignorant, disrespectful way that Michael was. It’s strange how when Murray’s tape of Michael was released during his trial, it was played by the media over and over again – all to make Michael look bad. But in fact, it showed his true, beautiful heart. So why the hesitation on playing the Chandler tape over and over again. I think one would have to be naive to think race did not play a part in this. It definitely did.

    As far as I am concerned, there is no place hot enough in hell for these evil people who did this to Michael.

  11. Such a painful, yet important subject. Did you know that Sneddon tried to use the very same law against Michael that was constructed against African-American heavyweight boxing champion, Jack Johnson to stop him from having relationships with white women?

    Here is an article about it on the blog of journalist, Charles Thomson:

    “The Mann Act, also known as the ‘White Slavery Act’, was introduced in 1910. Allowing officers to make arrests on the vague premise of ‘immoral behaviour’, the law was frequently used to smear black men, particularly those who consorted with white women.”

    That law (which has racist origins) is still in effect and here is the request by Sneddon to the FBI to prosecute Michael under it (the FBI refused):

    Chuck Berry was one famous person prosecuted – and convicted – under the Mann Act. And Michael’s hero, Charlie Chaplin too was prosecuted under it, though he was acquitted.

    But Sneddon is just one person – even if he was a crucial player in all this. The most mind-boggling thing to me is how virtually 90% of the US media enabled him and these accusers! And it’s not like they couldn’t know the truth. I guess many actually knew MJ was innocent, yet they went on TV and manipulated people into thinking he was guilty. Here is an account from a follower fan:

    “During breaks at the courthouse, reporters would pour into an area at the back to file stories and grab something to eat. One time I overheard two of them criticizing the prosecution team and calling the case a farce. Those same reporters went on TV that night praising the prosecution case and saying a conviction seemed inevitable. The same thing happened repeatedly as news gave way to biased and false opinion that sought to satisfy a perceived appetite for sensationalism at the expense of all else.

    In May I spoke with a young female reporter from a British newspaper. She told me she’d been busy filing stories during the first part of the trial (when the prosecution presents their case) but had nothing to do now because the newspaper’s editor was interested only in scandal and controversy – and not in reporting the evidence being presented that proved Michael’s innocence. I said, isn’t that very unethical? She shrugged and said, yes, it probably was.”

    The treatment of Michael Jackson, in my opinion, was nothing short of a 21st century lynching. No, not with stones, we are more sophisticated than that in the 21st century: the new weapon is words and the media.

    Another typical example of how the media operated is in this article:,2933,152708,00.html

    There is undeniable evidence that National Enquirer offered to pay this family $200 000 to say Michael molested one of their sons. And if you think it’s just a one-off, think again – when it came to MJ, this was the norm!

    “Alfonso Ribeiro appeared on Geraldo, to say there was never a time when he felt uncomfortable with Michael Jackson. Ribeiro, at the age of twelve, had starred with Michael and the other Jacksons in a Pepsi commercial in 1984. Ribeiro felt like Michael was one of his buddies and felt the allegations were “preposterous”. He also disclosed that his own father was offered $100,000 by a tabloid to say anything negative about Michael Jackson.”

    “As the media invited ex-employees to run with their wildest allegations, induced by large six figure payments and the racier the allegation, the bigger the cheque. I’ve since learned that Wade’s mother Joy Robson was approached by the National Enquirer and offered a six-figure sum if she changed her story ‘to say that Michael had molested your son.’ Thankfully, people like Joy had scruples and she, like every other parent and child who’d spent time at Neverland, would not corroborate Dr Chandler’s claims or anyone else’s.”

    “The defense witnesses included Tim Whitehead, Michael’s cousin who is very close to Michael, who told the jury he had been offered $100,000 to say that Michael is gay. He refused and said he has never seen any behavior that could be construed as child abuse.”

    Unfortunately there were some who gave in to the temptation – his accusers. I have studied both cases very thoroughly and I’m 100% sure Michae was totally innocent in both. I would not say it if I would think otherwise. I would never defend a child molester. But Michael wasn’t a child molester.

    The boy’s uncle, Ray Chandler wrote a book in 2004 titled “All that glitters”. In that, he writes, almost in a boasting manner:

    “Had Michael paid the twenty million dollars demanded of him in August, rather than the following January, he might have spent the next ten years as the world’s most famous entertainer, instead of the world’s most infamous child molester.”

    What does it tell you?

    The problem for MJ was that Chandlers pushed for the civil trial to precede the criminal trial since the burden of proof is lesser there and of course that’s where you get money. And it looked like they would have been successful with pushing the civil trial ahead of the criminal trial. Again right from Ray Chandler’s book – a conversation between Evan Chandler and their civil lawyer Larry Feldman:

    “Late in the afternoon, after everyone had consumed their holiday repast, Larry Feldman called Evan with news they could all be thankful for.

    Larry: “Hey, Evan, you gotta hear this one. Howard Weitzman demoted Fields again. They definitely don’t want your deposition, or June’s deposition. They don’t want to preserve anything. (not necessarily true) If they’re gonna make a deal they don’t want anything on the record about Jackson.”

    Evan: “No shit! Larry, these guys are in a real mess.”

    Larry: “Yeah, they fucked this up unbelievably. What could be better? But I’m going forward. We’re going to push on. So far there ain’t a button I’ve missed. The only thing we gotta do is keep the criminal behind us. I don’t want them going first.

    Larry had said it before, but it hadn’t registered in Evan’s brain until now.

    Evan: “You mean if they indict, the criminal case automatically goes before us?”

    Larry: “Yeah.”

    Evan: “Jesus Christ!”

    Larry: “Right! So we don’t want that.”

    So your kid has been molested but all you care about is all the legal manuevering and how to avoid or at least delay the criminal trial? Why would anyone whose kid has been molested want to delay the criminal trial at all? Wouldn’t you want to see the bastard behind bars as soon as possible? I sure would!

    I could go on. There are thousands of evidence for Michael’s innocence, but I stop here now, because, I guess, everybody on this blog knows he was innocent. It is horrible how the media don’t report any of this. Instead they totally and deliberately twist the story.

    Michael might have been famous but he was also vulnerable, because too often he couldn’t really defend himself. People sensed his vulnerability and they acted like the worst schoolyard bullies against him. Racism was surely among the reasons, but I think there were other factors, like there seems to be a “bully instinct” in people at anything that is different. This was a nationwide and worldwide act of bullying someone who people sensed to be vulnerable and also because he could not be put into any box, he was different and unique.

    I am very sad and upset that Michael’s last 15 years was spent with these allegations and that he was stigmatized. On the other hand truly great people’s lives often contain such drama and hostility by their peers. Then the later generations discover the truth and rehabilitate them. I sure hope this would happen to Michael. I hope when this generation of journalists die out and no one will have an interest any more in smearing Michael, people will start seeing through the tabloid junk and they will study the facts and they will learn the truth. When that happens it will make Michael’s star shine even brighter than if he would have never been accused. He will be seen as a 21st century martyr, because he was!

    • Thanks for this.. i think you are dead on about bullying, those bullies must hate their vulnerable selves so they went after vulnerability and sensitivity because they wanted and needed to destroy it in themselves. This is how they chose to deal with abuse and victimization is to become it. I have seen this far too often and there is another issue…. “anything, anything… anything for monnneey” the seduction of that power rather than the power of humanity.

      I have come late to the game of having all the factual information such as reading Conspiracy and the information here but since i have become more than familiar, i let everyone know who just lazily regurgitates the media’s hype from the last decade and a half. The community i belong to says that sacred law is, among other things, that nothing shall be done to harm the children. That means the children that reside in every one of us. The whole of the accusations persecuted the children.. all the children even remotely connected…so how will we each take our stand in this? I would save that Chandler’s history would likely show a very vulnerable child that as an adult wanted revenge and was vindicative, not healed. He had no real power so he saught to take it. Same thing with supremist such as Sneddon. If we exposed the reality such as their likely vulnerable pasts, history or whatever they would be less able to hide behind the supposed power of their masks.

      • @mare, such a powerful statement and so true. “What about the children?” is what I keep asking myself. Since Michael’s passing I’ve been thinking a lot about lessons we all can learn from his life. In the USA 50% of child abuse cases are false allegations and when custody is an issue that number rises to 80%. So for me a big leeson is to go hard after people who make false allegations, but fight even harder for the children of abuse who have no say. As more people become to know the REAL facts of these allegations against Michael from Sneddon and Garcitti, the question for me is “what about all the children who were really abused during that time?” Nothing will bring Michael back. I know there are some in the fan community that want his name cleared and more power to them in that regard. I personally feel I know the truth and nothing is going to change my thoughts on his innocence. But for anyone who has been abused, knows someone who has been abused, or is just a lover of Michael and wants to honor his memory, we have got to fight for the abused and exploited children of the world in whatever ways we can.

    • Hi Jacksonaktak. Finally had a chance to read the articles you linked to, and they are pretty shocking. I didn’t realize there were actual tape recordings of the National Enquirer encouraging children to make false claims against Michael Jackson. I guess I’m naive, but I can’t believe that isn’t illegal, and isn’t news. Bribing children (and their parents) to lie in print about sexual abuse … I can’t even think what to say about that. To me, that’s a type of child abuse in itself. It’s a type of child pornography, I think – at the very least it’s involving children in a sexual situation. And it’s all on tape. Why isn’t there any interest in this by the police, or children’s services, or the media?

      Charles Thomson’s article about the Mann Act is very interesting as well. In fact, I think we may add it to the reading room. Thank you so much for providing all this information.

      • Hi Willa. I think many children have been abused in connection with the allegations against Michael, but not by Michael. The parents who got their kids lie just to help them to make money, are child abusers. The authorities who pressured kids into lying against Michael are child abusers too. When you get to know the details of these cases against Michael it simply makes you want to scream. So many lies, so much manipulation – the media and the authorities enabling false allegations and so on. This is the real scandal!

        I give you an example of the authorities conduct all through it. When the Chandler scandal broke, the big problem of the authorities was that there weren’t any other complaining “victims”. It’s a big problem when we talk about allegations of sexual molestation of children, because pedophiles typically have dozens of victims in a lifetime, not just one. Especially if they are surrounded by as many children as Michael was all the time.

        The prosecutors spent lots of money, time and effort on trying to find children corroborating the Chandlers’ claims but they found none. The police talked to dozens of kids who spent time with Michael, but all said Michael never behaved inapproprietaly with them. But the police was so zealous (desperate, in fact) that Sneddon and his people travelled several times to Australia, among others, to talk to Brett Barnes and try to get him say Michael molested him. Without success. They did this with many other kids as well. Here is an extract from Mary A. Fischer’s article for GQ Magazine in 1994:

        “The police also employed aggressive investigative techniques–including allegedly telling lies–to push the children into making accusations against Jackson.

        According to several parents who complained to Bert Fields, officers told them unequivocally that their children had been molested, even though the children denied to their parents that anything bad had happened.

        The police, Fields complained in a letter to Los Angeles Police Chief Willie Williams, “have also frightened youngsters with outrageous lies, such as ‘We have nude photos of you.’ There are, of course, no such photos.”

        One officer, Federico Sicard, told attorney Michael Freeman that he had lied to the children he’d interviewed and told them that he himself had been molested as a child, says Freeman. Sicard did not respond to requests for an interview for this article.

        All along, June Chandler Schwartz rejected the charges Chandler was making against Jackson–until a meeting with police in late August 1993. Officers Sicard and Rosibel Ferrufino made a statement that began to change her mind.

        “[The officers] admitted they only had one boy,” says Freeman, who attended the meeting, “but they said, ‘We’re convinced Michael Jackson molested this boy because he fits the classic profile of a pedophile perfectly.’ ”

        “There’s no such thing as a classic profile. They made a completely foolish and illogical error,” says Dr. Ralph Underwager, a Minneapolis psychiatrist who has treated pedophiles and victims of incest since 1953. Jackson, he believes, “got nailed” because of “misconceptions like these that have been allowed to parade as fact in an era of hysteria.”

        Mary A. Fischer said “allegedly telling lies” (adding “allegedly” probably out of caution), but by now we know her information was correct. Ironically we know this from one of the prosecution’s witnesses in 2005: a young man called Jason Francia. Back in 1993 eventually the police managed to “find” one another boy, who claimed abuse and this was Francia. He was the son of a former maid of Michael, Blanca Francia, who was fired from Neverland around 1991 or 1992. After the Chandler scandal broke she was paid $20.000 by Diane Dimond’s Hard Copy to say she saw Michael molesting a boy (of course, she never reported or mentioned that to anyone at the time or even after she was fired, only after the Chandler skandal broke and the media were willing to pay money for such stories…). The boy – namely Wade Robson – she claimed to have witnessed being molested by Michael testified in 2005 as a grown man, discredited Blanca Francia totally and told the jury nothing ever happened. (Just like all the other boys prosecution witnesses – such as ex-employees with an axe to grind – claimed to have seen molested by Michael: Brett Barnes, Macaulay Culkin.) So you already have a big credibility problem with this family. Then the son, Jason gets on the stand. His claim was that Michael tickled him three seperate times while he put his hand on his crotch area. He claimed that the third time he even put his hand in his pants.

        However on cross-examination Tom Mesereau pulled ahead the transcript of Jason’s police interrogation in 1993. The boy initially denied that anything inappropriate ever happened. But the police has pressured, pressured and pressured him – including telling him lies about how other kids, such as Macaulay Culkin or Corey Feldman have been molested by Michael and if Jason doesn’t corroborate they cannot save them! So this is how the boy was pressured into saying what the police wanted to hear!

        Here are some extracts from that transcript:

        “Det. Neglia: I realize how hard this is. I realize how painful it is to think of these things you tried so hard not to think about but you are doing fine. And you are also helping the kid that he is bothering now.

        Jason Francia: What do you mean he’s bothering?

        Det. Birchim: He’s doing the same thing.

        Jason Francia: Macaulay Culkin.

        Det. Neglia: Only he’s getting a lot more into it. Like your mother pulled you out of there. Macaulay’s mother is not going to pull him out of there. They are feeding him.

        Det. Birchim: He’s doing worse stuff.

        Det. Neglia: It’s much worse with him.”

        About Corey Feldman:

        “Det. Neglia: He’s a junkie now, he gets arrested, he doesn’t act or anything. He gets high. He packs his nose with cocaine and he’s going to die by the time he is 22 years old.

        Jason Francia: How old is he?

        Det. Neglia: About 21. But that’s the kind of life he is living, and it’s got to do with being exposed to people like this, and having nobody to protect them and to take them out.

        Det. Birchim: Like you had your mom.

        Det. Neglia: Like your mom pulled you out, and you’re, you’re candid, and you’re honesty with us is going to help us. To pull the next kid out, it might even be too late for Macauly already. But these kids that he’s traveling with are on tour right now. Maybe we can pull them out of it… “


        “Det. Neglia: Okay, but what I am getting at is that maybe I am not being obvious enough. What I am saying is maybe he put his hands someplace on you where he shouldn’t have. Maybe he put his hands on you someplace that made you feel uncomfortable. And that’s why you are not remembering. …It’s a little of bit of (sic) a different kind of not remembering, one is because you are choosing not to, and one is that you just can’t call back the uh, the event. And I think of what you doing (sic) is tickling and all this stuff, is trying forcing (sic) yourself not to remember. “

        And from Meserau’s cross-examination in 2005:

        “Q. Do you remember stating in that interview, “They made me come out with a lot more stuff I didn’t want to say. They kept pushing. I wanted to get up and hit them in the head”? Do you remember that?

        A. No.

        Q. Would it refresh your recollection if I show you the transcript of that?

        A. Probably not. But you can show it to me anyway.”

        “Q. — that was recorded – all right? – when asked if Mr. Jackson said anything to you about whether you should discuss what happened, do you remember telling the interviewers, “No, but I’m working on that”?

        A. I do not remember that.

        Q. Would it refresh your recollection if I show you the transcript?

        A. No. But — you could bring it over.

        Q. Well, I can’t unless you’re willing to see if it refreshes your recollection.

        A. Okay. Bring it over. I’ll give it a shot. I’ll read it just to see if it refreshes my memory.

        Q. BY MR. MESEREAU: Have you had a chance to review those pages –

        A. I have.

        Q. — of your transcript? Do they refresh your recollection about what you said on that subject?

        A. No, it does not.

        Q. It doesn’t.

        A. Sorry.”

        “Q. Do you remember in that interview one sheriff telling you, “Mr. Jackson is a molester,” and the other saying, “He makes great music, he’s a great guy, bullshit”? Do you remember that?

        A. I don’t remember that specifically, but I think I remember hearing it on the tape, which was my voice, or his voice.”

        “Q. Remember telling the police, “You guys are pushy”?

        A. Yeah. I remember telling the police that.

        Q. Okay. And after they kept pushing you, you finally said, “You know, I think he did tickle me,” right?

        A. No.

        Q. Do you remember that? Do you remember at first saying you didn’t know, and then after —

        A. Yeah, I remember saying at first, “I don’t know.”

        Q. And after telling the police, “You guys are pushy,” you eventually finally said, “Yes, he tickled me,” right?

        A. I believe that’s how it went.

        Q. Okay. You kind of went back and forth during the interview, didn’t you? One second you’d say, “He tickled me,” and the next second you’d say you’re not sure, right?

        A. I was trying to figure out how to get out of there.

        Q. I understand. And you remember exactly how you felt in 1993 during the interview, right?

        A. The feeling of, yeah, crying and crappiness.”

        Now THIS is child abuse! As well as the media involved in child abuse, when they published salacious stories about these kids and Michael, when those stories weren’t true.

        • As you say so clearly and support so well, the 1993 accusations didn’t just hurt Michael Jackson. They hurt a lot of people, including a lot of children. To me, this is one of the most painful and upsetting consequences of the accusations – how the police aggressively interrogated children in response to them, to the point of child abuse, as you say. It’s just so unbelievable: love and kindness and respect toward children were always so important to Michael Jackson, but then those very qualities – his love and compassion for children – were twisted and used as an excuse by the police to intimidate and harm children. It’s such a corruption of his values and what he was about.

          After reading Evan Chandler’s own description of how he manipulated and threatened and lied to his son while questioning him, it’s hard to believe the police couldn’t see what was going on. But then I read how the police interrogated Jason Francia and other children and saw that they used the exact same techniques. That’s just unbelievable to me. So of course Evan Chandler’s coercive interrogation of his son was acceptable to them.

          The whole situation is irredeemably horrible. If any possible good can come from this terrible situation and from raising awareness about what happened, maybe it will force a change in how these cases are investigated in the future, and how children are treated by investigators in the future.

          • Willa, incidentally the day after I posted it, the blog VindicateMJ posted an extensive blog post about Jason Francia’s testimony and in that they added these videos as well, which illustrate the police’s suggestive interviewing techniques and the fact they weren’t looking for the truth, they just wanted convict Michael Jackson at any cost. This is Corey Feldman’s police interview from 1993. Although Corey was 22 at the time of this interview, not a child, but still they use the same suggestive techniques and they grill him for a long time and obviously they try to pressure him into saying something incriminating about Michael. They did the same with dozens of children as well! Also notice that Corey says someone did molest him (not Michael) and he names that person, but the police totally ignores that information. They only want to incriminate Michael Jackson!

          • I don’t want to get too OT here, but this story really ticks me off. Instead of LA County investigating this guy in 1994, they were busy trying to get at Michael. People should really stop and take note:


  12. First, any conversation about racism NEEDS to be had, as uncomfortable as it makes us. If not for these conversations and opportunities to express ourselves, we will still be making the same mistakes 100 years from now. So thanks for the discussion.

    Secondly, as hard as it i to read about the strip search of Michael’s body, and my gosh it is hard to read, please keep in mind that people arrested (speaking for people in the US) go through this type of thing all the time – guilty or not. Not to get too OT, but it just made me think how something like that is so dehumanizing that I can sort of understand how criminals would continue to commit crimes over and over again after an experience like that. They probably feel less and less human after that experience. So back to Michael, it helps people to understand why he would settle the civil case to in some way keep some sense of humanity about him.

  13. Thank you for writing such a powerful piece. Michael Jackson was (and remains) a light of joy, peace and innocence. I’m not convinced his “lynching” was motivated by latent racist feeling in the courts and media, but it certainly played a part. Considering there was so much evidence of his innocence it seems people wanted to believe these lies being told about him. It was a terribly upsetting time and I don’t think anyone can truly know how awful it must have been for Michael to endure. But he did endure. He was even able to turn it into the masterpiece HIStory.

    The song “This Time Around” was playing on a loop through my brain while reading this post. I think it’s fitting.

    This time around I’ll never get bit
    Though you really wanna fix me
    This time around you’re making me sick
    Though you really wanna get me
    Somebody’s out
    Somebody’s out to get me
    They really wanna fix me, hit me
    But this time around I’m taking no s#!@
    Though you really wanna get me
    You really wanna get me

    He really thought
    He really had a hold on me
    He really thought
    They thought they really had control of me
    He really thought
    He really had a hold on me
    He really thought
    They thought they really had control of me

    This time around I’ll never get bit
    Though you really wanna get me
    But this time around I’m taking no s#!@
    Though you really wanna fix me
    Somebody’s out
    Somebody’s out to use me
    They really want to use me
    And falsely accuse me
    But this time around
    They’ll take it like spit
    ‘Cause you really can’t control me

    He really thought
    He really had a hold on me
    He really thought
    They thought they really had control of me
    He really thought
    He really had a hold on me
    He really thought
    They thought they really had control of me

    Get me, fix me
    He really thought
    They thought they really had control of me

    He really thought
    He really had a hold on me
    He really thought
    They thought they really had control of me
    He really thought
    He really had a hold on me
    He really thought
    They thought they really had control of me

    Listen, I’ve got problems of my own
    Flashin’ cameras, taps on my phone
    Even in my home I ain’t safe as I should be
    Things always missin’
    Maybe it could be my friends
    They ain’t friends if they robbin’ me
    Stoppin’ me from makin’ a profit, see
    Apology shallow like the ocean
    I guess I’ll resort to gun totin’
    If I was dead broke and smokin’
    I’d probably be by my lonesome
    I’m a killer n—- I ain’t jokin’
    Endo smoke got me choked and I’m hopin’
    The fool comes slippin’
    So I could blow’em open
    This time around
    I changed up my flow
    Got rid of the rocks
    Got Pitts by the door
    A real set of peoples to watch my back
    Stay away from strangers
    So I won’t slack
    And I know my n—- Mike like that

    He really thought
    He really had control of me
    He really thought
    They thought they really had control of me
    He really thought
    He really had a hold on me
    He really thought
    They thought they really had control of me

    Get me, infect me
    They really tried to get me
    Use me, accuse me
    Nobody can abuse me
    Take me, shake me
    Nobody’s gonna break me
    Guilt me, dilt me
    Hey, I like the way ya…
    Control this here

    Use me, accuse me
    Nobody can abuse me
    Fix me, use me
    Nobody’s gonna dish me

    This time around yeah

  14. Thank you, Willa and Joie, for your wonderful courage and insight. This is what needs to be said. I never fully appreciated that all this could have come out in the civil suit if MJ had not settled–the photos and the video of his naked body and his penis. I believe he settled not long after the strip search–he went on TV 2 days later with a taped speech about the humiliation and his innocence (shown 1st on CNN). Sneddon tried to have the photos put forth as ‘evidence’ in the 05 trial but Mesereau stopped him–thank God. That would have been awful. (I read that his dermatologist Dr. Klein was present there too.)

    A couple of comments: MJ told Rabbi Shmuley Boteach that his father, as part of the abuse, would strip him naked, oil him up, and then whip him–he said it was ‘like a ritual” (see this quoted on the blog rhythmofthetide). So when the strip search occurred he was re-living as an adult the trauma he endured as a child–and all the powerful emotions of the past. To me, this increases the depth of the trauma for MJ.

    Second, the prosecutors–Sneddon and L.A. DA–refused to reveal to MJ’s defense team the basis of the subpoena–why the judge okayed it. This seems so unfair! I have seen the drawing that supposedly Jordan (maybe Evan) made of MJ’s penis–it was ridiculously vague–I can’t see any judge granting a subpoena on that basis. Also–Jordan said MJ was circumcised and he was not.

    Third, the 2 Grand Juries convened refused to issue an indictment for a criminal case (not enough evidence), so MJ had to have the civil suit go first b/c the judge refused to delay the civil suit until there was a criminal case. Geraldine Hughes explains how this put him at a big disadvantage b/c all his defense would be known to the prosecutors if there were a criminal case. Also–he was basically being tried 2x for the same crime–thus denied due process.

    Finally, the problem at the time was that there was no reportage of anything in MJ’s favor. Only after his death has information, via the internet and Geraldine Hughes’ book Redemption, been available to people who want to know the truth. So the corrupt news media had free play to make a lie become the truth–they had no one stopping them except MJ, and he was the one no one trusted due to the allegations. There were so many lies–for example, D. Dimond, buddies with Sneddon, said on 2 prime news shows that there were love letters between MJ and Jordan–there never were any.

    The whole thing was such a criminal smear–and to me it shows the major failings of the US Criminal Justice system to protect the innocent. There was a piece yesterday about a man who was arrested for a DUI and who was put in solitary for 2 YEARS with no trial in New Mexico. MJ’s case shows that even a famous person with lots of $$$ could not protect himself legally. The 05 case also should never have been brought to trial–NO EVIDENCE in either case. A 13/14 year old’s accusation brought down a person who had lived a stainless life–even honored by 3 US Presidents as a role model. America should hang its head in shame for allowing that strip search–it was outrageously barbaric. I read that he was told that if he did not submit, he would be arrested. They even wanted to come back for a second look, but he refused. I mean 20 minutes of photographing his body and genitals was not enough?

    MJ truly stands at a crossroads where a number of key lines intersect.

    I agree he was the greatest artist and person.

    As a P.S., I think MJ’s legal troubles also have a lot to do with children and how they are regarded–on the one hand, we sentimentalize them, and on the other hand, in USA there are record numbers of deaths by child abuse compared to other developed countries (BBC did a report on this startling fact). Children are not really respected–they are not equal in rights to adults (in my opinion). There is still the ‘shut up, you are only a kid’ attitude. For example, people could not understand why MJ liked to be with kids socially–b/c they would never choose to do that, except maybe for relatives. Underneath this external lip-service of caring for kids, I think there is contempt. MJ really cared for kids and their worldwide plight (30,000 per day die of hunger) and so he was suspect. I mean it is not normal for a man to want to spend time with children, right? b/c children have nothing to say, they are not worth our time. They are basically regarded as the property of someone or the state.

    Thanks for the great blog post!! Hard to look at but very important to understanding our beloved MJ.

    • “I think MJ’s legal troubles also have a lot to do with children and how they are regarded”. I absolutly agree with you. I mean, he even was ridiculed in a lot of movies and shows for being a suspected child molester. How could you make fun of that?

    • “I think MJ’s legal troubles also have a lot to do with children and how they are regarded….”

      Hi Aldebaran. I’ve been thinking a lot about your P.S., and I agree with Julie: I think there’s a lot of truth to what you say. And I think it helps explain why Michael Jackson is viewed very differently in many other parts of the world than he is at home.

      Of course, we shouldn’t over-generalize – there are many people in the United States who genuinely love children and love being with them, and there are people in other parts of the world who don’t. But I do think there are profound cultural differences, and I think many other cultures have a much more welcoming attitude toward children than the U.S. does.

      When my son was three, we moved to Singapore for six months, and the difference was amazing to me. A lot of times when you go out with a toddler in the U.S., you’re made to feel like you’re imposing a potential nuisance on everyone and you should be apologetic for that. Just walk down the aisle of an airplane with a toddler in your arms and you can see it in people’s faces. (“Oh please, don’t sit next to me!”)

      The feeling in Singapore was completely different. People loved engaging with him – loved engaging with children in general – and instead of being made to feel apologetic, I felt like the luckiest person in the world. The general feeling was that I had a child, I was so blessed, and thank you for sharing him with us. My son would be sitting on my lap on a bus or a subway and start giggling, and I’d discover he was playing a peek-a-boo game with an adult several rows up. People would actually stop me on the street and ask me how old he was, and tell me how lucky I was. I started letting him buy his own fruit at the outdoor markets because I discovered that the vendors really enjoyed talking with him and negotiating with him, and then they’d help him load up his purchases on his bike (with training wheels). And many shopkeepers kept a bowlful of candy out on their counters, just to share with any children who came in so they’d have an excuse to talk with them.

      And it wasn’t just people selling things. My son was better at flagging down taxis than I was. He’d stick up his little hand, and taxis would swerve across three lanes of traffic to pick us up. One time we were talking to a taxi driver and mentioned we hadn’t tried the ice cream flavors popular in Singapore. (Their favorites are corn, red bean, and durian – very different from the vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry we’re used to seeing in the U.S.) The taxi driver told us we had to try the corn – it was very good – and pulled over to an ice cream stand so we could buy some and jump back in. Can you imagine a taxi driver in the U.S. actually encouraging a toddler to eat ice cream in his cab? And this wasn’t in hopes of getting a big tip. Tipping is illegal in Singapore.

      It was such a different feeling traveling around with a child in Singapore. People were so kind and playful with my son, and seemed to genuinely love talking to children and being with children. We traveled a bit in Malaysia, Thailand, Nepal, and Bali, and found the same feeling there – which was a completely different attitude than what moms typically experience at home in the U.S.

      And I think you’re right, Aldebaran – that different attitude toward children has a big effect on how people view Michael Jackson. In the U.S., the attitude seems to be, Michael Jackson enjoys being with children? How bizarre – he must be a pervert. And elsewhere the attitude seems to be, Michael Jackson enjoys being with children? Well, of course. Who doesn’t?

  15. Thank you for another thoughtful piece. It’s easy for us to forget, from the comfort of our 2012 recliners, what life was like in the 60’s and even the early ’70’s in some parts of this country. That Michael was able to do what he did, in the face of the racism that existed when he was getting started, and become what he is, is nothing short of miraculous. Consider the trip the J5 made from Gary to New York City to perform at the Apollo (without which we would likely have never known them). We forget that the interstate highway was not yet complete, in fact, its construction had barely begun, so what is a 12-hour drive today was likely much longer back then, on two-lane roads and stopping at every stoplight in every tiny town. Unlike today, there was not a McDonald’s every 20 miles, and those restaurants that did exist might not welcome Joe and the J5, and in fact might even be hostile to them. Finding an adequate restroom would have been a challenge (“whites only” signs still existed to demarcate facilities and even water fountains). Suppose the van had broken down? “If” (a big “if”) there was any mechanic nearby who would help them, he most likely would have charged him double, if he even did the work correctly. It was no doubt a challenge just to see that the basic particulars of making such a trip could be accommodated. I think folks tend to dismiss how fraught with dangers that trip was, for a van-load of black kids and two adults, who probably were carrying a substantial amount of cash, as credit cards were not that common then. (Ever hear of “driving while Black?” It was nothing for police to pull someone over for just that reason; occasionally it still happens today!). And they made many such trips to get the exposure that finally would bring them to the attention of the rest of the world.
    We only see the end result, and how blessed we are that Michael was able to do what he did. I find it helpful from time to time to reflect on all that he and his family went through so that we have the incredible art that we have today.

    • @Midnite Boomer – you bring up some interesting points, although for a trip from Gary to NYC, Joe and the boys would not have faced anything like that. Chicago to NYC has always been a heavily traveled route that many people would have taken by road and train. Not to say racism didn’t exist, but there were no ‘whites only’ signs up north. Being that they had already been performing for a while and knew people on the chitlin circuit, they would have planned their trip and knew where to stop for food and lodging. As grueling as their performance schedule was, I’ve never heard any of the brothers talk about overt racist attitudes of the things people would face in the south – people like Nat King Cole or Ray Charles for example. But you bring up something that I never really thought about. I’ve never heard any stories of the J5 performing in the south prior to their fame at Motown, which would have been in the 70’s. When know Joe’s family is from the south – Arkansas. So maybe in some way (dare I say it and give Joe any credit…lol) he felt he was protecting his children from the racial problems of the south in the mid-60’s. I know there was an incident during a break from the Victory Tour when after a performance in Atlanta, the brothers took a trip to a small town in Alabama to visit their grandmother. The story is that Michael and Bill Bray were traveling around and when they stopped for Bill to fill up the gas tank, Michael went next door to a convenience store for candy. In the store a white man beings beating Michael up and calling him all sorts of names. Bill had to run over and stop the man. I think Michael even had to go to the hospital. Michael never filed charges.

      • @ Destiny, thanks for your thoughtful response. The situation was probably somewhere in between your description and mine. While it is true that the North was safer than the South, “safer” is a relative term. The KKK was, I believe, founded in Indianapolis, just a short 2 hour drive south of Gary, but still considered “North.” I saw them in full regalia, recruiting members, in a “northern” state, as late as 1993. Michael released “Black or White” in 1991, evidence that the situation still needed to be addressed. So while I take your point that things may have been better along the route they took, (than, say, in the South proper) there certainly were still many hazards. I think It took an incredible amount of courage (and, personal belief: Divine providence) to make that trip. Even today, some of those risks are still there! There are still segments of society, however small, that are strongly racist, and, given the right circumstances, would not fail to act out.
        So, for me, the fact that they got safely there and back, and would thus have the exposure they needed in order for everything else to unfold as it did, makes me humble and thankful.

        • Actually the Klan as we know it (there were other forms of the Klan after the Civil War, but the rise of what we know as the Klan came at the time of D W Griffith’s Birth of a Nation ) was founded in Georgia. I live here in Atlanta and for the most part grew up in Georgia. Trust me, it is an ugly part of Georgia and American history. And you are right to point out that things were not easy or safer. I hope that was the impression I was giving. There was still segregation in the north and mid-west. But I still wanted to make the point that there was a highly developed network for black entertainment, and frankly many other industries, that could easily be traveled around the country and those networks extended into the south, but again, I’ve never heard mention that the boys played in the south until well after the were with Motown. Joe and any booker or promoter would have know that. These network of places are pretty legendary from Harlem to East Chicago to Central Avenue in Los Angeles. And especially from Chicago to NYC – this is one of the biggest and oldest thoroughfares in the country along the lines of Route 1 or Route 66. Yes, if stopping along the road the boys most probably would have stayed at black owned hotels or ate at black owned restaurants. And that ids a big if, because most of the time people would have kept driving or just pulled off the side of the road or at rest stops instead of checking into a hotel. But I do respectfully disagree with you that it would have been dangerous for them to travel to NYC from Chicago.

  16. I am at loss of words…

    What a human is capable of doing to another…such unspeakable cruelty. Animals would wince if they knew we humans call the worst among us animals…animals hurt/kill for food but not out of pleasure/prejudice like human beings…(Michael said this).

    It must have been a brave soul that stood up to be Michael Jackson for sending out the message of love all through his life and oh how he was punished for it…

    In my humble opinion, 2003-2005 was a living nightmare for Michael…as worse as 1993…may be a bit more…all because of the MEDIA. Imagine, if this was another child abuse allegation but not with any media coverage…would it be as painful? Imagine standing there night and day and these heartless people talking aim and piercing you with their poison tongues…with lies…making jokes about you…all this unkindness coming at you at full throttle…destroying the life you laboured to created despite all odds. I shudder!

    Here is a poem written by ‘Buz’ Kohan and sent to Michael during 2004…it captures so beautifully what was happening to him at that time…

    Big storm blowing
    Danger growing
    Wind coming up from
    Every side
    Air is filled with
    Flying objects
    No relief
    No place to hide

    Fury follows
    Shaking, breaking
    Taking charge
    Complete control
    Whirling, swirling
    All around me
    Trying to
    Destroy my soul

    All so senseless
    I’m defenseless
    Caught in a frenzy
    Wipped and tossed
    Pushed and shoved and
    When all is chaos
    All is lost

    More harsh raids
    Resistance fades
    I am alone, wind-
    Blown and beat
    Wind, you win
    I must give in now
    In disgrace, I
    Face defeat

    The, from way off
    In the distance
    There comes a tiny
    Shaft of light
    Growing brighter
    Growing lighter
    Shinning through me
    Endless night

    From a tiny
    Ray of sunshine
    There comes a brilliant
    Amber glow
    Touching all that
    COmes before it
    As I watch it
    Grow and grow

    With the sunlight
    Comes the voices
    All getting louder
    More intense
    Speaking to me
    Pain and anguish
    Let the healing
    Now commence

    Let the truth
    Emerge before us
    Let all the lies be
    Drowned in shame
    Le the storm
    At last disperse to
    Clear the air
    Clear my name

    You, my friends you
    All sustain me
    There to defend when
    I’m attacked
    You restore my
    Faith and courage
    When mirror
    Has been cracked

    You surround me
    With your passion
    Guiding my steps when
    I’m unsure
    Through your love I’m
    Wrapped in sunlight
    Once agin I
    Feel secure

    For your faith, I
    Make this promise
    I shall fail your
    Trust, I swear
    No disaster
    Can destroy me
    Long as I know
    How much you care
    Long as I know
    Your love is There!

    I have watched the video of Michael’s acquittal in 2005 again and again…it is a moment of unspeakable triumph…so reminiscent of the divine stories I have heard about the fight between the evil and good…in the Vedas the ancient sacred texts of Hindu’s there is powerful prayer…
    “O Lord, lead me from darkness to light”
    “O Lord lead me from untruth to truth”
    “O Lord lead me from death to immortality”

    On June 13, 2005…Michael was led from darkness to light…from untruth to truth…and 4 years later to immortality…

  17. I am so thankful with you for writing about this. I have read your blog for a while now, but this is so brave of you that I wanted to thank you.
    I am not from USA, you see, I am Mexican living in Europe, so even if we have racism in my country, is a very different type, as in Europe. This post give me a completely different point of view in so much things, in his music, the 93 case, his decisions, etc.
    I want to thank you for enlighten us, those who are not from USA and are not very aware of all this, and help us understand Michael’s cultural context better.

  18. Ante todo , presentar les mis respetos,por la valentía al afrontar el tema de las acusaciones hacia Michael desde un punto de vista totalmente diferente para mi, una visión de los hechos imposible de entender como la esclavitud y el racismos y la esclavitud ya que en España las luchas han sido mucho mas de clases sociales que de razas, Sus reflexione hacen mas si cabe aumente mi admiración y respeto hacia Michael Jackson

    • Willa and I wanted to offer a translation of Mahuoly’s comment. Since my Spanish is extremely rusty and sometimes the online translators are not too accurate, we’re asking if any of you who speak Spanish could let us know if our translation is close.

      English Translation:
      First of all, my respects for having the courage to confront the topic of the accusations towards Michael from a completely different point of view for me, a vision of the facts impossible to understand like slavery and racism since in Spain the struggles have been much more of social classes on than of races, your reflections increase my admiration and respect towards Michael Jackson.

      • Hi Joie! I correct some stuff since I was the one that encourage Mahouly to read your amazing blog. We both are Barcelona fans and I told her about this incredible place.
        Unfortunately she doesn’t speak English. But she reads everything you write with a translator.

        Your translation is almost perfect. I just change very few things:

        First of all, I wish to present my respects for having the courage to confront the topic of the accusations towards Michael from a completely different point of view for me, a vision of the facts impossible to understand like slavery and racism, since here in Spain the struggles have been much more of social classes than races, your reflections increase my admiration and respect towards Michael Jackson.

  19. Wow!!!! Joie and Wila this truly is thought provoking piece on on a what is still considered to be a very delicate and sensitive topic in America. You provided the reader with a very thorough, colourful, and historical background on slavery, racism, and race relations which evoked so many emotions within me. The use of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel, Uncle Tom’s cabin as a point of reference was simply outstanding, and also reminded me of a novel I read several years ago entitled ” Cane River” written by Lalita Tademy.

    After having read that book, I was left with a bitter taste in my mouth,rage and anger about the institution of slavery. (Let’s just say it took me a while to cool off, and I almost forgot the teachings of Michael to be color blind.)
    In reference to the humiliating, and degrading treatment of Michael during the 93 allegations was completely appalling, and I firmly believed that it was a plan to “put” a powerful Black man in his place. After all how dare one man, an African American man command so much global influence, love and power continue to have such a grasp of over the world. It was all a calcuated plan by the Chandlers, the law enforcement, Tom Sneddon etc. I am/ was so disgusted by what happened Michael and how it all led to his ultimate demise. I am done with this, because it is bringing up so many memories right now. Ugh.. Overall, another excellent blog Ladies…. 🙂

  20. Hi Willa and Joie! Wow, this is a HUGE elephant that you ladies have just danced with, no WONDER you’re in a bit of a funk about it. It’s highly controversial, and it’s sad enough to put anyone in a bit of a blue mood for awhile.

    I’m so sorry that I didn’t have time to comment on your posts about Michael’s incredible sex appeal, I agree with you both all the way there! 🙂 I must say, the gold pants were AWESOME, but I’ll have to stick with the leather pants from Come Together. It’s my favorite Beatles song, and Michael’s version of it is great, too.

    Even now, white girls, like myself, come across problems with liking Michael, a black man. It’s not so much the fact that he was black, but the fact that his skin color changed from black to white.

    I have not yet read Uncle Tom’s Cabin, as I am only in ninth grade, but I’m sure I will have to. This year, ninth graders are required to do a project for an event called National History Day. This year, the theme is Revolution, Reaction, and Reform in US history from 1900 to 1999. I was GOING to do a kick-butt project about Michael’s skin color changing and how it affected how we viewed people’s skin color. Unfortunately, my teacher doesn’t know much about Michael and all the agony he was put through about his skin color, so therefore I was not able to do that project. According to him, it “Didn’t relate to at least one of the three R’s enough.” I see the first two, maybe not reform, but I definitely see revolution and reaction.

    This really is a sobering topic. There have been so many atrocities committed against blacks. I’m doing the above project on Martin Luther King, Jr, and there was a passage about one of his peaceful demonstrations about how the police beat them brutally, teargassed them, and set their dogs on them. A policeman, it is said, purposefully dropped a teargas grenade near the head of a woman that had been beaten to near unconsciousness. I had to put the book down for several minutes and recapture control of my emotions before continuing.

    One of the most common responses from the haters that I have seen thus far is this, “Well, how come he had to settle if he was innocent? Wouldn’t he want to take it to court if he knew he was innocent? Or was he afraid of being caught?” I wish they’d think of this fact, Michael was one of the biggest popstars of that time. If he took a long period out of his schedule to go to court and be found innocent, it would take away so much time from his career. He just wanted to get the whole thing done away with and gotten rid of so he could continue living his life somewhat normally. Unfortunately, a certain pair of vultures that went by the name of Chandler and Sneddon made this impossible.

    I hate, hate, hate reading about the strip search. Without fail, I cry if a piece of writing so much as mentions it. You ladies hit the nail square on the head when you mentioned that it was like witnessing a rape. Michael was stripped of his clothes and dignity and examined in all the most private parts of his being without one ounce of consideration about his feelings on the subject. They never asked, “Hey, does this make you feel uncomfortable? We can get rid of some of the people, or hey! Call off the whole thing because it makes no sense to strip search someone to the extent that they did over a matter such as the one brought onto the table by Chandler.

    This was absolutely fascinating! I loved it, even though it covered some very controversial topics. I can’t wait for your post on Off the Wall! 🙂

    • “It’s not so much the fact that he was black, but the fact that his skin color changed from black to white.”

      Hi Emily. I think you highlighted a really important point, one we didn’t address in the post. Michael Jackson didn’t face just one type of prejudice but a whole host of prejudices – in part because he dared to cross so many boundaries, and that was very threatening to a lot of people. And as you point out, crossing racial boundaries is especially taboo.

      This reminds me once again of that scene with Rosa from Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Stowe tells us Rosa is octaroon, which means that of her eight great-grandparents, seven were white and one was black. She crosses or blurs racial boundaries because she looks white, or nearly white, but legally and socially she is black, and she has a ladylike delicacy and manner, but she is a slave.

      Her crime is that “she forgets who she is.” As Maria says, she “presumed on her delicacy, and her good looks, and her lady-like airs.” She also tried on one of Maria’s dresses, and imagined herself a lady. This is intolerable to Maria, so she sends her to the whipping house where she will face extreme public humiliation – Rosa says, “I’d rather she’d kill me” – and it’s the kind of humiliation a “real” lady, a “real” white woman, would never have to endure. The purpose of this humiliation is to shame her and remind her of “who she is” – that she is black, and a slave – so she internalizes it and never forgets it, and never tries to cross that boundary again. As Maria says, “I’ll give her one lesson that will bring her down, I fancy! … She’ll take no more airs with me!”

      To me, the parallels to Michael Jackson are striking. Like Rosa, Michael Jackson crosses racial boundaries, and he imagines a life different than the one set out for him. He works hard and aims high, and he succeeds. He becomes extremely wealthy and extremely famous, he’s attractive to millions of women of all races – and because of his vitiligo, he even begins to look white. This is intolerable to a lot of people. Like Rosa, he “forgets who he is”; like Rosa, his punishment is extreme public humiliation; and like Rosa, the purpose of this humiliation is to shame him and remind him of “who he is.”

      We can see this in the way the case was handled by both the police and the press. For example, when describing the strip search in his biography, Randy Taraborrelli says,

      “Michael was about to experience, if just for one day, what it might be like in the real world, where people often have to do things they may not necessarily want to do.”

      This just stuns me. At best, it’s extremely insensitive. At worst, it’s a sign of jealousy or even latent racism. Either way, there’s obviously a lot more going on here than simply determining guilt or innocence. The implication is that Michael Jackson needs to be brought down a peg or two, and you can almost hear the echo of Maria’s voice more than a century ago: “I’ll give her one lesson that will bring her down, I fancy!” And Taraborrelli is relatively sympathetic. There were other reporters who were far, far worse.

  21. Taraborelli’s comment is truly awful–thanks for quoting it, Willa. Makes it sound like MJ never had to do things he didn’t want to do–what about performing and being under contract since the age of 5–what about the abuse he suffered as a child? ‘If just for one day’–what an unbelievably ignorant comment.

    Mj got accused by both whites (passing as ‘white’ and wanting to be ‘white’), and blacks (betraying his race, an Uncle Tom)– few believed he had vitiligo and lupus and was coping as best he could.

    Re settling in 93–another reason was that due to a law in California that gave a right to a speedy trial to children under the age of 14 (Jordan was 13 almost 14 when charges were filed), this meant that MJ’s defense had only 3 months to prepare for a defense (there were over 100 witnesses I read). MJ’s team appealed, but lost. It would have been hard to mount a good defense in 3 months’ time. The law was in place b/c children might forget what happened so they had a right to an expedited day in court.

    Personally, I think the way the media and the prosecutors (Sneddon) treated MJ has corrupted our whole society–making bullying, hating, self-righteous judging without facts or evidence an epidemic–and it’s all ok. Hating MJ is ok–defending him is not ok. Even now, I am careful who I talk to about MJ– many people just do not understand.

  22. So so so sad!!!!
    Thanks for all your comments. I like to read it so much!

    With L.O.V.E
    Kitty (Holland)

    Michael Forever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    Thought i would share this… his quote is very pertinent to the discussion and the surprise of where it showed up.

  24. Willa said: “In the U.S., the attitude seems to be, Michael Jackson enjoys being with children? How bizarre – he must be a pervert. And elsewhere the attitude seems to be, Michael Jackson enjoys being with children? Well, of course. Who doesn’t?”

    Hi Willa, I also have been thinking about the cultural differences in the way children are treated. When my children were little, we lived in Costa Rica, and I had the exact same experience as you did in Singapore. They were welcomed and loved — everywhere we went. It was so nice. We frequently took a long bus ride from the mountains into San Jose, and the people on the bus would offer the kids mangoes and play games with them to help the time pass.

    Also, no one was leaping to the conclusion that all physical contact had to be sexual or that sharing a bed was automatically sexual. I was doing some consulting for an environmental organization there and when I would arrive, the director would always give me a hug and the Latin kiss on both cheeks. In meetings, the grad students would sit on the floor and lean on each other — males and females — and no one was thinking sexual harassment — just very different cultural norms for body contact. Among the poor, large families often slept in the same bed — the children all snuggled up together. I also had an Italian friend who thought the American attitude toward children was really uptight.

    I once heard a lecture by a Canadian Jungian who wrote about the strange way children are treated in the US relative to other countries. He claimed that the US is a narcissistic country and that narcissists are envious of children and therefore treat them badly — they are so focused on themselves that they can’t focus on their kids. It rang a bell with me as, at that time, I had just returned from CR and was very aware of the difference.

    Again. Thank you so much for this post and all your others. I love reading your blog and also the comments.

  25. I think is so true what Eleonore is pointing out. I have think about this and read about this for a long time.
    Is strange how in USA almost everything has a sexual connotation and how most of this sexual connotation are often pointed out as bad or dirty.
    In México (where I was born) I often I sleep with my younger cousins or nephews and is very normal.
    The last time I visit México I had to sleep in the same bed as my father, for space circumstances, and it was very normal. This in the USA would probably be awkward or look upon.
    I most say that the view on Michael behaviour is very different in other countries. Here in Europe and in México the most of the people I have talk to think he is innocent and the hole “share the bed” thing was taken out of context and most people understood what he meant, since is normal to sleep with your kids in the same beds or even some kids of your same family.
    I being told by my friends in the USA that the common idea in the USA is that he is guilty because of this.
    In the majority of non western civilisation cultures when a baby is born, for the first few months, the baby sleeps in the same room as the parents, in some cultures the baby sleeps in the same bed. The idea of the baby sleeping in a different room is just unthinkable “how can you leave a new born baby alone in another room???!!”
    The physical contact is has a very different meanings in different countries, being the western civilisation one of the most uptight and one that has more rules about it.
    Only in Europe the hugging and the kissing between people is much more common and natural, and in a whole sex is not such a taboo.
    I also remember the scandal referring Janet Jackson in the Super Bowl. When in America was such an scandal, in Europe they though “is just a boob… what is the big deal?”
    I think views on physical contact, contact with children and sex is very important to understand why in USA Michael was so misunderstood.
    I am sorry if my English is not that good 

    • Hi Eleanor and Applehead. I think the cultural differences you’re pointing out are really important, and I also think there’s something of a class difference within the U.S. as well. I slept with adults growing up, and didn’t think it was strange at all. But my father grew up in an orphanage, and my mother grew up on a remote farm with her five sisters and a brother – and I think their upbringing influenced their ideas, and mine. I believe the same is true of Michael Jackson. He grew up with five brothers and three sisters in a two-bedroom house, and later spent a lot of time in hotel rooms on the road. And I’m sure his background influenced him. What is “normal” for him may be very different from what is “normal” for an only child raised in a four-bedroom house.

  26. The more I think about the enormity of the media attacks on MJ and the willingness of so many people to believe the worst, the more I think it provides a key to our cultural malady — we live in a culture that on the surface claims to love and value children, but in reality children are among the nations’ most ignored and underserved populations — enormous resistance to providing them with healthcare and a good education — and helping single moms provide a good home.

    Jung thought every person had a shadow side that he or she put an enormous amount of energy into hiding — but that psychological health required acknowledging and bringing the shadow side to consciousness so it could be dealt with. However, most people spend their lives denying the shadow and projecting it onto someone else and “hating” it and them. So, our culture’s shadow side is that we hate children — the evidence being how the culture devalues them; so when someone like MJ comes along who loves children, it is sort of “like rubbing our noses in it” and we react by projecting our cultural ugliness onto his personal purity. (I use the pronoun we just because I am a member of this culture, not because I support these cultural attitudes.)

    I have also been really interested in the weird linguistic implications of a word like pedo-philia which literally means love of children attached to a man who truly did love children but with the standard meaning being one who harms children sexually.

    I think MJ, through our memory of him, his music, his dancing, and the facts that continue to filter out about him, is still working in our lives, guiding us down a path toward greater consciousness and conversations like the ones on this blog will lead us to greater understanding.

    • Wonderful points your bring up. I too feel we as a society (in the USA at least) treat children and the elderly poorly. Part of the issue I believe with people feeling Michael is guilty (beside the media’s lies) was that pedophilla and the harming of a childrne goes against everything in nature, so when people start to describe the false details in both the allegations against Michael, I do think some people just turned away – it was too hard of a topic to even THINK about.

      • Analyze the critiques, rumors and Micahel’s life is difficult, precisely because his fans are very different, with differing cultures, beliefs, antagonistic, other ways of understanding life and its values, if we add that we do not speak or understand the English , the information comes distorted and distorted. In particular topic on children spread the fact together with the complaint of abuse and the hypocrisy of people did the rest.
        Certainly it is unusual for a man to sleep with children at home, but nobody criticizes it on a monitor in camping, hiking or end of course, on a cruise, and a thousand or one occasion where this occurs. Michael did that and it could also upset, plus normal and recognized him as American Puritanism no longer step out there, you can do different things but if you draw attention, apologize and that’s something that at least I have not never known that he did not remember if he ever retract algo.ya was in the spotlight of the system, successful, handsome, rich, and most importantly, a black man who ran his career and his life and also successful mind, triumphed in too many ways, singer, dancer until composer was still acceptable, but it became a businessman, cover, film, videos ect .., besides giving lessons in humanity was too much for many around the world not only in the U.S., its acquisition of the rights of the Beatles for many was a blasphemy, white music was owned by Michael and many other points of this style.
        The world is full of injustices and Michael brings together much glory and great pain, his admirers still suffer for it, but it is almost impossible that a genius is scorned by his contemporaries see, sometimes it shines in the eyes of the mediocre dazzles them therefore prefer to close their eyes to the truth and feel superior just trying to put out the light.

        PS: Forgive the lexicon but is translated by a corrector

        • Hi Mahouly. No worries – your ideas came through very well. (And I’m afraid I don’t speak Spanish at all, so I’ve used those translators also and they seem to be getting better all the time.) I’m very glad that you and Applehead have been writing in and sharing your thoughts and perceptions, because I think it’s very important for us in the U.S., especially, to become more aware of other perspectives. We are so entrenched in our own cultural beliefs and biases that we can’t even see them sometimes.

          Also, as you say, “Michael brings together much glory and great pain, his admirers still suffer for it.” We’re also still trying to understand it and sort out what happened and why – all of us who care about him, from all around the world. And I think all of us sharing our perspectives is one way we can do that, and maybe learn from what happened.

          • De nuevo gracias; es un alivio poder cambiar impresiones no solo sobre MJ si no también sobre los sentimientos que provoca,no solo su música algo que los amantes de cualquier tipo de música sabemos que produce, si no que esa intensidad de sentimientos los provoca también , su vida, sus palabras, su físico o para ser mas exactos sus cambios físicos, sus actos , sus decisiones, todo lo que esta relacionado con él hace que miles de personas se interroguen, se pregunten el porque de ese cumulo de sentimientos que embargan a tantas personas de diferentes.
            Me pregunto a menudo ¿ Que sucedió el 25 de Junio del 2009 ? ¿ Por que millones de gentes fuimos tocados por su aura cuando se marcho ? Algo sucedió ese día que no se explicar, pero que cambio la vida de muchas personas y ha hecho que las contactara

            Un honor conocerlas

          • Hi Mahouly. I don’t speak Spanish, but I used a translator and here’s what it said:

            Thank you again; It is a relief to be able to exchange views not only about MJ but also the feelings he produces, not only his music something any kind of music lover knows that it produces, the intensity of feelings it causes, his life, his words, his physical or to be more exact their physical changes, their actions, their decisions, everything that is related to the reason why thousands of people are questioning, wondering what caused the immensity of feelings that seized so many different people.

            I often wonder, What happened on June 25, 2009? That millions of people were touched by his aura when he left? Something happened that day that cannot be explained, but that changed the lives of many people that he touched.

            An honor getting to know them

            (Would someone who speaks Spanish mind checking to see if this is right?)

            Mahouly, even though I’m not sure about your exact words, your ideas are very powerful to me. I know exactly what you mean about that intensity of feeling he caused – I first felt it when I was 9 years old, and it never left me. The loss of June 25, 2009, is still very painful. But you’re right, it is a relief to exchange views with others who may not see him quite the same way (and I love the fact that we can see him so many different ways) but still share a deep affection for him and a sincere respect for his art and his beliefs.

  27. Mahouly wrote, Willa translated: “I often wonder, What happened on June 25, 2009? That millions of people were touched by his aura when he left? Something happened that day that cannot be explained, but that changed the lives of many people that he touched. An honor getting to know them .”

    Yes, Mahouly, I wonder, too. And I am at a loss for an explanation. My life was completely changed. Transformed in fact. Until Michael Jackson’s death, I really knew almost nothing about him — if you can believe that. My children had been fans, but I had never listened to popular music — always classical. As a result of the coverage of his death, I became fascinated by him, and stayed up almost all night watching his videos. I was really struck by “Earth Song” and his total commitment to environmental and social issues — and the fact that he connected the abuse of the earth to the oppression of people. And then, the total experience of MJ hit me and I was filled with the joy of his music and his dance and his being, the tragedy of his story, and the almost unbearable sorrow of his death. All, in a period of about 4 or 5 hours. In a very short period of time, Michael Jackson changed my perception of reality — and the change has reverberated throughout every aspect of my life. He changed my world — and continues to be an inspiration.

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