Inside the Jackson FBI Files with Charles Thomson
Willa: Joie and I are thrilled to be joined this week by journalist Charles Thomson, who has written numerous articles and blog posts about Michael Jackson, the charges against him, and the way those accusations were handled in the media. In fact, he’s the author of “One of the Most Shameful Episodes in Journalistic History,” the best article I’ve read about media coverage of the 2005 trial. He’s also contributed to two best-selling biographies about Michael Jackson and has appeared on TV and radio shows to discuss him and how he has been portrayed.
So Charles, as an investigative reporter, you’re trained to be skeptical of what you hear and to be cautious about drawing conclusions. For that reason, the official position of most credible media outlets – as opposed to the tabloids – is “we’ll never know for sure” if the accusations are true or not, though their reporting often reveals a bias that they believe Michael Jackson was guilty of something, if not the exact crimes he was accused of. However, you seem convinced that Michael Jackson was innocent, and I’m curious: What exactly convinced you?
Charles: I believe wholeheartedly in the principle that a man is innocent until he is proven guilty. All too often you see right-wing pundits making comments like, “Not guilty is not the same as innocent.” Well, I beg to differ. That is the whole point of our legal system. A man is innocent until he is found guilty by a jury of his peers. Michael Jackson was found not guilty, ergo, to the letter of the law, he was innocent. To start making comments like, “Just because he was found not guilty, that doesn’t mean he was innocent,” makes a mockery of the entire legal system.
It seemed to me that the media was just loathe to accept the possibility that Jackson could be innocent. Most reporters seemed to already be convinced of Jackson’s guilt because they thought he was a weirdo. Aphrodite Jones wrote about that in her book. I wasn’t a journalist at the time of the Michael Jackson trial – I was still training – but I’ve always had the same mindset: I like to see evidence before I believe something.
What became apparent throughout the Jackson trial was that evidence was not the prosecution’s strong suit. For all their bluster, they failed to produce a single piece of tangible evidence connecting Jackson to any crime. All they really had was a parade of witnesses, half of whom collapsed under cross-examination, and the other half wound up helping the defense rather than the prosecutors.
The Jackson case was one in which the prosecution had every advantage. They plundered Jackson’s house unannounced while he was miles away in Las Vegas. They had the benefit of global media coverage and put out pleas for other victims. They went into areas not covered by their search warrant, stole defense documents from the home of Jackson’s PA and illegally raided the office of the PI working for the defense – all of which gave them an unfair advantage.
Despite all of this, they were still unable to concoct anything approaching a strong case. I followed the trial at the time and remember being shocked by the diversion between the transcripts and the media coverage.
J. Randy Taraborrelli has told a story before about the trial. He and the rest of the press pack were queuing up for their passes. A well-known female reporter from a big magazine became increasingly agitated at the indignity of having to wait in line (the horror!) and suddenly exploded: “Does ANYONE here believe Michael Jackson is innocent besides J. Randy Taraborrelli!?”
That story sums up much of the media’s attitude towards the trial: “We know he’s guilty. This is a waste of time. They should just lock him up now.” It tainted their reporting, consciously or otherwise.
Joie: It absolutely tainted their reporting and I just find it so hard to believe that they unilaterally told the story they wanted told – across the board. You know, I recently loaned my mother my copy of Michael Jackson Conspiracy by Aphrodite Jones, and after she had read it, she was completely shocked because all she really knew of that trial was that Michael Jackson had shown up to court in his pajamas. And when she said that, at first I was sort of angry but, once I thought about it I realized, of course that’s all she knew. That’s all most of the world knows because that’s all the media told them. No one really knows that all of the prosecution’s witnesses were annihilated under cross examination because the media didn’t report anything the defense had to say. They only reported on the prosecution’s side of things.
Charles: I have been a working journalist for five years now and I have spent a lot of time in court, covering cases for local and national newspapers. Spending all that time in court cases – including child abuse cases – has only cemented my belief that the Michael Jackson prosecution was a farce.
Willa: That’s a pretty strong condemnation, Charles. So what exactly is different about this case than other cases you’ve reported on?
Charles: A lot was different about the Michael Jackson trial than other child abuse trials I have sat in on. Firstly, while I have sat in on some incompetent prosecutions in the past, I have never seen anything approaching the stupidity of the Michael Jackson prosecution. It was like the case had been put together by Mr. Bean. Every witness turned out to be useless. There was no evidence to support any of the charges. The prosecutors behaved like buffoons, sometimes attempting to re-write their entire case on the spot because witnesses hadn’t panned out as they’d hoped. It was hopeless. The Santa Barbara DA’s office should thank their lucky stars every night that Michael Jackson didn’t file a malicious prosecution lawsuit.
As far as differences between the Michael Jackson case and other child abuse cases I’ve sat in on, nothing really married up. Michael Jackson did not fit the profile of a predatory pedophile in any sense. The victims in such cases are usually devastated, breaking down in tears on the stand as they recount the abuse they were subjected to, whereas Arvizo was cracking jokes. They are usually traumatized by their abuse to the point that it’s like a flashbulb memory – their recollections are vivid and consistent – whereas the recollections in the Jackson case were entirely inconsistent.
To go into all the details of how the Michael Jackson case differed from others I’ve covered – I could write a 5,000 word essay about that. But to put it briefly: I have sat in on numerous trials in which genuine victims of abuse have testified against their abusers. I saw no similarities in the demeanor of the victims or the defendants, no similarities in the testimony, no similarities in the prosecutions – and I’ve never seen a real molester come within a million miles of putting up the incredibly strong defense that Jackson was able to either. The transcripts of the Arvizo case read like an extremely ill-advised spoof of a real child molestation trial.
Willa: Which kind of leads back to the question I asked you at the beginning. Was there a particular piece of evidence that was especially compelling for you, or was it just an accumulation of evidence so that after a while you reached a tipping point and became convinced of Michael Jackson’s innocence?
Charles: To answer that, I will return to the first line of my answer: I believe wholeheartedly in the principle that a man is innocent until he is proven guilty. The prosecutors in the Michael Jackson trial didn’t even come close to doing that. Michael Jackson was acquitted by a combination of the prosecution’s complete inability to produce any compelling evidence of Jackson’s guilt and the defense’s ability to present an abundance of compelling evidence of Jackson’s innocence. By acquitting Michael Jackson, in law, they declared him innocent.
Here’s just a short example which I feel demonstrates clearly why the defense won this case. The prosecution called several ex-Jackson employees who had allegedly witnessed molestation of three boys: Brett Barnes, Wade Robson, and Macaulay Culkin. Other than the extremely shaky testimony of these ex-employees – all completely destroyed under cross-examination – the prosecution had no evidence at all of any abuse.
The defense called Barnes, Robson, and Culkin right at the beginning of their case. All three of them told jurors in no uncertain terms that they were never molested and they resented the implication.
While cross-examining Robson, prosecutor Ron Zonen made a desperate attempt to claw back some semblance of credibility to the notion that these boys could have been molested. In doing so, he actually invented a scenario out of nowhere, in which he seemed to accept that the prosecution’s own witnesses had been lying but tried to insinuate that Robson could have been molested anyway. The ex-employees’ evidence to the jury was that Robson had been awake when he was molested, but Zonen wound up practically pleading with the jury to consider that perhaps Robson was molested on other occasions while he was asleep, so he wouldn’t have known about it!
Willa: That’s really pretty shocking – talk about leading a witness – and it really illustrates how the District Attorney’s office approached this case from the beginning, I think. They didn’t conduct an investigation to find out what happened. Instead, they rushed to judgment about what happened, and then tried to gather evidence to prove it. Their judgment that he was guilty came before the investigation, not after.
Charles: That is sort of a microcosm of the whole case. The prosecution’s version of events was like a house built on weak foundations. They started out with an extremely weak premise – a very tenuous witness or rather meaningless piece of “evidence” – then built enormous towers of conspiracy on top. The defense just kept coming in and kicking the foundations out from underneath.
In short, it is beyond my comprehension that anybody, having studied the case in any depth, could ask themselves the question – “Did the prosecutors prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt?” – and honestly answer that they did.
Joie: Oh, I don’t know how anyone could make an argument for the prosecution here.
So Charles, you were involved in requesting the FBI files on Michael Jackson under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). I’m curious, what prompted you to request them and what exactly were you hoping to find in those files?
Charles: I wasn’t sure what I would find in those files, or even if he would have a file. I made the Freedom of Information request on the off-chance.
Freedom of Information is a brilliant piece of legislation that allows citizens to demand hidden information possessed by government agencies. You can demand to know how much your local government spends every year on biscuits for the staff room, or obtain information on how many accusations of police brutality were made at your local police station last year, or demand correspondence between government departments regarding controversial issues.
I had used it with the FBI a few times before. I had acquired James Brown’s file, for instance. In there, I found an eye-opening account of the supposed police chase for which he was arrested and imprisoned in the 1980s, which related events in a very different way to the police’s story from the time. In other celebrities’ files, there are memos about the FBI monitoring them during the 60s because they thought the were communists.
Had Michael Jackson been monitored by the FBI because of the power he could be perceived as having had over his audience? Had they investigated the so-called financial “conspiracy” against him, proof of which Raymone Bain said was being sent to the Attorney General in around 2006-07? Had they been involved in the child molestation investigations? These were the kind of questions I was asking myself.
I wasn’t very happy about the way the FBI handled the release, as I made clear in my blogs about the subject and in the passage I wrote about the files for J. Randy Taraborrelli’s book. Instead of releasing the files directly to those who had requested them – I don’t know how many others had requested them – the FBI announced that it would upload the files to its website at a particular time for anybody and everybody to read.
Joie: Yes, that is surprising. You wouldn’t expect the FBI to operate in this fashion.
Charles: What this essentially provoked was a free-for-all, with news organizations around the world all scrambling to download, skim-read, and report on the files faster than anybody else. This led to some extremely shoddy reporting on the files’ contents. I wrote about the media’s shambolic coverage of the documents on my blog.
I also wrote a blog about how the files revealed that Tom Sneddon, the DA pursuing Jackson, tried to get the FBI to prosecute Jackson under the Mann Act. The Mann Act is an inherently racist law which was widely used after its introduction to punish black men who consorted with white women. The notion of interracial relationships was at that time considered “immoral.” As such, any black men caught traveling with white girlfriends could find themselves prosecuted under the Mann Act for “transporting a female over the state line for immoral purposes.”
The phenomenal book, Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson, tells how Johnson, the first ever black Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the World, was one of the motivations behind the law’s introduction. The government didn’t like the way in which Johnson “flaunted his wealth” (read: bought cars) and dated white women. He was arrested under the act for traveling with a white lover. The law was also used to prosecute Chuck Berry for allegedly consorting with a 14-year-old girl, in the same year that Elvis Presley began dating Priscilla Beaulieu – his future wife. She was 14 at the time. Elvis was not prosecuted.
Joie: Wow. I knew, of course, that Priscilla was only 14 years old when she began dating Elvis, but I had no idea that Chuck Berry was prosecuted for doing the exact same thing Elvis was doing, in the exact same year. Talk about “unforgivable Blackness.” That’s unbelievable.
Charles: Chuck Berry, for the record, denied the accusation that he had slept with the girl. He said she was a hitchhiker who he’d given a job in his club, then fired, and that she had concocted the allegations to spite him. Throughout his trial, the presiding judge made repeated comments about his race. He was convicted.
Willa: Oh, there is such a double standard. Jerry Lee Lewis married a 13 year old – and then defended himself by saying he thought she was 15, as if that makes all the difference. And this was just a year or two before Chuck Berry was arrested. So at the very time Chuck Berry was being prosecuted for allegedly consorting with a 14 year old, Elvis was dating a 14 year old and Jerry Lee Lewis was married to a 14 year old.
Charles: You can read my full blog about the Mann Act here.
One interesting factor is that the FBI only released 333 pages of Jackson’s 673 page file – so less than half of it. They never gave an explanation as to why the rest had been withheld, even though they are legally obliged by the Freedom of Information Act to do so.
During the 1993 scandal, Johnnie Cochran announced that he had sent files to the FBI and asked them to commence an extortion investigation into the Chandlers. No documents pertaining to this were released in Jackson’s file. I ordered Cochran’s file and they weren’t in there either. I challenged this and the FBI claimed it could not locate any such documents. Whether or not that’s true – who knows? They also claim not to hold a file on Hunter S. Thompson, even though he detailed at least two encounters with the FBI in his writings over the years.
Joie: That is interesting, isn’t it? And only 333 out of 673 pages released. What possible reason could they have for keeping over half of the file under wraps?
Charles: Perhaps the FBI doesn’t want to release those extortion documents because their investigation was half-hearted, or even non-existent. Other reasons could be that the pages include references to other people who are still alive or references to agents who are still active – although neither is an especially legitimate excuse, given that those details could simply be redacted.
Willa: Though legally they aren’t allowed to withhold documents just to cover their mismanagement of a case, right? According to the law, they can only withhold information for legitimate reasons: because releasing it would pose a security threat, or put active agents at risk, or violate the privacy of private citizens who are still alive, as you say.
Charles: That’s absolutely correct, but who’s policing the FBI? While Freedom of Information is a brilliant piece of legislation, it has its flaws. Agencies can reject requests for flimsy reasons in the knowledge that the appeals process is extremely long-winded and most people haven’t the time or resources to pursue it.
I recently had an FOI request rejected by the police on the flimsiest of grounds. I have been sitting in on a series of court hearings about an undercover police operation – all public record, because it’s being discussed in open court – but when I sent an FOI to the police for more information on that operation, they refused to comply by claiming that even acknowledging the existence of the operation would jeopardize national security, or some such gibberish.
So it can be discussed in open court, where any member of the public can walk in and listen, but acknowledging its existence under FOI is a threat to national security? It’s clear nonsense.
So organizations are constantly flouting the law on FOI in the knowledge that the appeals process is slow, laborious, and often ineffective. The prison service once told a colleague of mine that releasing the cost to the taxpayer of a prisoner’s breakfast was a threat to national security. He took it to appeal and won – but that took almost a year.
Oh well. Perhaps in a few years we’ll be able to see a little more of what they held on Michael Jackson.
Joie: So Charles, let’s talk about what was in those 333 pages. Basically, the files revealed that the FBI had kept tabs on Michael Jackson for approximately ten years and had never found any evidence of child molestation. Is that correct?
Charles: Yes, that’s correct. They received allegations but never found any evidence to support them. The media, either intentionally or as a result of not reading the files properly, misreported their contents in a huge way.
For instance, many media outlets wrongly claimed that the FBI had investigated Jackson for molesting two Mexican boys in the 1980s. What the file actually says is that a writer contacted the FBI to say they’d heard a rumor that the FBI had investigated the matter. The FBI searched its records, found no evidence to suggest that it had ever conducted any such investigation, but noted the phone call. That note was wrongly cited by journalists – either lazily or maliciously – as proof that the FBI had investigated the matter, when in fact it said the exact opposite.
Willa: That’s crazy! It’s like the media and the FBI are caught in a feedback loop. A writer hears a rumor that the FBI is investigating Michael Jackson and contacts them to see if it’s true, the FBI conducts an internal investigation and finds that it’s not true, and then the media outlets report that the FBI is conducting an investigation. So in this case, the media didn’t just report the news – they created it.
Joie: Yes, it seems that creating the “news” is something the media does quite a bit of these days.
Charles: Included in the file was a run-down of the FBI’s analysis of all the computers seized from Neverland during the 2003 raid. The files clearly state that nothing incriminating was found on any of the computers – but numerous media outlets claimed that the files did not include the FBI’s findings!
The FBI once analyzed a videotape to see if it contained child pornography. There is no suggestion in the files that it was ever owned by Michael Jackson. His name was simply on a label attached to the videotape. There is also no suggestion that the tape actually contained any child pornography. But various media outlets reported that Jackson had been investigated for possession of child pornography.
The only thing in the file which could – if someone was particularly desperate to find something – be considered remotely incriminating was the Mann Act incident – and even that is a real stretch. Somebody contacted the FBI and reported seeing Michael Jackson, in full view of other passengers on a public train, go into a cabin with a young companion. They had no idea what, if anything, occurred in the room. The FBI determined that there was no basis for an investigation.
Willa: And you know, I think that gets to one of the issues at the heart of the media coverage of Michael Jackson: how does the media report on an “absence” of incriminating evidence? It violates their definition of news. A rumor is news, because it’s “something” to report on. But page after page of FBI files with the word “NOTHING” written across them – because the FBI investigated and found nothing – is not news, because it’s “nothing.” How do you report on “nothing”?
You touched on this in your blog post about the FBI files when you wrote:
On a more general level, the files reveal that it was not only the Los Angeles Police force which pursued Jackson for more than a decade and failed to produce one iota of information to connect the star to any crime – it was the FBI too. That Jackson’s life was dissected and his behavior was investigated for more than 10 years by two major law enforcement agencies and not one piece of evidence was ever produced to indicate his guilt speaks volumes.
On the whole, the media didn’t quite tell it that way, though.
You know, it seems to me that if there’s one rock star we can safely say wasn’t a pedophile, it’s Michael Jackson. Who else has been vetted as thoroughly as he has? Yet that isn’t the public perception because that overwhelming “absence” of any evidence against him has not been reported.
Charles: While the FBI files stating that nothing was found on Jackson’s computer is, as far as many journalists and indeed readers/viewers are concerned, not as interesting as if they had found something, I believe it’s still a story. It’s just a positive story – and positive stories about Michael Jackson are just not something the media is generally interested in reporting. So I don’t believe the media found it difficult to report, for instance, on that segment of the files. I think the media chose not to because it didn’t suit their agenda.
There’s an element of ass-covering involved too, of course. When you’ve spent years reporting extremely unfairly on Michael Jackson, doing everything within your power to convince your audience that he must be guilty – reporting accurately on the contents of those files is going to look like an enormous backpedal.
Joie: And, to me, that just seems like such a travesty of justice. For years the media had a hand in destroying this man’s career and his very character and they did so with great relish – reporting rumors and vile innuendo as though they were facts. But report on something that could actually prove the man was innocent … that, for some reason, is out of the question! It’s completely criminal. And it makes me wonder if we really know the truth about anything, or are we just eating up whatever morsels the media dishes out to us – regardless of if there’s any truth to what they report or not.
Willa: That’s a huge question, Joie, and a really important one. After all, there are a lot of people in the U.S. who still believe Iraq was somehow involved in the attack on the World Trade Center. That’s just shocking, and it reflects an almost criminal lack of media coverage about the essential issues at the crux of the Iraq War. And it gets back once again to this question of how do media outlets report on an “absence”? How do they report on the lack of any credible evidence against Michael Jackson? How do they report on the lack of any credible evidence linking Iraq with September 11th? The answer seems to be that they don’t. They know how to report on rumors, but don’t know how to go back and report that those rumors aren’t true – or don’t want to.
Charles: As someone who works in the media, it is my experience that these rogue journalists are very much in the minority. For all my work on the Michael Jackson scandal, I don’t feel it is indicative of the way the media operates generally. If it was, I would be constantly writing about other cases in which the media has operated similarly. There are many, many more, of course, but they are still the minority.
Most of the journalists I have encountered or worked with are diligent, hard-working, passionate, and ethical – even on newspapers which are unpopular with Jackson’s fans for the way in which they covered him.
Nonetheless, there are these enormous travesties of journalism which go on all the time. A lot of it, I think, is attributable to pack mentality. Media outlets feel like if everybody else is covering a big story, they should be too or they’re missing out. Nick Davies writes about this very eloquently in his book Flat Earth News. In fact, if I could recommend one book to people who are interested in the way the media operates and the reasons behind its failings, it would be Flat Earth News. In it Davies examines the systemic failures which lead to widespread inaccuracy and distortion. I’d say it’s essential reading for anybody interested in this topic.
Joie: Thanks for that recommendation, Charles; it sounds like a really interesting book. And thank you so much for joining us. This is a discussion that Willa and I have wanted to have for a long time and we appreciate you taking the time to chat with us!
On another note, Willa and I want to take a minute and share two important bits of information with all of you. Willa, do you want to go first?
Willa: We’ve added some blank pages for the Bad 25 bonus tracks to the Lyrics Library. They’re blank right now because the lyrics weren’t included in the liner notes. There’s space for comments for each song, so if you would like to post your ideas of what the lyrics are, we can begin compiling those. Oh, and thanks a lot to Caro for suggesting this a couple of weeks ago!
Joie: Also, after a lot of discussion and soul-searching, Willa and I have decided that we need to switch to a biweekly format for the blog. In order to continue bringing thought provoking, well researched discussions to you, and still take care of ourselves and our families in the process, we needed to restructure some things so, we will now be posting on the first and the third Thursdays of each month. We hope you all understand and we hope this won’t cause any inconvenience for anyone.
Posted on October 4, 2012, in Michael Jackson and tagged Aphrodite Jones, Charles Thomson, Flat Earth News, Freedom of Information Act, Mann Act, Michael Jackson 2005 trial, Michael Jackson Conspiracy, MJ FBI Files, Nick Davies, Unforgivable Blackness: the Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson. Bookmark the permalink. 113 Comments.
I’m not shocked about The Mann Act being used against Michael.. I’m wondering Y others didn’t see this at the very Core of what was really going on in the RACIST minds of those who went after him ..mainly Snedden! ♥
A truly brilliant discussion from the Dancing with the Elephant team and Mr Thomson. For years now Mr Thomson has consistently offered facts in place of hysteria, evidence in the place of fan worship and instead focused on substantially undermining the myth of Michael Jackson’s so-called ‘guilt.’
He has done this while being attacked for having his own views on issues which have nothing to do with the the most compelling meme that still blights Mr Jackson true, outstanding legacy.
And yet, here Mr Thomson is, speaking up, being heard, telling the truth about his own research, investigation and experience as a journalist. I salute you Charles. It has been my sincere pleasure to work with you over the years and I look forward to many more.
Thank you to the DWTE team for your commitment to intelligent discussion. This was a a really important one and I am hopeful it will be spread far and wide.
Thanks Willa and Joie, thanks Charles, it is a very profound and enlightening article!
I can not help but think, however, about how this “minority” of rogue journalists managed to spoil the artistic and personal life of Michael Jackson and how much we are guilty and credulous as public and consumers of news.
Hello Willa, hello Joie! I want to thank you and Mr. Thomson for this interesting discussion.
I read both his article and the book by Mrs. Jones and I know about these FBI files. What can I say…what happened is unfair and disgusting.
One of the things that disturbs me is that, for instance, you want to read an article about his music and in most of these articles there are often innuendo and other references about the allegations. I mean, it seems like you can’t talk about MJ if you don’t mention the allegations. What is worse is that a lot of times these informations about this allegations aren’t correct. And also I don’t know why you find these informations often on media that have a large diffusion, for instance in the daily paper that you buy in the morning. So if you want to know a correct information you have to find it elsewhere, doing a serious research.
And I’m talking about a matter as the allegations, but it can apply also to other aspects as for instance the use of the name Jacko. You can tell the journalist that this name offended MJ and that is not a nickname, linking the source, but that’s it: the name Jacko is still there.
I’m wondering why most of them simply don’t do a simple research as I do. I mean, they can find these correct informations as I do, so why they don’t do this? Maybe the answer is in what you’ve said: because this don’t suit their agenda or because it would be a backpedal. I believe that most of them maybe don’t know even about the existence of the FBI files.
Luckily is not often this way. Some people are really interested in knowing how things have been, and it’s a satisfaction to talk about them to someone that after would say to you “Oh, I didn’t know that!”, hoping that you’ve lead them the way to consider a thing in a way they haven’t considered before because of they couldn’t or simply didn’t. The same satisfaction I feel for myself discovering something I didn’t know before, feeling glad to say to myself “Oh, I didn’t know that!”. I think that it occurs only the will to do this.
And about the others who don’t want to hear even in front of the evidence, I think that is better to simply ignore them.
Thank you also for the news about the new section for the lyrics of Bad25 and the new format of the blog.
The media treatment and law enforcement treatment of Michael Jackson is a disgrace and, I believe, inherently racist. The pack or “lynch mob” reporting was not done by a minority of tainted journalists but the majority. It led to Michael Jackson’s premature death. Journalism should play a role in truth that upholds our democracy. Sadly, it does not do its job appropriately so endangers our very way of life. Michael Jackson was the biggest and brightest star to ever exist in America and the media saw fit to be a judge and jury. The very essence of his greatness was his “otherness” and he paid dearly for that difference. Despite all of it, he refused to be put in a box of conformity and gave of himself to us creating some of the greatest art of the century. Shame on the media and I will never trust them again on any topic.
Opened my inbox to find a very interesting title. Thanks again ladies, as always.
Thank you, Willa, Joie and Mr. Charles Thomson for this discussion.
I could not agree more with Charles’ statement about innocence being restored to a person found not guilty. How else is one to continue their life otherwise? No one should have to live their life with the constant cloud of doubt over their heads. Yet that is exactly what happened to Michael Jackson. Of course, for many, it was not even “doubt” but a firmly held belief of his guilt, regardless of the facts of the case proving his innocence. Just a cursory glimpse of the case should enable people to be aware of the railroading of an innocent man. The changing of the timeline of the supposed molestation, the fact that it was not the children who made the accusations, but the adults in their lives, the crazy conspiracy charge against MJ; yet he is the only one being charged, and not the so-called co-conspirators. The other thing that bothers me is that so many people were so quick to say that Michael fit the “profile” of a paedophile, yet the 1993 allegations differed from the 2005 trial in that there was absolutely no talk of liquor being served to J. Chandler or adult magazines being shown to him to entice him. On so many levels, it makes absolutely no sense, yet people were so willing to believe the worst about a man whose heart was so open to a world who just refused to see a truly decent, kind and innocent man.
Thank you, also, for the information on Elvis Presley and Priscilla.
The hypocrisy is astounding!!
Thanks for another brilliant blog. An honest journo sounds like an honest politician to me – a real oxymoron!!!! So well done and congrats to Charles for proving that there are exceptions to the rule. I have just read a Kindle version of Mary A Fischer’s book about the MJ framing and am staggered that the case even got as far as it did, and am still left reeling and wondering why -as for the 2005 trial also? The more I read about it, the more I am inspired by Michael’s strength of character and his enormous courage to deal with it all, and still go on working and giving the world his great gift of talent – I am sure the most other people would have buckled entirely under it all. What a courageous man he was.
I cannot remember the name of the man ?? Wallace ?? who raised that petition a couple of months back and presented it to court to try to get some justice with regard to Sneddon and his team. What ever happened to that? Is anything happening in your justice system to deal with that?
Thanks for the lyric library putting up lyrics of the BAD 25 songs – can’t believe that the lyrics won’t be included in the package (which I am still waiting for in the post from Amazon), but I suppose as usual, Michael didn’t write anything down to help us? have downloaded some of the lyrics from the internet, but there are huge gaps in some of them, and they are often wrong as well, but thanks to the people who are at least trying to get them right. Once I have the box set in my hands, i will be able to listen much more often and try for myself to get them right. I love Price of Fame but won’t vote until I have heard them all. Free is great too and I just love to hear Michael laughing at the end – thanks to the Estate for leaving that bit in – it so wonderful to hear Michael happy and that makes me happy.
Am sad to hear that the blog will only be coming out bi-weekly, but with a busy life myself I fully understand and am very grateful to you Willa and Joie for the work you do. I often discuss what you write with other friends who don’t download themselves and have learned a great deal from your writings, so thank you again.
Caro, I have been listening to that wonderful laugh all afternoon; I love these new songs! So terrible that such a laugh has been stilled — and was long before he died by the awful accusations discussed in this post.
Thanks for this excellent discussion. Just want to add that the train ride that Michael took, where a woman apparently thought some molestation might be occurring and made a report, was when he was with Margaret Maldonado’s sons she had with Jermaine. She discusses this train journey in her book “Jackson Family Values.” One thing she emphasizes is that during the train ride, which was a lot of fun for the kids, Michael made sure that the boys did their homework. She was amazed to see all the neat homework they had done under the supervision of their uncle Michael!!
The fact that this journey, where there was no doubt some laughter and playing involved, provoked a woman to file a report of child molestation, and for the FBI to take it up in a 10 year examination, shows the hysteria about child abuse. There is something going on where if a woman is with 2 children it’s ok, but if a man is, the child abuse alarms go off. We have divided child care responsibilities to such an extent that a man with a child is right away suspicious to us, unless a woman is along too. And a woman reported the potential abuse, no doubt thinking she was doing a good thing b/c she was fulfilling her female role as a protector of children.
I have to say I relate to this. On my way to work, I often saw a young boy being led to be picked up by a school bus. The boy always looked sad with his head down and he always had an adult male with him. Finally, I called the local police (yes, I did) to see if this was something suspicious and they told me that the house was a home for disabled kids run by a local group!! So see–I fell into the same mindset as this poor woman on the train. In my case, the police explained the true situation and the whole thing was resolved. But in Michael’s case a nightmare unfolded and I think it was Sneddon who requested the FBI investigation, probably b/c he came across that one complaint made by the woman on the train.
As in the case with the Mexican rumors, a small spark started a fire and people then say, where there’s smoke, there’s fire–when it’s the media that was (and still is) the source of the smoke, not Michael, in the first place.
aldebaranredstar — thanks for this very helpful piece of information. It is so easy for the bad stuff, the innuendo to get out — and so hard to correct it.
Another addition: it’s the media plus the legal system with Sneddon at the helm that started the smoke billowing. They fanned the smoke and tried to start the fire, thier goal was a public burning of Michael at the stake. The media worked in tandem with Sneddon. Maureen Orth visited Sneddon and the other prosecutors in Santa Barbara more than once and Diane Dimond was also a close associate with Sneddon; she was there at the first search of Neverland and Sneddon actually helped her avoid a lawsuit Michael filed against her and Victor Gutrierrez for claiming that a video tape of Michae abusing his own relatives existed. Sneddon got DD off but Victor was found guilty and had to pay Michael 4 million dollars, which of course he never did and he simply left the country.
Great discussion .. and it would benefit all MJ Advocates to search on Youtube and re-watch all of Matt Drudge’s videos .. Drudge along with his guest Roger Friedmand, who hadn’t been a great admirer or supporter of Michael, reported during time of trial exactly what Willa, Charles and Joie have discussed here at length. However, the mindset in the press pac was so geared to the guilt of Michael they were blinded by bottom line revenues and dreams of future possible stories like “The Suicide Cell watch of Michael Jackson.” It’s sickening and pretty frightening when you begin to think ..if they can do this to a man like Michael, we are all standing on a very slippery legal slope if a Prosecutor has a 10 yr grudge and a determination like Sneddon. By God’s grace the facts of this case bore out. The ineptitude of Sneddon, the prosecution witnesses’s stories being “obliterated” by Tom Mesereau ..and the way the tabloid princesses Dimond, Grace etc and the bulk of the media were misreporting this story are all detailed by Drudge. He even touches upon the obvious Schizophrenic behaviors of Janet Arvizo which was off putting to the jury. David Edwards does a great dissection and analysis of Matt Drudge’s three videos. Since they are reporting the events as they occurred in court it makes them all the more riveting. http://vindicatemj.wordpress.com/2011/08/21/transcript-of-matt-drudge’s-vehement-defense-of-michael-jackson-in-2005-part-3-of-3/
“Charles: I believe wholeheartedly in the principle that a man is innocent until he is proven guilty. All too often you see right-wing pundits making comments like, ‘Not guilty is not the same as innocent’. Well, I beg to differ. That is the whole point of our legal system. A man is innocent until he is found guilty by a jury of his peers. Michael Jackson was found not guilty, ergo, to the letter of the law, he was innocent. To start making comments like, ‘Just because he was found not guilty, that doesn’t mean he was innocent’, makes a mockery of the entire legal system”. I think we need to emphasize this premise whenever we respond doubters.
Charles, thank you for being such a bright light concering the truth about Michael Jackson. And Willa and Joie….I’m a fan! Your blog is always so interesting and well-written.
Regarding the extortion investigation against Chandler: it was never really taken seriously by the authorities, even though there were witnesses volunteering to testify against them, such as Geraldine Hughes, who worked in the office of the Chandlers’ lawyer, Barry Rothman and who heard things in that office.
Perhaps a noteworthy piece of info about the extortion is that the LA deputy DA who investigated the case against Michael, Lauren Weis, was a good friend of the lawyer who represented the Chandlers against the extortion accusation, Richard Hirsch. This information can be found in none other’s than Raymond Chandler’s book.
And by the way Chandler’s book is a good read to prove that it WAS an extortion too (though they prefer to call it “negotiations”). Right from that book (the Chandlers demanded $20 million from Michael and were shocked that Michael refused):
“Fields and Pellicano (Michael’s representatives) already knew Evan was willing to negotiate. Why not pay him off and nip the nightmare in the bud while you’ve got the opportunity? Especially when you know your man is guilty of sleeping with little boys, at least. Not only do you avoid a civil suit, but also, more important, you buy your way around authorities by removing their star witness. Ten, twenty, thirty million? Money’s no object. The deal could be a fait accompli within hours. And if it doesn’t work, you can always come out swingin’ anyway.”
Yes, that’s right! It’s in Ray Chandler’s book! As well as this:
“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.”
Hi Jacksonaktak. There is no way in hell that I would read Chandler’s book and pay good money to him, or his estate whatever, to do so!!! but thanks for the info. We all know it was extortion but good to have it from the horses mouth so to speak, even if secondhand. I know one should read both sides of any story, but really I find it hard to do so in the case of Michael and all the rubbish written about him, and even more so to swell the coffers of those who write it. Won’t buy Boteach’s book for the same reason – what Michael told him was in confidence and there is no way a rabbi (nok al – as we say in South Africa) should divulge that, let alone profit from it, and the same goes for Murray. Also won’t read tabloids for the same reasons. Just too upsetting.
Great news about the Wembley DVD – hope my small contribution helped to make it number 1 and am confident that the cd set will do the same – go Michael.
I can understand if someone doesn’t want to read it, but the book is enough rope to hang them. After reading it I’m convinced Evan Chandler would not have looked any better on the stand than Janet Arvizo. Some of the things they say in that book is just mind-boggling and you wonder if all those journalists who supported the Chandlers all these years ever read this book and do they even know what and who they supported? Did they never stop and wonder about quotes like the ones above? Michael was under so much scrutiny all the time, why weren’t the Chandlers? And there’s a lot more like that in that book!
“And it makes me wonder if we really know the truth about anything, or are we just eating up whatever morsels the media dishes out to us – regardless of if there’s any truth to what they report or not.”
I wonder too.
Reading about the Chandler’s extortion, I couldn’t help but think this. There is still a huge lack of knowledge about this story, even though there are lots of sources and links available for everyone to understand the truth.
The 20million$ story seems like a ghost that puntually comes out every time the subject is the allegations. Still for a part of the media and the public it’s like “He paid, so it’s guilty”, forgetting all the rest, reducing all the matter to this sentence and especially avoiding to search for the truth.
I’m wondering why it is so, even though there is a huge amount of sources that everyone could check.
And this happens not only in regard to this issue but also in regard with others concerning MJ’s life as his children, vitiligo, Jacko, etc. I mean, I’ve read comments somewhere on the web of people which still believe that he made a voluntary skin bleach, though there is an autopsy report that clearly says that he had vitiligo. This is even more serious if this false informations come from the media, leading people to trust these lies instead of the truth. I don’t know, it seems that even an autopsy report, even a court decision aren’t enough for them.
I’m starting to think that this part simply don’t want to know the truth, though there are a lot of true informations that anyone could find, me as you as them.
MJ is innocent and an honest person, but for this part of the media and the public opinion he’s still guilty, skin bleached, Wacko Jacko and stuff like that. Luckily it’s not always this way.
I’m not a native speaker of English so I hope that what I’m trying to say is clear.
JoyMJ, you come through loud and clear! And, you are right that many people really aren’t interested in the truth, they just want their suspicions confirmed — they wanted to believe these terrible things about Michael so they boosted the sales of tabloids that published the most disgusting stories, creating even more trouble, and so on.
This desire to want to ruin Michael was so powerful, it was like a runaway train. Understanding why will expose some unpleasant truths about US society — as it was primarily in the US that these terrible stories got so much traction. Understanding why may be directly related to Michael’s artistic analysis of deep-seated social injustice, his impassioned plea for us all, including himself, to look at the Man in the Mirror. Many people just don’t want to look and don’t want to take any responsibility… I think MJ in his art, in his very being, brought uncomfortable, unconscious contents to semi consciousness, made us see ourselves in a not too attractive light, and many of us, desiring to remain in denial, reacted by lashing out at him. The unpleasant truths are becoming more and more obvious, more difficult to ignore. As with all great artists, his artistic vision was ahead of his time — a hallmark of great art. I find Michael such an inspiration. He reminds us that we need to get busy and heal the world, save it for our children. It surely needs it.
Thank you very much Eleanor.
I must quote this:
“I find Michael such an inspiration. He reminds us that we need to get busy and heal the world, save it for our children. It surely needs it.”
Hi, Eleanor, Thanks for your comments. I especially think you nailed it here: “I think MJ in his art, in his very being, brought uncomfortable, unconscious contents to semi consciousness.” Yes, not only in his art, but in his very being–that is it. I just read a comment that Michael showed “a defiance so blunt that young people everywhere respond immediately,” the author goes on to say Michael looks the way HE wants, dresses the way HE wants, “doesn’t obey gravity, much less parental strictures,” and if he feels like grabbing his crotch, does so. He also made friends with whom HE wanted, including children and animals. In other words, Michael lived like a free human being, breaking social norms in the process not only in his art but in ‘his very being.’ I think the sight of Michael being free was both inspiring and threatening, depending on who was watching. I recall when Black or White came out and he removed the coda due to objections about how it would affect children to see him smashing windows and dancing with such abandon. I guess my only quibble with your comment is the word ‘semi’ conscious–I think he brought those ‘uncomfortable, unconscious contents’ to full consciousness, hence the backlash.
I am starting to come to the conclusion that Michael not only broke social norms but especially male social norms and that this was the biggest threat that got the power structures, media, courts, public opinion up in arms. Men in our culture in general–and this is a BIG generalization–tend to promote being team players and following leaders and encourage others to do the same. This seems to explain male (and female but to a lesser extent IMO) fascination with sports (all kinds of ball games), competition, military, hierarchical structures, such as corporations, governments, etc. So when a man breaks this mold, it is very threatening to the status quo (I am speaking of the cultural expectations for males), and men and women who wish to maintain this male status quo will fight that lone dissenter. Women of course who step out of their roles as prescribed by the culture also get hammered, but IMO less so than the male dissenters b/c the males are more potentially destabilizing to the power structure, which is predominantly in the hands of men. There is the sexual division of labor too that Michael violated by having the nerve to be a man who cared about children and by being a single dad. So he broke the molds that we are supposed to step into, and some powerful people felt way threatened.
Thanks, MJJustice Project, for the link to Matt Drudge’s comments defending Michael and pointing to the dangers that threaten us all when the state has the power to take photos of our genitals on the basis of one accusation. The fact of the matter is that both these accusations should never have progressed to the level of a criminal court case due to total lack of evidence. The ’93 case did not get to that point, even though the DA in LA and Santa Barbara tried to indict Michael with 2 grand juries; in 03-05, that case should never have come to court in the first place. 100 seach warrants on Neverland turned up no evidence whatsoever to support the charges. The case should never have been brought by Sneddon, and if brought by him due to his being delusional, should have been dismissed by the judge, as Mesereau requested. It was a total waste of taxpayer money and a terrible ordeal for Michael. It was really Kafka-esque and a utter betrayal of justice.
Aldebaranredstar said —
“In other words, Michael lived like a free human being… I think the sight of Michael being free was both inspiring and threatening, depending on who was watching.”
He had the courage to be himself, absolutely. And, not only the courage, but the conviction that what he was doing was exactly what he should be doing.
“I guess my only quibble with your comment is the word ‘semi’ conscious–I think he brought those ‘uncomfortable, unconscious contents’ to full consciousness, hence the backlash.”
I used the term “semi conscious” because I’m not sure most people had the courage/ability to really recognize why they were feeling what they were feeling, they just felt it and reacted — lashed out.
Michael’s ability to express powerful emotions, emotions he truly felt, was so extraordinary and gave his art such integrity. The truth and power of his emotions and his ability to arouse powerful emotions in others sometimes exposed cultural dirty laundry.
Eleanor said –
“He had the courage to be himself, absolutely. And, not only the courage, but the conviction that what he was doing was exactly what he should be doing. ”
You know, Eleanor, people think of “heroes” and “courage” as someone going beyond the call of duty to perform an act that aids or saves someone other than themselves, but if you really think about it, what can be more courageous than to be be who you really are no matter what anyone else thinks -“to thine own self be true”. Michael had to be one the bravest, most courageous human beings to have ever lived and definitely a hero of mine.
Eleanor – “He had the courage to be himself, absolutely. And, not only the courage, but the conviction that what he was doing was exactly what he should be doing. ”
Susan – “Michael had to be one the bravest, most courageous human beings to have ever lived and definitely a hero of mine.*
and of mine Eleanor and Susan.
The founding Quaker George Fox incited people to be “examples, patterns” and Michael was that all the way. Long before it was ‘fashionable’ as it is now with other celebrities, he was donating huge amounts of his income to the disadvantaged, not to mention a great deal of his own time and effort, and he was promoting care of our planet and its environment and animals. Obviously he was a huge threat to the ‘establishment’, as were other prophets like Ghandi and Martin Luther King before him, and who he venerated and included in the short film of Man in the Mirror. I just find it so sad, and frustrating, that society still finds such people a threat and has to kill then one way or another, but am confident that in time, as with Ghandi and King, Michael will be recognised for what he was and will be treated with equal respect. We need his message more than ever, and as I have often said before, it behoves those of us who get that message, to spread it with equal courage and conviction.
Yes, you’re right that many people were semi-conscious, but I do think SOME were fully conscious of the threat Michael presented. I mean look at the things they said about him–freak, for example. That showed they knew he was breaking social codes right,left, and center, just as he smashed the windows in Black or White. Michael had global power and he was not following the social codes–he was a big threat.
I recently watched the youtube video of the 2006 World Music Awards held in London in which he received a Diamond Award presented by Beyonce. It was his last public ‘performance’–although the microphone didn’t work properly and he only sang a few words of “We Are the World.” When you see how the huge crowd went absolutely bananas when he entered, it is so beautiful. But the media reports said, unbelievably, that he was ‘booed off the stage.” This kind of complete reversal of what happened is typical of the way the media lied about Michael but it boggles the mind and can only have been deliberate when you think about it.
thanks Aldebaran for posting this video. I have never seen the whole thing, and although it took over an hour to download, it was worth every second! All I can say is that if certain people think that was booing, then they have no idea what booing is, and even less of absolute adulation, adoration and delight!!! I found myself in tears at the audiences response bearing in mind this was after the trial and after Michael had left US for a while. It is now totally clear to me how people just blatently lied about him, and I mean blatently!!!!!! It’s an absolute disgrace and I am outraged once again on Michaels behalf, and it is only the joy of seeing him so happy on this occasion that makes what I feel right now any better. Saying sorry to Michael just doesn’t seem enough somehow, but Michael I am sorry.
Hi, Caro, so sorry it took over an hour to download–wow–but I am glad you enjoyed it. I agree it is so touching to see how loved he was and how happy too. Interesting that someone offered him an American flag and he took it, even though USA had treated him so badly in the way the media and prosecuotrs went after him. There was so much love for him. How the media, and it was several papers, said he was booed off the stage is mind-boggling. I enjoy seeing this b/c of the love from the audience and Michael knew they still were there for him 1000%.
Caro, if you google “Michael Jackson booed” you’ll get lots of sources that carried that false story. Here are a couple of quotes, including from the BBC!!
“the erstwhile King of Pop found himself getting booed by fans and ridiculed by critics for an appearance that was variously described as “embarrassing,” “a shambles,” and “enough to make you cry. And not in a good way.” http://www.artistdirect.com/entertainment-news/article/michael-jackson-booed-at-world-music-awards/3855938
He then left the stage to boos from the crowd who had still expected him to sing. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/6152976.stm
Fans who were there told a different story. Here is one quote about when he entered to receive the Dimond Award : “I have NEVER, EVER, seen a crowd go wild like that… EVER. People were randomly bursting out in tears…genuinely in awe of him. http://thatgrapejuice.net/2008/01/rewind-world-music-awards-2006-review/
So if you read these comments, from the media, and from the fans, it’s like night and day. There is such a huge opposition, and that is where the media is shown to be incredibly biased, lying, pushing false stories, and destroying Michael.
Thank you for yet another insightful and revealing conversation.
The tabloidists’ (unworthy of the title journalist) mentality and institutionalized business model is, “Get the story first at any cost rather than get the story right the first time.” It’s astounding that the press pursued Michael Jackson for nearly 40+ years, and still can’t (or won’t) get it right.
Example: Vitiligo. Michael admitted having vitiligo on the Oprah Winfry Show some 20 years ago. Any real journalist (if skeptical) could have followed up with Jackson’s dermatologist, Dr. Klein who originally diagnosed the ailment, and confirmed — especially since Jackson himself revealed the information to millions on network television. But noooooooo!
Rather than put the issue to rest once and for all, the press kept the juicy and profitable ‘self-hating Black man’ lie going. How? By half-hearted, tongue-in-cheek coverage — “He says it’s vitiligo … yeah, right … whatever?”
As a result, there are many who, to this day, believe Jackson bleached is whole body in a desperate attempt to be white. Sloppy, slipshod, lazy reporting produced astounding public ignorance. The press laughed all the way to the bank — and is still laughing at successfully committing the biggest mass mind-rape since the Devil fooled us into believing he doesn’t exist.
My view is that Sneddon & Co, didn’t care if they actually won or lost the case — though a Jacko Jailed lyric would be music to their ears. Actually, they sought to damage Jackson’s reputation and mortally wound his self-concept and confidence. Bluntly, Sneddon wanted to send the psyche of Michael Jackson — that presumptuous little Black upstart who assumed kingship in his world — back to the dinky house in Gary, Indiana, a scared little boy cowering in the corner. Sneddon wanted Jackson disgraced and and erased from history.
In fact, Michael Jackson never assumed anything, but fought for and earned everything he received. Every hit, every achievement, every award, every honor, every dollar, every accolade, along with the respect, admiration and love that will ultimately define his legacy. All won with more buckets of blood and sweat on the dance floor of LIFE than we can ever imagine. .
Jackson ran a lifelong, grueling marathon on show business turf littered with broken glass and potholes — eyes fixed firmly on his goal to be the Greatest Entertainer Ever! He fought the heroic fight — for himself, for those who preceded him, and those who now follow.
The scales — so long lopsided toward the media’s Wacko Jacko invention– are slowly balancing with every new book, article, academic symposium, study, fresh inquiry and new focus on the ‘whole’ of Michael Jackson’s life and way of being — his artistry, perception, business acumen, spirituality, humor, eccentricities, generosity, humanitarianism, character, and singular view of the world.
I’m convinced that Michael Joseph Jackson will have the last, loud, vindicating, triumphant laugh — a collective hoot more shattering than any he made on stage.
A second AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sloppy, lazy reporting is not the only problem. The media actively participated in distorting facts about Michael by paying people big bucks to lie about him. One example of that is the story of the Newt family. The Newts had twin boys who were managed by Joe Jackson in the middle of the 80s. When the National Enquirer learned in 1993 that the boys spent a couple of days in the Jackson family home in the 80s they contacted them and offered the family $200,000 to say Michael molested the boys. Roger Friedman wrote about this in 2005: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,152708,00.html
The story has several strong evidence for it, such as the fact the Newts still had the contract NE offered to them, signed by the paper’s editor (the Newts eventually did not sign it) and an audio tape of the conversation between the Newts and Jim Mitteager, the journalist who wanted to get them lie (Mitteager secretly always taped his conversations). So why wasn’t this a much bigger scandal? We remember the public uproar about the News of The World about one-two years ago. What many tabloids did to Michael was a crime. So why wasn’t it widely reported and followed by a big public uproar?
The Newt story is not the only one either. Several other people reported that tabloids offered them money to lie about Michael. Others took the money and lied. Millions of dollars were spent by tabloids on getting people lie about Michael! Why? And why isn’t there a public uproar about that?
Thank you for the infos about the Newts.
I totally agree with you.
I really don’t know how is it possible that a part of the media and the public opinion is so quick in saying that Michael “paid” the Chandlers, “forgetting” to say that a lot of people were paid to tell lies about Michael himself!
Hi, Jacksonaktak, it is clear that this stuff has gone on with the tabloids for decades and it is the way they do ‘business.” The reporters and editors working for the tabloids make lots of money, more than they would make in traditional news outlets, so there will always be people going for the money. Roger Friedman claimed that Sneddon’s case was basically built on National Enquirer stories, which were themselves built on paid stories, totally unreliable as evidence, as you said in the case of the Newts. Yes, it is disgusting. However, injustice has a long history. One of the worst crimes is the massacre at Wounded Knee, where 300 unarmed Native Americans were killed, including women and children, by US soldiers, and yet the soldiers were given prestigious medals for their conduct rather than being punished. Even today, the Native Americans have asked that the medals be revoked but they have not been. Even today, the Native Americans ask that their sacred land in the Black Hills of North Dakota be returned to them, as it was granted to them by treaty, but it has not been given back.
I agree there should be a public uproar about the tabloid vendetta leading to the state vendetta against Michael, what Matt Drudge called the ‘weird merger of Big Media and Big Government.” He also asked how could it be that witnesses can perjure themselves in court, tabloids and media ‘push false information’ on the public, prosecutors abuse their power–all without legal consequences. As Michael said, “make me wanna ‘Scream’!! Or as he also said, “Anything, anything for money, lie for it, die for it, even sell your soul to the devil.”
It’s ironic that people got upset b/c Michael’s children wore masks yet so many criminals wear masks of virtue and need unmasking.
Thank you for this revealing interview with Charles Thompson. It’s advantageous to those of us who do our best to defend Michael against the nasties out there, that we can reference a credible journalist who views Michael with open eyes and is not blinkered by prejudice or the need for sensationalism. If the public had been made aware of the REAL truth in 2005, instead of being exposed to so much medialoid misinformation, Michael’s story would have been very different for the ensuing years of his life.
Thanks Willa and Joie thanks, to exist and to offer us new ways of reasoning and reflection.
A big thanks to Mr. C.Thomson, whose article “One of the most shamfull …” for me was the great point of reference from which, each time I’ve heard or read things about MJ on his innocence and its processes.
And also the article by Susan Fast “Difference That Exceed …” had a grade impact for me and also MJ poetic by Willa and some enlightening articles Ms. Raven Wood (allforloveblog.com).
I always apologize for my poor English and bad but I will try to explain what I want to say.
I believe not only shameful but is incredible what happened to MJ after 1993 and, in particular, before, during and after the 2005 trial.
Unbeliveble and not comparable to anything.
I have read many theories, but no one has convinced me not to racial background and my disbelief as I read news and insights on the topic dl process has grown steadily
Inspired by the words of his article, Mr. Thomson, “many of the media’s shortcomings were institutional” I often asked what you want to mean by “institutional” and one day, about a year ago, I heard a televised speech by the Italian writer Roberto Saviano. He spoke about political powers, mafia and corruption in our country, but I believe that the underlying mechanism is the same.
He calls this relationship between public and media “the mud machine” and basically says “Mud Machine is an expression of the Italian language, which spread in the journalistic and political language for its evocative power in describing the coordinated action of a pressure group, time, mostly because the media, to delegitimize or undermine the credibility and honor of a person deemed to be “enemy” of the group and thus to intimidate, punish or condition.
The recipient of the attentions of delegitimizing machine can belong to a wide variety of categories: from time to time may be a politician, a journalist, a civil servant, a person of the show, a captain of industry, etc.. The mechanism of delegitimization uses the resonance offered by the media.
The mud machine operates by collecting, sometimes illegal, news of sensitive and confidential information, hints, variously extracted, manipulated or even completely false, about the private and professional life of the subject to strike, and the subsequent disclosure of actual or simply ventilated, such news in order to exercise an indirect but strong public pressure on the activity and personal freedom and expression of the person shuted.
The methods used, extrapolations, manipulation, falsification, and its purpose blackmailers or defamatory, clearly distinguish this activity of dossier from that of genuine investigative journalism whose goal is the deepening of the reader.
A similar activity, for the way it is designed, and for the methods with which it is conducted, however, is virtually able to hit, without distinction, any people.
“For every criticism, every act of courage and strength for each – made it – you already know what happens: so, without fear, in front of the” all we suck “to” we are all equal, everyone does it “, must replicate as did those young people. Because if we were all the same, no one would be forced to make an effort to try to be better. The only way to stop the “mud machine”, which is breaking up every possible bond of trust within the country, is to recognize it, you do not give her credit, you understand that you must make the slander against the wall not being a vehicle of diffusion. In the game, for that matter, there is also the freedom of the press in Italy is increasingly compromised by the certainty that he never criticized for what is said, but by the demolition of the dignity of persons considered to be enemies. ”
That of the “mud machine” is a simple system that works so well that it has become a rule. In a moment they manufacture dossier and are active political-fixers and journalists who connived frequently justify this by saying that only do their job. An excuse that does not hold: there is a fundamental difference between surveys and vilification. The first collect a variety of news to show the readers, the second takes a single, private, and publish it. Of course: not because it is a crime or maybe something about the role that this person has in the institutions. It relies exclusively that the “revelation” put in difficulty who is targeted, and these should feel intimidated and forced to defend himself. ”
Clearly, all this has been said about the political powers but it seems perfectly suited to the story of MJ.
And is not it time that we, the audience, it is decided to finally put an end to all this? and it is time to understand that the Michael Jackson diversity was a gift of life?
Thanks so much for sharing this, Lorenzo. In English, we call this phenomenon “mudslinging”—so the mud machine (Macchina del fango) applies here.
I wonder: why does *one* individual get singled out for this kind of treatment, and not another?
In the case of MJ, I can think of at least ten reasons (!) why he may have been considered “different” enough to constitute a threat to the established order….
which some have mentioned here. Race is certainly a big factor, as you mention.
Nina Hello and thank you for your kind answer.
Yes, in fact your question is disturbing. Why MJ became a target so bright?
And, as you say, the answers are numerous. I’d like to introduce Mr. Roberto Saviano the legal and existential story of Michael Jackson, but here in Italy, intellectuals have a huge pre concept for Michael!
But I put a response on top of all: for his very special uniqueness, his being really out of the norm and be an artistic genius.
I want to use the words of his beloved daughter Paris (http://www.allforloveblog.com/?p=7150)
“he was a genius, he was a warrior, he was a prisoner in this hell hole we call society, he was the bravest man I’ve ever known, …”
Thank you so much Lorenzo, Nina, and everyone for the fascinating discussion. This is such an important issue, and I agree there are many different reasons for why the media hysteria surrounding Michael Jackson erupted the way it did, and perpetuated itself for so long.
As you mentioned in a comment a couple weeks ago, Sandra, his difference was very threatening to people across the political and demographic spectrum. As you said so powerfully,
I really think this is the key issue: the fact that he challenged our perceptions and beliefs – our established ways of seeing things – in such profound and fundamental ways.
However, there were a lot of other factors involved as well, as you say, Nina. There’s the sensationalism of the tabloids, which will often go to shocking extremes – in many cases, not just reporting but actually creating lurid stories. Jacksonaktak, your information about the Newts was a very vivid example. Thank you so much for sharing that.
Then there’s the mainstream press (which is a very broad spectrum including reputable book publishers as well as newspaper and magazine publishers, and academic journal editors and university presses as well) who are so fearful of appearing sensationalistic that they refuse to really investigate the story or deal with it in any depth. The result is that the targets of these fraudulent “journalistic” practices just get abandoned to the tabloids without any sort of counterweight. However, the mainstream press to some degree absorbs the message of the tabloids, and that’s reflected in their reporting. So the reporting as a whole becomes skewed because the mainstream press opts out of their investigative responsibilities, allowing the tabloids to frame the debate, often in erroneous and sensationalistic ways. Of course, “the press” or even “the mainstream press” does encompass a very broad range and includes many different individual outlets and types – for example, Vanity Fair, which has pretensions of being a serious news source but is basically a tabloid with glossy paper. That’s an especially insidious combination, I think.
There are other reasons as well. A huge point we haven’t really talked about is the history of childhood sexual abuse itself. It’s extremely painful psychologically, and made all the more painful when victims of abuse are made to feel shame for what was done to them. Traditionally, it has been cloaked in silence, and victims who dared to speak up were treated as outcasts, both because of what happened and because they forced people to look at something so painful and uncomfortable. When cases of rape or abuse went to trial, which was rare, the victims were often themselves put on trial and aggressively questioned. Rape victims could be publicly shamed on the witness stand about their sexual history and whether they dressed or acted in a provocative way that might have triggered the rape, and victims of sexual abuse were often aggressively questioned about their mental stability and whether their words could be trusted.
This began changing in the 1970s, I believe, though it’s hard to put a date on a slow progressive change like this. But gradually laws began to change so that it became illegal to bring a rape victim’s past sexual history into the courtroom, and public attitudes about victims of sexual abuse began to change as well. Advocates for victims of childhood abuse adopted the motto that “every child should be believed,” and it became something of a taboo to question a victim too carefully.
In general, I think this was a change for the better. However, one of the biggest problems in terms of Michael Jackson and the 1993 allegations is that the word “victim” was applied to Evan Chandler as well as Jordan Chandler, and Evan Chandler was not a victim. In fact, my reading of the case is that Jordan Chandler was abused – but he was psychologically abused by his father, not sexually abused by Michael Jackson. So if reporters – even sincere, ethical, well intentioned reporters – approach this case with the idea that Evan Chandler is a victim and shouldn’t be questioned (and many did approach it this way), then they’ve misread the case from the outset.
Another big factor was that the U.S. was already in a state of hysteria about child sexual abuse because of the Catholic priest scandals, which began in the 1970s, I believe, but really gained widespread media attention in the 1980s. We see that hysteria manifest in a series of daycare sex abuse cases that were later found to be completely groundless. One of the most notorious of these was the Little Rascals case in Edenton, N.C., in the late 1980s. I’m from North Carolina and I vividly remember reading the unfolding stories about this case in The Charlotte Observer. It’s a classic case of hysteria, and very relevant to Michael Jackson, I think – especially the way children were encouraged to “remember” scenarios suggested to them by adults. Frontline did an investigative piece about the Little Rascals case, and it’s both heartbreaking and very illuminating.
So the U.S. was already in a state of hysteria about childhood sexual abuse when Evan Chandler made his accusations in 1993. And when that happened, all that free-floating anxiety about the Catholic priests and the daycare centers and other individual cases became focused on Michael Jackson. He became the scapegoat, and I mean that in the oldest, most primal sense. Like scapegoats throughout history, he was made to carry the burden of the perceived sins of a large group of people, and then he was persecuted as a type of purification ritual. That’s why he had to die before attitudes could change. The scapegoat has to die before the purification ritual is complete. No matter how I approach this case, somehow I always end up coming back to that fact, and it just crushes me every time.
Of course, that also returns us to the question of why he, in particular, was singled out to be the scapegoat. And I think the answer lies in your statement a couple weeks ago, Sandra, that I quoted at the beginning. It’s because of his difference – his glorious, powerful, uncomfortable difference that was so threatening to so many people.
Hi, Willa, thanks for your insightful and pretty disturbing comments, disturbing b/c they touch on some deep issues in our national psyche. I have been reading a very interesting book called ‘Erotic Innocence,’ which is about how the culture goes into a ‘scapegoating fury’ when a ‘child’ is sexually abused, telling a basically gothic tale about innocence and monsters, even though the level of concern for real children, children in poverty, children in neglect and abandonment is just not there or if there, not to the same degree, and even though the sexualization of children is encouraged by the culture (for example, Shirley Temple, to use an instance from the past). The author, James Kincaid, argues that we tend to see children in a way that does not let them BE children–we see them as ‘innocent,’ which becomes a kind of empty signifier on which we project our ‘story.’ So that Jordan Chandler, the innocent ‘victim,’ was seen as not capable of lying or of being manipulated by his father, etc., even when his description of Michael’s genitals did not match the reality.
The book makes a strong argument about the hysteria you mention. He also discusses the McMartin case, etc. Even the word ‘child’ is so fraught with constructed meanings. In the 1840’s boys graduated from Harvard at age 14, and yet now they are considered ‘children’ not capable legally of perjury. The book asks are these gothic stories we tell about children helping the very serious plight of real children, who may be sexually abused but also abused in other, less titillating ways, via poverty or neglect. One in 4 children, I believe, live in poverty in USA. That is a statistic that should create more interest and outrage and a call to action than it does.
The author suggests that children are neither pure angels nor evil (the Bad Seed, the Omen), that we could see them as human beings, presenting a range of human characteristics, rather than a good-evil dichotomy. Personally, I think this all goes back to our Puritan past, where guilty ones were put in public stocks to be humiliated, where the Scarlet Letter was publicly branded on sinners, where play was discouraged, and Native Americans were viewed as “Satan’s most devoted and resembling CHILDREN.” Wow–how does Michael lead us into these deep issues that confront us? That is where he takes us for sure.
“That’s why he had to die before attitudes could change. The scapegoat has to die before the purification ritual is complete. No matter how I approach this case, somehow I always end up coming back to that fact, and it just crushes me every time.”
Yes Willa, this is a phrase that has an illuminating reflection and meanings that link to many cultural episodes of the past, I would like to talk about it but the native language is stopping me.
I thank you so much for these thoughts and I thank you all with all my heart!
Willa, thank you very much for this important comment.
I would like to thank everyone for their contribution in this discussion: you, Joie, Mr. Thomson and all the commenters.
Lorenzo, I’ve read your comments! I’m Italian, too! Grazie!
What happened to MJ is a shame. His true story NEEDS to be told!
Willa, this really haunts me —
“Like scapegoats throughout history, he was made to carry the burden of the perceived sins of a large group of people, and then he was persecuted as a type of purification ritual. That’s why he had to die before attitudes could change. The scapegoat has to die before the purification ritual is complete. No matter how I approach this case, somehow I always end up coming back to that fact, and it just crushes me every time. ”
I am not sure the purification ritual is compete, for it is we who must be purified.
Also, I would like to add that, like cultural scapegoats throughout history, he was made to carry the burden of the shadow of the collective, the sins of the majority, that we are in deepest denial about, that we cannot face, so we project them on the “other” and punish him or her horribly for our own sins.
The cultural implications of framing Michael’s so-called sin (our projected cultural evils) in terms of pedophilia are endless:
the play on words — turning a man who loves and cares for children into a pedo-phile. Lots to be made of that in terms of how collective psychology works.
dealing with our own societal guilt for the abuse that we as a society inflict on children every day — through poverty and neglect, through indiscriminate bombings and other military actions, etc.– by projecting it onto a man who was known for truly loving and caring for children — especially the disadvantaged and the victims of war and disease — a man, who as a child of a poor, black working class family, had revealed in the most powerful way possible — through who he was — the hidden potential in all children — even, especially, the children of the poor — the potential we are wasting, the potential that today goes directly from school to prison. We have a lot to answer for and we don’t want to take responsibility for the evils that we do — so much easier to project them on “the other.”
The haters — Chandler, Sneddon, the tabloid media — opportunistically seized the “sin of the day” (child sexual abuse) to bring down MJ because, at some deep level they knew they could. He was revealing and directly challenging the “isms” racism and sexism and materialism (the belief in a dead mechanistic nature) that as a society, we are unwilling to admit are part and parcel of our social organization, and that is the sin many in our society couldn’t forgive him for. Responding to the deep discomfort he made them feel, Chandler for his failure as a father, Sneddon for LA police brutality (remember Rodney King), the tabloid media for making hay by exploiting other people’s misery, they lashed out with their hate, intuitively knowing it would strike a chord of discomfort felt in the wider society. And, among many it did.
An exercise in the Zen of character assassination.
And yet, in the final analysis, it didn’t — because Michael’s goodness continues to prevail. For many, the revelation that was Michael brought relief, bringing our collective sins out into the open, proving the world wrong on so many counts, telling it like it was and is, letting the anger out, yet inspiring us to do better — and showing us how to do it.
Hi, Eleanor, I agree so much with your comments. If Michael went away (was totally discredited), the concerns he raised–the mirror he held up–also went away, so we didn’t have to face ourselves and our failures any more, or that was the thinking.
For a lot of people ‘This Is It’ was a major wake-up b/c the tabloid rumors were he couldn’t sing, he couldn’t dance, and these were shown to be false.
I think the media believed their own lies (their ‘story’ about Michael) and were shocked and taken aback by the outpouring of grief.
Yes, Michael shows the power of the child in what he himself did, his rise to success. That’s a great point. And he was essentially self-taught, too, except for his childhood tutor, and became a strong advocate for education and reading.
Thank you, Lorenzo, JoyMJ, and Eleanor, for carrying this conversation further with your interesting comments and insights.
Lorenzo, it is painfully true that scapegoating has “meanings that link to many cultural episodes of the past,” as you say. I’ve been thinking about this a lot the past couple of years, and I think it’s significant that these episodes tend to occur when there’s been a deep national trauma that calls national identity into question, or raises the frightening specter of “a stranger in our midst.”
The most horrifying example in modern times is the Holocaust. Germany suffered a humiliating loss in World War I, and then the German economy – which had long been a source of national pride – fell apart. Together, these caused a crisis of identity, and a longing for a type of cleansing and renewal – classic criteria for an outbreak of scapegoating. In this case, the scapegoats were Jews, gypsies, blacks, homosexuals, the disabled, and really anyone who didn’t fit the model of the ideal German.
The U.S. had a similar identity crisis, though on a much smaller scale, after World War II. The Soviets had been our allies during the war, and suddenly they were our worst enemies. There was a growing fear of communists within our midst and a desire to purge ourselves of this enemy within, and this led to another case of scapegoating. There was the Red Scare, epitomized by the McCarthy hearings, and a growing mood of public hysteria. Again, the result was scapegoating, and the people targeted were artists, activists, Jews, gays – basically anyone who didn’t fit the model of the ideal American – and a shocking number of successful artists had their careers destroyed. Importantly, one of the most visible victims of this episode of scapegoating was Charlie Chaplin, one of Michael Jackson’s heroes, though it’s complicated. On the surface, the sudden shift in public attitudes toward Chaplin was attributed to a very messy trial from a false claim of paternity. However, a closer look reveals that the real driver was the growing sense that he was not “American” enough.
Then in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, the U.S. began to question some of our bastions of white patriarchal power. This began with the civil rights and women’s movements, but then it was joined by the child sex abuse scandals involving Catholic priests, Boy Scout leaders, coaches and community leaders, school teachers and administrators, and even fathers and uncles and stepfathers and grandfathers. In other words, at the same time that, politically, many Americans were questioning white male power, a lot of white male authority figures – in the Church, the schools, the government, the family – were publicly exposed as betraying the trust that had been placed in them. This led to another crisis of national identity, and another case of scapegoating.
Significantly, the scapegoat who became the public face of the child abuse scandal for many people was Michael Jackson, an artist who challenged white patriarchal power on so many fronts. Eleanor, your thoughts about this are so important and powerful, especially this paragraph:
As you say, he became the public personification of “the other,” as well as the child abuse scandal, so the two became conflated. Instead of the public outrage being directed against the (white, male) perpetrators, it was redirected against him. So the threat to patriarchal organizations that should have resulted from those scandals was redirected against him in a way that actually reinforced the power of patriarchal institutions (such as the police and the media). So much more to say about this. …
Thank you, Willa, JoyMJ, Eleanor, and all of you!
Cultural and historical references that you have cited are the most dramatically relevant.
And I would add that, in the course of those years so particular, is often successful (even in the most remote historical periods), that public person were first acclaimed and loved, and then, because of their uniqueness, with sadism and sensuality thrown in the famous mud.
It is as if you had a tendency to lower the level: it is as if there was a perverted taste to break down the creatures that shine more and, in throwing discredit on them as much as possible, there is consolation in the fact that they are fallacious and mediocre like the rest of the world.
Yes, Willa, this is a very touchy subject: there are children who really are sexually abused and so every such allegation needs to be taken seriously, investigated and children should not be discouraged to tell. On the other hand, falsely accusing people of sexually molesting children became a big business in itself. For money, for revenge or for whatever other reason.
So we should be careful not to automatically stigmatize people just because an allegation is made. And that is where people need to engage their brains and make efforts to study the cases at hand individually before making a judgment of whether that particular allegation is true or not. And that is where most people, including a large segment of the media, failed in Michael’s case IMO. It seems to me that many people are just too lazy to think, to study, to research, yet too quick to judge. (Although on the media’s part this might have been deliberate because sensationalism sells.)
I believe the US went from one extreme to the other regarding what you told about how until the 70s such allegations tended to be swept under the carpet and then it changed. It seems to me that by now it reached the other extreme, when an allegation without evidence is enough to ruin people’s lives and stigmatize them for life. You mentioned the daycare sex abuse panic. A similar one was the Satanic Ritual Abuse panic of the 80s, early 90s: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satanic_ritual_abuse
It was triggered by a book entitled Michelle Remembers with very questionable and fantastic claims: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michelle_Remembers
Yet, this book was used by law enforcement as a guide in their investigations, supported and presented by the media as fact! And many people’s lives were ruined along the way. One of the most famous cases was the McMartin trial. It’s interesting to note that the psychologist who evaluated both Jordan Chandler and Gavin Arvizo, Dr. Stanley Katz, played a big part in evaluating the children in the McMartin case.
I also find it curious that there are people openly advocating pedophilia in the academia, in books and even (more or less openly) in the media, and those people are freely making their rounds in universities, promoting their ideas, trying to dismantle society’s resistance against pedophilia, and I don’t really see big exposing articles about this fact, but all the media was ganging up against an innocent man. Because he was vulnerable that was more convenient and less risky than to do real investigations. Bullying and scapegoating indeed, while we look the other way when there is a real problem.
There is a huge scandal in the UK now about a TV presenter called Jimmy Saville. He’s dead but it came out that he molested lots of children and it seems like many at BBC knew about it, but swept it under the carpet: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-19970059
Same with Jerry Sandusky.
Or how about the fact that one of the people who Michael befriended as a child, Corey Feldman was interviewed by the police in 1993, when he was 22. The investigator pressured and pressured him to say something incriminating about Michael for over an hour, despite of the fact that Corey made it very clear that Michael never touched him in any improper way (they did this type of interrogation to most of the children they interviewed). Corey however revealed that he was molested as a child, only not by Michael Jackson. He was molested by someone working in the film industry. He even revealed the person’s name to the investigator. But the investigator completely ignored that, she only wanted to hear incriminating claims about Michael. Since then we have learned that the “other Corey”, Corey Haim was also molested by someone in the industry when he was a child. Corey Feldman since then openly spoke about the pedophiles in the industry. This is what he said:
“I can tell you that the No. 1 problem in Hollywood was and is and always will be pedophilia. That’s the biggest problem for children in this industry. … It’s the big secret,” Feldman said.
The “casting couch,” which is the old Hollywood reference to actors being expected to offer sex for roles, applied to children, Feldman said. “Oh, yeah. Not in the same way. It’s all done under the radar,” he said.
“I was surrounded by [pedophiles] when I was 14 years old. … Didn’t even know it. It wasn’t until I was old enough to realize what they were and what they wanted … till I went, Oh, my God. They were everywhere,” Feldman, 40, said.
The trauma of pedophilia contributed to the 2010 death of his closest friend and “The Lost Boys” co-star, Corey Haim, Feldman said.
“There’s one person to blame in the death of Corey Haim. And that person happens to be a Hollywood mogul. And that person needs to be exposed, but, unfortunately, I can’t be the one to do it,” Feldman said, adding that he, too, had been sexually abused by men in show business.
Feldman said his realization followed the discovery of what some adults around him had allegedly done to other children. “There was a circle of older men … around this group of kids. And they all had either their own power or connections to great power in the entertainment industry,” he said.
Feldman admitted that Haim struggled with addiction but said it was a mechanism to cope with his demons. “It was a symptom,” he said.
In their 2008 reality TV show, “The Two Coreys,” Feldman and Haim confronted each other on their dark past.
“[T]here’s a lot of good people in this industry, but there’s also a lot of really, really sick, corrupt people. And there are people … who have gotten away with it for so long that they feel they’re above the law, and that’s got to change,” Feldman said.
I almost feel like Michael was thrown in as a distraction from real criminals and real problems. And as a scapegoat for society’s looking the other way from where there is a real problem. Witch-hunt an innocent man and pretend that you are really doing something against a crime. But in reality the real criminals in powerful positions remain untouched.
Just wanted to give a virtual ‘high five’ to everything you just said.
Jacksonaktak – you always provide such fascinating information. I had no idea Dr. Katz was involved with the McMartin case. That’s unbelievable. Really, I’m just speechless. Of course, the McMartin case is now considered a classic example of how improper questioning can actually implant ideas into children’s thoughts and imaginations. I can’t believe Dr. Katz still had his license and was questioning children two decades later when the Arvizo case was going to trial. I’m stunned.
And the quotations from Corey Feldman are just heartbreaking. He actually revealed the name of the person who had molested him to a police investigator, and she ignored it? That’s illegal. But she was completely focused on encouraging him to incriminate Michael Jackson, even though he repeatedly said he’d never acted improperly? That is just incredible, and just epitomizes so much about how these cases were handled. They were not investigated, in the sense of gathering information and then drawing conclusions based on that information. Instead, the police jumped to conclusions and then tried to force children to provide evidence supporting their preconceived ideas. Unbelievable.
Hi Willa and Joie,
I’m glad to express my thanks to Mr Charles Thompson for his very incisive anlysis on how the media handled Michael, the real reasons behind this horrible persecution and of course his early demise. I’m a staunch believer that greed at its worst was the chief motivation in this criminal manoevering. I’m sure that such horrendous handing occurs with many more topics that the public is aware of.
I would suggest more frequent coverage of this painful aspect of Michael’s life, not only to establish his innocence but to set our hearts at peace, and project his great value not only as an artist but also as a person. The whole campaign against him was so well organanized that the image the media projected precipitated in many people’s minds. Time to redress this.
It is the very same greed that causes these upheavals in world economy and the deplorable consequences in the environment.
Please forgive the spelling mistake in Mr. Thomson’s name.
I agree with you, Gihan, that unchecked greed was at the heart of the media attacks. The question is why the US government and court system did not protect Michael, as it should have done, from baseless accusations. I came across a revealing quote by Thomas Mesereau about the way the media and the prosecution worked together.
They [prosecutors] were blinded by the media and the media was blinded by them. I saw this interesting chemistry between the media and the prosecution. They both were massaging each other. They both were reinforcing each other’s delusion as far as I was concerned.”
Mesereau says, “This was a ridiculous case.” In other words, there was no evidence in spite of 70 detectives pouring over Neverland in 100 search warrants. It was the collaboration of government and the media that created the tragedy that Michael endured. Mesereau says that not only the Santa Barbara prosecutors were invloved but also the FBI, Interpol, and many expensive consultants were hired as well. Michael faced all this weight of the law and the money of the state at the disposal of beserk prosecutors and a lax judge (IMO).
I agree with you when you say, “It is the very same greed that causes these upheavals in world economy and the deplorable consequences in the environment.” Government and the court system should and must protect citizens and the planet from this unchecked greed. Citizens must insist that institutions, including the media, do better. And you are right that Michael’s story needs to be told so as to ‘establish his innocence’ and ‘set our minds at peace.’
I emphasize to all friends and acquaintances, I do all that is in my power to help wipe out the prejudice that surrounded Michael and to some extend lingers on to this day. In fact I presented a portrait I very lovingly painted in 2010, to the MJWN website, that tries to capture the essence of Michael’s being, his benign face, tranquil smile, focused eyes, and hair full of thorns, or perhaps rays emanating from the spotlight.
I don’t know if it could be possible, but it would be nice for me to take a look on your painting.
MJ is such an inspiration. It seems a miracle or something similar that so many people around the world have been inspired by him and keep on having this great inspiration. I’m sure that will always be this way!
Despite all this pain and all these lies, it’s very moving thinking about all this L.O.V.E.
I really hope that one day there will be flowers out of this shameful mud. Michael deserves it.
However, no problem if it couldn’t be possible to take a look on it!
Thanks for the interest in having a look at my tribute to Michael. Just click on “Gihan Zohdy painting Michael Jackson-MJWN” and it will appear. It is included in the Michael Jackson World Network.
thank you very much! Your painting is very beautiful, well done!
Which technique did you use? You know, I’ve always loved especially drawing. I have a lot of material for drawing and also for painting and sometimes I’ve thought to create something for Michael but often I don’t have the time to simply sit and do it. I wish I could do something like that for him.
Looking at your work, there is especially a sensation that I feel.
You know that at that time, the 2000’s, Michael was criticised a lot for his exteriority, all those innuendos to the plastic surgery and stuff like that. Well, it’s really beautiful to know that there were, there are and there will be a lot of people which, on the other side, can appreciate his beauty. A “beauty” that is not only physical but much, much more. Michael had a special aura and it’s moving to think that some people can see all of that.
This is, for me, another example of how different can be single perceptions.
And it helps us also especially to understand, here again, how the media and all those haters had tried and still try to give people the wrong perception of him on many different levels.
Hi Gihan, thanks for the link to your painting–it’s really wonderful!! JoyMJ, I agree that Michael had a beautiful aura and he was always beautiful to those who could see it and appreciate it. Yes, his beauty was physical but also ‘much, much more’–and how!!
The media actually photoshopped images to make him look whiter, uglier, just as during the so-called ‘baby-dangling’ they slowed the tape so it looked like he held the baby longer.
He had a gracefulness that always amazes me. Even when he was just sitting, he was graceful. Fans have done themselves proud with their artwork of MJ–and thanks again, Gihan!
I totally agree with you and I quote especially this:
“Even when he was just sitting, he was simply graceful”.
Hi JoyMJ and Aldebaranredstar,
Thanks for your appreciative words, what I do is a labour of love.
The technique I use is a relatively detailed underdrawing using Derwent Graphitone charcoal pencils, and pastels all on mid-tone Canson Mi-teinte pastel paper. My next image of Michael will be about the storm that awaited him in 1993. Of course I do plenty of research before deciding on how I will depict my subjects.
“A labour of love”: I like this!
Well done, Gihan, and thanks again!
For a long time I was a Michael Jackson skeptic. When he died and the whole world seemed to want to whitewash his past, I became quite angry as that seemed totally immoral.
It was Charles Thomson’s article that opened my eyes to the idea that I could be wrong. Since reading it I have dug a lot deeper and now believe Michael Jackson was extorted in 1993 and 2004, although I do question why he felt the need to have children in his room at all.
However, on lots of message boards and sites I often see people saying Charles Thomson and Deborah Ffrench are the same person. One of the reasons for that is this article Ms Ffrench wrote on January 13, 2010. It contains this text:
“Where were the voices now wailing about ‘wasted resources’ and the ‘rights’ of taxpayers when Tom Sneddon authorized the use of millions of dollars of federal money to pursue Michael in his deeply personal and blinkered ‘takedown’ of the, then – biggest pop star on the planet?
For a country that can shine so bright when it chooses to – what America did to this man stands as one of the most shameful examples of engineered cruelty and unmitigated persecution to be witnessed in modern times.”
It’s very similar to Charles Thomson’s article title. Could you tell us once and for all Mr Thomson do you work under a pen name as ‘Deborah Ffrench?’ And if so, why?
Hi, again, Danny, I just want to say you have put your finger on something that many people question, namely why Michael wanted to be with children so much, even though he wasn’t sexually interested in them at all. I think a lot of people find that behavior hard to understand or accept, and they think the only motive could be a sexual interest b/c they can’t see why an adult would want to pal around with a child or a 13 year old, as for example, Michael’s friendship with Emmanuel Lewis or MacCauly Culkin. That’s why I tried to present some possible reasons for that. It is hard for us to understand b/c we weren’t put to work, as if we were adults, when we were still young children (at least most of us in ‘developed’ nations).
I think Michael as an artist also found inspiration from being with children and playing/laughing with them. It gave him some kind of conduit to his creative energy when he was with children. He spoke, for example, about how he had a game with some German kids, and after went and wrote ‘Speechless.” In that song he talk about being transported to a place known as ‘hallowed ground,’ almost as if he entered a heightened state of consciousness.
Your love is magical, that’s how I feel
But I have not the words here to explain
Gone is the grace for expressions of passion
But there are worlds and worlds of ways to explain
To tell you how I feel
But I am speechless, speechless
That’s how you make me feel
Though I’m with you I am far away and nothing is for real
When I’m with you I am lost for words, I don’t know what to say
My head’s spinning like a carousel, so silently I pray
Helpless and hopeless, that’s how I feel inside
Nothing’s real, but all is possible if God is on my side
When I’m with you I am in the light where I cannot be found
It’s as though I am standing in the place called Hallowed Ground
Speechless, speechless, that’s how you make me feel
Michael said he saw God’s face in the eyes of children.
Danny, about the children issue, there are many explanations “why he felt the need to have children in his room at all.” Here are some that I can come up with:
1) Michael said he lost his childhood, it was ‘stolen’ from him and replaced with hard work, and commitments, so he tried to recapture his childhood by playing games, by being with children and playing games with them, watching movies, having water fights, etc. I think he genuinely enjoyed their company.
2) Michael was raised a Jehovah Witness and read the Bible thoroughly and even in his last years, his bodyguards said he read it every day, so he tried to follow the teaching of Christ as he understood them. Jesus said to his disciples, “let the children come to me and forbid them not, for unless you become like a child you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.” We can interpret that teaching in various ways, but Michael seemed to believe that he could not ‘deny’ a child the simple pleasures, and he apparently gave them latitude at Neverland when they visited for the day (candy, movies, and rides) but with his own children he was ‘strict.’ Michael believed children were innocent, spontaneous, pure, and free of many social limitations and ills that afflict adults. Jesus also spoke of the ‘pure in heart’ and Michael thought that children were pure in heart, IMO.
3) Michael made children’s issues– poverty, malnutrition, abandonment, and abuse– a lifetime calling. Much more could be said about this. It was a mission.
4)Michael saw children as ‘safe’ as far as the potential to manipulate, harm, control him. He was wrong there, unfortunately, and he did not fully appreciate that children can have the same failings as adults. However, as Frank Cascio revealed in his book, Michael never slept alone with a child in his 2-story bedroom after the 93 allegations. In the Arvizo case in 03-05, Cascio and Michael slept on the floor while Gavin slept in the bed. (Frank did not testify in court partially b/c he was named as a co-conspirator in the alleged kidnapping.)
5) Michael saw children as experiencing the magic, creativity, and wonderment that he felt was needed in the world, especially the appreciation of the importance of PLAY.
For all the time he spent with children as companions, friends, and so on, he showed the world that children are worthy of our respect and love, and they are not lesser beings of lower importance than adults, even though legally they do not have the same protections or rights. I think he wanted to elevate their status (instead of the ‘children should be seen and not heard’ idea). He wanted us to see that they are our future.
Just to add to this–his ‘room’ was two-story apartment, with several bathrooms, and lots of play equipment, video games, etc., and even a grand piano. His voice coach Seth Riggs would rehearse him there and he said it was a large space.
Macaulay Culkin explained the sleepovers similarly as Frank Cascio. You can see him talk about it in Larry King Live (the relevant part is 1:17-5:08):
The media misinterpreted is as Michael luring children into his bedroom, but it was never the case. People simply wanted to be in his company – and stay with him as much as they could and that included staying in his bedroom as well (which was basically a two storey bedroom – as big as other people’s whole flat).
And it weren’t only children. Anyone who wanted to stay in Michael’s bedroom, could. At the trial even June Chandler (Jordan’s mother) admitted she could go into Michael’s bedroom whenever she wanted and she did stay there a number of times.
Q. And why were you in the bedroom those ten times?
A. Because I’m Jordie’s mother. I’m allowed to go into the bedroom.
Q. Were you dropping clothes off?
A. Oh, I might have. I don’t recall.
Q. Did you ever sit down and watch T.V. or anything in there?
Q. How often did you do that?
A. A few times.
In his book Macaulay Culkin’s father wrote they could go into Michael’s room whenever they wanted.
This is what Frank Cascio wrote in his book:
“In Bashir’s interview, Michael was shown holding Gavin’s hand and telling the world that kids slept in his bed. Anyone who knew Michael would recognize the honesty and innocent candor of what he was trying to communicate. But Bashir was determined to cast it in a different light…
What Michael didn’t bother to explain, and what Bashir didn’t care to ask about, was that Michael’s suite at Neverland, as I’ve said before, was a gathering place, with a family room downstairs and a bedroom upstairs. Michael didn’t explain that people hung out there, and sometimes they wanted to stay over. He didn’t explain that he always offered guests his bed, and for the most part slept on the floor in the family room below. But, perhaps more important, he didn’t explain that the guest were always close friends like us Cascios and his extended family.
One of the biggest misconceptions about Michael, a story that plagued him for years following the Bashir documentary, was that he had an assortment of children sleeping in his room at any given time. The truth was that random children never came to Neverland and stayed in Michael’s room. Just as my brother Eddie and I had done when we were younger, the family and friends who did stay with Michael, did so of their own volition. Michael just allowed it to happen because his friends and family liked to be around him.
What Michael said on Bashir’s video is true. “You can have my bed if you want. Sleep in it. I’ll sleep on the floor. It’s your’s. Always give the best to the company, you know.” Michael had no hesitation about telling the truth because he had nothing to hide. He knew in his heart and mind that his actions were sincere, his motives pure, and his conscience, clear. Michael innocently and honestly said, “Yes, I share my bed, there is nothing wrong with it.” The fact of the matter is, when he was “sharing” his bed, it meant he was offering his bed to whoever wanted to sleep in it. There may have been times when we slept up there as well, but he was usually on the floor next to his bed, or downstairs sleeping on the floor (in the family room that was part of his bedroom suite). Although Bashir, for obvious reasons, kept harping on the bed, if you watch the full, uncut interview, it’s impossible not to understand what Michael was trying to make clear: when he said he shared his bed, he meant he shared his life with the people he saw as family.
The bottom line: Michael’s interest in young boys had absolutely nothing to do with sex. I say this with the unassailable confidence of firsthand experience, the confidence of a young boy who slept in the same room as Michael hundreds of times, and with the absolute conviction of a man who saw Michael interact with thousands of kids. In all the years that I was close to him, I saw nothing that raised any red flags, not as a child and not as an adult. Michael may have been eccentric, but that didn’t make him a criminal.
The problem, though, was that this point of view wasn’t represented in the documentary. Listening to Michael talk, people who didn’t know him were disturbed by what he was saying, not only because his words were taken out of context but also because Bashir, the narrator, was telling them they SHOULD BE disturbed. The journalist repeatedly suggested that Michael’s statements made him very uncomfortable. Michael was quirky enough without the machinations of a mercenary newshound, to be sure, but there’s no doubt that Bashir manipulated viewers for his own ends. His questions were leading, the editing misguided. As I watched the broadcast, it seemed to me that Bashir’s plan all along had been to expose Michael in whatever way he could in order to win the highest ratings he could for his show.”
deborah ffrench and charles thomson are two separate people. Two talented writers but one is male and the other is female.
Danny and Jan – I hadn’t heard this rumor before so asked Charles about it, and he said it’s been circulating around for a while. He also said there were audio clips on youtube of conversations with both him and Deborah (where they are clearly two separate people!) so did a quick search. Here’s one, the first of a four-part series:
Hello to you all, thank you very much for these discussions! They are rare and it is a delight to enjoy it. Really thank you.
Lorenzo, I read your comment, I thought about Oscar Wilde … I think there is a lot of similarity: the story of personal attacks for both Oscar Wilde to Michael Jackson, appears to me that they have the same origin.
What do you think, dear Willa and Joie? and all of you, of course …
Beatrice Hello, nice to meet you here.
I read a very interesting part on the site of Raven Woods allforloveblog.com precisely in relation to Michael and Oscar Wilde.
I ride the link http://www.allforloveblog.com/?p=5645
Thanks Lorenzo, nice to meet you.
I will read willingly.
Your extensive quote from Frank Cascio’s book on Michael’s relation to children must have really offered his spirit a lot of the serenity he so much deserves. You offer details that very few people know, and this gives an accurate picture from which one can believe in his total innocence. Of course his qualities as a person are more than enough to establish this, but a few details often build a more accurate image. On behalf of all those who care, thank you so much.
Hi, Gihan–the extended quote from Cascio’s book was made by Jacksonaktak, not me. But you are so right that these details “give an accurate picture from which one can believe in his total innocence.” The media was able to lie so much about Michael, and the prosecutors bought their lies. I learned that legally in USA a ‘public person’ (such as Michael) actually has less rights than a regular person when it comes to fighting lies in court–the public person has to prove ‘malice,’ which is hard to prove, but the regular person does not have to do that.
Beatrice, yes, I agree that the similarities to Oscar Wilde are very apt, although poor Oscar did go to jail and was treated abominably there, receiving injuries that led to his death after his release. He also had to leave England, his home country. Of course, Wilde was prosecuted for being a homosexual, illegal at the time, although he was accused of being with underage boys as well. He had a supposedly ‘flamboyant’ lifestyle, a razor sharp wit, and was society’s darling until his fall from grace.
Just to add, since we are talking of literary figures (Oscar Wilde) that there is an amazing live reading taking place. It is called Moby Dick Big Read. Lots of people are involved, including actors and politicians (even David Cameron, UK Prime Minister) and each is reading a chapter of Melville’s classic Moby Dick. So if you are interested, check out this website:
I cannot see a parallel between Michael Jackson and Oscar Wilde. Wilde was convicted and he was convicted for something he really did – ie. having homosexual relationships, which was a crime at the time.
Michael Jackson was neither convicted, nor did he do what he was accused of.
I really don’t like him being compared to Oscar Wilde, because the last time I saw this comparision, it was made by Victor Gutierrez in an article in a German newspaper in which Gutierrez advocated pedophila and brought up Wilde as an example of how something that was codemned at the time is now widely accepted (homosexuality). In that interview he said he thought (and apparently hoped) with time this would eventually happen with pedophilia as well!
So this is the underlying agenda about comparing MJ to Wilde. Suggesting that he really did what he was accused of, but it’s only wrong now, it may not be wrong in 100 years. Pedophiles and pedophile advocates try to use him for their agenda.
Fact is Michael did NOT do what he was accused of, so there is no parallel with Wilde.
No, sorry, I perhaps I misspoken.
I was just saying in relation to the media lynching and error in judging the artist as a person and not his work of art.
And Ithen, I knew nothing about the exploitation of which you speak, I’m sorry if I gave the impression to be part of.
I hope my post did not come across as accusing you of having the agenda I talked about. It’s not against you personally, but I have seen the Oscar Wilde comparison before – and it was in the context I mentioned. And since Wilde really did what he was accused of and Michael did not, I don’t see a parallel there. A parallel would be more valid with someone who was widely condemned for something that he did not do.
I thought to post a blog (Los Angeles Times) where literary scholar Elaine Showalter makes a comparison between the two cases—but in terms that most people who are knowledgeable about Michael Jackson would probably find objectionable.
Then, a writer at artsblog (New York Times) wrote a rebuttal to Showalter’s piece—again, in terms that aren’t useful to those who know something about the two cases.
The larger, underlying issues may be more fruitfully thought of in tandem: both men were transgressors, accused (whether convicted or not) of crimes that violated the social mores of their time and place. And a sort of New Victorianism had emerged around the time of Michael’s trial, which some have mentioned here (the McMartin case, etc., the child abuse scandals, the mass hysteria, etc.). The social and psychological *mechanics* of public pillorying, alone, might be fruitfully studied in both cases…. and I thank Beatrice for bringing it up. I also thank aldebaranredstar for noting how the spectre of “child molestation” might have functioned as a smokescreen to deflect attention from the actual ways the welfare of children is neglected in our society.
As to the media…. I’m glad, Willa, that you mentioned other vast misrepresentations of reality that many media outlets have (expediently) disseminated…. like the notion that Iraq was behind the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. For a number of reasons, I find it interesting to think of these two instances as related in some ways. Both the media’s drumming up support for the invasion of Iraq (by making this fatuous claim) and also drumming up a kind of witch-hunt against Michael Jackson are manifestations of a deep-seated blow to the American self-image: namely, the idea of American “innocence.”
Also, thanks to Willa for providing a much-needed historical overview of these kinds of events; looking at McCarthyism is especially useful. I think we need to better understand how these kinds of phenomena work, however painful such investigations might be.
So I think the analogy with the criminalization of Oscar Wilde’s activities might be also interesting to pursue, while being fully mindful of the striking differences between Wilde’s case Michael’s.
Hi Nina. Just tracked down Elaine Showalter’s piece in the L.A. Times. Wow, I’m really going to have to think about this a long time. It’s fascinating to me the way his life and art are conflated – for example, when Showalter interprets Michael Jackson (as an artist and as an accused man in court) “unlike Wilde, not a deliberate transgressor of gender roles. … Rather, his specially tailored three-piece suits, with their cravats and vaguely military armbands and medals, parody masculinity.” But isn’t a parody a “deliberate transgression”?
So many times I get the sense that a misinterpretation of Michael Jackson’s art, and of him as an artist, resulted in a misinterpretation of him as a person – specifically, a person accused of sex crimes. I honestly believe that if people had interpreted his art differently, they would have interpreted him and the accusations against him differently as well. And I feel that very strongly in the Showalter piece.
So interesting …
Nina, and Willa, I read Showalter’s piece but did not find the NYT response. I was very disappointed in her writing about the trial. Focusing on Michael’s clothing, for example, instead of anything substantive about the charges is so lazy and disrespectful. This man was railroaded and surrounded by witnesses that were tainted with selling stories to tabloids–one witness was brought out of jail to testify (!!!)–and with completely false charges, and yet a reputable writer has to focus on what he wore to the trial?
And people still write awful comments, such as ‘Michael Jackson’s life was a circus,” instead of saying the circus was in the court and the media, and was what he struggled against.
The investigators and prosecutors rightly need to be charged with fraud of the court. When interviewing one boy, Jason Francia, the investigators lied by telling him that Michael was molesting other boys and that he, Jason, would be saving them by remembering something sexual that happened. They said this to coerce Jason, who did not recall any molestation. He later came up with the story of being tickled outside his clothing in the genital area. This was why Tom Mesereau did not want the prior offenses brought in.
And the same lawyer Larry Feldman was used by the plaintiffs in both cases–93 and 03-05, so Feldman already had all the knowledge of those prior case and brought in the same unreliable and perjured witnesses. Why bring in a witness that in another case against Michael was fined for perjury?? A witness who so disgusted the judge that he walked off the bench saying he had heard enough? this was the civil suit and countersuit of the so-called Neverland 5, disgruntled ex-employees at Neverland, who had sold stories to the tabloids and who wanted millions from Michael in wrongful termination suits in 94. He countered sued and won a judgment of over 1 million, which he was never paid b/c they declared bankruptcy. These same perjured witnesses were used by the prosecution in 05.
Here is Mesereau’s Petition to the court to block prior offenses. Lots of info here on the unreliable witnesses.
And here is a comment by the writer of the website mjjr.net
“Is it merely a coincidence that all of the people who have accused Michael Jackson of acting inappropriately with a child are connected to one another? Every accuser, every professional who has worked with each accuser, every tabloid hack who has reported negative stories about Jackson – literally all of the players involved in both the 1993 case and the 2003 case are related to one another. Is it a conspiracy?
To answer the questions “”Is it merely a coincidence that all of the people who have accused Michael Jackson of acting inappropriately with a child are connected to one another? ”
The answer is simply NO!
The reply to Showalter’s LA Times article (“Not So Wilde”) was by Scott McLemee, who posted it on a blog called “ArtsJournal.” It’s no longer available there, but I found it on another blog, “Inside Higher Ed”:
McLemee’s piece hardly comes up with a more sympathetic or well-rounded view of Michael’s predicament, though. I’m only interested in it because it might help me to find some leads for further research about Wilde’s trials, and how they might (and might not) parallel Michael’s.
“Reading the transcripts of Oscar Wilde’s trials (there were three of them), one thing you soon notice is that his creative work and his vision of the world were under just as much scrutiny as his private life. If anything, his aesthetic sensibility (in particular, his insistence that art and morality had nothing to do with one another) was slightly more horrifying to the authorities than his sexual tastes. The power of Wilde’s art to corrupt the minds of the young incensed the Victorians even more than what he did with any given teenage male prostitute.”
We no longer “ban books” in the U.S. today; but I’m glad, Willa, that you mentioned the connection between the misinterpretation of Michael’s art and some elements of his life (of course, the “panther” section of “Black or White” comes to mind). Also, the question of whether a *deliberate parody* can be counted as a transgression….
Much to consider…. when I come up with something, I’ll share it here.
Hi Nina. I’m really curious to hear what you come up with because I think this is so important, and hasn’t been investigated nearly enough. The parody question was just an example. My bigger question is this: if Michael Jackson’s transgressions of race and gender had been interpreted as an artistic decision rather than as something pathological, would he have had more support among intellectuals, liberals, the black community, the LGBT community, the Jewish community, the ACLU – in short, the groups that generally push back against oppressive police actions and biased media coverage? Would they have taken the time to actually look at the evidence, educate themselves about what was happening, and resist it? In short, did their misinterpretation of his art lead them to misinterpret him and his life, and predispose them to believe the false accusations against him?
Thanks for posting the link to the McLemee article. I’ll have to look at that. I’m intrigued by the part you quoted: “one thing you soon notice is that [Wilde’s] creative work and his vision of the world were under just as much scrutiny as his private life.” Of course, with Wilde observers realized that they were looking at art. With Michael Jackson, I don’t think that’s true. They looked at his face and saw it as evidence of some sort of pathology, not art.
In fact, I think for many people his face became the primary evidence against him. I remember the first time I picked up Diane Dimond’s book, and one of the cover blurbs said something like this: just look at his face – if that’s going on on the outside, what must be going on on the inside? I honestly believe a lot of people (and not just Diane Dimond) looked at his face and saw evidence of guilt, whereas I believe it was a powerful work of art that was revealing to them their own reflections … just like the mirror scene in Ghosts.
Hi, Nina, I did find that other article but did not link it to the Times. Willa, I think Michael’s transgressions were noted but trivialized. Both his art and his person were the subject of ridicule among the people you mention. There were very few scholars/critics in his lifetime who took him seriously as an artist, which is why I hold Armond White in such high regard.
Hi, Jacksonaktak–I did not know that a Wilde-Michael Jackson comparison was part of an agenda by pedophiles to gain acceptance, but it makes perfect sense now that you point it out. Let me say I am NOT in favor of legalizing pedophilia and I do NOT think children can ‘consent’ to this or any sexual exploitation and abuse.
However, I read an excellent biography about Oscar Wilde, which described what he endured as a convicted homosexual and how he suffered in disastrous circumstances in Reading Jail. He became very ill as a result of the living conditions and the food, developed severe physical ailments that were not treated, and was forced to attend chapel service when he was ill and feverish. During that service he passed out or collapsed and in falling seriously damaged his ear, which led to an untreated and long-lasting infection. In fact, he died a few years after his release in Paris, a destitute and dying man, so I do have sympathy for that horrible mistreatment. If someone is found guilty, that should not enable the state to engage in what amounted to severe mistreatment and neglect. The other thing about Oscar Wilde is that his partner, who was a member of the British aristocracy, was not charged. It was his father, a Lord, who led the prosecution of Wilde.
About Victor Gutierrez, he is central to the media witch-hunt and the court cases against Michael, both in 93 and 03-05. As a Chilean photographer covering the 84 Olympics in LA, he decided to stay in USA and spent years building up contacts who would make lurid accusations against Michael. He mainly went to Michael’s ex-employees to get them to reveal ‘inside’ stories, and also contacted the live-in maid of June Chandler. Slowly, he invented a series of ‘stories’–fictionalized and exaggerated– and finally dumped it all in the lap of certain media types–such as Diane Dimond, Maureen Orth, Martin Bashir. Dimond stated he was her ‘best source’ and very reliable (HA). He was one of the first to be interviewed by police investigators in LA in 93. He came to be considered an ‘expert’ (LOL) on Michael–meaning an expert on salacious lies. He was sued by Michael when he claimed a videotape existed of Michael molesting his nephew, the son of Margaret Maldonado and Jermaine. Diane Dimond went with this story on various news outlets, even stating it was 27 minutes long and in black and white. Yet this videotape did not exist (like the Weapons of Mass Destruction) and Margaret Maldonado, who Gutierrez said possessed it after being given a copy by Gutierrez’s source, denied knowing anything about it. Michael sued and won and in ’98 was awarded $2.7 million in damages by a jury, but Gutierrez went to Mexico and declared bankruptcy. He later was hired by NBC Dateline as a ‘consulting producer’ in 05, and has appeared or been a source in a number of films about Michael, including ones made by Jacques Peretti of the Guardian and Bashir. He wrote a fictionalized book “Michael Jackson was My Lover,” and Dimond wrote something similar “Be Careful Who You Love,’ both based on their wild imaginations about evil Michael and his child victims. People claim that Gutierrez advocates pedophilia, and his book asserts that Michael was in love with Jordan Chandler. (I have not read his book but have read excerpts and discussion of it.)
Yes, Jacksonaktak, the BIG difference between Michael and Oscar Wilde is that Michael did NOT do what he was accused of. It is amazing to me what the media and the prosecutors in LA and, worst of all, in Santa Barbara got away with, and I think that a revisiting of the First Amendment in terms of the legal requirement that a ‘public person’ must show ‘malice’ in addition to falsehood is in order. Why does a public person have to show malice when a regular person does not in cases of slander and libel? Makes no sense to me. Why shouldn’t a public person have the same legal protections as anyone else?? I don’t get it.
I do not think anyone here advoctaes pedophila. I just said that those who do often bring up Oscar Wilde and the fact he was condemned and tortured for being gay, but 100 years later he’d be accepted as a homosexual. They see the acceptance of homosexuality as a hope that pedophilia will be accepted one day as well. Hopefully mankind will never go crazy and that will never happen.
I agree that Wilde was treated horribly and it were the laws at the time which were horrible not him. But I feel it’s a different story than Michael’s. His story is more parallel with the story of Alan Turing without whom neither of us would be here using a computer:
“Turing’s homosexuality resulted in a criminal prosecution in 1952, when homosexual acts were still illegal in the United Kingdom. He accepted treatment with female hormones (chemical castration) as an alternative to prison. Turing died in 1954, just over two weeks before his 42nd birthday, from cyanide poisoning.”
To me a more similar story to Michael’s would be actor Roscoe Arbuckle’s. It seems he was falsely accused. Yet his life and reputation was totally ruined by the media, who went crazy with reporting slanderous stories about him.
“Arbuckle’s trial was a major media event; exaggerated and sensationalized stories in William Randolph Hearst’s nationwide newspaper chain damaged his career. The story was fueled by yellow journalism, with the newspapers portraying him as a gross lecher who used his weight to overpower innocent girls. In reality, Arbuckle was a good-natured man who was so shy with women that he was regarded by those who knew him as, “the most chaste man in pictures”. Hearst was gratified by the Arbuckle scandal, and later said that it had “sold more newspapers than any event since the sinking of the RMS Lusitania.” The resulting scandal destroyed Arbuckle’s career and his personal life. Morality groups called for Arbuckle to be sentenced to death, and studio executives ordered Arbuckle’s industry friends (whose careers they controlled) not to publicly speak up for him. Charlie Chaplin was in England at the time; Buster Keaton did make a public statement in support of Arbuckle; film actor William S. Hart, who had never worked with Arbuckle, made public statements which presumed that Arbuckle was guilty.
The prosecutor, San Francisco District Attorney Matthew Brady, an intensely ambitious man who planned to run for governor, made public pronouncements of Arbuckle’s guilt and pressured witnesses to make false statements. ”
Victor Gutierrez: I do think he advocates pedophilia. His book is basically child porn with graphic descriptions of alleged sexual acts. And Gutierrez seems to portray it as some kind of consensual “romance”. He claimed he based his book on Jordan’s diary. But Jordan never had a diary – a fact confirmed by the Chandlers themselves. So those stories came from Gutierrez’s head, as well as the notion that child molestation is a consensual love relationship. Gutierrez also thanks NAMBLA in the foreword of his book. In an interview with a German newspaper in 2005 he once again portrayed child molestation as some kind of consensual romance and said (and apparently hoped) that pedophilia will be accepted in 100 years, like homosexuality is now compared to how it was viewed 100 years ago. This is typical pedophile propaganda, suggesting that it’s not pedophilia that is wrong but society’s perception of it.
All this about Gutierrez should be kept in mind when you consider his role in the allegations against Michael, which seems to be a lot more than what most people realize. He might actually even be the originator of it as he before the Chandlers made their allegations he made his rounds among parents of Michael’s young friends spreading the seeds and alleging to them that Michael was a pedophile. For example, he approached Joy Robson, the mother of Wade Robson with this claim in 1992. Joy did not buy it, but one year later Evan Chandler might have. Considering Gutierrez’s ‘interesting’ views on pedophilia, spreading this lie might serve a more sinister agenda than simple tabloid sensationalism. BTW, many of the prosecution’s witnesses in 2005, most of the ex-employees, had a contact with Gutierrez. It’s interesting to track down that he was virtually everywhere in this case behind the scenes.
Thank you to all for the information posted about Charles Thomson and Deborah Ffrench. I appreciate the link to the interview. There were also others in the sidebar.
As for the matter of Michael Jackson having children in his room, that is an issue I struggle with. It’s also a really difficult one to explain to other people. I ‘get’ that Michael saw sleeping with children differently and, in fact, ‘saw’ children in a particular way.
But did the children? Always.
I guess what I’m also frustrated about, is would Sneddon and anyone else been able to attack Michael Jackson if he hadn’t make it so easy for them? I find it hard to understand either that kind of idiocy or innocence. Because it’s got to be one of the two.
Either way, mass understanding won’t get it, and can’t get it, while some are determined no-one else should.
I agree, Danny, it is hard to explain b/c of our national paranoias about friendships (nonsexual) between adults and children, esp. when there is no family relationship, or maybe even then? We actually degrade, ignore, and sexualize children, and only seem to care about them when there is some salacious element, like Jon-Benet Ramsey or Michael Jackson or some horrific child abuse case. There was a BBC study done that concluded that USA has the highest rates of child murder due to child abuse than any other industrialized country. That is an amazing statistic, yet it is ignored.
People can’t understand that Michael grew up in a Black family with 9 kids in a two bedroom house and that he shared a bed with his brother Marlon due to necessity. B/c the 6 boys were in one bedroom, none of them had their own bed, so to ‘share your bed,’ to give your bed to someone, even when later Michael had his own bed, was an act of generosity and courtesy. Also due to lack of space, all kinds of things had to be done on a bed, including homework, reading, etc. The bed doubled as a desk or chair or other furniture that a larger bedroom in a middle-class home would have.
That’s the way Michael grew up, in a poor family in a tiny home, and on the road, starting out, the boys would also pile up in one hotel room.
You really can only go so far in ‘explaining.’ As Spike Lee says, the haters have to drink their Hater-ade. I hope one day there will be an accurate documentary made about Michael’s life that really puts all these lies and misperceptions to rest. Seems like every time there is an article on Michael or his kids, posters have to say 1) those are not his kids 2) he wanted to be white 3) he was a drug addict 4) he was a pedophile. The guy was trashed for decades by media pros, so what else can we reasonable expect?
As far as how the children viewed Michael, go to websites where the court transcripts are available (some are listed here on this site) and you can see for yourself what they said in their own words.
Forgive me Jacksonaktak, for the confusion concerning the Casio quote.
Danny, Michael’s friendships with children were, as I understand it, part of his friendship with an entire family–for example, he invited these families to Neverland–the Culkins, the Robsons, the Chandlers, the Cascios, the Arvizos, etc. This to me is an important point. The parents defended Michael, even June Chandler (except Janet Arvizo). He had long term relationships with the whole family. For example the Robsons estimated they visited NL 50 times and yet said nothing happened sexually and they totally trusted Michael. Many times the families visited when he was not there as well. I think Michael was trying to be part of a family and so he made friends with entire families and saw himself as part of them, even though, technically, he was not.
This desire may have to do with his personal background as part of a large, extended family, but one he became estranged from. People who are from large families like to associate with other large families; they are gregarious that way.
I agree with this. Michael’s friendship was more with families. Yet, the media’s focus was only on his friendship with male children – for obvious reasons. A very typical misrepresentation by the media is this (also a good example of suggestive, manipulative narration) a snippet of a British documentary “Michael Jackson’s Boys” (the title in itself is suggestive, of course). The snippet was on YouTube but was removed since (at least I couldn’t find it now). The guy in that snippet was Damion Stein, son of Glenda Stein. The Steins were another family befriending Michael in the 80s, early 90s. What Damion says is totally innocent, meeting Michael, corresponding with each other etc. And he also revealed that Michael was on the phone with his mother for hours each day, leading to Damion’s father becoming suspicious and jealous, which in turn lead to the now famous Glenda tapes that you can find on YT (Damion’s father secretly recorded them).
The snippet is interesting because it shows media manipulation in action. What Damion describes is a friendship between his mother and Michael. Yet, the narration – totally ignoring what Damion actually says – dubs it in a sinister way, with sinister music playing in the background, suggesting that Michael’s interest was in the boy (and “of course” interest in a sinister way), while the actual story of Damion was about how Michael and his mother hang on the phone for hours every day which made his father nervous! Also Daniel is called “Michael Jackson’s boy” in the documentary – another way of being suggestive of things those were not claimed by Damion.
The same with the Cascios and others. Michael almost always befriended families. I believe because of his desire to be a part of a loving, caring family that he missed in his own family.
Hi, Jacksonaktak–Thanks so much for your comments and the information about Arbuckle and Alan Turing, which I did not know about. I suppose Chaplin would also be another example, as well as the boxer Jack Johnson. So sad that society and prosecutors and media had to go after people like that and scapegoat them and destroy them.
About Gutierrez, I agree with your comments 1000%–I do think he lit the spark that started the fire and then sat there fanning the flames. Without him, it may not have turned into the disaster it did. And he was there in both the 93 and 03-05 cases, fanning the flames and warming himself at the fire. Disgusting. I am glad you told me about his statements indicating an underlying pedophilia agenda.
I have been thinking that there really are 2 different Michael Jacksons: one that the media created and the other, the real person and artist. There is almost no similarity between the 2. As you show in the case of Damion Stein, there is the real story and the media story, and they are diametrically opposed. I noticed this very much when I read the media write-ups about Michael’s death–they rehashed all the same crap–the elephant man’s bones, the hyperbaric chamber, the allegations, the skin changes–the whole ‘freak narrative.’ And they had no awareness that there was anything else to say about this person!!! Then I read the comments from the readers–100’s of them from all over the world, people who were really feeling something deep, people in grief, saying they couldn’t sleep all night after hearing the news, people in shock, real, honest, emotional reactions. And it was like night and day to read the dead, tired prose of the media writers and the real, heartfelt comments by readers. It moved me a great deal.
I am now seeing that to the media Michael was a gold mine. A literal gold mine. As in the discovery of gold anywhere, there was a gold rush to stake your claim, strike it big, and get rich quick. And so many did. However, unlike a real gold mine, Michael’s gold mine had unlimited gold, gold everlasting. So the media exploited it with their never-ending lies, and are still exploiting it to the maximum and beyond.
I recently read a review of the Cirque Immortal show, which just opened in London, and the first line was : “Michael Jackson’s life was a circus . . ” You really need read no more as you know exactly where the writer is headed.
Now the media is going after Paris Jackson, which is truly disgusting that a 14 year old girl, whose father was murdered, is now another tabloid target, a new gold mine. They have no ethics and no shame and will stoop lower and lower and lower.
That is why I think we need greater legal powers to block them, improved libel and slander laws for ‘public persons,’ and a revisiting and limiting of the Shield Laws. I also think journalists need to be licensed, as is the case in many other professions.
Right now, they are having a field day and it is not helping anyone except lining their pockets and leading to a bullying, celebrity-obssesed culture and a long line of destroyed lives.
Yes, I sincerely hope that by the time Paris reaches adulthood these laws will be enforced, and the media stream relatively more ethical (let’s not expect too much). Paris obviously has the qualities Michael instilled in her, she is a beautiful, loving and charismatic young girl who deserves every one’s protection.
Danny asked about Michael sleeping in the same room with children, and I came across this: “The King of Pop & Sharing Beds/ What Michael meant
January 27, 2011
Since his death Michael Joseph Jackson is an angel that can do no wrong. But back when I defended him before the world as the Jackson family spokesman, it seemed there was no shortage of people castigating him for saying that he saw nothing wrong with sharing his bed with little boys. Though he regularly had little girls and boys visit Neverland, when it came to bedtime the boys separated from the girls, just as they did when he was a little boy growing up in his own large family’s household.
And when friends and relatives came to town with no place to stay, it was not uncommon for adult men to sleep with young boys. Fast forward. Michael is interviewed by Ed Bradley of CBS on 60 Minutes in December 2003.
“When Bradley asks Jackson if he would allow his own children to sleep in a bed with a grown man who was not a relative, or to sleep in that man’s bedroom, Jackson replies, ‘Sure, if I know that person, trust them, and love them. That’s happened many times with me when I was little.'”
Why many times? Because when Blacks traveled in an openly segregated America they were not afforded accommodations. Consequently, there was a need for The Negro Motorist Green Book.
“The Negro Motorist Green Book was a publication released in 1936 that served as a guide for African-American travelers. Because of the racist conditions that existed from segregation, blacks needed a reference manual to guide them to integrated or black-friendly establishments,” says one source.
“That’s when they turned to The Negro Motorist Green Book: An International Travel Guide by activist Victor Green and presented by the Esso Standard Oil Company. Originally provided to serve Metropolitan New York, the book received such an alarming response, it was spread throughout the country within one year. The catch phrase was ‘Now we can travel without embarassment [sic].’
“The Green Book often provided information on local tourist homes, which were private residences owned by blacks and open to travelers. It was especially helpful to blacks that traveled through sunset towns or towns that publicly stated that blacks had to leave the town by sundown or it would be cause for arrest. Also listed were hotels, barbershops, beauty salons, restaurants, garages, liquor stores, ball parks and taverns. It also provided a listing of the white-owned, black-friendly locations for accommodations and food.
“The publication was free, with a 10-cent cost of shipping. As interest grew, the Green Book solicited salespersons nationwide to build its ad sales. Inside the pages of the Green Book were action photos of the various locations, along with historical and background information for the readers’ review. Within the pages of the introduction, the guide states, There will be a day sometime in the near future when this guide will not have to be published. That is when we as a race will have equal opportunities and privileges in the United States.”
Whatever happened to this publication? “The Green Book printed its last copy in 1964 after the passing of the Civil Rights Act.”
Now, suddenly we have context regarding the significance of Michael’s completely innocuous statement, “That’s happened many times with me when I was little.” Yes, adult men and boys shared beds, bathrooms, clothes, and trunks of cars when the occasion called for it. (Yes, as a little boy I shared a car trunk with an adult male as we snuck into the drive-in.)
Adults sleeping with children even moves into the realm of the sacred. In showing that God will help us if we keep asking, Jesus used an illustration of a man’s friend prevailing upon him in the middle of the night. The friend says: “Quit making me trouble. The door is already locked, and my young children are with me in bed; I cannot rise up and give you anything.” (Lu 11:7) Now, while commentators debate the meaning of this text, it should not be anachronistically examined retrospectively. Even frightened children occasionally sleep with parents (or adult guardians) today.
In any event, the Lord encouraged: “Keep on asking, and it will be given you; keep on seeking, and you will find; keep on knocking, and it will be opened to you. For everyone asking receives, and everyone seeking finds, and to everyone knocking it will be opened.” (Lu 11:5-10) Seek understanding in recognizing Michael’s sweet, childlike innocence. Peace and blessings to all. Amen.”
It seems more and more apparent that Victor Guitirrez was the originator of the pedo mania
that finally led to Michael Jackson´s fall and death. The rumours ,first ignited by Guitirrez,, and then eagerly picked up by varoious unreliable and unscrupolous journalists and talkshowhosts , we know who all those are.,spread allover the world. V.G. originally came to US in 1984 for the olympics as a reporter. Then stayed on and hovered over Michae´s home
and staff preparing for his great “mission” as a MJ specialist.It is not known what the first
idea or his knowledge about Michael was.Over time his influence became considerable,being the main source for journalists like Diane Diamond and her ilk , she was also close to Tom Sneddon. Finally both the media and the justice system declared war on Michael .Among other things sending 70 police officers to search his home while he was abroad on tour. This, acc. to Nancy Grace was paramount to guilt(how else send a little army of police-officers?).She did back off a little when confronted,but then returned to her original statement.These events over the years became known to most who have some interest in the persecution of Michael Jackson.(Above from the King talk show.)
The present situation is, that most media in the west, at least in Europe, do not so much write
in a directly maliciuos manner, but do always repeat the mantra of Michaels strange habits and the problems in his personal life.And most people do not think further.as the believe they know what those words refer to.Presently those non-thinkers ,who automatically presume what they heard for years in the past outnumber the s.c. haters who do go on with false ,malicious stories on the web. Not to speak of the increbibly profane,lowminded, really I am at a loss for words, of the programs Victor Guitirrez has on Chile TV.
It is time for V.Guitirrez´s time to be up.He needs to be taken to the gallows at the market square and be hung.
I very much understand Michaels attraction to children (not sexual). I share it as far as the ages go.At this point I rather not reveal my professional background. There is nothing wrong or obscure about it. But there are people who have some miscoceptions I rather not deal with just now.I will tell some ,for ex. Aldebaranredstar privately, whom I have read on the VMJ.blog.
Aldebaranredstar, you may be right re the sc. suicide pic. of Jordan.There are things we will never get to know the thruth about.I wrote a bit on VMJ about this.Was is shocking-wich ever
parent took him to Dr.Gardner, or this Katz who evaluated the interview, Dr. Matias Abraham(was that the name of the first psychiatrist Jordan wasent to?)nobody seems to have paid any attention to this highly emotional expressiom of Jordan.This in itself is strange.
Reblogged this on girlinthemirror95.
Another great post. Thanks for sharing. Do you guys also have a post discussing MJ’s prison version video of “They Don’t Care About Us”?
I wanted to ask about the girls covering their faces with their hands at the very beginning of the video. The guys also cover their faces with their hands during a dance routine sitting at the table. Do you know what body language is that? And what does it mean? Thank you.
Hi Kate. That’s an interesting question! We have done a number of posts talking about different aspects of They Don’t Care about Us, but I don’t think we’ve ever talked specifically about why the girls in the opening scene have their faces covered with their hands. And to be honest, I hadn’t noticed that the men in the prison scenes cover their faces also, but they do – four or five times – so it’s obviously an intentional gesture.
I wonder if it has something to do with evoking a sense of being invisible or unseen? For example, the girls at the beginning of the video are both silent and anonymous, with their faces hidden. But once they begin to speak, they uncover their faces. Their voices become heard, and they become seen. To me, this suggests the power of speaking out about injustice, and making yourself and your values visible.
The situation for the men in prison is a little different (though they are fenced in, just as the girls in the opening scene are). Once the girls begin to speak, their faces remain visible. But even though the men in prison are also speaking out, they still have repeated moments of covering their faces. This suggests that invisibility is an ongoing problem for men in prison. They are hidden away in a place where their voices are rarely heard and their faces rarely seen.
Anyway, that’s how those scenes strike me. What do they mean to you?
(p.s. If you’d like to look back at some of our previous posts on They Don’t Care about Us, here’s one we did not long after we started this blog. And here’s one we did with D.B. Anderson on Michael Jackson and the Black Lives Matter movement, and how “They Don’t Care about Us” has become an anthem among protesters. And here’s one we did with Marie Plasse about shifting subject positions in the lyrics to “They Don’t Care about Us.”)
I agree. I think that covering their faces with their has is a sense of being ignored for the girls and men. And I notice the men not only put their hands over their faces but they put their heads down as well while their hands are over their faces, this says to me that they are not only feeling ignored but sadden about that situation they’re in. Do you know why MJ had teenaged girls at the being of the video instead of a group of a mixture of boys and girls?
Hmmm . . . I wonder if it’s to increase the sense that those girls are being controlled or repressed in some way? In the U.S., prisons, detention centers, reform schools, and other places like that tend to be segregated by gender and somewhat by age, with juveniles generally kept in separate facilities than adults. That’s why there are only men in the prison sequences, and it may explain why there are only teenaged girls in the opening scenes. They may be in juvenile detention. That would explain the high fence in the opening shots also.
In addition, having girls in the opening scenes helps balance out the men in the prison scenes, and emphasizes that police brutality, racism, and other forms of injustice don’t just target men – women suffer too, and so do children.
At least, that’s how it strikes me. But I’m sure there are other interpretations also….
Right, I agree. This could be very much the case. You mentioned “other forms of injustice”, what other injustices are you referring to?
I also believe that it could be that MJ may have had the girls in the video as well due to the false allegations. Remember that MJ wrote the song TDCAU regarding the false allegations of molesting little boys so he had girls in the video too, to better point out that the false allegations were false. Notice how he says in the song “I have a wife and 2 children who love me”, to better point out that the false allegations were false. And I think he may have been making the same point by having girls in his video. Notice how the girls speak directly about the false allegations, saying “Don’t worry, we know the truth”, during their chant. What do you think?
Thanks for this discussion.
And we’re fortunate in that Spike Lee is still with us, and can perhaps inform us as to what he (and maybe Michael Jackson) had in mind when they chose to cast those young women in “They Don’t Care About Us.”
I have much more to say about the relevance of this particular film right about now. Thanks, Willa, for reminding us that it’s not only men who are incarcerated—women and children, too, are facing a form of imprisonment in ways, it seems, that exceed even the cruelties of the recent past.
Where to begin talking about this? At the beginning: all I wanna say is they don’t really care about us.
In the film, we see a camera pan across a chain-link fence with a row of young women behind it, chanting these words. From the image, it’s not clear whether these women are on the outside of the prison yard looking in, or inside looking out. Might they be the girlfriends, wives, daughters, friends of the men on the inside? Speaking for those left behind, to live their lives and raise their children as best they can on their own?
After the chanting, there’s a long-sustained percussive beat before the melody and Michael’s voice enters. Here we see a montage of TV news footage; much of it is quite recognizable from the events of recent decades, including several repeated shots of the Los Angeles Police Department beating Rodney King, a black LA resident, in 1992. There are images of other forms of street violence and protest, including the iconic shot of a young man standing in front of a tank in Tianamen Square in 1989—a gesture that Michael Jackson would later reference in the staging of his HIStory tour.
“Enough is enough of this garbage! We know the truth!” one of the young women shouts.
A number of unpleasant truths are, I hope, coming to light recently about the situation we see here—*whether or not* these bear upon Michael Jackson’s protest against the allegations that beset him in the early ’90s. A large percentage of people in prison today are there on minor drug possession charges, and we know that these prisoners are disproportionately black and brown. This is what we see in the short film. Michelle Alexander’s book, “The New Jim Crow,” is one of a number of recently-published books that are available on this issue, if anyone wants to learn more.
Another truth is being exposed: the growth of the private prison industry, where private companies and building contractors are profiting from the greatly expanded prison population—hence, the necessity for passing ever more draconian laws that will sweep more people into these newly-built facilities. And in more recent news, Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy on immigration is designed, some believe, to line the pockets of corporations whose activities include building and outfitting these detention centers. This is all the more horrific, now that we face the prospect of entire families—children and parents alike, mostly from Latin American countries—held in *indefinite detention* in the U.S.
In the film, within the opening montage section of the prison version, we see a very grainy, indistinct image of a baby sitting on the ground with a backdrop of the rubble of a warn-torn area behind him. Simultaneously, we hear the sound (most likely dubbed) of the baby crying loudly. (Within the last few days, a heartbreaking sound recording, of chlidren crying, was made at a detention facility in Texas and released to the public.)
We know that Michael Jackson was a strong child welfare advocate. I wonder what he would have to say about these recent revelations about children being separated from their parents at the U.S. border.
“All I wanna say is they don’t really care about us.”
The baby, the chant, the thematics of the film, have taken on an added relevance recently. According to news reports and a torrent of responses on social media, Melania Trump was seen boarding a plane in a jacket with a text painted on the back: “I DON’T REALLY CARE, DO U?” while on her way to visit a children’s detention center in Texas. Many of those who commented on this believed that wearing this jacket indicated an oblivious and tone-deaf stance Melania Trump’s part; others expressed the idea that she intentionally wore it to generate controversy and attract the attention (even negative attention) of the media.
I can’t venture to guess, but in my view one thing is clear: in the years since Michael Jackson released this song on the HIStory album (when he and Spike Lee also collaborated on the two versions of the short films), and in the years since Kanye West said, in 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people,” the phrase “They Don’t Care About Us” reflects an even more dire situation that we find ourselves in. Its implications—-that ordinary US citizens of the US have been abandoned by our government and their allied corporate billionaires, and that the survival of people in the US and indeed all over the world are also imperiled as a result—-has taken on an greater urgency.
In the prison version of “They Don’t Care About Us,” the first image we see of Michael Jackson finds him in a prison cell, where an array of TV monitors are embedded in the walls, implicitly linking him with decades of history and politics captured through the lens of the media. While a distinct thread runs throughout his lyrics about his singular experience as a beleaguered celebrity (including songs about his embattled relationship with the media), I believe that when he sang about his plight he was *never* speaking solely for himself. And nowhere is this more true than in the short film, “They Don’t Care About Us.” At every moment, his solidarity with the other men in the prison is abundantly clear.
Hi Kate, Willa and Nina,
Hope you don’t mind me jumping in here, but I’m loving this discussion! Thanks so much for the thought provoking question and the excellent commentary.
This line really jumped out at me while re-watching the short film:
“Some things in life they just don’t wanna see…”
(Also: “Am I invisible because you ignore me?…The government don’t wanna see…)
It seems significant that the hands-over-the-eyes gesture happens in silence just before the hand clap that starts the track. I wonder if it meant as a way of signaling that the song is about opening our eyes and fearlessly looking at the things in our world we “just don’t wanna see.”
As Nina so beautifully points out, there is so much going on *now* that this short film addresses head on. It’s as relevant as ever, more 20 years later. And it’s forcing me to reflect on how many social issues we push into the background in order for our comfortable lives to continue without interruption. “Some things in life we just don’t want to see.”
It’s so true, Lisha. What’s been happening recently is shattering on so many fronts. We’ve been massively bought off; lulled into complacency and submission. Some things in life we/they just don’t wanna see.
I’m sure there are many complex explanations for a lot of the recent turns of events. But I believe the deep and swift erosion of democracy we’re seeing right now in the U.S. is, among other things, a direct result of our own inaction over many years and even decades.
Great blog…but I see a very glaring contradiction with your argument. You claim MJ shouldn’t be proclaimed guilty without proof, yet in the same breath, you write that the Chandlers and Robson and Safechuck are all lying, with no proof.
Second, MJ does fit the profile of a predatory profile, almost to a T. I don’t know how on earth you came to the conclusion that kids are usually breaking down in tears over being abused by a pedophile. That’s not how it works 9 times out of 10. You’re thinking of mysoped pedophiles. Most pedophiles are acquaintances and spend months to years carefully grooming their victims and gaining their trust. The victim usually doesn’t want to betray them and often doesn’t even realize what they’re being subjected to is abuse.
Third, the boys saying they haven’t been molested amounts to nothing. Most victims of child molestation deny it. This is shown to be unequivocably true even in statistics. Also, what defense did MJ have that proved the Arvizos wrong? Because I haven’t seen any.
A crucial detail that convinced me that Michael was a pedophile was looking up the traits of one, and realizing he matched every single one. The other detail was the fact that one of his favorite books was Boys will Be Boys, filled with pictures of disturbing poses of nude 8 year old boys (in unmistakably sexual posing). This book was photographed by convicted pedophiles using their pseudonyms. Also, he had a naked picture of Jonathan Spence, a boy he hung out with. In the picture this boy is holding his penis. How can you claim that is innocent?
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