The recent outpouring of grief and support for pop star Michael Jackson in the wake of his death has caught some people by surprise. Isn't this someone who most people dismissed as "Wacko Jacko," a child-molesting weirdo who endangered and warped his own strangely conceived kids? Someone whom, admittedly paid a sum of money to a boy in 1993 to settle molestation charges? Someone whom media pundits like Nancy Grace and Shepard Smith called a "Teflon monster" and "not guilty by reason of celebrity" when he was acquitted of kidnapping and molesting a child in 2005?
That's what I thought. Sure, I dance to "Billy Jean" like everyone else, but I wouldn't invite Michael Jackson to babysit.
But watching clips from the memorial service at the Staples Center, I have to say, I started to wonder. Just how real were those allegations? Part of what made me wonder was watching 11-year-old Paris Jackson, the pop star's daughter, give an emotional, raw, and very real statement about her father's death. This wasn't some f-ed up kid... this was someone who seemed very much like a normal 11-year-old who'd just lost a loving father. In fact, in her brief appearance, she displayed a maturity and dignity well beyond her years. Seeing her, and the rest of Michael Jackson's brood for the first time, it was suddenly a lot more difficult to demonize the singer. Suddenly, calling him "Wacko Jacko" seemed wrong. Just because the New York Post says it, does it mean it's true?
Another thing that caused my opinion of Michael to waver is simply watching the media. Its impossible to turn on the television and not think that these news guys are completely loony. The 24-hour blanket coverage, the over-analysis of everything from the cars Jackson's family rode in to interviewing the journalists who made their careers exploiting Jackson's weirdness... it was all too familiar. The media decides on a storyline and runs with it... even if their story doesn't fit all the facts. They've spent a week deifying a man they once demonized. They've reduced the molestation charges to a footnote, whereas before, they defined Jackson as a pedophile. If the media is capable of turning on and off the demon switch at will, then how are we supposed to know where the truth lies??
I mean, read this. Some guy analyzing all of Jackson's public statements about the molestation in 1993. Is his analysis fair? The guy says over and over that the words "I am innocent" aren't the same as "I didn't do it." Really? Are we taking Jackson to task because he didn't use the right vocabulary?
O.J. Simpson drove away in his Ford Bronco... that made people pretty sure he was guilty. Michael Jackson paid a settlement to one accuser... that made people pretty sure he was guilty. But of the hundreds who slept over at the Neverland ranch, only three ever said anything happened. None ever testified against Michael. In the 2005 case, jurors agreed there wasn't enough evidence to convict, and the mother of the boy had successfully extorted money from a department store a few years earlier. Back in 1993, one boy told police he'd only testify is someone else did. The boy whom Jackson settled with (conflicting reports say it was his lawyers, not Jackson, who made the settlement) accused his own father of abuse:
NY Daily News - The accuser, now 26, says his ex-dentist dad Evan Chandler "struck him on the head from behind with ... (dumbbell) weight ... sprayed his eyes with Mace or pepper spray, and tried to choke him" last year, according to court documents filed in New Jersey.The father even sued Jackson to fund an album called "EVANstory." Seriously.
So the accusations aren't that strong. You'd expect that somewhere in the outpouring of Jackson support, if there were victims of the man, they'd come forward. Why allow the deification of a man if you know him to be a monster?? It's surprising that none has come forward, even anonymously, to "tell the truth."
We don't know what happened in Michael Jackson's bedroom. But I know what I saw yesterday. And it was three kids who look really really upset to have lost their dad. By the accounts of those who actually knew Michael, and haven't just relied on FOX News and Nancy Grace, he was a doting father and someone who never would have harmed a child.
Did the media kill Michael Jackson before they deified him? It's within the realm of possibility.