photo by Alan Light

Michael Jackson and Kids: Thoughts

Leaving Neverland

Yeah, no prizes for guessing the context of this post! The Leaving Neverland documentary/film has been out for about a month now and is causing havoc worldwide and dividing opinions. The first thing I need to say is that I’ve seen it! Many have come to conclusions about it without even getting that far. And having seen it I, like a lot of people, immediately thought the game is up for Michael Jackson finally. Finally someone has come out publicly and told their story in detail, confirming what we all suspected for years now…that Michael Jackson didn’t just like kids…he ‘really’ liked them. How could any of us argue with the detail, poise, dignity and obvious heartfelt honesty of Wade Robson and James Safechuck, not to mention the seemingly very partial Oprah Winfrey siding with them both and interviewing them shortly after the documentary release and news/media outlets worlwide reporting the documentary as gospel. Cue practically the whole planet from every kind of news media online and off to the average man and woman in the street siding with Wade and James and demanding we all stop listening to Michael Jackson’s music. Radio stations all over the world even banned his music!? I for one started listening to it again for the first time in years. Fucking sue me..

Fake News?

Now as someone who leaves and breathes the internet and has seen many times before how quickly and emphatically a piece of alleged factual news can spread and be adopted as gospel by pretty much everyone to the point where you dare not disagree with the general consensus in case you get slated yourself, I was a little hesitant and suspicious to jump in with the crowd but that’s my thing to be honest! I usually see if I can find another angle on a popular news story, sometimes just for the crack to be a little divisive, others because I genuinely believe there’s a more factual side to the story. In this case I waited a little then slowly began to see some people come out in support of Michael Jackson and question the documentary and stories contained therein so I felt a bit more comfortable doing the same myself.

Fanboy

I need to say that I’ve always been a fan (not massively though. The Doors forever) of not just Michael Jackson’s music and general talents but also the man himself so maybe I’m a little biased here. The interview Martin Bashir done with him in 2003 always sticks in my head. It was the first time I’d ever seen Jackson interviewed (he rarely if ever done interviews of course) and I found him fascinating and refreshingly weird. I’m not sure what it says about me but pretty much everyone else on the planet came to the conclusion that he was completely nuts and wrote him off following the program but I thought he sounded pretty cool. The one bit I remember best from it was when Bashir tries to get Jackson to come down from a tree on his Neverland ranch to talk to him but Jackson refuses saying, “this is my happy place, whenever I’m stressed I like to come out here, climb a tree and pretend I’m Peter Pan.” Why the fuck not I thought on seeing that. Sounds good to me! Better than doing what most of the rest of us do on a daily basis our whole lives. I guess that’s easier to do when you have Michael Jackson’s resources though.

Weirdo

I hate the thought that someone like Jackson (yes, I know I didn’t really know him personally but how many of us do know celebs personally yet we’re prepared to judge them easily?) could have been a paedophile. It would really ruin any confidence I have left in the world, society and people in general. However, I’m not stupid and if someone was to prove to me beyond any reasonable doubt that he was guilty..I’d hold my hands up. That’s yet to happen though. People who are “different” and weird always fascinate me. In a world in which the media and internet has us all thinking, talking and acting the same, wearing the same clothes, adopting the same opinions and generally not bothering thinking for ourselves any more, it’s so, so easy to label someone who is weird and different as a criminal or reject of some kind. Weird = bad generally. But speaking as someone who has always been at least a little weird (nowhere near Michael Jackson weirdness levels admittedly!) myself and how alienated you can become because of it, I can side with someone like Jackson a little easier. Add on top of the weirdness thing the fact that he openly and unashamedly hung around with kids a lot and admitted to preferring the company of kids to adults, then you begin to see how easy it is for people to believe that he was a paedophile.

Previous Controversies

The last couple of Michael Jackson child molesting controversies happened quite a while ago now in in the late 90s and early 00s so it’s no surprise that people mostly forget that the allegations and even trials then failed to convict Michael or provide any evidence that he molested any kids. Lenghty, in-depth investigations were done and nothing surfaced. Settlements out of court affected his credibility of course but technically, it didn’t mean he was guilty either. Then he died in 2009 and things have been quiet on the Jackson child molesting scandal ever since. Until now of course but don’t people come out of the woodwork a little sooner with these allegations when someone dies? But one thing remains constant, there’s still no real evidence or proof that he was guilty. I posted a piece on Facebook about the comparison between Michael Jackson and Jimmy Saville. Even though neither were ever convicted, the sheer weight, number and types of people that came out with stories about Saville’s activities make it a lot easier to believe that he was a paedophile. That has never happened with Jackson though? And that’s despite being around kids probably even more than Saville was..

All Men Are Child Molesters

So here’s what I think the whole thing boils down to. And it’s way bigger than Michael Jackson, this documentary or yours and my opinions on his guilt. ALL MEN ARE CHILD MOLESTERS. It’s an unspoken, taboo subject but it’s what society tells us indirectly or maybe even directly in this case. When is the last time you seen a male working in childcare for example? Michael Jackson is a paedophile because he hung around with kids and even had them in his bedroom. How could he not be a paedophile doing that kind of stuff? People have no concept of the fact that an adult could have a child in his or her bed and not molest him/her, even though those of us who are parents, Aunts or Uncles probably do the same on a routine basis? I for one as a separated father of 3 who lives alone wouldn’t have the courage to invite any of my kids friends over for play dates or birthday parties because I know full well the parents will be iffy unless there’s a female present. It’s a pretty sad and depressing indictment on society if you think about it. That’s not to say people should start letting their kids stay with any old stranger of course but some level of trust would be nice or at least a level playing field between men and women when it comes to kids? Isn’t it possible that Michael Jackson could have had completely innocent motives for spending time with children and just preferred their company to adults? Is that such a massive leap to make?

Predictions

My prediction with the current Jackson controversy is that more and more people will come out in support of Jackson and that the Leaving Neverland film will eventually be pulled apart and that will force the participants and makers to come clean. I also hope that Michael Jackson’s name will be cleared once and for all and that we will see him as a friend of children rather than abuser. I also hope that even in death he helps us all to realise that it’s possible for adults to be friendly with children without molesting them. Call me and Michael idealistic and naive if you like, but those are childlike qualities and the essence of children in general. And who amongst us ever really wanted to grow up or would prefer adulthood to childhood now that we’ve experienced both? I believe Jackson’s only crime was naivety. He was naive to think that spending time with kids wouldn’t attract controversy or false, money making allegations. He should have known or been advised better.

PS

If you fancy hearing a bit more about the other side of this controversy and opening your mind a little more so you can at least make a more informed decision about Michael Jackson, there’s information out there if you look. You could do worse than check out these 2 podcast interviews with Jackson’s niece and nephew by American journalist John Ziegler. I know they are related to Jackson and biased but they speak very openly about it all including Jackson’s faults:

Brandi Jackson Interview
Taj Jackson Interview

Michael Jackson’s Music

Also, thank fuck for Spotify now that it’s harder to check out Jackson’s music on the radio! Here’a a cool Michael Jackson Playlist with some songs I’d never heard myself. I know you can’t judge someone through their creativity alone but listen close to the music and lyrics and see how hard it becomes to think of this man as bad.. Listen at least until there’s more proof of his alleged guilt. If we didn’t separate art from the artist we’d have to stop listening to a hell of a lot of music!

Michael Jackson: The Ultimate Collection, Japanese Edition

Leon

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