Friday, June 26, 2009
I'm going to start this post with a plain statement: I don't believe that Michael Jackson was a pedophile at all. I don't believe that he ever had any type of inappropriate sexual relations with any child whatsoever. And I hope that the man, who I do believe was a tortured soul thanks to a traumatic upbringing, is finally at peace now in God's glorious heaven.
Michael Jackson, the 'King of Pop' and a true American cultural icon, died yesterday at the age of 50 of what is believed to have been cardiac arrest. Those who saw him in recent months have reported that he looked skeletal, emaciated, and unhealthy. A fan who got to watch him on Monday in training for a hoped-for comeback tour said that she thought "he could die."
Michael lived a life mixed with blessings and curses. He was blessed with phenomenal gifts in his natural talents for singing and dancing. Unfortunately, these very gifts led to the curse of his father's abuse. The elder Jackson unmercifully whipped and beat him as a young boy in a misguided effort to push him to stardom. His father's abuse, emotional and verbal as well as physical, would reverberate through the entirety of his life.
I remember as a young boy watching television cartoons of Michael and his brothers, their singing and dancing, and hearing their songs performed as the 'Jackson Five'. Hits that he recorded both with the group and in his solo efforts in those 1970's days included "ABC", "I Want You Back", "Rockin' Robin", "Ben", "Dancin' Machine", and the gorgeous "Got to be There" as AM radio staples of my youth.
In the 1980's, Jackson's solo career truly took off into another stratosphere. His emergence as a young adult solo artist, combined with his talents for dancing, made him a natural leader in the emerging video music industry being pioneered by the folks at MTV. His albums "Off the Wall", "Thriller", and "Bad" made him the biggest act on earth. "Thriller" remains the biggest-selling record in history to this date.
Jackson was involved in charitable efforts far too numerous to completely mention, but one of the highlights was his leadership along with Lionel Richie in the "We Are the World" song and video to raise money for battling hunger in Africa.
He moved into the 90's still on top of the world with a Super Bowl performance, and recognition from President George H.W. Bush as the "Entertainer of the Decade" for the 80's. But he also began to come under increased scrutiny from tabloid newspapers who reported on the bizarre (buying the bones of the 'Elephant Man') to the sublime (he slept in a hyperbolic chamber) to the ridiculous (a marriage to Priscilla Presley) to the criminal (child molestation charges.)
The scandalous child sex charges were either settled out of or dismissed in court, with the father of one 13-year old boy being caught on tape saying "If I go through with this, I win big-time. There's no way I lose. I will get everything I want and they will be destroyed forever...Michael's career will be over." At every court proceeding he ever attended, Michael's friends and family members were there fully supporting him, and he was never convicted on any of these charges in any incident. But as with most anyone who ever faces these types of charges publicly, he was never able to overcome their stigma.
Michael's life began to deteriorate as he battled physical ailments with vitilio and lupus, the eating disorder anorexia, and body dismporphic disorder. Through all this, he was able to become the father of three children: Michael Joseph 'Prince' Jackson, Jr (son) and Paris Michael Katherine Jackson (daughter) with Debbie Rowe, and Prince Michael 'Blanket' Jackson II who he said was conceived through a surrogate via artificial insemination.
Michael Jackson was absolutely a lightening rod for controversy, some of it of his own doing, as when he hung 'Blanket' by one arm from a hotel balcony, and some of it imagined or exaggerated by the media. He was also a victim of child abuse, and of a lifetime of physical ailments that not only contributed to, but directly caused his personal deterioration.
Michael Jackson was also one of the greatest entertainment talents in human history. His dance movements such as the "Moonwalk" are legendary, the stuff that has been admired and copied by professionals and amateurs for decades now. His alternating strong and sensitive voice has recorded dozens and dozens of hit songs, including peak-of-career hits like "Billie Jean", "Black and White", "Man in the Mirror", "Smooth Criminal", "I Wanna Rock With You", "You Are Not Alone", "Beat It", "Rock With You", and many others.
Jackson will be remembered for generations to come as one of the greatest entertainers of all-time, but amazingly he was not the only big celebrity to pass away yesterday. Farrah Fawcett, the beautiful blond bombshell who burst onto the scene in the mid-1970's with the original television series "Charlie's Angels", passed away after a lengthy battle with cancer. She was just 62 years of age, joining the 50-year old Jackson as stars taken long before their time. May they both rest in peace.