Michael Jackson Makes Us All Look Bad


Musically, I don’t give a shit that Michael Jackson’s dead.  Had he never sung or recorded a note I doubt my life would be any the worse, and as a bonus I would never have had to grit my teeth through those shitty Jackson 5 numbers that were forever being played in godawful student nightclubs during my youth.  So, erm, yes.  Not that fussed, although I accept that a lot of people are fussed and I am not criticising them for their reaction, assuming it’s from a purely musical perspective.  As a friend of mine recently reminded me – I have no idea how similar revelations about, say, Bob Dylan might affect my perception of his music.  Confusion, I think, is the only word that springs to mind.

Michael Jackson was barely about the music, though.  He was about the circus: the madness, the latent racism, the paedophilia, and that bizarre combination of Messiah Complex and twisted self-loathing.

I have never understood why black people weren’t more offended by his desperate attempts to deny that he was one of them.  He turned himself into a simpering, brittle white girl and I personally have heard very, very little condemnation of the racism that seems to me to embody.  Then again, maybe he wasn’t racist exactly, maybe he was just plain nuts.

For a society that villifies paedophilia to the extent that both British and American society do, I am pretty amazed at how little impact Jackson’s dalliances in that vice seem to have tarnished his image.  I have done some very, very superficial research and there seems to be no concrete proof around that he actually did commit acts of extreme sexual assault, although little doubt that he definitely transgressed at the minor end of that sliding scale, so I guess it is possible that he was so spectacularly, childishly naive as to believe that sharing a bed with little boys and plying them with alcohol could possibly be interepreted generously, and that he never actually did anything beyond weird.  Possible.  Just.

It seems, however, perfectly valid to read about the chain of events surrounding his various court cases and interpret them in the following light: that he paid twenty million dollars to ensure that his rape of young boys never made it as far as the courts.  Because of confidentiality orders and the difficulties of actually establishing the truth in such cases, I guess we’ll never know.

But this is where Jackson’s ghoulish face becomes something of a mirror held up to our own society, because given the aforementioned hysteria surrounding the barest suspicion of paedophilia, this whole thing obviously stinks of double standards.  Parents, even after it began to sound suspiciously like he actually was interfering with the boys he invited to his crazy ranch, would still shunt their little darlings into harm’s way.  As I said, it’s possible he was actually much more innocent than it would appear, but fuck me you wouldn’t make such a high stakes bet with the rest of your own child’s emotional life, would you?

So in a world where you’d expect him to be run out of town by an angry mob as if he were a Newport paediatrician, how did Jackson escape?  And how the hell did he continue to have young lads fed to him like some sort of mythical kiddie-fiddling dragon creature?  Well I can only assume it is the human animal’s remarkable instinct to spinelessly capitulate to people in positions of power and influence – the same pathetic instinct which causes us to worship celebrity in its own right, irrespective of its being linked to any sort of perceptible worthiness or talent which might render it legitimate.

Jackson got a remarkably easy ride for what looks for all the world like full-blown paedophilia and was definitely at bare minimum a compulsion to indulge in wildly inappropriate behaviour involving young children.  This was both before and after his death and and it reflects pretty fucking dismally on society that this should be the case.  It reflects even worse when you compare it to the hysterical over-reaction we tend to get in the other direction when the accused person has the naivety not to have taken the precaution of becoming ludicrously famous beforehand.

Is it that Jackson’s evident insanity reveals that we all secrectly know that paedophilia is actually a malfunction of the brain which needs to be treated as a disease, rather than some manifestation of inherent evil in the motivations of the individuals it afflicts?  And that maybe we embark on our paedophile witch-hunts out of some ugly combination of a predilection for mob-violence and a desperate need to elevate ourselves by viciously destroying others?  Just maybe.  Because it was pretty clear, I suppose, that if Jacko was a paedo then it was because he was sick, not evil.  Or was it just because his fame turned us into a society of simpering sycophants who would excuse anything of the rich and famous, partly because they can buy the justice system, but mostly just because they are rich and famous?

Either way, our reactions to the man and his mores doesn’t show us in a very good light at all.

From his perspective, however, I suppose you could just about argue that his death was probably, in balance, a good thing.  He was artistically spent and his soul had been devouring itself for years, a horrifying act of self-mutilation which he displayed to us all whenever we cared to look, in the form of his deformed and frankly cadaverous face.  When I saw that he was dead I was frankly relieved for the man.  Not because he ‘deserved to die’ in any sense, simply because I could see no evidence that had he lived any longer, be it another five years or another forty, that his life was going to do anything other than get steadily worse until even if he wasn’t actually dead yet, he quite probably would wish himself so.

Fairport Convention – Crazy Man Michael