7:04 PST February 13: Wow, everyone! Thank you for the response! If you’d like to read more op-eds on MJ (namely about the Sony/Cascio lawsuit) just click the Michael Jackson tag! Additionally, Quora recently granted me permission to create discussion spaces, and I have opened one for MJ-related topics: The Truth Runs Marathons.
As a good chunk of the world is aware, “Leaving Neverland” screened during the first week of the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. In it is nearly four hours’ worth of allegedly damning…testimony? Content? Guided by its two teary-eyed stars: Wade Robson and James Safechuck.
There’s already been much written about the documentary itself. HBO went against their better judgment and has scheduled to air in early March.
Unfortunately, much like many things in Jackson’s life, there is no one-size-fits-all, simple discussion of this matter. Because it centers around Jackson, there is no way to reduce the spectacle and sensationalism. Even in death, he is still larger-than-life: due to the content of the film, Sundance provided immediate on-site counseling for anyone traumatized, standing in the wings at the ready.
And, you know: I get it. True or not, a four-hour documentary that chronicles alleged sexual abuse reminds me a little too much of A Clockwork Orange-style aversion therapy for good ol’ chellovek Alex. It can be a lot to take. I had to take a break watching the recent Ted Bundy series on Netflix due to my own experience with malignant narcissists, previous abuse triggers, and the creative direction of the series. It was simply too much to handle at one time I wouldn’t have been able to sit through a full series binge either without assistance. But I had no warning and certainly no pre-emptive hand-holding at the ready.
So, sure, why not. Let’s just go ahead and signal to the audience in advance that what they are about to see is Weird and Very Bizarre, simply because it features Michael Jackson.
The Harvey Weinstein documentary did not, as I understand, have the same assistance immediately on-hand.
Yeah, that guy. That Harvey Weinstein. Remember him? The top of this entire pyramid of rightfully angry sexual abuse victims coming forward and working to removing their abusers from power. That guy. Remember him?
Oh you mean 4 days before Harvey Weinstein’s trial hearing on March 7th?— Jessica Vill (@jbunzie) February 10, 2019
Anddd isn’t Harvey Weinstein the guy who produced YOUR show “The Entourage”?
Wow that’s a very convenient coincidence that all the lies about MJ are drowning all the bad press about Weinstein… https://t.co/A0RV3EeYBU
I’m not going to re-hash what the Michael Jackson fan community has risen to remind the audience of, in the most simple terms:
- Michael Jackson was acquitted in 2005, and jurors would still deliver the same verdict today.
- That Wade Robson testified for the defense in 2005, then changed his mind and decided to sue the Estate after an epiphany and that the cases were thrown out.
- Michael Jackson was not charged with a crime in 1993 because a Grand Jury refused twice to indict him based on lack of evidence.
- The FBI opened a file on him and in 10 years of investigation, they found absolutely nothing.
If you believe any of those statements are untrue, you are free to investigate them to your satisfaction. Underneath those facts are scores of evidence of extortion, deliberate mishandling of evidence, and blatant attempts to frame Jackson. You will discover the role that Wade Robson held in all of the events, that he has always been a known figure in the fan base, that he was one of the defense’s strongest witnesses.
None of these are technicalities or the case of hysteria or blind loyalty. These were organizations tasked with finding wrongdoing and holding the accused or suspected accountable, and there was nothing to be found.
What is the purpose of this constant desire to examine Michael Jackson’s behavior posthumously, that has been established time and time again to not be criminal? Unusual–sure. Abusive, lewd? No.
And if it was–what exactly do you want to see happen? Do you want him exhumed from Forest Lawn in Glendale, sealed under a full meter of concrete and marble and thrown in jail?
Jackson’s eldest nephew, Taj, summed it up:
Not surprised that the hate is coming from two of the most racist countries in the world. Look at who is throwing stones, and ask yourself why. Ask yourself why are they going after a dead black man PROVEN INNOCENT, when there are plenty of known white offenders in the industry.— Taj Jackson (@tajjackson3) January 30, 2019
Regardless of your opinion of him or his innocence, another “Michael Jackson” in our lifetimes will not happen. Whether you think he was an angel or saint among humans, an embodiment of tragic artistic genius, or just some weirdo prancing onstage–there is no denying that his presence and social phenomena are inherently unique and we cannot re-create it.
Michael Jackson died in 2009. It’s been almost ten years. Did you hear about it? It might have come round to you eventually; that is if your AIM and Internet service ever came back online after some strange traffic glitch on June 25 that year. Later, it was lamented as the story of the decade.
What, exactly, do you want to happen if Robson and Safechuck’s claims were true? Would you like to see better law enforcement, effective proactivity to protect vulnerable children and adults?
What about swift and equal consequences for current and repeat offenders?
Is that what you really want?
These alleged offenders are alive and well. Some are facing charges and we can only hope they will experience swift justice.
But not all of them.
Some, in fact, have been fully forgiven and handed the keys to their careers back as if nothing had ever happened, or that their self-imposed hiatuses, essentially big-kid timeouts, were enough.
Throughout history, public judgments, hangings, and executions have been a community’s primary social and entertainment event. Especially in the hands of Puritan colonists. There is nothing more White America loves than a good ol’ public hanging. Except that now we fear the reality of death to the point of pretending it doesn’t exist, so in the modern age we sate ourselves with the conversion of sanitized and official functions. If the court of public opinion brings down a conviction, so it must be true, and capital punishment to be swift and immediate.
We have moved the slaves from the fields to prisons (where they still work in fields). We allow people of color to climb the ladders next to ours, only to knock them over or saw rungs in half and laugh at them when they fall. If they are single parents, their children will pay the price for their success. We collect their mug and paparazzi shots, scrutinize their taste for European art then shame them for researching and celebrating and honoring what traces of their own culture and ancestry they can find.
Centuries on, we force more and more assimilation. We have learned we can break people from the inside without ever laying a hand on them and let it end the same way: a public and humiliating death.
Michael Jackson did not just affect culture, he is a culture on his own. He has reached the highest echelon. As a person with not just West African, but also Native American and European heritage, he has transcended the most modern Western ideals: wealth, individualism, and a level of fame that the Beatles think they had when they compared themselves to Jesus. Eternal infamy.
In turn, we consumed him in the most modern of Western ways. He is the only person in living human history to reach such heights and in it, White America has forgotten he was human and thus, finite. We stomp and clap for his talent, crave his artistry, laud him for breaking every barrier we deliberately put in his way, then turn around, lash him, and demand get back in line or ascend the gallows.
Even now, when he is long dead and there is nothing left to take, we expect him to pay the price for others’ crimes. For our own.
“The Michael Jackson cacophony is fascinating in that it is not about Jackson at all… He will not swiftly be forgiven for having turned so many tables, for he damn sure grabbed the brass ring, and the man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo has nothing on Michael. All that noise is about America, as the dishonest custodian of black life and wealth; the blacks, especially males, in America; and the burning, buried American guilt; and sex and sexual roles and sexual panic; money, success and despair…”