Monday, July 13, 2009

The Enigma That Was Michael Jackson

by Diane Dimond

Let's Admit—there was a dark side.

When I was plying my trade as an investigative reporter, the most famous criminal defendant I ever covered was entertainer Michael Jackson. Boy, did I cover him! From breaking the first news about the molestation claims against him back in 1993, to being the first to report the 2003 abuse allegations of a young boy who was a cancer patient when he first met the King of Pop. I was there for every day of the criminal trial and I wrote a book drawing on what I’d learned about the man over the course of the decade I’d investigated his story.

Now, Michael Jackson is dead at age 50.

Since his death, likely related to his long-term drug abuse and anorexia, I’ve been asked to explain the fascination so many have for this Pop Icon. What was it about Jackson that caused the great worldwide crowds of people we saw to drop everything and gather in public forums to mourn his passing? . . .

The answer, of course, is Michael Jackson’s music. And his dancing. And his song-writing ability. He was, quite simply, a self-taught entertainment genius. His talent reached down deep inside us and made us feel good. We couldn’t help but tap our toes to the rhythm, to have his lyrics burned into our memories.

Michael Jackson was also a pioneer on the racial front. He was the first Black artist to break through the MTV barrier, his highly produced music and videos literally brought the races together on both the dance floor and in society. Who among us doesn’t sing along (or do a version of a "cool" dance move) when we hear Jackson tunes like, "A-B-C," "Billy Jean," or "Beat It"?

Here’s another reason for the massive fan base. We watched Michael Jackson grow up. He was ours, no matter what our color, and we reveled in how this wildly talented 10-year-old could captivate us. Later, we became mesmerized by Jackson’s solo career and his obsessively intricate choreography that made his videos, like Thriller, all-time record breakers.

We introduced our kids to his irresistible music and another generation was hooked.

But Michael Jackson was obsessive about other things too—things that don’t make us feel so good. He was accused of one of the most insidious crimes imaginable: the sexual abuse of a child; not just once, but twice. And from my years of reporting on the case, I can tell you there were other young boys with eerily similar stories of abuse by Jackson, sons of parents too reticent, too embarrassed, or scared to press charges.

In public, Jackson flaunted his fascination with male children. Even after his narrow escape from prosecution in 1993, for which he paid out about 30 million dollars to avoid a trial, he flamboyantly continued to pose with and travel with unidentified young boys. He openly declared there was “nothing wrong” with a 40-year-old man sleeping with another’s boy. He called us “ignorant” for not understanding. Jackson seemed to be daring us to stop him. No one could.

Then he started to collect children of his own. Jackson reportedly paid up to 10 million dollars to a nurse named Debbie Rowe in return for her agreement to be inseminated with the sperm of his dermatologist, Dr. Arnold Klein, and to give him two children and then disappear. His third child was reportedly born to a surrogate mother and another mystery sperm donor. No one stopped Jackson from doing this either. He had the wealth and the celebrity clout to indulge his obsessions.

Michael Jackson never did like to be told what to do. That probably stemmed from his iron-fisted father’s cruel upbringing. So, despite warnings from some in his entourage, Jackson went about his drug taking, children buying, shopping binges and other bizarre behavior and we seemed to look right past it . . . because of the glorious music he gave us. We telegraphed our approval of his behavior by continuing to support and adore him. We set no boundaries and he didn’t recognize any.

Separating the art from the artist has long been a dilemma. History shows we can love the art and not the man. Vincent Van Gogh was certifiably insane. The artist Caravaggio had a wicked temper and committed murder. Yet both were also celebrated as brilliant artists. In the case of Michael Jackson, anointed with titles like King and Superstar, the admiration caused him to believe the rules didn’t apply to him.

In our adoration of the artist, we shouldn’t forget that men of bad character do valuable things that benefit society in all sorts of ways. They build fabulous institutions, they write meaningful books, they entertain us in ways no others can. Good deeds seep out in spite of their flaws. That doesn’t mean their bad acts are okay.


FleaStiff said...

>In our adoration of the artist,
Uh, sorry but I don't engage in adoration of people, particularly those who simply have good publicity agents.
And as for artist, I've not seen, to my knowledge, any of his paintings. Or perhaps you meant artist in the sense of "performance artist" wherein some sort of cavorting is dubbed moonwalking and referred to as art. Sorry, but for me moon walking is solely the province of astronauts. And Pop-Art still remains little but soup lables and press-releases. Just because America sells far more salted peanuts than caviar doesn't alter the low quality of the peanut. Music may appeal to the masses, largely because it is coupled with videos featuring street gangs, but such music tends to sell to those people who admire gang members. Such people define neither art nor culture.

> we shouldn’t forget that men of bad character do valuable things that benefit society in all sorts of ways.
Ofcourse they do. If they do those good things successfully we call them politicians and philanthropists.
If they don't, we often call them felons. Yet neither the term philanthropist nor felon alters either the character of the act or the character of the actor in any way.

>That doesn’t mean their bad acts are okay.
Oh, I don't know about that!
When a notorious smuggler avoided his impending financial ruin by instigating an act of piracy our school books dubbed it a "party" thus rendering the criminal acts okay. When FDR cut off the shipment of scrap steel that Japan needed for its war in China it was known that it would provoke a war in the Pacific, but this was dubbed "good" because it would enable America to be ensnared in a European war.
Bad acts are not altered, but our views of them often are.

Anonymous said...

Elvis married a minor, when he was an adult, and nobody looked at him like they do Jackson.

Michael Jackson was acquitted, right?

Both of their "victims" were allowed by their loved ones to spend time with these two "kings"; both are still shrined, and unfortunately, both served themselves with a death penalty, it seems.

I think society has a hard time wrapping their brains around people being more than just good or bad. I am not condoning either individual, but I think if they were guilty, justice has be-fallen them, and let's just let them go down in history the way that they will anyway.

Anonymous said...

Four things I don't talk about at work:

Sex, politics, religion and Michael Jackson.

TLTL said...

I don't think anyone is condoning MJs "bad acts". He is indeed a multifaceted individual with genious musical talent. People want to celebrate him for that, so what? Many people have a dark side as well as redeeming characteristics and MJ is no different. Nobody is calling him a hero so why all the need to convince people he is a bad person. It isn't like we come from another planet and aren't aware of all the bad things that have been published about him. How people feel about MJ is a choice we make, so don't begrudge those who choose not to condemn him.

Rose said...

Good for you for making light of all the facts.

Regardless of whose parents let them spend the night with "the king" (neglectful, indeed), it was still MJ's behavior that pulled the trigger, so to say.

Good work, DD.

Delilah said...

To me, Diane Dimond is the expert in the field here concerning Michael Jackson. I'm sure she could write about him for a long time, and maybe she will.

Hers is the entry on this subject that I've been waiting for and now that it's been done, I hope and pray that Women In Crime Ink will address some of the other real crimes occurring in our country that will never see the light of day in the mainstream media.

These victims need your help and attention more than the Jackson family ever will.


California Girl said...

Why would someone who dances while holding on to their crotch be considered a role model for youth?
We have all heard he had a skin disorder, it would not have caused the over all lightening of his skin. He married two white women. He has three white children, none of whom are related to him biologically. Did it occur to anyone that he essentially valued "white" over "black"? (pretty sad I think).
If you were accused of being a child molester, then acquitted, wouldn't you modify any behavior that might suggest you are a molester? He didn't change his ways - he still had unrelated male children over for overnight visits.
He left a huge amount of debt due to spending on really absurd and unnecessary things. Wonder what the world would be like if he had spent that money on charities? (yes, I know all the whiners replying to this will mention how he gave to charity - when it suited his publicity purposes). While his stuff is supposedly selling well now, will it cover the debt or will the bloodsuckers get everything left over?
MJ had some great talent but he was human and not some saint. To have a legislator suggest we honor him on the national front is pretty absurd. The folks who are using his death to profit are pretty much the same bloodsuckers who he dealt with in life.
Jackson was never the "king of pop" for most people. As for Elvis marrying a minor, he had her parents permission at the time. Jackson married Lisa Marie so he could cash in on the tie.
MJ died from drug use. He chose that path. No one forced him to do so. He is not a suitable role model for children.
I am sure that there will be some huge response to this but not everyone thinks he was so great and frankly most people are sick of hearing about him and his family.

TLTL said...

People choose their role models and it is their perogative to do so. Not everything about MJ was bad. I think he was a very sad person with a load of money. He was, I am assuming, an addict and addicts typically leave people wondering why they make the choices they do. They are often conflicted emotionally and I suspect it is very difficult to live their life. So, perhaps not being so judgmental is the best solution for all who don't like the man. We have no idea what he has been through to get where he was.

Ajlouny said...

The feelings of who this person is so conflicted. Great entertainer, or child molester. How do you morn someone, when you are so unsure.

Anonymous said...

So some people feel it's ok to turn a blind eye to freakish behavior and what can only be considered as truly inappropriate behavior with children.

Wonder if the Michael Jackson apologists would have allowed their children to spend the night at Neverland Ranch and Michael's bed?

So because he is a talented celebrity, we are supposed to turn the other way in how MJ conducted himself.

TLTL said,
"Nobody is calling him a hero so why all the need to convince people he is a bad person."

Really? Have you been watching the coverage? Have you been watching and listening to what his fans have said? They most certainly called MJ their hero.

TLTL said "How people feel about MJ is a choice we make, so don't begrudge those who choose not to condemn him."

Yes, and you had the same right to love OJ Simpson too. No one is telling you who to foolishly idolize. You are being presented the fact. It's not DD's fault if MJ worshipers can't handle the truth.

TLTL said ... "People choose their role models and it is their perogative to do so. Not everything about MJ was bad."

Hmm, I thought no one was calling him a hero? Now he's a role model.

Funny, one should have peace of mind in that they can leave their children alone with hero's and role models. Just a thought.

MJ lived a sad and pathetic life. It just goes to show the world that fame is not everything. This should be a lesson to all that worship at the alter of celebrity. However, just because he had an abusive childhood does not mean that he has the right to continue the cycle with other children.

If the crimes were committed by someone other than a person who could moonwalk and sing, the verdicts would have been much different.

Some of you people really need to get over your celeb worship. These people put their clothes on the same as you. And guess what ... they do not give you a seconds thought.

In the end, it is said that MJ did some good. Gee, the same can be said with most dictators too. Sorry if I put children's welfare and safety at the top of the list.


Anonymous said...

I ask myself ...maybe it was good that the child molester was medicated to death?

I see better dancers on America loves Talent.

I am praying for his children. Maybe with all the world watching the courts will be careful about who they "GIVE" them too.

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Anonymous said...

I am disgusted at how all of you are assuming Michael was a child molester. I have actually been researching and it seems pretty obvious to me that he wasn't. I think you should read what Deepa Chokra and his son Gotham (who toured with him) said plus a book of a couple of people who researched much deeper. And you should understand that everybody is innocent until proven guilty. And I think you should look at yourselves in the mirror instead of pointing at Michael. And by the way, his performance of that song in an award ceremony (dressed in blue) is a masterpiece.

Anonymous said...

Whoever wrote this blog, SLACKED on their research, maybe a good interview with Aphrodite Jones might help,people tend to point fingers, judge and choose not to find the truth.

I was in awe when I read about the 30 million dollar settlement! For crying out loud, his insurance company settled it out of fear for future loss of profits and they wanted Michael to move on. Diane Dimond is NOT your best person to turn to about this subject. He had vitligo, covered it with make-up and also if he chose to get plastic surgery, he wouldn't be the first or the last, why do many people have such a bad taste in their mouths about a person who only wanted to help children and the reason behind him hanging around children was because he felt that they did not lie (but never counted on selfish, sick, and greedy parents behind many of these allegations)and also found their friendship genuine.

There are many resources to look into about him and those allegations.