Friday Firesmith – The Sins of Michael Jackson

I can remember being a little kid and listening to “The Jackson 5” on the radio. Top Forty music didn’t impress me much then and it never has. But then there was the movie about a rat, “Ben” and Michael Jackson did the title song of the soundtrack. My sister listened to that song on her 45 player until she wore the grooves off of the single. I was scarred for life.

Years later, just as Disco was dying a slow and painful death, Jackson put out an album, I think it was 1979 or so, “Off The Wall”, which pretty much started the ball rolling for Jackson to be one of the more serious players on Top Forty.

In 1982, when Jackson released “Thriller”, there were signs that things were getting big, and signs that things were getting weird. I was in the Army and there were men who listened to that cassette tape until I was ready to scream. A friend of mine scored four tickets to the concert and blew practically every dime he owned (he was a Private in the Army, we aren’t talking really big bucks except locally) and could not shut up about the show.

Five years later, in 1987, the descent into madness began. Jackson released the album, “Bad” and the rumors about his offstage behavior began to bubble up past his fame. He bought a chimp, reportedly tried to buy the bones of the Elephant Man (untrue by the way) and his skin began to change color. Jackson wore a surgical mask and sunglasses most of the time, and his voice began to sound more like a woman’s than a man when he spoke. He bought “Neverland Ranch” and shortly afterward released a truly bizarre statement to the press saying he “bled for the children of the world”. Rumors of sleepovers with ten-year-old boys began to surface, which Jackson called the sleepovers “really quite charming”.

In1993, he married Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of Elvis, and there was a truly bizarre video released of the two of them making out, where Lisa Marie looked like she was in the small bed with a large spider. The wheels had come off the cart. Lawsuits were settled, more allegations popped up, and Jackson’s drug use became not only common knowledge, but it clearly affected his ability to perform.

In 2009, I was at the Y when news of Jackson’s death came on television. Another overrated singer and dancer had died, leaving a trail of wasted money and wasted talent. Excess and a pathetic need to be the most famous pop star of all time, drove this man to spend his wealth and his life in reckless disregard to the damage he did to many children.

The ability to entertain has zero moral worth. If that wasn’t true, television would have made saints of us a long time ago. Entertainment is a distraction, not a virtue. Entertainment is fun, and it is exciting, but it isn’t the same as ethical behavior.

Jackson did great works for charities. He gave a lot of money away for the right reasons. Yet both his generosity and his music will forever be tainted by the deprivation of his personal life. There’s no way to balance or ignore, there’s no way to explain away or mitigate his sexual predation upon young boys.

We are the sins of Michael Jackson, because we keep forgetting that entertainment is not the same as ethical behavior.

Take Care,

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.


8 thoughts on “Friday Firesmith – The Sins of Michael Jackson”

  1. How many times have we seen stories like his play out? They are just like everyone else except on a larger scale. Having the means to make your every wish come true is disaster waiting to happen.

  2. Wholeheartedly agree. There are many examples of this. M.J. is just one. No amount of money makes what these predators do to children go away.

  3. MJ was extremely talented, and worked hard perfecting his craft, but people into old fuddy duddy music wouldn’t appreciate that. Never saw him in concert but what he put on video was amazing. I’m told there wasn’t much editing as he made everyone rehearse along with him until they had it down pat.

    Of course morals and ethics vary greatly around the world, some of which just boggle my mind that they are accepted community standards anywhere. Where did you acquire your standards. At least the basics likely came from your parents and the parents of your peers, because back then your friends mom would smack you just as hard as your own if you didn’t behave. Where did MJ get his basics? Parents steering him into making money for them in music? Show biz types only concerned what he could do for them, which he was surrounded with constantly?

    I’ve read a number of “experts” claim he preferred the company of children because he felt they were the only ones who weren’t trying to con him, weren’t trying to get something from him constantly. I think if that’s true he was naive. If not the kids, certainly the parents of those kids were angling for a reward, especially after accusations surfaced. What he did or didn’t do with those kids I have no way of knowing. Thinking back to what my peers and I experimented with at puberty I can imagine several scenarios but doubt if any of them would be permanently traumatic.

    Show biz kid with money, toadies, and lack of guidance, follows whims.
    I don’t approve, but I understand.

    • Yes, MJ’s out-sized talent far exceeds very many entertainers of both yesterday and today. He was a perfectionist who drove himself past physical limits. Showcasing his skills became an obsession and with all his other mental health demands, helped to put him over the edge.
      For sure, his father is known to have basically deprived him of his childhood. He was only concerned with what Michael could do for him, not the more normal, other way around. It was often said that MJ liked to hang out with kids as it was a way to (re-)live the childhood he never had, as was his Neverland Ranch, which is why it was named that.
      It didn’t make sense to me either that parents allowed their sons to sleep over with MJ. I believe they were, the same as Michael’s father, looking for money, or were simply so star-struck that they let their child stay with him for the vicarious thrill.
      Michael Jackson’s story is a true tragedy. He was deprived of so much. All the fame and money in the world could not possibly fill the vast emptiness left by the lack of love, experiences and normal social interactions that should have populated his childhood. He was highly intelligent, brimming with raw talent, and determined to prove his worth, yet never even got to enjoy his life, despite his wealth and opportunity.
      We can never know what really happened in those bedrooms. If the sexual behavior did take place, my heart aches for those boys. They were left unprotected by their parents and deceived by their idol. The permanent trauma would be horrendous. As you say, Bruce, if true, the behavior was quite understandable, while at the same time, for the victims, sadly, disastrous.

      • Lady Di,
        Once again, even if he was blind to what his own childhood did to him, Jackson had to know what he was doing was both wrong and damaging. Jackson could have simply stopped performing after his first multimillion dollar paycheck. He could have sought professional help. But he kept throwing as much gasoline on the fire as he could, until the light blinded him, and the flames consumed him.

        Would you fare any better if you gained that sort of power and fame? Would I?

        But does it make a difference to justice if we are all flawed perhaps not as much as he?
        I still say Jackson does not survive with people like me on a jury.

    • I’ve always thought, Bruce, those people who refer to children as innocent have either totally forgotten childhood or hope others do. But no matter what environment the man was raised in, there no way he didn’t realize that sleepovers with small boys wasn’t “charming”. He knew the amount of fame and fortune he had made it predatory, and to the extreme.

      Poor kid, raised harshly to become a star and scarred for it? Yes, I agree completely, but that’s not going to get past a jury with me on it.


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