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.
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.