As Jackson is recalled, don't forget his victims-by Robert Rivard
Web Posted: 07/05/2009 12:00 CDT
As Jackson is recalled, don't forget his victims
I'm not indifferent to the talent and legacy of Michael Jackson. “Thriller” was the first music video that truly mesmerized me, especially viewing it for the first time from a war zone in Central America.
Like most baby boomers, I watched as Jackson metamorphosed from a squeaky adolescent in the Jackson 5 to a freakish adult recluse who thrilled the world with his moon walking and theatrical stage extravaganzas even as he spent millions trying to escape from what he saw in the mirror.
But don't expect the Express-News to send a reporter to Los Angeles, ground zero for the worldwide outpouring of grief in the wake of Jackson's sudden death at age 50. Don't look for a special section or keepsake poster in the Express-News either.
Even worse than trying to buy a different skin color and, every few years, a new face, Jackson used his fame and wealth to pursue his obsession with young boys.
That obsession led to charges that Jackson sexually abused a boy lured to his Neverland bed, the center of his private, Peter Pan fantasy world. He was never convicted, but the charges derailed his career. He reportedly paid out tens of millions in settlements with his alleged victims.
I wonder what those boys turned men are thinking today as they observe the adulation for Jackson as he takes on the same outsized celebrity in death that he enjoyed while still alive.
Sexual abuse victims live their entire lives with the scars of lost innocence, with the consequences of being cheated by adults they trusted. It doesn't matter if it's a bus driver, a baby sitter, a teacher or a priest. Or the King of Pop.
Yet too many in our society give celebrities a pass. Even when they abuse kids.
Social media networks went crazy with the news of Jackson's death, which led me to post my own tweet, acknowledging Jackson's enormous contribution to pop culture while also suggesting we remember the singer's dark side in any assessment.
Now is not the time, fans fired back, reminding me of the difference between real journalism and self-absorbed bloggers who value their own opinion more than a fully reported story.
Now is the time.
I don't object to people playing his music and videos, or turning on a new generation to this amazing, one-of-a-kind entertainer.
But let's tell the whole story. For that, we won't need a lottery ticket.
Maybe some of the wonderful organizations that exist to assist victims of child sexual abuse should hold their own memorial. They might not be able to fill an NBA arena, but a lot of us would support their effort.
California, meanwhile, is broke. It's paying its bills with IOUs. Seems to me the state and the city of Los Angeles would have more important priorities than throwing a party for an entertainer whose talent was always shadowed by his own destructive self-loathing.
Robert Rivard is the editor of the Express-News. E-mail him at [email protected]. Or reach him on Twitter at @editorrivard.
As Jackson is recalled, don't forget his victims
Finally, a voice of reason.
Please. Nobody goes to the Express News for hard hitting journalism. I also have my doubts about the molestation charges since I'm not entirely sure MJ could be sexual in the first place. I'm also not going to feel bad for people who took settlements instead of pursuing charges. No conviction? "The burden of proof is on the prosecution."
Wow.. I have to go on the record here.
It's nice to see that Mr. Rivard can do what not a single person on the jury of Jackson's trial could do.. Say Jackson was guilty of child molestation.
If you talk to insiders in Hollywood they all say that Jackson was forced to pay the first kid off. That put a huge target on his back. Actually his insurance company wrote the check since they were the ones who were nervous and insisting that he do it. Jackson wanted to go to court over it, but they (insurers and handlers) felt like too much crap would be dragged across the media scape. Only now do we hear just how right they were about that (given reports of just how many skeletons were in his closet).
Micheal Jackson may have been gay- there is some strong evidence of that according to people who actually know him and have worked with him in professional capacities through the years, and one only need look at how Michael reacted when Boy George tried to "out" him to see this was a very sensitive spot for him.
Micheal Jackson may have been a drug abuser. I might be too if my life was from a mental standpoint as screwy as his was. More people sued Michael Jackson than just about any other person alive. That is a fact. Micheal comes from an "entertainment" family- 'nuf said. His father, according to the same group that has worked with him, was an abusive and controlling man (reports are that he has chilled in his old age).
Micheal was messed up physically, some due to his own mental issues with self esteem and plastic surgery and some due to that fire incident that burned the back of his scalp and left him partially bald for the rest of his life. Yes. Those wigs and hats helped him conceal that.
But was Micheal a child molester who left a trail of "victims" as Mr. Rivard is so quick to point out? Let's just say THANK GOD Mr. Rivard isn't judge and jury on that one. In addition, THANK GOD this is America where you are innocent until proven guilty (at least in theory).
One thing I know is that for all those things he was, Michael Jackson was still a musical and creative genius... And dare I ask, what geniuses in history WEREN'T tortured souls with "issues?"
Maybe someday it will be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Jackson was indeed a child molester, but until that day happens and even after it, it's a news man's job to cover the news-- regardless of his opinions.
From Ed Bradley's 60 Minutes interview with Michael Jackson:
In re-reading the transcript of this interview, Jackson clearly says that he saw nothing wrong with sleeping in the same bed with his young overnight guests. I find it horrifying that he freely admits this (with his lawyer present) and am suspicious that he would pay out such large amounts of money if he was innocent of any wrong-doing.
I'm not even going to open the whole "What has he done to his own children?" topic.
Innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
Unless you present firsthand evidence that Jackson did, in fact, molest those children I don't see how it isn't libel.
Is it really that far-fetched that parents with dollar signs in their eyes went after Michael Jackson, since they were probably advised that MJ would settle because he would never let this go to trial and they would be set for life? I mean, I'm not saying MJ is guilty or innocent...I don't know.
But I think it's a greater possibility that MJ was the victim of a frivolous lawsuit because he was (at the time) one of the wealthiest, powerful men in the world, rather than a pedophile.
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