Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Troubled Life

The news continues to be dominated by the death of Michael Jackson. You knew that when someone of his stature dies, there will be tributes for days and days, and not just in the print media but also on TV and radio.

His death reminds me a lot of the passing of Elvis Presley. Like Elvis, Jackson's death was sudden and unexpected. He also died a young man, and the reports coming out in the wake of his passing suggests that Jackson was as strung out on as much prescription medicine as Elvis was.

It's a shame that a man who had as much talent as he did, and was loved by millions of fans (like Elvis) dies like this.

Michael Jackson was also a troubled individual. Everyone knows about his strange behavior: dozens of operations, the pet monkey, the hyperbaric sleep chamber, etc.

We may never know the real truth as to exactly what happened with him. You know there will be books written by family, friends, famous authors and hangers-on. It will be a cottage industry, the way Elvis Presley turned into one after his passing.

What will be speculated on from now until eternity about him will be the sexual abuse allegations that were thrown his way in 1993.

A 13-year-old boy named Jordan Chandler and his father accused Jackson of that in 1993, accusing him of oral sex and masturbation with the boy. The boy famously gave a description to police of Jackson's genitals as the case was taking off. But by the beginning of 1994, the case was suddenly settled and the LAPD closed it, as Jackson paid the boy's family a settlement that neither could reveal (anywhere from $10 million to $25 million, depending upon who you believe).

Jackson said he just wanted the case to disappear, but why would anyone in their right mind, if they are totally innocent of these type of hideous charges, pay off someone to the tune of an eight figure settlement? To me, it was obvious that Jackson had something to hide, and it would all come out in open court if the case reached that far. Paying off the Chandler family was Jackson's only route, and it wound up costing him big time. (If I were a celebrity and someone hit me was false charges, I would fight it with every last dime I had to get my reputation back.)

He beat more sexual abuse charges in 2005, but the damage had been done a long time before that. There will always be those who will defend Michael Jackson vociferously as an innocent victim, and those who will always feel he was a pedophile who bought his way out of trouble. The truth maybe somewhere in the middle.

Whenever a controversial figure dies (like Richard Nixon for example), the focus is generally on what the positive accomplishments they did in life. When Nixon died, I remember the emphasis was on the positive things Nixon did as president, like opening the door to China and ending the Vietnam War. The Watergate scandal wasn't ignored, but it wasn't emphasized, either.

And with Michael Jackson, the emphasis will be on the joy he brought to millions of people around the world with his music: the Moonwalk, the Thriller album, etc. As it should be.

He maybe gone, but we haven't heard the last of Michael Jackson. Not by a long shot. His music will live on forever. And he'll be joining the pantheon of legends like Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean and John F. Kennedy: those who died young but haven't left the American consciousness.

Rest in peace, Michael.


The Angry Tech said...

"...why would anyone in their right mind, if they are totally innocent of these type of hideous charges, pay off someone to the tune of an eight figure settlement?"

A fair question. Perhaps the most plausible answer is because the stigma of certain types of allegations, ESPECIALLY sexual misconduct, never goes away, no matter how much you spend trying to clear your name (see the 2005 acquittal.. did that change anyone's mind?), and no matter how flimsy the allegations. Some things stick, and the best you can hope for is to minimize the volume. The terms of his settlement with that (and another) family dictated that they would never discuss the allegations again. A term which one family later violated, and as such ought to have had legal action taken against them by Jackson to recover the cash he gave them.

But don't forget another, equally pertinent question: Why would any parent in their right mind, if they believe someone has sexually abused their children, ACCEPT a cash settlement of any sort?

FAR too shady behavior for me to believe the allegations.

MJ was a weird dude, no question. People close to him say he intentionally made up & "leaked" a lot of the bizarre stories about himself (hyperbaric chamber, elephant man's bones, etc.) as a kind of practical joke on the tabloid media. See the "Leave Me Alone" video for a wink from the man himself to that effect.

I for one am extremely curious as to what the new concerts would have been like. Sad frail old man MJ, or was he really planning a for-reals comeback?

The Omnipotent Q said...

Still I believe you have to fight the allegations of such a hideous charge of being a pedophile, even if it costs you millions. (I don't think the lawyers would have gotten more than the Chandlers got.) Jackson wouldn't fight it, and it still tells me he had plenty to hide. Sure some might say he still was even if he fought it and won. But at least he could say he took them to court and was exonerated.