It’s not an exaggeration to say I idolized Michael Jackson as kids. There’s no movie star, athlete or musician even close to his level now. So I’ll start there and add, my head hurt watching this, and I’ve seen/heard enough of the stories calling the centerpiece of this documentary an opportunist and a liar. I can’t prove anymore than you what did or didn’t happen so I’ll take the Oprah route and try to talk about this ‘one step removed’…
The artistry is one thing obviously, but for us reclusive, creative types, the way Michael carried himself was in some ways equally as appealing (for a while). Depending on where your biases lie, you have fun with some of the rumors you hear about yourself. Is he gay? No? Well, is he interested in black women? (I’ve had my own dances with these ‘false but no harm really done’ misdirections.)
But if you have people asking ‘Is he a pedophile?’ See… that’s WAY too far over the rumor line. That should never be something the people who like you/love you/want to believe you should have to wrestle with.
I’ve had over the course of my life, more than a handful of women confide in me their own stories of sexual assault.
(Taking a moment to let that number and that statement sink in.)
Every story is unique but there are some definite patterns. The power play taking complete precedence over the actual need for pleasure. Someone very familiar as the perpetrator (although the ‘complete stranger in a dark alley’ scenario does happen, but by percentage maybe not nearly as much as we (men) think). And because the perpetrator is familiar and more powerful, the no win situation: people don’t believe you and your self-value is crushed, or people believe you and multiple relationships are permanently altered in a negative way (and the guilt that comes with that.)
Washington and Me Too and Corporate America. I think most of us who are self aware have a better vocabulary for this now. Again, I don’t know what happened either way, just speaking to patterns I recognize.
Now the music. We’re talking the Jackson 5, the Jacksons, all of the solo stuff. I think Michael is just way too big and too iconic to ‘cancel’. If I had to make an educated guess, I’d say we’re looking at a Roman Polanski/Woody Allen situation: this is some of the best art of a generation but now there’s a moment where we wince or at least have to think about things we didn’t want to think about it before when we experience it.
So no one wins.
‘Finding Neverland’ is hard to watch but worth the conversation we’re having…