Michael Jackson is the mirror of the children of liberal America, even though he is dead. Obsessed with their appearance, they keep hacking away at their features until they are unrecognizable as humans. Sexualized as pre-adolescents through pop culture, they fetishize their own children by exposing them to pop culture in equal or greater measure.
The meal ticket of Joe Jackson, father of the Jackson Five, was his youngest son, Michael, who was deprived of his own childhood and made to sing from the perspective of a randy adult before he reached puberty. Then, famously, he became the largest pop singer in the world, amassed a fortune, withdrew into his gaudily appointed Neverland Ranch in California, and ultimately died there of a cocktail of prescription sleeping drugs in 2009.
Now, after the airing of a new documentary on HBO, Michael Jackson has become the latest subject of the #MeToo Challenge, wherein fans of a celebrity must decide whether they adore him enough to deem the accusations against him to be credible.
Leaving Neverland chronicles allegations of pedophilic sexual abuse made by two accusers, grown men who are married and have children. If credibility is to be judged by the sincerity of the appearance of these two men, then Jackson is guilty as sin. Indeed, the appearance of sincerity combined with salacious details form the faulty standard by which all #MeToo claims are judged, including those of Dr. Blasey-Ford, Professor Hill, and Ms. Brawley. “Who would make up such a charge, and what could she (or, in this case, he) possibly stand to gain” is what naive people, innocent of history, say. That Jackson had multiple accusers who recited similar scripts is not the same thing as corroborating evidence of multiple crimes; it is evidence of the fact that Jackson had an obscene amount of money. The estate is still valued at $2 billion, and continues to rake in cash every time radio stations play Jackson’s “iconic” songs.
No one learned anything new about Michael Jackson by watching Leaving Neverland. That did not stop tweeting celebrities from expressing new feelings, most notably “devastation.”
What they truly sensed in the immediate “aftermath” of Leaving Neverland’s “stunning revelations” was that the #MeToo tables had turned on their beloved pop icon, and that they’d better express “outrage” or face the “backlash.” This is the “news cycle”: stunning revelation, outrage, backlash, aftermath. Add “more allegations have surfaced,” if the desired effect has not yet been achieved. The formula is not new.
What is new, and what characterizes the #MeToo era, is that “woke” Millennials have realized the power over the news cycle that Twitter bestows. Boomer Hollywood cannot protect its lecherous assets any better than Diane Feinstein can bar the disciples of AOC, smartphones raised, from her office.
Hidden in plain, sequined sight was the fact that the biggest pop star in the world was morally perverted and mentally demented. That he rented little boys, bribing their parents to allow him to shower them with gifts and keep them in his bedroom overnight, reveals an utter lack of a moral sense; all the more so as he routinely doubled down on his insistence that this was perfectly natural behavior for a middle-aged man and simply evidence of his boundless love for children. It is narcissistic to compare oneself to Jesus in any circumstance, but to do so while claiming that the Lord, too, surrounded Himself with children, justifying the appearance of what by any measure would signal the behavior of a sexual predator, is sociopathic narcissism.
Nearly everyone except the mothers of Jackson’s sleepover pals thought his obsession with children was weird. But while acknowledging and dismissing his “eccentricities,” the world embraced the drowning of the ceremony of innocence.
Michael Jackson actually embodied the sexualization of childhood. I reference not the bedroom boys but the music itself—and its performer. America—indeed, the world, under the sway of American “culture”—fell in love with him, sent little girls and boys to his concerts and public appearances to scream their heads off and cry their eyes out as if in the presence of a deity, and paid exorbitant sums of money to the King of Pop every step of the way because fans were attracted to his stunted, puerile sexuality.
Indeed, there is an entire industry of academics who have studied this phenomenon. Pre-pubescent Michael “smoldered” while delivering grown-up lyrics. Young-adult Michael talked eerily, like a daft, precocious child, and sang “don’t stop till you get enough”—lyrics that his mother feared were too erotic to pass muster at the Kingdom Hall. Then at age 24 he was catapulted to superstardom with the release of Thriller, by which time he had begun altering his visage, dancing in a herky-jerky mime-meets-James-Brown fashion, and ornamenting his soulful but thin voice with grunts and coos and gasps that only added a layer of stunted adolescence to lyrics about sexual yearning and denial. (“Billie Jean is not my lover.”) Around the time he was photographed with a smiling President Reagan, he also started touching his clothed genitals as part of his regular dance routine. “He looks like an aging female movie star who’s had too many face lifts,” wrote the inimitable Mike Royko.
The single biggest difference, though, is that Jackson grabs his crotch. As I said, that’s something [Fred] Astaire never did. And from what I’ve read about Astaire, he wouldn’t have grabbed his crotch even if the movie director gave him a direct order. He was not that kind of guy.
Besting Bruce Jenner by over two decades as well as by degrees, Jackson turned himself from a black man into a white woman. And throughout his phases of self-mutilation, he maintained the voice and affect of a wide-eyed child, while thrusting manfully and lubriciously at his audiences of men and women, boys and girls, as if they represented the long-lost hebephilic lover of his unrealized youth. Lyrically, he progressed from grunting and grabbing and odd declarations of machismo (“Your butt is mine,” begins “Bad,” a number-one single) to songs that were equal parts social justice and self-justification: “Leave Me Alone,” “Heal the World,” “(It Don’t Matter If You’re) Black or White,” “Have You Seen My Childhood?”
One genderqueer feminist professor, Francesca Royster, wrote approvingly,
At the same time that Jackson complicates gender norms, his transgender and trans-age erotics of openness, emotionality, and movement might be seen as a part of a larger mode of resistance, in the face of control and surveillance of the black, commercialized body, as a child star.
In other words, he was the singular incarnation of intersectionalism, ahead of his time.
Yes, Jackson’s “trans-age erotics” were evident to all of his fans, including Oprah Winfrey, who fawned all over him in a bizarre 1993 interview as he giggled like a little girl, hugged a batty Elizabeth Taylor, denied his multiple-yet-obvious plastic surgeries and skin-bleaching, and defended crotch-grabbing as his simple obedience to “the music.” Now Oprah’s cashing in again, hosting the Leaving Neverland accusers in order to reveal to the world the profound truth that “grooming” involves “seduction.”
Apparently, America needed Michael Jackson to move the Sexual Revolution along from the hedonistic free love of the 70’s to the commercialized sex of the 80’s and following. Sadly, in the process, the culture NAMBLA-fied itself. Now we confess Michael Jackson’s sins while ignoring them in ourselves and placarding them as standards of intersectional righteousness for the next generation.