Michael Jackson – Good or Bad, Black or White?

It comes as no surprise that, everywhere I turn, I see a gazillion Michael Jackson related articles, tributes, and videos on YouTube and such. But one of the more interesting phenomenons I have noticed about many of these vids is that commenters either do the YouTube equivalent of spitting on his grave, or seem to try to avoid speaking badly about the late and great King of Pop, Michael Jackson.

Not that I think that he should be being badmouthed or anything, but I’ve always found the glorification of the dead a rather unusual practice. I suppose it may have something to do with sparing the feelings of family and friends, but as I see it, if a person was a tool while they were alive, being dead doesn’t make them any less so, and the ones negatively affected by their toolishness have just as much right to express their emotions about it, at the very least for closure, if not for anything else, as anyone else. But I digress.

The thing is, there are some folks who go the extra mile with the glorification, going so far as to defend the deceased even in the faceĀ  of a very poor reputation. One particularly interesting video I came across was thatĀ  of the popular YouTuber Kev Jumba, in which he decided he was going to find ways to negate the negative press MJ has received over the years. The video is below if you are interested.

While Kev made an admirable effort in that endeavor, his approach seemed to make little sense to me. Or more to the point, it was hardly what I’d call an objective review of MJ’s actions. Simply put, if you go out looking for reasons to demonstrate a persons benevolence, then more often than not, you will find them, whether they are there or not. Kev Jumba, in essence, made the same mistake the press, and many others have made, which may have brought them, prematurely, to the negative conclusions that they all still hold today about the late Michael Jackson.

Case in point. Was he generous with his money? Yes. But with the kind of money he was making, it could easily have been for free positive publicity, than for any altruistic reasoning. Did he molest little boys? Well, while there is lots of circumstantial evidence, and a mountain of testimony based on a lot of hearsay, that says he did. But there is now way to know for sure whether or not those kids were coached, their parents were being over protective, or it was just part of an elaborate smear campaign designed to get so cash out of the King of Pop.

Did he bleach his skin because of a skin condition? Again, only MJ, and the doctors who treated him know the truth. But claiming vitiligo might have just been positive spin intended to mitigate the negative reaction from the public about his changing his skin color. Was his nose surgeries because his dad called him “bignose” when he was a kid? Possibly. But if we buy that logic, then why dismiss the idea that he bleached his skin for similar reasons, instead of medical ones?

The list goes on and on. Now don’t get me wrong. I am actually neither defending nor attacking him. I am simply trying to demonstrate that for every positive explanation, there is a negative one. And since I do not personally have sufficient information to either confirm or deny either position, I simply cannot make any kind of informed judgment call on the man, and simply don’t understand how people can form such a visceral hatred of a person based on what is largely hearsay.

From my perspective, it would make a whole lot more sense to make inferences based on factual things that we do actually know about him. For instance, we know he did not have a normal childhood. And we know for sure, that he had a far from normal adulthood. And the one thing I know, from lots, and lots, of demonstrated and documented case histories on the books, is that leading a life so far isolated from societal norms can lead to a skewed set of values, and a lack of understanding of what is socially acceptable. And this this manifests itself in many ways.

Take, for instance, the hanging of his baby off the balcony of his hotel room. I don’t really think he was cognizant of the horror it would inspire in others. The same could be said of sleeping with young boys. (And when I say sleeping here, I mean sleeping, in the literal sense… Get yor mind out of the gutter :/ ) And if memory serves, I beleive he did actually admit to sleeping with them.

But whether that was simply another faux pas simply due to his misunderstanding of societal norms, or whether there were any actual sexual acts involved, we just don’t know. Given his eccentric nature, it cannot be absolutely ruled out, however it was never proven in court, so imho, we can not really say with any kind of confidence either way. Ironically, it almost seems like dumpster babies and babies killed by shaking by moms and babysitters got less press than this. Which in the grand scheme of things, is really messed up. Go figure.

But here is the other side of the coin. We also know that he was a terrific dancer, singer, and all around entertainer, whose influence is felt even today. And from all accounts, he seemed to be a nice person. I’m not saying that this should negate any bad habits he might have had, however, these are concrete things that we have definite proof of. I figure if someone was going to form some deep emotional schema about someone, from a logical perspective, it should be based on the concrete things, not the gray area.

But such is human emotions. In the end, I cannot really know what was going on in Michael Jackson’s head. Nor, I beleive, can anyone else. So from my perspective, it seems to make the most sense to simply celebrate the great things he contributed to our society, and not dwell on the possible negatives. He’s gone now, no matter how misguided he may have been, or how he may have hurt people, he can do no more harm. It takes a whole lot more energy, and in the long run is much worse for our emotional health, to hate, than it is to forgive and forget. I say we put it all behind us and move on…

But that’s just my opinion.