Meet Brandon Howard, The Son Michael Jackson “Gained”-And “Lost-In One Crazy Day On March 6, 2014
It never fails. Just when I am on the verge of being ready to post a new article that I have spent weeks putting together, there is some huge breaking story in the Michael Jackson camp that forces me to “halt the presses.” This week, we had the scandal of Brandon Howard and the bogus DNA test. And this story has sure enough been a rollercoaster ride of emotions. I went from dismissing Brandon Howard casually as “just the latest fruit loop with a hand out to the estate” to actually thinking there might be something to this. After all, as the old saying goes, DNA doesn’t lie and…well, as fishy as the whole thing seemed, they were claiming this was a legit DNA test, one that had come back 99.9% positive. And as I have said before, it would not shock me in the least to think that “maybe” there is a possibility that Michael fathered other children besides the three we know to be his legal offspring. I never believed Michael was a saint. He was, in fact, someone who had been famous for most of his life, and along with all the perks of fame come women willing to do most anything just to be near you. Michael certainly sang about his fair share of those women. They’ve become the stuff of legend-Billie Jean, Dirty Diana, Susie (who crops up in more than a few songs), and so on.
A lot of fans seemed upset about the revelation, and not without justification. The whole thing was carried out in a very tacky and tasteless manner, from the whole TMZ leak to the pseudo press conference to announce the “results” on FilmOn.com. But after the initial shock of the news wore off, my mind began to settle into the idea, and I realized…not only was I not upset, but I was actually kind of tickled pink to think that maybe Michael’s little family was really a bigger one that we intially thought. I looked at the photos of Brandon. I watched the clips of his interviews. I thought I could “see” a lot of Michael in him, but perhaps the brain and the eye sees what it wants to see. I did not know what to make of Brandon’s protestations of innocence during all of this. I didn’t quite believe him. Who gives a DNA sample unless it is for the express purpose of determining a parent? But that didn’t necessarily mean his intentions were corrupt. He said he had no intention of going after the estate for money, so the other obvious explanations are either attention or the personal satisfaction of just wanting to know the truth. However, if it had been the latter, that could have been handled privately, I am sure, without involving the press. That leaves Option #2. Still, Brandon Howard seemed like a nice enough young man and a part of me began to half embrace the idea of looking forward to getting to know this “new” son of Michael’s. Additionally, it was kind of fun to see all the collective jaws dropping around the world from all of the idiots who had so long proclaimed Michael as either an asexual virgin or a pedophile. It seemed pretty hard to argue against scientific DNA evidence, and watching all of the creative ways that many of those people were now coming up with to back pedal their way out of those claims was at least quite entertaining.
Nevertheless, the shock waves were understandable because accepting a truth like that means, to some extent, reassessing everything we thought we knew about Michael-and that goes for all sides of the camp, fans and haters as well as anyone who has allowed their heels to dig in a little too deeply in their entrenched beliefs of who Michael was. The problem for haters, as well as those who want to cling to the caricature notion of Michael as some virginal asexual being (and this mostly includes the same people who will swear up and down that he has never fathered a biological child, either because he hated his race/didn’t like sex/was afraid to be intimate with women/ only liked boys, etc etc etc) is that any “proof” of a biological child pretty much shoots down all of those theories with one, single bullet. Also, undisputable DNA evidence that Michael fathered a child would help silence that faction who continue to insist he did not father Prince, Paris, and Blanket, at the very least putting to rest any issues of fertility or unwillingness to father a child naturally.
Inevitably, Rumors Of This Sort Will Always Arise. Every Once In Awhile, They May Force Us To Reassess What We Think We Know About Michael. That Isn’t Always Necessarily A Bad Thing.
Michael’s fans, on the other hand, have never had issues with accepting him as a fully intact, red blooded, and functioning man. But any story of an illegitimate child stepping forth-especially now-is bound to be met with a lot of suspicion. Additionally, there are some fans who will simply never want to accept that Michael was anything less than a pure angel who would never do such a thing-that is, father a child illegitimately and just leave the girl to raise it as best she can. And in theory, it doesn’t seem to make sense. Why would a man who claimed to want children so much turn his back on his own child? Well, of course, there could be any number of reasons, all of them perfectly legit, and all worth keeping in mind (you know, just in case this sort of thing ever comes up again, which could well happen). For starters, there is always the possibility of simply not knowing (happens to guys all the time, though in Michael’s case probably rarely since it seems likely any woman with a legit claim would take advantage of it; in Michael’s case it was far more of an issue having to disprove claims that were actually false). But still, we can’t rule out ignorance as a possibility. Secondly (and far more likely) is that such matters would have been kept in struct confidentiality, with special arrangements made between Michael and the young woman to provide for the child in a way that would not draw public scrutiny. Trust me, if Michael indeed had illegitimate children, knew of them, and had drawn up such a confidentiality agreement with the mother (or mothers) it is highly unlikely to be anything the world will ever know about except for them.
Indeed, the B. Howard story had no sooner hit than the snide (and cruel) comments were already starting to infiltrate the internet (you know the ones; how “unfair” it was for Michael’s “black” son to be left out while his “white children” inherit the fortune, and so on). My first reaction to these comments (before the story was proven false) was: And how do we know that Michael wasn’t amply providing for this kid for years?
This is worth keeping in mind regardless, because Brandon Howard hasn’t been the first and may not be the last such shocker. Even though most of these so-called “love children” of MJ never get beyond the tabloid rumor stage, there is still something worth keeping in mind, knowing as we do that Michael was both a globally famous pop star and, frankly, a human being. As much as we sometimes like to believe that we, as fans, knew Michael inside and out, the truth is that we really didn’t. For all that he lived in the center of the public eye and a media whirlwind for most of his life, Michael was also very adept at keeping secrets. That he may have had a few skeletons in his closet doesn’t shock me (and, no, I don’t mean the Elephant Man’s Bones-sorry, couldn’t resist). And no, I am not necessarily referring to anything criminal. But Michael was a man who liked to keep his casual flings private. Perhaps compartmentalizing is a much better word. Michael was very good at compartmentalizinghis life. He had to be. This is a side of him that I’ve long been aware of, ever since I first began researching him in earnest. And as a youth, Michael was just as prone as any young man to making foolish mistakes. Just because he sincerely wanted a family later in life may not have meant that he was necessarily ready to settle down to fatherhood in his early twenties, at a time when his mind was still set on building his solo career.
In other words, I think that when people say things like, “Michael would never do such a thing” it doesn’t take into account either his complexity as a man, or his right to have stumbled and made some honest mistakes in his life.
Although my connection to the Jackson family is minimal, I do have a friend whose brother-in-law has known the family well for years, and I can tell you this much: The possibility that Michael does have children other than Prince, Paris, and Blanket isn’t exactly a family secret. This, of course, is coming from a family for whom “love children” are nothing out of the norm. Joe’s “extended” family has been a common knowledge secret for years, and if we look at the history of Michael’s brothers, we see that none of the Jackson boys seem to be apples who fell too far from the family tree. For several years, I had assumed these whisperings were in regard to Omar Bhatti (though Frank Cascio debunked that myth pretty thoroughly in his book) but the B. Howard story made me start to wonder.
I am quite disgusted right now with Corey Feldman for his role in all of this. Yes, he has been up to now a good friend who has staunchly defended Michael, but why would a friend knowingly partake in something that could be so detrimental to Michael’s three children? Nevertheless, Corey has known the Jackson family for years, and his comment to The Daily Mail was quite revealing:
‘It’s not been denied that he’s part of the family, we just don’t know what part of the family.”-Corey Feldman, On The Possibility of Brandon Howard As A Jackson.
Let’s keep in mind that the Jackson family men have never been especially against sharing girlfriends and even wives, as we know to be the case with Randy and Jermaine. It’s not so shocking when you consider the unique dynamics of growing up famous and surrounded by groupies, some of whom would be willing to sleep with any Jackson in hopes of working her way up to the one that might really be her chosen prize conquest-usually Jackie or Jermaine in the early days, and Michael later. Heck, girls would even sleep with Joe if they thought it might get them a step closer to one of his sons! In such an atmosphere of sexual promiscuity and dysfunction, it’s not surprising that there are quite a few “mystery” kids in the family who, truth be told, are probably not as mysterious as we, the public, have been led to believe.
“Billie Jean”…Everything From The Lyrics To The Symbolic Red Bow Tie Stated Loss Of Innocence And Moral Consequences For The Wages Of Sin
That Michael had somewhat of an obsession with this subject is a given. Pregnant girlfreinds, those claiming “the kid is yours” and the moral consequences of giving in to the temptations of the flesh crop up in too many songs to be mere coincidence. As news of the DNA “test results” spread (notice I am putting that in quotes considering what we learned less than 24 hours later) I started to cringe as every story brought up the lines from “Billie Jean.” This is how instant cliches’ are born! Besides, the history of Billie Jean” and that song’s origins are far more complex-and less mysterious-than any of these people know. Still, we all know how often this subject cropped up in Michael’s work. “The kid is not my son/”Don’t have a baby if you can’t feed your baby”/”She’s got your baby/It happened fast.” I don’t believe that such thematic motifs’ are accidental, or coincidence. Clearly, these were issues Michael was familiar with and working through, even if on some subconscious level. He claimed much of it came from witnessing other peoples’ experiences, but it is just as possible he was also drawing on personal experience, as well. Whatever the case may be, there was a reason why this particular topic-unwanted or unplanned children, manipulative women trying to entrap him, and the consequences of sin-was something he returned to repeatedly throughout his career, but especially in the 80′s when he was most struggling with the demands of a skyrocketing fame, experimenting with newfound maturity and independence, and all while still trying to keep a foothold in the religion that had been his lifelong anchor. It’s easy to read too much into anything, but the fact that illegitmate children seemed to crop up so often in his work-or at least the accusation of being the father-at least gives some pause for thought. It seems to be an experience that he was intimately, and painfully, familiar with, so much so that even the music became a kind of catharisis for it. It sometimes seemed that Michael was cautioning an entire generation of young men to “keep it zipped” and watch out for those wily girls who promise you anything-and only end up giving you babies with “eyes like” yours. (Ironically, while advising young men to “keep it zipped” he seemed to have no qualms in “Abortion Papers” about inadvertently advising pregnant girls that they were signing their names “against the word of God” when they signed those papers. The line he sings in “Wanna Be Starting Something”-”Don’t have a baby/If you can’t feed your baby” -is not advocating abortion, as some have mistakenly claimed. Rather, he is promoting abstinence, telling women in effect that if you can’t afford to feed it, then don’t be making it).
Now keep in mind, however, this was all going through my head during a phase of roughly about 24 hours, when I still thought there just might be something to this DNA story. But a couple of things were still nagging at me. 1: Who was to say this was actually Michael’s DNA that they had supposedly extracted from this 31-year-old orthopedic device? Had the DNA been authenticated in any way as belonging to Michael? 2: How did we know that these were authentic DNA tests that had been performed, in actual DNA laboratories? All we saw at the “press conference” was an envelope being opened, and a guy reading off a document that, for all we knew, might have just been a blank piece of paper! (the truth, as it turned out, was even more bizarre!).
Still…the story was growing like wildfire. Every time I hit “Google” it seemed at least one more major news outlet had added the story of “DNA TEST PROVES OHIO MAN IS MICHAEL JACKSON’S LOVE CHILD” and those words “99.9% positive” stood out like glaring head beams. A kind of surreal reality began to set in for me, that this thing just might be true, after all, and if it is…what then? I could already see the global reactions setting in, millions of us, just as I said, reeling and reassessing everything we thought we knew about Michael Jackson.
Such is the media’s power, even after all of the negative things we say and are certainly aware of. With the recent hoax of the Blanket story still fresh in our minds, however, it didn’t take long to realize something just wasn’t smelling right. I kept waiting to see an official media outlet like CNN pick up the story. When they didn’t, some doubt began creeping in. TMZ, after all, appeared to be the main culprits behind this-at least, the leaking of the story, if not the bogus test itself. In other words, we can safely say that, yes, DNA doesn’t lie…except when TMZ somehow has their hands inthe DNA.
Tabloids Have Had A Field Day With Comparison Photos Like This One, Showing Brandon, Michael And Augie Johnson (Right). In The End, I Don’t Know How Much Such Photos Actually “Prove”..The Eye Will See What It Wants To See.
As I went to bed that night, at least a dozen conflicted thoughts were swirling in my mind. I was nearing completion of an article on Gavin Arvizo that I had been working on for weeks, but those plans would have to be put on hold because I knew by morning, no one in the MJ blogosphere was going to give a damn about Gavin Arvizo and old history from 2005. Everyone’s mind was going to be on Brandon Howard, even if only to ask who is he, and why now? I thought of all the reasons why I hoped the story was true, as well as all the reasons why I hoped it was not true, trying to reconcile them all in my mind. I wondered what kind of revelations would the new day bring? Part of me already dreaded the feeding frenzy that I knew this story was going to create. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for Prince, Paris, and Blanket, wondering how this story would affect them. Especially with headlines like “B Howard is Michael Jackson’s Only Biological Son.” I also felt bad for Brandon’s father, Augie Johnson. In a series of increasingly desperate sounding interviews, where his reactions ranged from denial of the story to lashing out at his son, one thing came through loud and clear-hoax or no hoax, there were real people involved, people whose lives were being torn apart over this story. What should have been a private matter for this family was being treated as headline fodder for TMZ and Alki David.
‘I KNOW Brandon’s my son – I was there in the delivery room, I have the pictures of him being born. I got the records, I got everything.
‘Before me, Miki wasn’t with anyone else – she didn’t even know Michael at that time. But you know what – I love my son and he can do whatever he likes. I’m not tripping on this – I want Brandon to have a successful career.’…
‘Brandon spent a lot of time with Jackson kids over there, this was during the time when Miki and I broke up and she was hating me for a few years because we didn’t get married.’
When asked if he would be happy to take a DNA text himself, Augie said ‘Oh yeah! That’s not a problem.
‘My name is on his birth certificate, when people talk to me, I tell them the truth. I know my son- he’s got a lot of drama going on.
Brandon was once praised as the ‘reincarnation of Michael Jackson’.
However, Augie said: ‘They have these pictures with Michael and Brand on looking alike, but how can you compare my son and Michael. Michael don’t look like that – that’s not his original look.
‘Brandon just happens to be one of those kids – the wannabe Michael kids – his whole life. He loved Michael Jackson so much.
‘He wanted to look more like him and he had a little success in Japan, that’s where this whole thing started. It became this mystery that he would never answer.
‘It’s been a plan for a long time, he wants to help his career, that’s what I believe.
‘Any kind of controversy that gets out there in the world, right now, helps.’
Miki Howard joined Side Effect as a 16-year-old singer, and asked about any romance with Michael, Augie said: ‘She was never romantically involved with Michael. He didn’t even know her.’
Now friendly again with Miki, Augie said he spoke to her today, adding: ‘Miki thinks Brandon is losing his mind!-Excerpted From The Daily Mail
In reading Augie Johnson’s words, I thought of the very thing that fans have so often said about Michael when Mark Lester, Arnie Klein, Matt Fiddes or any of the revolving door of “wanna be dads” has tried to come forth claiming to be the father of Prince or Paris or Blanket. “It takes more than just donating sperm to be a father,” we always say. Yes, indeed. And by the same argument, I think we can pretty safely say-even had the DNA test proven authentic-that “99.9% match” or not, Michael Jackson was not Brandon Howard’s father, and never was. His father was Augie Johnson, the man who apparently was at least there in his life to change an occasional diaper and wipe his runny nose. Of course, I agree with those who have said that the only parent who probably deserves real credit as both Brandon’s mom anddad is Miki Howard.
We Know That Michael Was Father To His Kids-NOT Arnie Klein, Matt Fiddes or Mark Lester. Likewise, Brandon Howard Could Never Claim Michael Jackson As A Father, No Matter How Much He Might Want It To Be True. And No Matter What Any DNA Test, Real Or Phoney, Says.
So what is the point of trying to “prove” a biological link to Michael Jackson, even if one existed? Well, we all know the answer to that one. The media just wants a story. And Brandon wants…? Well, if not money, at least the fame and notoriety. I think Augue Johnson hit the nail on the head with that one.
All day at work, I waited until I could get to a computer to see what the latest developments on the story were. It didn’t take but a quick browse on Twitter to see that the story was already being reported as one huge hoax, and boy oh boy, what a hoax it was!
I suppose the big question is: Why would Alki David and company go to such lengths to create such a hoax in the first place? Why the driving need to create a phony DNA test to link Michael Jackson to this man? The media’s handling of this entire story-as well as the public’s reaction to it-has only served to remind me of the bizarre dichotomy that exists with both the media’s and the public’s fascination with Michael Jackson. He is probably the only person I know of who is so routinely emasculated in the media-who is so often portrayed interchangeably as asexual, or as a pedophile, or as gay-and yet, by the same token, an apparent super womanizer who has secret love children all over the planet. Heck, at least one love child is guaranteed to pop out of the woodwork every few years-and oddly enough, the media never seems to have any problem swallowing the idea that Michael Jackson-who according to them had to solicit donors to father his own, legal children-must have nevertheless been quite the stud muffin when it came to making babies he evidently didn’t want. How he managed this feat while still being, apparently, afraid of women or only interested in little boys-if you believe the popular narratives-remains the biggest mystery of the last century. Scientists, philosophers, and theologians, I’m sure, are all at work trying to figure it out.
All of which goes to show that the world’s fascination with Michael Jackson’s penis-what he did and didn’t do with it, apparently-continues to be an even greater obsession than his music.
But on a more serious level, this story-just as the phony story about Blanket that surfaced recently-points to a very disturbing media trend, and shows just what depraved lengths these people will go to. It becomes easier, perhaps, to believe and understand all of those stories such as how even after routine haircuts, the hair of Michael’s children is immediatly swept up and placed in bags, so as to avoid any attempts at DNA theivery. Such stories sound rather extreme, paranoid, and highly suspect. Until we witness what transpired this week.
It’s scary as hell to think that slimeballs like Alki David are out there; people who wouldn’t think twice about conducting a “public” DNA test on Michael’s kids-and even worse, skewering the results to fit whatever agenda they want. That, for me, has been one of the scariest and most disturbing realizations of this whole event. We tend to rely on DNA tests as definitive truth. If DNA tests are now something that can be willfully fabricated, like any tabloid story, what’s to stop them from making up any lie they want; claiming parentage or not with anybody they choose; playing God with any target they decide to go after? The media, as always, will copy and paste such stories, spreading them like wildfire with no thought as to whether they are true. In this instance, the bogus story was revealed, but only because Harry Levin (for whatever personal reason, I am sure) decided to turn the cards on Alki David and FilmOn.com. And only because, in this case, the exposure of the hoax was bound to generate even more hits than the phony story.
It has been said that the movie “The Truman Show” was based on Michael’s life. Observing what transpired this week truly makes that reality hit home. If the events of this week began with forcing us to reassess what we thought we knew about Michael and his life, it ends with a surety that is exactly what we have known for years. Michael Jackson’s life continues to be a highly manipulative and profitable media sport.
But the new levels to which that sport is sinking are scary indeed.
That’s Life In The MJ Blogosphere. For Sure, It Never Gets Boring!
So…as per my post’s apt title, Michael Jackson both “gained” and “lost” a son in less than 24 hours. I am being only partly facetious. The fake story, at least for a little while, may have shaken some deeply held beliefs about Michael on all sides, for better or worse. But now that the dust is settling, what really emerges from this is the lesson it may teach us in just how depraved the media’s tactics are, the depths to which they will sink, and the desperation of the motives of those who surrounded Michael. It’s not a new lesson by any means. But if we ever needed a refresher course, boy this was it!
As for the rumors that Brandon may, in fact, be Joe’s son instead of Michael’s…well, that’s another Jackson family soap opera I will tackle some other time, some other day. Right now I just need an Excederin. Yep, it’s been one of thoseweeks.
And what’s even funnier…I still get people who ask me, all the time, what can there possibly be left to write every week about a guy who’s been dead for five years?
Michael Became A Vocal Pro-Activist For Music Artists. But Did You Know He Was Also An Activist For YOU-The Fans?
Remember when this headline, featured on the home page of thepiratebay website, made a splash at the height of the SOPA protests in early 2012?
“Under SOPA, you could get five years for uploading a Michael Jackson song, one year more than the doctor who killed him.”
Well, seeing as how Murray only served two of those four years of which he was convicted, shall we rephrase that to…THREE more years than the doctor who killed him?
But how did Michael himself feel about the subject of pirated music and downloading, illegal or otherwise? Many music artists have taken a hardline stance against illegal downloading and file sharing. I can’t say that I blame them, entirely. After all, much of an artist’s revenue comes from the royalties of legally purchased music. Prince, for example, has been known to even go as far as to police uploaded videos of his music on Youtube.
More Than Just A Pretty Face…A Tireless Advocate Who Didn’t Mind Stirring The Pot-Or Even Biting The Hand That Fed Him.
But in an era that has found many music artists at war with what seems an increasingly turning-and futile-tide, Michael’s own views were surprisingly progressive. Then again, perhaps that shouldn’t come as any surprise to those of us who have already been long aware of Michael’s activist role in the music industry. We already knew that Michael had spoken out against racism in the industry, and worked tirelessly to restore song rights to many black artists who were often bereft of their own royalties. But did you know about this?
In 2003, two Democratic lawmakers, John Conyers and Howard Berman, had introduced The Authors, Consumer and Computer Owners Protection and Security Act. The bill, if passed, would have made it a felony offense to illegally download music.
Michael delivered a press statement that apparently packed quite a punch in the summer of 2003. If he alone was not responsible for delivering the bill’s fatal blow, he nevertheless could certainly be credited for strengthening the public opposition against it.
“I am speechless about the idea of putting music fans in jail for downloading music. It is wrong to download but the answer cannot be jail,” Jackson said in a statement. “It is the fans that drive the success of the music business; I wish that would not be forgotten.
Here in America we create new opportunities out of adversity, not punitive laws,” he said. “We should look to new technologies, like Apple’s new Itunes Music Store, for solutions. This way, innovation continues to be the hallmark of America.”
What exactly did he mean by “creat[ing} new opportunities out of adversity?" Simple. In 2003, the music industry was in a huge slump, with physical CD sales plummeting. While many blamed the new technology for the music industry's demise, there were just as many who also had the foresight to recognize it as the wave of the future-in fact, the only way to go if the industry was to survive at all. Apparently, Michael was one of those far sighted individuals who was already predicting that Apple's Itunes, as well as the digital downloading markets then being developed by Amazon and others, was the way to go, and that the industry would have to find ways to adapt to change, rather than fighting it.
Survival Would Mean Being Willing To Change With Changing Times
One thing that surprised me somewhat after I discovered Michael’s 2003 comments is just how far reaching his statement became (especially impressive considering this was the year of Bashir and the Arvizo allegations). It seemed from that point forward that almost any media article on The Authors, Consumer and Computer Owners Protection and Security Act anti-piracy bill was doomed to include at least a truncated version of Michael Jackson’s vehement disapproval.
Ouch. That must have hurt John Conyers and Howard Berman aplenty. Here they are, presumably fighting the good fight for artists, and here is the King of Pop himself giving their bill the proverbial finger. Michael’s statement was loud and clear, and one that apparently shook the core of the bill’s support. “Don’t send my fans to jail for downloading my music.” It must have been especially a little unsettling for Conyers, who likewise has fought for the protection of legendary artists:
However, I think that Michael was taking a much more far sighted view of the music piracy issue. Music artists cannot exist in a vacuum. It takes both the artist who creates the music, and the fan who listens to and appreciates that music, to create the partnership-or, to be more poetic, it takes both artist and fan to create the dance. It’s important to note that Michael never claimed he was in favor of illegal downloading (well, of course he would never have admitted as much publicly, anyway). But, obviously, he recognized that bills intended for the sole purpose of taking punitive measures against fans were not the answer. Certainly they were not the answer to what had become the music industry’s biggest conundrum in the early 2000′s. The technology was there. To think that music fans would not find ways to take advantage of it was absurd. Clearly, the music industry was going to have to change the way things were done. The digital age had arrived. Uploading and downloading-legally or illegally-was here to stay. Michael Jackson may have been one of the first major artists to recognize-or at least to speak out and say publicly-that the old way of doing things had to change. I’m sure his endorsement of Itunes, which had only recently launched, was nothing less than a juggernaut shot in the arm to the fledgling company. (For the record, Michael was a staunch supporter of Apple and Apple products).
Coming Into A New Era
His views are interesting when you consider the sheer wealth of bootleg Michael Jackson music, videos, and concert footage that was available while he lived, and that proliferated even more just after his death. While Youtube videos featuring Prince songs were routinely yanked as fast as they were uploaded, it was never a problem to instantly find most any Michael Jackson song freely available on the internet. This was true for many years prior to 2009. And indeed, the sheer and staggering amount of bootleg material available could only lead to one foregone conclusion-that Michael had never gone much out of his way to stop it. Perhaps there could be a number of explanations. Perhaps, in the wake of the trial, with all of the mounting lawsuits and all of the other crap he was having to deal with, he simply didn’t have the time, energy, or inclination to go all over the internet policing his own work. Perhaps, knowing how he felt about Sony and the rich record companies in his last years, he really could have cared less. Perhaps, as at least some people I know have theorized, he may well have been the very person who was responsible for “leaking” much of it. But let’s also keep in mind that this was the man who had donated millions’ worth of royalties to various charities; the same man who had donated all of the proceeds of his record-breaking Dangerous tour to charity.
In Michael’s case, the vast proliferation of free music and bootleg material available seemed to point to something much more than just his being too overwhelmed to care or to be bothered-or, for that matter, about making any statement to the record industry. Rather, it seemed to fall more in line with his general philanthropic principles. Art is meant to be shared. And in Michael’s case, he believed his music was a gift from God. It begs the question: How can one effectively “own” and “sell” a gift that has been merely channeled from God?
But before going too far astray with that idea, let’s have a reality check. Michael wasn’t stupid, of course. He worked hard at what he did, and he expected to be compensated for it, just as we all would. Let’s not lightly cast aside the fact that this was a man who, in 1991, successfully negotiated the most lucrative recording contract in history. Michael certainly didn’t achieve his mass wealth by giving himself away.
But deep down inside of him, he must have never completely lost touch with what it felt like to be a poor kid who maybe just wants an upbeat tune to listen to, perhaps to escape the hell that is his life, if only for five minutes. The idea of sending a kid to jail just for downloading “Beat It” is what shook Michael to the core, and spurred him to speak out. If you want to know my honest opinion, I would say hell, yes, Michael knew exactly what was out there in the pirate cyberspace world. And frankly, what he said to the world was, yes, I know it’s out there. And I don’t give a good damn if it is. Enjoy.
Ironically, it seems it has only been since his death that the iron grip has tightened considerably. I have noticed that there aren’t nearly as many Youtube clips of his songs, and the ones that are posted tend to get yanked with fair frequency. Also, the amount of available bootleg material has also accordingly diminished since 2009. And, given the views that Michael expressed in 2003, we can only imagine what he might have made of stories like these:
If Michael, speaking out in 2003 against anti-piracy laws, could have foreseen that two fans in 2012 could successfully hack his entire Sony catalog, he might have at least had a good chuckle. (Somehow I doubt he would have been either shocked, or horrified). But how’s this for compensation?
Today, Michael Jackson albums consistently rank among the top selling Itunes and Amazon items, with the Number Ones compilation alone having recently passed the 5 million mark. That’s not even counting the continued sales of classics like Thriller, Bad, Off The Wall, and Dangerous. Digital downloads count for over 50% of all music currently sold.
When Michael spoke out and took his stand against music anti-piracy laws over a decade ago, the digital downloading age was still in its infancy. Everyone suspected it would change the future of the industry, but there was no way to know for sure how it would go. Digital downloading, for sure, was either going to destroy the industry, or completely revolutionize it. In the wake of that revolution, Michael’s words spoken a decade ago bear repeating:
“Here in America we create new opportunities out of adversity, not punitive laws.” We should look to new technologies, like Apple’s new Itunes Music Store, for solutions. This way, innovation continues to be the hallmark of America.”-Michael Jackson.
One of the greatest joys of being a Michael Jackson fan is the continuous discovery of new and unexpected things to admire about him. I had known for years that he was an unsung civil rights activist who had struck a nerve with his eloquent speeches against racism and the treatment of artists in the industry.
But I hadn’t known until the discovery of this 2003 press statement that he was just as fiercely outspoken and protective when it came to the rights of music fans.
For that, we should at least owe him a tip of the hat.
Posted by: Raven on: February 9 2014 • Categorized in: Video
I’ve been enjoying watching these. They seem to be rather new, since it doesn’t look like they have a lot of YT views yet. It’s fun to watch Michael in casual interactions like this. Part Two does not seem to have surfaced yet.
I promised you more student essays on “Black or White” and “Earth Song” and here they are. (Not to mention, these are easy posts to do while I am recuperating from a particularly vicious flu bout). As always, I find it fascinating to glimpse how Michael’s work is viewed through the eyes of the current generation, although at least one essay I will include today is from a student who was old enough to remember the “Black or White” premier.
Enjoy, and please feel free to comment. My students do visit here from time to time, and they always appreciate the feedback on their work.
The Cry of a Star by Sierra Adams, Eng 102 Sec 402
Michael Jackson’s “Black or White” video premiered on MTV, BET, and FOX on a Sunday night, the main time families around the world view television together. Millions tuned in to see the “King of Pop’s” new hit. The eleven minute video had people buzzing all over the world. The first seven minutes showed Jackson dancing and singing of equal rights for all races, but the last four minutes is what created the upheaval. Jackson turns from a black panther into a human and provocatively dances, grabs his crotch, and smashes out car windows. The overall question is did Jackson decide to come back into the limelight with a vengeance, or was he really creating a statement about racism?
Jackson’s “Black or White” video was his reemergence back into the industry. It was a teaser for Dangerous, Jackson’s first album in four years. Dangerous later became Jackson’s third number one hit album in a row. The video was so overwhelming and provocative that it created an uproar, and many people developed a suspicion of his intentions. Critics questioned Sony and the producers about the video being a publicity ploy, and they defended Michael’s actions explaining that when he gets into the music there is just no stopping him. MTV, BET, and FOX also participated in creating an appetite toward the music video by airing Jackson specials and replayed old videos in the days preceding it. Some sources from MTV and FOX said that they were obligated to refer to Michael as the “King of Pop” in ads promoting the video before they were allowed to show “Black or White.” Michael Jackson and his producers bluntly stated that the ending of the video was not a publicity stunt, but was part of the overall message of racial harmony. I believe that Michael’s video was meant to shock viewers and get their attention. I do not think his intentions were a hundred percent fixed upon making a statement against racism, but I do believe it was his main focus.
“But this was an awesome way of self expression, and he looked very sexy. Jackson’s point was overshadowed by the small minded people of America”-Sierra Adams
“Black or White” was a marketing tool for Jackson, but it was also used to bash racism. Jackson basically kills two birds with one stone by acting over the top to get attention on racism, but it backfires because some viewers miss the point. The Black Panther dance-the reason he turns into one-is because it is the same name as the civil rights activists (The Black Panthers). At the time, his skin color had changed but he was making a point that he was still black. The bits edited out are when he smashes the windows with a Nazi symbol, “KKK Rules,” and “Nigger Go Home” graffiti on them. He’s going against any kind of racial, religious, or cultural hate. A perfect statement for the “Black or White” video, but TV propaganda meant it was all edited, so he could not get his message across. But this was an awesome way of self expression, and he looked very sexy. Jackson’s point was overshadowed by the small minded people of America. When you tie his ending of the video to the beginning, he was saying that it should not matter if we are black or white. We are all created equal, and he ended it with the dance that shows his hatred of each racist group.
Michael eventually apologizes to viewers stating, “I deeply regret any pain or hurt that the final segment of ‘Black or White’ has caused children, their parents, or any other viewers.” Jackson’s pride was hit hard when critics bashed his new video without realizing the deeper and darker meaning. Jackson was not a dumb man. He knew that it would create a ruckus, but he still wanted to get the point of hating racism across. He was rebelling against racism and he wanted to do it with a bang. He was not going to tolerate racism and hatred against another person’s ethnic background or nationality. Unfortunately, his point was overlooked and eventually the video was edited to only show the happy and cheerful first seven minutes. Michael Jackson was ridiculed throughout his entire life. The media criticized him about his skin because they believed he was trying to become white. In actuality, he had vitiligo (the loss of brown skin pigment). This made Michael very self conscious. Michael had to visit therapists to talk about how he viewed himself and learn to love himself for who he was. I believe his lack of self-esteem stems back to how he was raised. Jackson’s father was a failed musician and he became obsessed with making his children successful. He made them practice for hours, and the Jackson children often felt inadequate for him. When they did become successful he tried to control their careers even as they became adults. Michael was slammed and bad mouthed by the media constantly, but he still found ways to be positive and help others. I think we can all learn from him because not every person we encounter is going to love us. The important thing is that we stand up for what we believe in even if it means being hated for it.
In conclusion, Michael was an amazing artist that brought more to the table than just good music. Later in his career, he decided to lash out on inequality and the wrong people do to the world. “Black or White” was a song to bash racial inequality and promote equal rights for all. His point was not interpreted well in the beginning, but after analyzing the video many begin to see his purpose. The video also helped him achieve publicity and sell Dangerous when it hit the shelves.
Symbolism of “Earth Song,” by Robert Price, ENG 102 Sec 401
In Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song” video there are many points to which symbolism is displayed. Most of the symbols seem to drive home the same point. The basis of the video and song are understood easily by the majority of the population that enjoyed Michael Jackson’s music. Michael Jackson was in fact one of the most successful musicians in modern history and could be remembered for all time for his contributions to music. Michael Jackson was not just as a musician but as a self-proclaimed artist it is only logical that he would put as much of an imprint of himself in his work as possible; however, not knowing Michael Jackson personally leaves many unanswered questions as to some of the symbolic meanings of his work “Earth Song.”
The video starts off with different settings from around the world, it seems. Each area has been negatively affected by some factor. The factors seem to be somewhat displayed but could this be swaying the opinion of the audience? The African group that is looking over the corpse of an elephant who has been killed for what it seems for no more than its tusks, yet there is no indication as to where the cause of the problem stemmed from. The group that lived in the forest also experienced a life and cultural changing event. The forest was shown as being cut down by man, but no reason is given as to why the forest is being cut. The family in what seems like a European setting is clearly affected by war, but why? All of these events show how negative things can happen to this world, but none of them clearly point to the cause or motives for the action. The causes for all of these events make it appear that the people directly affected by the acts were innocent bystanders, but what if the tables were turned and these people were the direct cause of these problems? Would people have a different feeling about the song? Let’s say the African tribesmen overhunted their lands or made money off of European big game hunters. Would it change anyone’s perspective? Even though the video does not show a single exchange of money, it seems to display that the cause of greed is to blame for these horrible acts.
The video allows the viewer to see a variety of cultures, sexes, and ages. It does not limit the pain and suffering to a single group. From the African plains to the European village the video shows that problems are not just limited to one part of the world. The problems are not limited to a single age group. The problems are not limited to males or females. These problems are portrayed on a larger than life scale which affects all walks of life. Does this drown out the emphasis of the problem or amplify them? It seems that in all fairness, one, being Michael Jackson, would not want to single out any one group for threat of a protest against his work, but at the same time not want to sacrifice the integrity of his work. The point could be a message in itself or a mere pleasing notion to calm the mass viewer’s opinions.
The display of corruption is not shown in the video, which leaves the mind to wonder as to why the problems have truly erupted. There is not a display of wealth really shown anywhere in this video. From the clothes everyone is shown wearing in the video, it would suggest that the affected people have not been truly indoctrinated into the twentieth century. The closest display of modernization would be the family affected by war but almost suggests that the acts have already been committed. Could the video suggest that all of the problems these people are facing have been committed by their predecessors? Could the attire by the cultures express a meaning of purity before the modern age? Even though the clothing may truly be a display of a timeless collaboration of eras, it only shows one aspect of those times. One thing the video is missing from each group it focuses on is wealthy people. In some way it may seem that the rich are immune to such suffering and pain. Maybe it is an indication that the cause of these problems is because of the rich society. Even Michael himself is shown wearing torn and tattered clothing. Not a single dollar bill or gold coin is exchanged. This may suggest that these problems do not stem from greed alone but possibly from human nature. The absence of wealth from the video could very well be an indication as to the cause of many of these problems or just seen as a clutter and less driven of a depiction.
The storm in the video has to be one of the single biggest mysteries of the entire production. Where did it stem from and what is its purpose? All of the different groups drop to their knees and grab the soil in what seems like an attempt to revitalize mother earth. While it may be conceived that all of these groups could be attempting to revitalize the earth, it could also be perceived that these people could have given up all hope and be digging themselves a shallow grave upon which they could join their now deadened world around them. Shortly after the storm begins Michael Jackson started saying “what about us” as if the storm is a way of the world doing an entire reset on the pain caused by its inhabitants. The storm shows the world restoring to its previous state as the trees are being put back in place and the wild animals begin to roam once more. With the world resetting itself, does this point give everyone a chance to correct the problems that got them to this point, or does it give a chance to do it all over again?
Many of the symbols displayed are just what viewers would expect from a quality piece of artwork and that is unanswered. So many of the points portrayed could be interpreted in a different way and that is the way Michael Jackson would have wanted it. To be a true artist, one has to be a magician and not reveal the secret of the show. The more points one person makes the more questions another person will have. The answers to the riddles will now forever be sealed in the memory of the mastermind. Could all of these symbols actually be purposeful and carry true in-depth meaning, or just a lucky decision in an attempt to make a quality production? The work may have very well been an attempt to make the world question its intent, and if that is the case, the intent was met extremely well.
Michael Jackson: Much More Than The King of Pop by Steve Hardiman, ENG 102 Sec 402
Michael Jackson’s life and legacy remain a constant debate amongst the public. Depending on the source, Jackson could be depicted in many different ways. However, what cannot be disputed and what differentiates him from other pop icons was his commitment in helping those less fortunate and tackling social issues. Throughout Jackson’s career he used his status as “The King of Pop” to bring significant cultural problems to the forefront of mainstream dialogue. Although the same can be said for a handful of other singers and songwriters, no one could match the effectiveness of his delivery method. Filled with provocative gestures, over the top theatrics, and an unparalleled ability to dance, Jackson was not only the King of Pop, but a devoted activist with the largest platform in the world. The best example of Jackson’s prowess as an entertainer and activist is the song “Black or White.” In “Black or White,” Jackson looks into the lifelong struggles he and so many other African Americans endure to their race. Jackson also mentions the escalating gang wars in the United States and ongoing territorial disputes in the Middle East, due to ethnicity or religion.
On the surface, much of Michael Jackson’s dancing and antics may seem like a show or a cheap tactic for attention, but this was far from the case. Michael understood that in order for his message to reach beyond the pop music genre, he needed to be innovative, bold, and controversial. Jackson knew that he needed to create a persona with limitless reach, establishing the largest platforms for his performances and music videos. If Michael was a conservatively dressed, mildly theatric artist, his ideologies would most likely have ended at the music fringes. Recognizing this, Michael spared no expense creating grandiose concerts and compiling his music videos. Using his natural abilities and all the theatrics, Michael’s reach and influence stretched far beyond a pop star. While the conversation may have started about his controversial antics and videos, the curiosity and debate led people to the lyrics, and from the lyrics they would inevitably consume the message he was trying to convey.
“Michael Isn’t Asking For Equality, He Is Demanding It”-Steve Hardiman
“Black or White” is one of the most watched videos of all time. Most people would be hard pressed to find someone who hadn’t seen it, or at minimum, knew the chorus. In this song, Michael Jackson makes a loud statement, not only for African Americans, but for all sects and nationalities. The chorus and the initial theme of the song are seen as a plea for equality. However, upon looking deeper into the lyrics, or coupling them with the video, it is apparent that Michael isn’t asking for equality, he is demanding it. Not only demanding it for him, but for all races, and all people. In the line, “I ain’t scared of your brother, I ain’t scared of your sheets,” he takes a direct shot at the Ku Klux Klan and racism in general. When he says, “Protection for gangs, clubs, and nations/causing grief in human relations/it’s a turf war on a global scale/I’d rather hear both sides of the tale,” take aim at gang wars in the major cities of the United States and the constantly disputed territory of the middle east. Jackson is pushing for patience and understanding rather than jumping into wars. Michael’s bold video for “Black or White” removes any subtleties that, however unlikely, might exist from the radio or lyrics. With each verse, sometimes with each line, there is an incredibly blunt, unapologetic image from the video. From the faces changing from black to white by flashing through all of the races in between, to the dancing with indigenous peoples in the jungle, tap dancing, crotch grabbing, destruction to the streets, all the way through Michael morphing in the shape of a black panther. There is a lot written about the various images, their meanings, importance to the song, and deeper subliminal intentions of Michael. Of course the black panther and cat, in some way, represents The Black Panther organization. Clearly the burning cross was about the KKK and coincided with the line “ain’t afraid of no sheets.” His edgy dance moves and tap dancing could mean any number of viable ethnic messages. However, while there is a slant to his message due to his particular race, the intended message is the one that’s easily remembered. Just like the title says, it doesn’t matter if you are “Black or White” or anything in between. Organizations that do not stand for equality should not be tolerated, be it a country, gang, police, or sect. Every word and image was chosen for a specific reason, some of them apparent, others are debatable. More importantly, the idea of equality is force fed to the viewer by the sights and sounds. Opinions ranging from good, bad, or indifferent, as long as people watch, listen, and discuss the song, Michael’s objective was met. Years later, in 2013, we are still at it. Debating and analyzing the song, keeping the idea of equality in our thoughts.
In conclusion, Michael Jackson’s impact on the world could not be overstated. He sold millions of albums; he remained at the center of pop music from the “Jackson 5″ and even after his death through the present. He lived a flamboyant, controversial, but most of all, impactful life. Although his merits did not receive the same publicity as his controversies, Michael Jackson, through his stardom, shed light on so many prevalent issues, he spent countless hours visiting terminally sick children and financing their procedures. Throughout his life he spent untold amounts of money helping the less fortunate. As seen through “Black or White,” Michael did not fear the scrutiny he endured from his outspoken and divisive convictions. If there was an important issue to be dealt with, Jackson gave all of himself to combat it. Jackson used every avenue to express himself and his messages: images, lyrics, dancing, and his attire. Michael Jackson made so many songs, produced bestselling albums and performed on the biggest stages. Throughout Michael’s adult life, he developed and harnessed his immense popularity and wealth, directing it towards helping the needy and the environment. For all his accomplishments as an entertainer, he was equally important as an activist.
“If there was an important issue to be dealt with, Jackson gave all of himself to combat it”-Steve Hardiman
Black or White”: The Mystery of the Panther Dance by Tanya Stallworth, ENG 102 Sec 402
I remember sitting in front of the television back in 1991 waiting for Michael Jackson’s new video to premier on MTV. People were talking about it because it had been years since he had a new song. I was just excited because I was a big fan. I was only ten years old but I loved his music. So sitting at my Dad’s we patiently waited for the video. Finally the video came on. I had a million questions for my Dad and he explained to me about the meaning behind the video. He said Michael Jackson was showing us that racism was bad and we should all love one another. A simple answer that was understood by my ten year old self. We were dancing to the song and having a great time and when we thought the video ended, there was Michael in the alley morphing from a panther. This is where the video got interesting. I always loved his dancing so here I was in front of the television watching him then I got confused because he started screaming and yelling and breaking things. As a ten year old I was utterly confused. As an adult I have a better understanding of what is going on.
“As a ten year old, I was utterly confused”-Tanya Stallworth
In the beginning, Michael morphed from a panther to himself. The panther symbolizes the Black Panther party. I believe he was a strong follower of their beliefs for the equality of black people in America, being a civil rights activist. Cats also are very independent and they move with stealth and grace. In the original video I didn’t remember graffiti on the windows that were broken by Michael Jackson in the video, then later I found out they were added due to censoring issues after the video was aired originally. The graffiti that is added basically shows that Michael was angry about the racism that is going on around us. Honestly, even before they added the graffiti, if you understood Michael’s work you would know he was against racism. He was always talking about loving one another. The dancing, oh the dancing! Michael Jackson is an artist plain and simple. He expresses himself through his music, which is his art. He was also a dancer. I remember the Oprah interview where he said he just moves to the beat. In this particular situation there was no music. So since there wasn’t any music I believe he was doing a dance interpretation of how he felt about the situation at hand, racism.
There was a lot of criticism about the fact that he touched his crotch. Honestly, I have no answer for that because Michael Jackson always touched his crotch when he danced. I think he did it because he knew it would make someone angry. Now I have to agree with Rev. Kauffmann when she spoke of the statement of contempt that he portrayed when he zips his pants during the dance sequence. As an African American I always hear things about “the white man this” and “the white man that” so I can relate to the fact she said that he was basically saying that whites wanted blacks to be quiet and not propagate. I think he was telling them you can’t shut me up! I have learned about the history of tap dancing in Black history classes that I have taken over the years and as fantastic as the form of dance is, the origin is an interesting one. Dating back to slavery when the slaves were on ships and transported to America they were forced to exercise by dancing. Over time, it evolved by being fused with European dance styles into tap dancing as we know it today. So I believe that he used tap dancing to symbolize slavery and racism.
There were also different symbols of events in black history. One that stands out the most is the one that is stated in Rev. Kauffmann’s essay about the riots in Chicago after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in the 1960′s. In the end Michael Jackson morphed back into the black panther, walking away an independent, graceful and stealthy black man into the wild-or as we know it, America.
“When Michael Spoke, Everyone Listened”-Tanya Stallworth
True enough this video has been interpreted many ways by many people over the years and will be for many years to come. What I can honestly say is that when Michael spoke, everyone listened. Years after his death people are still listening. Now let’s hope they hear his message. Stop the hate, love one another, and heal the world.
A True Lament by John Estes, ENG 102, Sec 402
A look back at the history of mankind reveals all the problems and injustice we have endured on this earth. While various religions and groups of thinkers have tried to make sense of our sad history, it seems that individuals who are burdened by these things are the ones who really lament the times we live in. Someone who laments is someone who is sad about the present circumstances they live in and who uses their words to attempt to bring about change. Every age has had someone who sees injustice or other wrongdoings and stands up to address these issues and stop them. Even the words of a song can have the power of a lamentation and a desire to change the world. Changing the world might seem ambitious, but that is what Michael Jackson was. Never was this truer than in Michael’s epic masterpiece “Earth Song.” While none of Michael Jackson’s songs are ordinary, “Earth Song” is especially significant to him on many levels. “Earth Song” is a true lament in every sense of the word.
The first thing to notice about the song is how downbeat it is. It is very sad when Michael begins to ask questions about the various injustices that go almost unnoticed every day. The way he sings it is very beautiful but also haunting. He comes across as someone who is truly burdened by the state of the earth. He reminds us of how people are hurting the earth and each other. But Michael had to go through his own journey of revelation and spirituality before coming to this conclusion. He was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness and was made to adhere to their rigorous doctrines. What makes this religion different from others is what they believe about “End Time” and the apocalypse. Michael was taught to believe that these events were inevitable and that God would take care of all the sin and problems on the earth when these events took place. As an adult, he began questioning these doctrines. As he saw the world with its many problems and social injustices, he also saw the beauty that we may one day return to completely. Of course, this was a very difficult time when Michael was struggling with his faith and the beliefs he had grown up with. Ultimately, he broke away from the Jehovah’s Witnesses, coming to the revelation that if we want social change, we must be the ones to make it happen. These were the events that led to Michael Jackson’s lament “Earth Song” and to his newfound beliefs about the world and the change we could bring to it.
The song’s call for a change in these circumstances is also what makes “Earth Song” a true lament. There are several lines in the song that use the word “you” to directly address the listener. Michael is trying to get the point across that although we may be the ones who have let these problems happen, we are also the ones who have the power to stop them. In fact, this is not limited to just one country or one problem in particular. Michael has the whole world in mind when he calls for change. He is telling us that our acknowledgement of the sorry state of the world must also be accompanied by deliberate action to reverse course. When Michael lists these problems facing the world, all of the evil we have done to it seems so senseless. All of the war, destruction, racism, prejudice, death, and disease seem so out of hand and impossible to counteract. But what makes “Earth Song” a happy song as well as a sad one is that we do have the power to bring about change. This is what Michael wants the listener to grasp in this song. This is not merely some fun song to listen to, although it is very enjoyable on that level. But this is a song with a specific purpose in mind. Michael put several years and much hard work into this masterpiece, so it is only appropriate that we as listeners give thought to the words of the song and their meaning. It is especially important to fans because of its link to Michael Jackson’s own journey and spiritual struggle to arrive at these ideas. Toward the end of the song, Michael asks if we really do care about all of the injustice we see around us. He is putting his all into making us understand his lament. It should not be a personal lament, but one that we should share with Michael. The view of the world is one that we need to join. Michael always believed that we could accomplish great things if we tried. During his lifetime, he gave to charities and visited sick children in the hospital, doing everything he could to change peoples’ lives even outside of his music career. He truly practiced what he preached.
“During his lifetime, he gave to charities and visited sick children in the hospital, doing everything he could to change peoples’ lives even outside of his music career. He truly practiced what he preached.”-John Estes
Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song” should be considered a true lament. It is a song that laments the atrocities done on the earth and to it. Michael’s breaking away from his religion, his travels around the world, and his spiritual journey have culminated in this epic masterpiece of music history. Even after his unfortunate death, Michael’s song is still inspiring people to bring about social and environmental change. The song is not about preaching at its listener, but rather it is pleading with the world to heal itself. We do not have to wait on God to bring about apocalypse on the earth in order to change it; God can work through us and use us to heal the world. This is very similar to God giving his message to prophets about something that needs to change or bad things will happen. Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song” is certainly a message to show us about our actions. That is truly what makes it a timeless song for us to think about as well as to enjoy its beauty.
Has The Media Conspiracy Against Michael Now Expanded To Include His Kids As Well?
This has not been an easy week for anyone who cares about Michael Jackson and, by extension, his children. In addition to the sleazy autopsy show that aired on UK’s Channel 5, the UK press also published a fake story about Michael’s youngest child Blanket.
The story, which appeared to have originated with the Daily Star, claimed that Blanket Jackson had produced a “disturbing” animated video titled “Kill Them All” about a young boy who avenges his father’s murder. This story proved to be completely false, as the video in question is actually part of a series by two brothers names Nyarko who just happen to have the first names Prince and Michael-hence, the use of the moniker Prince Michael II in the credits.
But let’s back up. True, it didn’t take vigilant fans long to crack this mystery. But even before we were aware that the story was complete baloney, something just seemed very fishy and “off” about this piece. What is even more “disturbing” (since they love that word so much) is what this latest shameful tabloid scandal reveals about the true nature of the media and its ongoing conspiracy against Michael Jackson and his family.
I hesitated on re-printing the contents of the original article, since the story has now been deleted from most (though by no means all) media outlets who ran it. However, I have to assume that at least a few readers may be unaware of this story and how it was subsequently handled. In order to understand the context of what I am addressing, it may be necessary to re-print it, but only to let readers know just how outrageous this story was to begin with, and also, subsequently how poorly it has been handled since all of these publications have learned they screwed up and slandered an 11-year-old kid. There are times when simple deletion may be good enough, but not once a story has already been put out, consumed by the masses, and copied and pasted around the world. And not when its subject is a minor child who has now been wrongfully labeled as “disturbed” and mentally unstable. I don’t know where anyone gets the idea that something like that can just be swept under a rug. Nothing less than a full apology and formal retraction should be accepted.
But again, I’m jumping ahead. Let’s look at what The Daily Star printed last Sunday:
Horror show vendetta of Michael Jackson’s son ‘Blanket’ revealed in terrifying cartoon
MICHAEL Jackson’s youngest son yesterday launched a “disturbing” cartoon series about a young boy avenging the murder of his father.
By Mike Parker/Published 5th January 2014
Blanket Jackson seems to still want someone to pay for his father’s death.
Long-haired Prince Michael II, who is 12 next month, is named as writer and creator of the five sketches Kill Them All.
But experts have described the four-minute films by the youngster, nicknamed Blanket, as “deeply disturbing.”
The storyline is billed as “a silent stick-man action animation about a nameless boy who witnesses his father’s murder and, 12 years later, begins a one-man crusade to kill the people responsible.”
In 2011, Dr Conrad Murray was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for administering a fatal dose of the powerful anaesthetic propofol to Jackson.
Last night a source close to the family claimed matriarch Katherine Jackson, 83, had been “unaware” of the macabre project and had “no idea” who paid the £10,000 for it to be produced and uploaded online.
“This has caught her completely off guard,” our source said. “She’s very shaken by the theme. This is a side of Blanket she never suspected was there.”
“He clearly harbours the belief that someone should be made to pay for his father’s demise”
Carl Nelsen, psychiatrist New York-based psychiatrist Carl Nelsen said: “Given the unique and well-known circumstances of Michael Jackson’s death, his son’s revenge theme in his cartoon series should be a cause for concern.
“He clearly harbours the belief that someone should be made to pay for his father’s demise, even though Dr Conrad Murray has served his jail time.
“I would say this young man might benefit from therapy – or more therapy if he has already undergone some.”
So far Blanket has avoided the publicity surrounding sister Paris, 15, and brother Prince Michael, 16.
Immediatly, the story spread like proverbial wildfire. It was picked up by Radar Online (doesn’t surprise me that Dylan Howard and The Australian Posse of which he’s a part of should play a hand), The Daily Mail, The Examiner, Yahoo, and many other outlets. It was even posted on some fan sites by shocked and upset fans who, at first, simply weren’t sure what to believe-or what to make of the story.
Even before the story was revealed as complete bs, the sinister agenda behind it was plenty enough to be upset about. Almost every tabloid that ran the story accompanied it with an unsmiling photo of Blanket (none too hard to find since the kid tends to look very solemn in most photos) and it was obvious that this ploy was intended to underline the idea of Blanket as a sinister and mentally troubled child. Or as I put it in one comment, the idea was to make Blanket look like “The Bad Seed” incarnate. Coming as it did on the heels of older sister’s Paris breakdown, I honestly believe these rags felt it would be easy to sell the idea of “Michael Jackson’s Mentally Unhinged Kids”. Okay, so maybe no one put it quite that way but it couldn’t have been more obvious; more in-your face that this was the idea they were selling.
An Expression On A Child’s Face Can Change In A Millisecond. But The Tabloids Purposely Use Misleading Pics Like This One. In Truth, Blanket Hates Paparazzi Attention-And His Most Defiant Stares Are Usually Reserved For Them!
To add further insult to injury, they went so far as to quote a psychiatrist commenting on Blanket’s mental state! And here is where it gets bizarre. They are going to such lengths-even to the point of bringing in a “child psychologist” to comment upon Blanket’t mental condition-without an IOTA of proof that Blanket was even behind the cartoon! And that isn’t speculation. We know now that they never had such proof, when it was so obvious that Blanket was never behind any such video; when the Nyarko brothers themselves have released a press statement stating that this was their production and that Blanket Jackson had no part in it, and when just a bit of basic fact checking on their part would have revealed all of this quick enough.
Stories like this latest-even if fake-highlight a disturbing trend on the media’s part to portray Michael’s children as emotionally unstable. or as victims of an emotionally unstable environment.
But again, let’s reel this back just a bit. Even before I found out it was a completely bogus story, there were some things that struck me as odd about the media’s reaction to it-or at least the reaction they were trying to so hard to sell to the public.
The first revelation for me was that I watched the video and…well, call me desensitized if you want, but nothing about it seemed particularly shocking or disturbing to me-even if a kid had been behind it. Especially given the content of most kids’ video games these days, or the films they typically watch. Many astute viewers picked up on the similarities to “Kill Bill,” the Quentin Tarantino flick in which Uma Thurman’s character returns to seek revenge against those who had tried to kill her. To be honest, my first thought was that if Blanket had indeed produced this, then he must be one heck of a brilliant, creative kid. We’ve all seen his cam videos that were leaked awhile back, and he certainly seemed like a very imaginative kid.
But…even if we gave him that, it was pretty obvious that this video is not the work of an 11-year-old kid. While crude in its way, it is still much more sophisticated than anything an 11-year-old child, even a very brilliant one, would be capable of producing. Frankly, nothing about this story was adding up.
Secondly, nowhere in the video is the name Michael Jackson-or, for that matter, any specific names associated with Michael Jackson-ever mentioned. So even if, let’s say, these writers genuinely believed this video was made by Blanket, on what were they basing the automatic assumption that the storyline was supposed to be about a plan to avenge his own father’s death? Couldn’t it have just as easily been a case of a kid with a vivid imagination who has seen one too many action-adventure movies?
Nothing About This Video Remotely Hinted That Its Storyline Had Anything To Do With Michael Jackson Or His Death…Yet That Didn’t Stop Sleazy Tabloids From Running With This Story
What I’m saying here is that even beforebeing made aware that this was a fake story, there were a lot of problems with the way the story was being handled. It was already a case of a hasty assumption, and again, this was even before the press release from Morphline Productions. So clearly, there was a conspiracy afoot. These tabloids knew they had no proof that Blanket was behind the video. But what’s more-even with the coincidence and circumstantial evidence of the name “Prince Michael II” appearing in the credits-they had no direct proof or correlation that this was a story about avenging the murder of Michael Jackson. Someone simply decided to draw that conclusion, obviously because it would be sensationalistic and would generate headlines. It is bad enough that they obviously didn’t bother fact checking to make sure that there wasn’t a possibility of someone other than Michael Jackson’s son being behind this-like maybe-duh!- someone else who just happened to share the same name. Oh, no, that’s bad enough, but then add to that the fact that they couldn’t even be bothered to find out if their false assumption was correct (because to do so would have ruined a great headline). No, it was much easier just to run with it and truth be damned.
Ah, but the story doesn’t end there. As I said, it didn’t take long for the true identities of those behind Morphline Productions to be known. And, even more bizarrely, it took a little known outlet called Mosh News to do one simple task that none of the bigwig publications could be bothered to do-that is, to actually contact Morphline Productions. They were also the first to report that it was a false story.
Blanket Jackson’s name was used by the Daily Star in a story talking about a YouTube series called “Kill Them All”, and according to a source directly within the company behind the YouTube channel, Jackson “has nothing to do with the series.”
In a story by the Daily Star, the tabloid used the headline, “Horror show vendetta of Michael Jackson’s son ‘Blanket’ revealed in terrifying cartoon” — they also claim a source close to the family told of Katherine Jackson’s concern and being “unaware” that Blanket was venturing down a path of getting “pay-back for his fathers death” which is what the Daily Star keep going over. In a small snippet below an image of Blanket the publication stated, “Blanket Jackson seems to still want someone to pay for his father’s death”
We spoke to someone behind the “Kill Them All” series and they have made it clear that Blanket Jackson has no affiliation with the company. The closest the company have with the Jackon’s is the names of the two brothers behind the project, Prince and Michael. They told us, “We used to use the name Prince Michael II as pseudonym but after we registered our show on IMDB and found out there was some one else called Prince Michael II we changed it to Prinse Micheal II”
And here is the press release that they sent out to the media:
PRESS RELEASE FROM MORPHLINE PRODUCTIONS Monday, 06 January 2014 7:28 AM
“Prince Michael aka Blanket Jackson II has and has never had any connections with the KTAshow.
We, Morphline Pictures want to categorically state and deny the rumour spread by the Daily mail and other tabloids that Prince Michael Jackson II (“PMJ II”) has had or continues to have any connection with our show. PMJ II is an innocent 11 year old whom these tabloids are smearing with this false rumour.
“Kill Them All” is an animated series produced by Morphline Pictures and written by brothers “Prince” and “Michael” who used to work under the pseudonym “Prince Michael II” which is not connected to and has never been connected to PMJ II.
We, Morphline Pictures would like to take this opportunity to apologise to the Jackson Family especially Prince Michael for any harm this may have caused.”
Some have questioned the intent of the Nyarko brothers and their role in all of this. Could it have all been a publicity stunt? Did they intentionally use the name of Michael’s son and the tragic circumstances of Blanket’s father’s death to promote their KTA show? They have denied such accusations vehemently and without further proof, we should probably at least extend them the benefit of the doubt. From what I am gathering, it looks as though they have been very generous and cooperative with fans in setting the record straight. Some have asked how could they not know that Michael’s son is named Prince Michael II? That’s a good question but we have to remember that very few people other than Michael’s diehard fans are even aware that Blanket is only the child’s nickname. So it’s certainly possible that they didn’t know (although I did find it interesting that the name of their production company also sounds a lot like “Morphine.” Coincidence?).
Regardless, one thing that is for sure is that what happened this week just may well rank as a new all-time low for the tabloid press. They displayed an all too trigger quick desire to portray Michael’s eleven-year-old son as a mentally disturbed individual, and as I commented on social media earlier this week, this seems symptomatic of a much bigger problem with how the media in general has been treating Michael’s kids. When it became apparent that Michael had been a great father and that his kids, via their public appearances, had come across as “surprisingly normal and well adjusted” (those adjectives the press always liked to use) it seemed from that point forward there was a desperate search for any chink-any sign that all may not be well. When Paris attempted suicide, it was a foregone conclusion that the media would stop at nothing to expose what some may have smugly perceived as the dysfunction of Michael’s children.
Paris’s Recent Issues Should Serve As A Reminder To The Media The Precarious Situation And Vulnerability of Michael’s Children-But Instead, They Only Look For Any Excuse To Further Exploit Them
It is a double-edged sword because, on the one hand, these kids do have a lot of public sympathy (at the very least, lip service public sympathy). Few would dispute that they’ve certainly endured enough trauma in their lives. Yet, while feigning sympathy, the media is always ever ready to exploit their tragedy.
Then, of course, comes the ever convenient excuse to bash the “dysfunction” of the Jackson family-yet another excuse to highlight what a poor choice of guardian Katherine is. I suspect that may have been at least part of the reason for the story. They were banking on the idea that even if the story was built on the flimsiest evidence, it would generate controversy and hits by stirring up the usual anti-Jackson sentiments.
However, this highlights another important reason why the publication of this story ranks as despicable and unethical journalism. Michael Jackson’s children are vulnerable. Between the stun gun incident in 2010, the “Grannygate” episode of 2012 which resulted in Katherine’s loss of sole guardianship, and Paris’s suicide attempt, they are under the ever watchful eye of Child Protective Services. Anyone who has ever had to live under that yoke knows that it is hell. Did anyone think-while publishing this fake story to get hits-of the repercussions it could have for Blanket’s life? Or that it might bring more unnecessary intrusiveness and trauma into his life?
That a media conspiracy existed against Michael isn’t just fan paranoia. It is all too real, and the actual evidence of it continues to pile up. Consider, for example, this recent piece in which Charles Thomson illustrated exactly how the UK press conspired to create the phony myth that Michael was booed at the 2006 World Music Awards:
The UK press, for whatever reason, has been and remains an especially guilty party to this conspiracy. What we saw this week was little more than another play on the same old spin-only this time they got caught.
But instead of doing the ethical thing, which would be to admit their f*&%-up and offer an official retraction, the biggest players in this fiasco have taken the coward’s way out by simply tucking tail and deleting the story. Yes, that’s the way. Let’s just pretend this whole bit of embarrassing unpleasantry never happened.
Meanwhile, the story still remains up on several of the sites who simply cut and pasted the initial story, thus continuing to perpetuate this lie to any readers who will not be savvy enough to research it any further.
Here are some addresses and contacts that have been shared with me on social media, and which I will gladly share here.
In closing, I’ll just add some final words about Blanket. I read a lot of what is said about him-by fans, by haters, and everything in between. It bothers me that the false picture keeps being painted of a morose and sullen youngster. “Blanket is so quiet, so shy,” people say. “He never seems to smile. He never looks happy.” I even see the cruel speculations as to whether he is, in fact, “normal.” People ask, Is he slow? Is there something emotionally wrong with him?
Hogwash. I have seen Blanket interacting with his siblings, his family, and the fans. He laughs. He loves to joke and pull pranks. He has a contagious smile and giggle that lights up the sphere-just like his dad. From what I have observed, he can be a bit stubborn when he doesn’t want to do something. He is very much his own kid. But in that regard, again, not any different from his famous dad.
He is shy, yes. But I suspect only with strangers. I’ve seen a lot of kids like him, and he is not at all unusual in that regard. He is a normal kid who, like his siblings, just happened to be born into extraordinary circumstances. And who, let’s not forget, has endured a terrible tragedy. No doubt, that trauma has left its mark on him. But he is coping and adjusting as well as can be expected for any child.
Like his siblings, he is making the best of those extraordinary circumstances and the tragedy of losing a parent, and is living his life.
I wish this could be the last time that I will say to the world, please let him alone and let him live it.
If only it were that easy.
ETA 1/12/14: Although I posted this article last night, I wanted to add one more thing. You know how sometimes you get these nagging thoughts that just won’t go away? Here is something to consider: Why does the media only seem to insist that Michael was murdered when it is convenient for them, in order to sell a good story, while they paradoxically spend the rest of the time trying to convince the public that Michael was responsible for his own death?