Factions, Factions, Everywhere a Faction! Who Really Pays the Price?

Is Michael's Legacy Being Slowly Crucified By His Own Fandom?
Is Michael’s Legacy Being Slowly Crucified By His Own Fandom?

Once again, I’m feeling the need to take time out from my favorite subject-Michael Jackson-to address a semi-related topic. It’s a topic that isn’t pleasant, but nevertheless, one that every so often rears its ugly head and must be addressed. I’m talking, of course, about the fandom. Not that it’s any news that we don’t all agree. I have long ago accepted the fact that the divide between us is simply too deep to ever bear hope of reconciliation, The ideologies and faction loyalties that have created those divides are simply too vast, I now believe, to ever be brought together. So this post, unlike some past others I have done on this topic, isn’t about some idealistic hope that we can just put aside our differences and get along. What I want to address specifically, however, is a disturbing by-product of this faction division, and how it is impacting Michael’s legacy in the world beyond the fanbase. In the last few months, I have been appalled to see many of the best and most noted Michael Jackson scholars and writers being bullied and lynched-often to the point of having to remove themselves from social media. In the more extreme cases, it has resulted in some of their valuable works actually being removed from availability, whether voluntarily or involuntarily. What is most disturbing is that it isn’t haters who are leading these efforts to censor positive and important writings on Michael Jackson. Rather, these efforts are coming from within the fan base.

The most recent example was the removal of Joe Vogel’s article “I Ain’t Scared of No Sheets: Rescreening Black Masculinity in Michael Jackson’s ‘Black or White'” following a claim of plagiarism from The Michael Jackson Academia Project (the article has since been reinstated).

You can read a more detailed discussion of the controversy over this dispute here.

For my purposes, I’m not going to get into debating the validity or non-validity of those claims, as that debate has already been pretty much hashed out on Dancing With the Elephant and elsewhere. However, I do see this latest controversy as yet one more example of how fan faction rivalries are impacting works that are written on Michael Jackson. And this is what it all comes down to. What I find most disturbing in this particular case is that the claims of plagiarism seemed more of an excuse than anything-an excuse to bring down a scholar and writer simply for not not towing a certain line within the fan base ideology.

This isn’t about supporting or not supporting the estate executors. It isn’t about taking a hardline stance against Sony, or not. As I’ve said many times, my own personal views are neutral when it comes to issues of the estate. I do not align myself one way or the other, with either faction, and the reason for that is largely because it is important to me to maintain the balanced objectivity that I feel is so vitally important to what I do. As a journalist, I do feel it is important to maintain a certain level of objectivity on these issues. I certainly don’t mind raising the tough questions about the estate. By the same token, I’m not opposed to posthumous releases (as long as Michael’s standards of excellence are maintained) or projects like Cirque du Soleil. These kinds of projects are important for carrying on Michael’s legacy. However, I have been opposed to other issues such as the sale of Neverland, and overall, I have been willing to keep an open mind on issues pertaining to the validity of the will. And I have always felt it is important to listen, even when you don’t agree, and that even when you do disagree, you should be able to do so with civility. I have a lot of supporters and followers from both sides of the camp, and I have been largely able to achieve this due to my willingness to treat all views fairly and respectfully. I can also say that I have met a lot of good people on both sides of the estate rivalry, and that there are people among both camps who I count among some of my dearest friends and supporters. Thus, as you can see, these kinds of issues are never easy or pleasant to address because no matter what I say, or how civilly I try to say it, someone will accuse me of taking sides. However, this isn’t about siding with any one faction, as I have seen this kind of behavior, to greater or lesser extent, from all factions. But the bottom line is that we really need to stop these kneejerk assumptions that every writer who has achieved some level of mainstream success by writing positively about Michael Jackson is somehow in league with Sony or the estate. Trust me, these are the kinds of things that make MJ fans look like a bunch of looney tunes to the outside world.

Fans Will Usually Unite Against Controversial Books From Questionable Journalists, But Are Often Divided Over Books and Authors From Within the Ranks
Fans Will Usually Unite Against Controversial Books From Questionable Journalists, But Are Often Divided Over Books and Authors From Within the Ranks

It used to be that whenever a new book about Michael Jackson would come out, fans were usually united in either praising or condemning it. There were writers who admired and respected Michael, and who were interested in truth and fairness. And then there were those whose only interest was in sensationalism and falsehoods to drive the sales of their books. There were writers who genuinely admired Michael, and writers whose only agenda was to tear him down. The lines were clearly drawn, and a fan always knew where they stood in regards to those consumer choices. How I long for the simplicity of those days!

Now there is so much paranoia and suspicion-even within the fan base-that no writer is immune to it.  Immediately, it seems, if a writer or scholar is simply interested in writing about Michael’s art, and is not interested in engaging in the politics over the estate and Sony, that person immediately becomes a target of suspicion and abuse. However, there are many and varied reasons why a writer, journalist, or scholar may have no interest in addressing those issues. Perhaps because those issues are not relevant to their works (and indeed, we must ask if it is truly necessary that a scholar interested in studying only Michael Jackson’s music or cultural impact is somehow obligated to also become an anti-estate camp follower) or perhaps because, for most scholars and journalists, these kinds of issues are simply not their concern or their area of expertise. I am quite certain, for example, that not every scholar or journalist who writes on The Beatles, Bob Dylan, or any other culturally significant artist is obligated to concern themselves with issues of the artists’  executors or record companies, at risk of censorship and even the public stoning of their own, personal reputations.

So why is this the case with Michael Jackson? Those answers are certainly more complex than any one article can address. But the bottom line is that it should be the writer’s choice whether they wish to engage themselves in the politics of the anti-estate faction, or if they simply want to write about Michael’s music and cultural impact. I am still a little fuzzy on how those boundaries have become so apparently blurred (and if someone cares to enlighten me, I’ll gladly hear you out; as I said, all views are respected here).

But an excellent case in point would be D.B. Anderson, who late last year published an explosive article in the Baltimore Sun that was, to my knowledge, one of the first pieces to draw the connection between Michael Jackson’s music and #BlackLivesMatter.  Although fans and some scholars have been addressing the black activism of Michael Jackson’s music for years, this was an important and eye opening piece for introducing that concept to the mainstream media. Anderson then followed that piece with another article that served as a scathing expose of Sony’s scheme to sabotage “They Don’t Care About Us.” But apparently even writing a scathingly critical article against Sony was not enough to convince some factions that Anderson wasn’t somehow in league with Sony. I saw many of the tweets that went back and forth during this time. Apparently they had wanted Anderson to write an article exposing the estate, and Anderson had refused because it was not his area of expertise or interest, nor relevant to his own purpose.  I still don’t get the idea of targeting a random journalist, just because they have had a few popular pieces, and essentially trying to threaten them into writing articles that they have obviously expressed no interest in writing. So has it come down to the fact that writers who choose to write about Michael Jackson are no longer free to choose their subject matter or approach in what they wish to write about Michael? Is it no longer enough just to write about the music? I honestly don’t know sometimes. Over the past few years, I’ve seen people attacked for so many stupid reasons that it isn’t even funny anymore. And apparently, unless a blogger or journalist devotes themselves to screaming rants against Branca and Sony non-stop, 24-7, they are considered a supporter, a “fake fan,” or a paid employee. And as I have so often seen, these accusations are often made without merit.

I could understand the criticisms better if the writers in question were actively and vocally supporting the estate, but nowhere have I seen that to be the case. The only exception, to my knowledge, may be Zack O’Mally Greenburg’s book but since that is one I still haven’t read yet (yeah, I know it’s been out awhile but I only have so much dough for MJ books and only so much time in a day, lol) I can’t vouch for its contents. However, my understanding of the book is that it is also one of the few that gives Michael his props as the brilliant businessman that he was, and one that gives him full credit for building his own empire. Doesn’t exactly sound like a negative message to me, but again, I will have to read it before I can fairly judge it.

Despite Having Written The First Truly Comprehensive Book On Jackson's Musical Legacy, Joe Vogel Is One Of The Authors Who Have Come Under Fire.
Despite Having Written The First Truly Comprehensive Book On Jackson’s Musical Legacy, Joe Vogel Is One Of The Authors Who Have Come Under Fire.

I can say, however, that I am certainly familiar with everything that Joe Vogel has ever written on Michael. His books, Man in the Music and Earth Song: Inside Michael Jackson’s Magnum Opus, are books I have relied on for a number of years to help educate students about the cultural impact of Michael’s music. Vogel’s  writing style, which constitutes a tasteful and balanced blend between the popular and the academic, is perfect for classroom use, especially at the freshman and sophomore level. My students respect Mr. Vogel’s works immensely, as do I, because his writings enable them to clearly understand the cultural importance of Michael’s work without the feeling that they are being “talked down to.” These are books that chronicle the history of Michael Jackson’s artistry. They are neither pro estate nor anti estate, which is a completely irrelevant issue to the subject. That’s why I fail to understand how these accusations of Vogel as some sort of vessel for the estate have come about. Sure, his books have been successful in reaching a mainstream audience, and his writings that have been featured in The Huffington Post, The Atlantic and many other outlets have enabled him to reach a mass audience. His work on Michael’s music has been deservedly recognized by the estate because, simply put, it is good work. And quite frankly, being asked to be included in a project as huge as Spike Lee’s Bad 25 film is an honor that any Michael Jackson writer would have eagerly accepted if asked.  I seriously doubt this offer came about because Branca and company saw Joe Vogel as a vessel to promote themselves. It was about the music, pure and simple, and Vogel’s expertise and popularity made him the perfect candidate for the job. Did it boost his own profile? Sure, it did. But what writer out there doesn’t wish to be recognized and honored for their accomplishments and expertise? I certainly do not fault Vogel-or anyone-for taking advantage of such a platform.

The Anti-Estate Faction Feels That The Estate Purposely Chooses Certain Authors To Promote. But Are The Reasons Necessarily Sinister?
The Anti-Estate Faction Feels That The Estate Purposely Chooses Certain Authors To Promote. But Are The Reasons Necessarily Sinister?

For someone like Vogel, whose works have always been meticulously documented, I find the accusations even more bizarre, as the only link I have been able to find between Vogel’s article and the videos of the Michael Jackson Academia Project is that they both deal with the topic of the “Black or White” video and the black panther symbolism. But again, as has already been pointed out in Willa’s post, it is not plagiarism when two writers merely cover the same material, or even the same ideas. For fiction writers, those lines are much more clearly drawn. For scholars, it can become admittedly trickier because no matter what you say on a subject-especially one that has been pretty much dissected and analyzed for over two decades-it’s always possible that someone else has had a similar idea, or drawn a similar conclusion. Joe Vogel certainly isn’t the first writer to address the racial themes and symbolism in the “Black or White” video, but he has always generously acknowledged the works of those previous scholars

The bottom line is that, whether we like it or not, Michael Jackson was under contract to Sony for the entire duration of his adult career. That means that all of the great work he did-all of the great music that we know, and that we celebrate as his legacy-is irrevocably tied to the company he came to despise. That is a tragic irony indeed, but it kind of is what it is. Which means there is no way we can write about, analyze, discuss, or even simply celebrate his musical legacy without at least acknowledging Sony’s role in it, for better or worse. It’s a willing disconnect that most fans make. For example, many will willingly boycott new, posthumous releases, claiming they don’t wish to support Sony or the estate, while seemingly forgetting that they are supporting those very entities every time they purchase or even dance to a copy of Thriller.  I understand that there are fans who do not support the idea of “contemporizing” Michael’s music, or even the principle of releasing music he did not approve, or worse yet, tracks whose very authenticity is in question. Those sentiments are certainly easy to understand. But what I don’t get are those fans who actively boycott every new project based simply on the principle of not supporting Sony or the estate, while continuing to purchase Michael’s back catalog of music. Do they honestly think Sony really gives a rat’s ass whether their pockets are lined from fans purchasing Number Ones as opposed to Xscape? It’s all the same to them.

But to bring the matter back to the point at hand, the fact that Sony is inextricably linked to all of the music of Michael Jackson’s adult solo legacy means that it is virtually impossible for any writer or scholar who simply wishes to write critical studies of that music to undertake such a task without, apparently, undertaking the risk of being labeled a Sony/estate supporter. It has indeed become a confusing paradox, and it is small wonder that people outside the fan community are often left puzzled and scratching their heads at the “logic” of Michael Jackson fans. You see, apparently,only in the upside down, often illogical world of the Michael Jackson fan base is it possible to be labeled a “traitor” by the simple act of celebrating an artist’s musical legacy. Here, any celebration or acknowledgment of that legacy is soon tainted with suspicion. He or she must be a hired agent of Sony or the estate (or both)! Especially at risk are those who write about the music to the exclusion of all other concerns.

Look, I know very well the arguments of both factions. I have heard them all, and as I said, there are issues on both sides that I agree and disagree with. But this isn’t about my personal views on these issues. It is about allowing all authors who choose to write positively about Michael to be able to do so without being harassed and hounded by any faction of the fan base (and yes, that includes all factions, including the rights of authors to write books that are also critical of the estate).  It is about allowing all writers to do what they do best-and to be able to choose the topics they wish to address, and that are within their area of expertise-freely without censure and harassment. Any true fan of Michael Jackson would have no objections to works that help to enlighten and educate the masses about the importance of his musical contributions, regardless of how they feel about Sony or the estate. Conversely, MJ authors who choose to write about more controversial topics are still within their rights, and should be allowed to pursue those topics freely without bullying or harassment from the opposing faction. While it may be easy for readers to get confused by such a wealth of often contradictory information, all of it is important, ultimately, to gaining an understanding of Michael Jackson-the man, the artist, and all of the forces that worked both for and against him. And the most important thing to remember is that, if you don’t like a particular book or author, no one is putting a gun to your head to make you buy, read, or support their work. There are quite a few MJ writers out there whose opinions and conclusions I could debate heartily. But disagreeing with them does not give me the right to destroy their careers, reputation, and livelihood.

To reiterate something very important that Willa mentioned in her own blog, any accusation of plagiarism is a very serious offense in the academic world. Because such accusations cannot be taken lightly, they must also not be made lightly. Case in point: When I was an undergrad at Mississippi State, one of the well respected professors in our English department, Brad Vice, was accused of plagiarizing one of the short stories in his award winning published collection. The Bear Bryant Funeral Train. Although the actual charge was debatable, the accusation alone resulted in the rescinding of many of his awards and the threat of losing his job. Here is what Brad Vice’s Wikipedia entry says about the controversy:

In late 2004 Vice’s short story collection, The Bear Bryant Funeral Train, won the Flannery O’Connor Short Fiction Award from the University of Georgia Press. The Press published the collection in late 2005. Kirkus, in a starred review, called it “distinguished and disturbing work, from a lavishly gifted new writer.”[2]Publishers Weekly agreed: “Vice has a gift for making the extraordinary plausible, for rendering complex motivations in spare but metaphoric language and searing details.”[3]

When the University of Georgia Press discovered that one of the stories in The Bear Bryant Funeral Train incorporated material from a short story by Carl Carmer, the Press accused Vice of plagiarism, revoked the Flannery O’Connor Short Fiction Award, and destroyed unsold copies of the book.

Jason Sanford, writing in storySouth, described it as a “literary lynching.”[4] A number of other writers and editors came to Vice’s defense. Jake Adam York, for instance, noted that Vice had allowed his short story and the four-page section of Carmer’s original book to be published side by side in Thicket, a journal edited by York. To York, this action by Vice “implicitly acknowledges the relationship (and) allows the evidence to be made public”. York added that doing this allowed the readers to enter the “intertextual space in which (Vice) has worked” and that what Vice was doing with his story was allusion, not plagiarism. York also stated that, according to his own analysis of Vice’s story and Carmer’s source material, Vice did not break copyright law.[5]

After Vice’s book was destroyed, remaining used copies on Amazon.com and other booksellers were selling for hundreds of dollars.[6]

In late March 2007, a new edition of the collection was published by River City Publishing. According to a report in The Oxford American, “The revised version will more closely mirror Vice’s 2001 dissertation from the University of Cincinnati, which contained many of the stories that ended up being published as The Bear Bryant Funeral Train. Unlike the UGA Press edition, it will be divided into two sections, the latter of which is set entirely in Tuscaloosa. In his dissertation, Vice described the Tuscaloosa stories as an ‘attempt to reconcile the seemingly incompatible movements of Southern regionalism and international postmodernism.’ In that vein, it contained epigraphs by Albert Camus, Basho, Guy Davenport, Bear Bryant, and, more importantly, Carmer, all of which will reappear in the River City edition.”[7]

In May 2013, Salon.com reporter Andrew Leonard revealed that Brad Vice had been the victim of a “ferocious assault” byRobert Clark Young, a writer who spent years anonymously attacking his literary enemies by inserting “revenge edits” into Wikipedia. Editing under the user name “Qworty,” Young “devoted a significant amount of intellectual and emotional energy to attacking not only Vice, but the entire community of writers centered around the Sewanee Writers’ Conference that had nurtured Vice.”[8]

So here we have, again, a case of one person who seemed to have an especial and vicious agenda to destroy a writer by bringing a charge of plagiarism-a charge that was debatable, at best. I do remember quite well when the blowup over Brad Vice’s book occurred, and of course, he had adherents and foes in both corners. In the end, some supported him and some didn’t. I cannot personally vouch for whether Vice committed willful plagiarism or if this was, indeed, a case of a literary allusion being misconstrued as plagiarism, but the end result was that a promising writer’s career was cut short amidst a wave of humiliating and disgraceful publicity, resulting in the loss of his position and livelihood. I did some recent, additional research and came across the scathing article from the above mentioned Robert Clark Young, who was apparently a huge instigator in the charge, especially when his article “A Charming Plagiarist” appeared in The New York Press. I don’t have permission to reprint his article, but you can read it here.

While I can agree, perhaps, with some of Young’s points, it doesn’t take very deep reading into his article to quickly ascertain that his real beef was with the Sewanee Writer’s Conference and the entire Sewanee community of writers centered around The University of the South in Franklin, Tennesseee-the very community that had nurtured Brad Vice early in his writing career. In fact, Young’s article devotes more space to ranting bitterly about the Sewanee writers’ group than to the actual issue of Vice’s plagiarism. For many, that was an obvious red flag.

In 2013. Robert Clark Young’s true agenda was revealed in an equally scathing piece written by Andrew Leonard for Salon.com, in which Leonard revealed how Young, under the pseudonym of “Qworty,” had extended his vendetta against the Sewanee writers by editing all of their Wikipedia pages with false or misleading information. It turned out all along that the real reason behind Robert Clark Young’s vendetta was the simple fact that his own work had been poorly received by the Sewanee committee back in 2001. One line in particular from Leonard’s expose on Young seems especially relevant to the issues we are dealing with in the MJ fan community regarding authorship and works:

If Qworty has been allowed to run free for so long — sabotaging the “truth” however he sees fit, writing his own postmodern novel — how many others are also creating spiteful havoc under the hood, where no one is watching?-Andrew Leonard.

In other words, this was a clear cut case of a writer using his own personal vendettas as an excuse to wreck havoc on other author’s reputations and livelihood. It seems all too eerily reminiscent of what is happening within the MJ fan base, whereby some parties are deliberately plotting and strategizing how to “bring down” certain authors for reasons that have to do with everything except the content of what they’ve actually written.

Tanner Colby, Co-Author of Remember The Time, Was Another Writer Bullied Into Sile4nce
Tanner Colby, Co-Author of Remember The Time, Was Another Writer Bullied Into Silence

Again, I want to stress this is not about “taking sides” on any issue or with any faction. It’s simply about what’s right. If you don’t like a certain author-if you don’t agree with their position or views-then don’t purchase their books. You can give them a one star review on Amazon, if you like. But there has to be a line drawn when it comes to actually censoring works and bringing about very serious allegations, or simply bullying a writer to the point that they no longer feel free to maintain their public profiles and social media pages. I feel this is especially tragic when the subjects of concern are writers who have maintained, for the most part, a neutral stance and are simply choosing to focus their writing on Michael Jackson’s music, his social/cultural impact and his positive contributions to humanity and the arts. None of these are issues that have any relevance to who his estate executors are or who is currently in control of that music, which means that these issues have no place in arguments against writers who are focusing on those topics. In short, if a writer’s only interest is in what Michael Jackson created and/or his social and cultural impact, those writers do not deserve to be judged by political standards that have no bearing on their work. The role of writers, journalists, and scholars who take on Michael Jackson as a subject are, for the most part, simply striving to enlighten the general populace or the academic world of an often misunderstood and maligned genius. These are not people who deserve to be caught up in the crossfire of petty fan wars and fan factions, or the ever arbitrary whims of whoever may be the latest “disciples” in control of said factions.

And again, I will say this in support of all writers-pro estate, anti estate, or completely indifferent-who have found themselves or their works to be victims of such campaigns.

On this very blog, I have given positive reviews to many books that were openly critical of the estate, and so again, this has nothing to do with siding against the anti-estate faction. There are a few of those authors, as well, whom I feel have been unfairly targeted by hate campaigns and bullying. It works both ways, and as we have seen, each and every time, the only purpose it serves is to fuel the flames of revenge by the opposing faction.  Simply put, we cannot allow our own politics to dictate which authors get heard or suppressed. If there are professional and legit issues involved, such as disputes over copyrights or infringement, those can usually be resolved peacefully and civilly behind the scenes, through the proper channels. There is no need to wage a public mud slinging campaign, and I honestly believe those who resort to such tactics are doing it more for their own attention and glory than to resolve the dispute. Perhaps, if all attempts to resolve the dispute through civility and legal channels have failed, then yes, raising public awareness of the issue may be the only alternative left. But waging terrorist tactics against writers should not be the way to resolve potentially litigious disagreements, and should always be a last resort when all other options have failed.

Look, I am not writing this to further stir the pot. I am posting it in the hope that we might all come to our senses and realize the damage we are doing to Michael’s legacy every time these battles are publicly aired. I am also writing this for every advocate of Michael Jackson whose voices, one by one, are being silenced for no justifiable reason. When it has reached the point that the biggest threat to a positive Michael Jackson legacy is coming from within his own fan base, rather than without, it is time indeed to have some serious concern. There are many talented writers, gifted journalists and insightful scholars who love writing about Michael Jackson, and who have a lot to bring to the table. But for most of them, it is not a passion that they can afford to place ahead of their own livelihood and even personal safety. When people feel those things to be threatened, the natural instinct is to protect themselves. Thus, many who used to love to write about Michael Jackson are now choosing not to. Why should they, when they feel like their only reward is bullying and harassment from so called fans? We must ask ourselves, do we really want a world in which the only narrative that exists of Michael Jackson comes from the tabloids and the likes of Diane Dimond? Or the senationalized accounts of his life by writers like Taraborelli and Halperin who basically all but ignored the musical legacy altogether? If that’s what we want, we seem to be on a fine path to achieving it. That is, if some things don’t start to change, and change soon.  We can start, first of all, by ceasing to assume that all writers have some hidden, ulterior motive or are working in league with one faction or another. In truth, most aren’t, and furthermore, could care less.  Writers don’t get rich selling books (unless their names happen to be Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, perhaps!). But many writers have ceased publishing articles or books about Michael Jackson altogether, and have claimed they will not write about him again-sadly, not because their passion for the subject has dimmed, but because they feel forced by necessity into that position. Every time I hear a writer utter those words; every time I see another writer’s Twitter account closed, a little piece of me dies-and, I feel, along with it, a little piece of Michael as well. I hope that most of them will come to see that they do have the support of many fans, and will eventually come around and realize they should continue the good work they have started. But many, I fear, will not, and who can blame them?

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Who Loses? That Answer Shouldn’t Be Hard To Figure Out!

Sure, Michael Jackson’s music will survive. Some may say that’s all that matters. But I beg to differ. The cultural narrative of his work is equally important, and will be important to those future scholars and historians who will study the cultural impact and legacy that he left behind. We owe it to them to allow for a positive, cultural body of popular and academic scholarship on Michael Jackson to exist. But if we continue to create, perpetrate and allow this environment of hostility towards writers and scholars to exist, I can only foresee a regression in which all of the past mainstream narratives we have fought so hard to eradicate will be the only alternatives available.

We must ask, is that what we want? And if that’s what we want, who ultimately loses?

144 thoughts on “Factions, Factions, Everywhere a Faction! Who Really Pays the Price?”

  1. Well done, Raven!! The individual that brought these charges against Joe Vogel also stalks and harasses anyone who does not share their beliefs. Unfortunately, he is aided by the same few over and over who are equally strident and mean spirited. One of this person’s blind supporters happens to consider himself a journalist. Some of the things I have read and how they speak to others is abusive and immature. Sometimes, I say to myself that my son at the age of 12 had more ability to converse with others, even when he disagreed, with more maturity than some of these people exhibit. We will not all agree and that’s okay but at least we could be grown ups about it.

    However, I also need to say that I do think that those journalists who have decided to leave social media and/or no longer will write about Michael Jackson seem to be very sensitive and could display a thicker skin. I can still remember days past when we encountered so many hateful and largely ignorant comments on stories about Michael. We had to roll up our sleeves, develop a very thick skin, and wade into the fray to challenge the haters. Although we still endure negative comments, thankfully they have lessened but where has all our unity gone?

    The accusation of “fake” fans is endured by so many when those who make the accusation know nothing about the people they accuse. We each have our own path we followed to our love of Michael Jackson and his art. It is a very personal journey that no one else has the right to judge. Some of the people judging were not even born when many of us were listening and loving the music of the Jackson 5 and Michael but we are still accused of being “fake” fans. Yet these same people want to lay claim to preserving Michael’s legacy. It is almost as if they are angry they don’t have the spotlight. Perhaps the attacks on the writers are merely jealousy. I don’t know. I don’t care. Their behavior has no place in this community. Get over it and grow up!

    1. The whole idea of basing fandom and/or laying some kind of “true claim” to fandom (or in the cases of journalists, credibility) based on whether someone ever attended an MJ concert or wrote about him before 2009 is absurd. If memory serves me, Vogel has stated that he began writing the book that became Man in the Mirror as his dissertation in 2005. But that is really beside the point. Since when has such criteria become the norm for judging academic scholarship? In fact, most scholars earn their living by writing on subjects who have been deceased for a hundred years or longer. I certainly wasn’t alive when The Great Gatsby was published; I never attended any of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s parties (lol, I wish!) but I’ve spent years analyzing his works and consider myself a Fitzgerald scholar. In the case of Michael Jackson, I grew up listening to the Jackson 5 and Michael Jackson, but as I’ve said many times, my interest in writing about him didn’t evolve until I started researching him after he died. When I realized there was still so much that the general public did not know, or completely misunderstood about him, that became my impetus to start writing and sharing my insights. Do I wish I had undertaken this path while he was still alive? Yes. It’s a regret I live with every day, but the past can’t be changed. We can only move forward and strive to make a difference in whatever way we can.

      And some of those who are so casually tossing that label around themselves wrote some pretty disparaging stuff about Michael while he was still alive. I don’t quite get the logic that “true fans” are/were somehow obligated to be scathingly critical of Michael’s looks, behavior, choices, etc. I don’t believe that being a fan means one can’t be critical or that one must blindly worship him. That’s not it at all. Of course there can be choices he made we don’t agree with. Nor are we obligated to think every piece of music he ever committed to vinyl is above reproach. I don’t think he was a perfect human being. I’ve heard all the stories-how difficult he could be; his tendency to “ice” people out of his life, rather than dealing with direct confrontations; his egotism at times, his complete lack of any understanding of the concept of time (which, by the way, I agree with Lisa Campbell is actually one of his more endearing foibles) but all of those things, to me, are just part of the overall package of someone I love very much-strength, flaws, and all. Does the need to constantly harp on those things, however, give one more credibility somehow? I don’t think so. I think being a fan means that we accept and own those things, just as any other legendary icon-be it James Brown, John Lennon, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, etc-who were flawed human beings but brilliant artists. By the same token, I hardly see how taking unnecessary potshots at Michael’s appearance, behavior, and other such nitpicky aspects somehow qualifies one as a “true” fan. You don’t have to agree that Michael was still sexy in the 90’s and 2000’s (I would certainly very much beg to differ, as a female observer!) but denigrating those who do doesn’t make one a truer “fan.” You don’t have to like Invincible, but don’t come telling me that only a “true fan” would criticize it. Where did it ever state that Michael’s fans were supposed to be his gatekeepers? Was it on us to control his choices, his musical output, or even how he chose to wear his hair? I am only saying this because there seems to have emerged a viewpoint, now being perpetuated by more than a few, that Michael’s fans actually somehow contributed to his “downfall.” And that is just nutsy rationalization. The logic would seem to be then, that the mainstream media was correct all along in all their presumptions about Michael, and that his fans actually exacerbated the situation by becoming apologists for him. Wow, how convenient! So, by using that rationalization, many of them can use it to cover for every disparaging thing they wrote about Michael back in the day. They can say “Oh, it was tough love.” Yes, well, look how AEG’s “tough love” tactics worked on Michael! Sorry, but some of the logic just leaves me a bit baffled.

      1. I read a recent blog that addressed this very issue…however, it was directed at MJ ‘haters’ ‘detractors’ and their approach to thinking/writing about him. ie//one can love his art and yet acknowledge and accept his ‘dark’ side at the same time. The similarities in this way of thinking are disquieting and disturbing, particularly when practiced by those who profess to be his ‘real fans’

  2. I, too was astonished that some on twitter with the help of their separate minds and the way they attack. As it was written, great writers think alike. Why was this writer attacked? He is clearly a fan by taking the time out to create. On a lighter note, fan fiction is becoming even pushed aside on some site, that chooses to be favorites of 1D ? So their novels are recommended to that d it’s readers and e-books. I thought I’d rant a little too Being a New Adult writer about our famous Knighthood . So they changed my password so I can not compete. Fine , I gladly agree. I am not a 1D fan and nobody mention that being one ☝ would get me feedback from writing communty. More power to them. Being on that site allowed me to post and to my stories. Still, They blocked me because they can easily change my characters names and presto! A real fictional love inspired bestseller. No credits to a MJ FANTASY fan fiction writer. We will get back to this blog’s topic. All for love blog . com Yes, thank you for letting the followers know we want to read everything wrote about his Knighthood. That it is possible that each novel written, a writer might have left something out. What is vastly important is that freedom to be a fan of Michael Jackson is not a crime. I truly want to read them all. His bodyguards, his clothes designers, his sibblings and parents. One day MJ3 will write three different versions. Again, our Knighthood wish to receive his Knighthood. If I had not been so selfishly locked out and blocked from MJFAMGirl account I would have proudly written it for our fanbase. It would have been a fan fiction, but with lots of imagination. I am known as The Goddess of Imagination. Never getting writer’s block. Their are other great MJ FANTASY writers that when reading we all capture the fantasy our Knighthood would have loved . He quoted he was never into the reality of it all, that he loved the fantasy that took him to places he had never been unquote. For all that we just read on this blog, Some fantasy should be welcome. “My eyes are the best books ” – MJ-

    1. I agree, La’Quita, and that is such a good point. It is vitally important to allow all of these voices to be heard, especially where there is so much disagreement. Readers need to be able to filter things from all sides (Ha! There is my own little homage to Walt Whitman!). I try to devour every account written, or as much as I am reasonably able to do within my budget and time constraints (as I said, there are still titles I haven’t been able to purchase yet). I am interested in what everyone who ever knew him has to say, whether they be family, friends, business partners or musicians. Granted, I may say afterward, “I believe that was a lot of horse manure” but even being able to make that choice-the choice to come to that conclusion-is important.

      Yes, what is important to remember is that all writers who have contributed to the positive understanding of Michael’s work are fans.

      I don’t know a lot about the world of MJ fan fiction. I enjoy some of it from time to time, but personally, I suppose, I find myself far more interested in MJ reality (lol). Still, I realize that MJ fan fiction has almost become its own genre! I tended to write a lot of fan fic when I was a kid. I think sometimes I need to do that again; just get back in touch with my inner child and let those creative juices flow like I used to, without constraints. I so envy you when you say you never have writer’s block, lol! I wish I could say the same. Unfortunately, I think being in academia and immersed in journalism for so long has somewhat diminished a lot of that raw, creative spark I used to have (it just doesn’t get the outlets it used to, and like anything that isn’t exercised often enough, gets rusty over time). Sometimes it’s fun just to indulge in a fantasy. What would life be like if I was married to Michael Jackson? Lol. What would we do if we were stranded on an island together? Double lol!

      On a more serious note, I’m sorry about your issues with that group. I know how frustrating it is when you start to feel like you’ve lost control over your own work. I’m dealing somewhat with a similar issue right now (not MJ related) whereby I naively allowed certain individuals too much control over one of my own works. I am still hoping its a situation that will come to an amicable resolution, but my gut instinct is telling me that these people do not have my best interests at heart-only their own.

      It would be wonderful if Michael’s kids decide to write such a book. I have a feeling, however, that their accounts would not be too dissimilar. I think they all harbor very fond and precious memories of their father. But it would be interesting to see if they have different takes on subjects such as their mother Debbie, or how they have dealt with some of the issues they’ve had to face and come to terms with (such as people not believing they are Michael’s biological kids; learning about the allegations, etc) and how life changed for them when Michael’s relatives essentially became their new family. I am sure they would all three probably have very different perspectives on these subjects, and that would be quite interesting. I don’t think we need worry about any sort of “Mommie Dearest” expose coming from them-those kids adored Michael, and still do.

  3. I am so happy that comments are coming in and that to be respectfull of writers in every genre. That MJ had a 50 year life span and he knew his closest acquaintances would want to express knowing him. In short, they had their novels edited so each novel would give the feel the fans were seeking. One wrong description and the wagons started circling. There are so many novels on the shelves and many more being thought of. There are many questions the fan base want answers to. So let the writers seep deep into thought. Give MJ the love he so richly deserves. The novels are memories of how he was remembered. This is what is expected from buying each one. Without reading. Single novel, I already know what would not surprise me. The thought of another fan. Going through 500 pages edited down to 375 pages. That is when the next novel can take up the memory and fill in for the readers. In short, without making any writer an example, his or her novel made it to print. Michael still loved by many and adored by all. We read all the time how o ther fanbaseses have several usernames that combine MJ with their fav as well. This comes about because MJ inspired so many upcoming new artists. Just right in his very own family there are spectacular voices to be heard. The whole Jackson Dynasty blessed to become successful. MJ had the honest pleasure of knowing they would be welcome for their God giving talents. They respectfully waited in the wings because MJ voice so beautifully being heard by them as well. Yes, we loved knowing his voice of song, but he said he bled just like everybody else. Not wanting his fans to not get into creative non- fictions, but to read and remember who wrote what .

    1. La Quita, I wonder if you might provide a link where we can find some good fan fiction. I’d be very interested in reading it and finding out more about what you’re involved in.

  4. I think that only the passage of time will assuage the hurt that abusers inflict. Eventually, the abusers will find something/someone else to abuse. That’s what abusers do. The faction leaders are like The Beatles-fans’ intense dislike of Yoko Ono. You hardly hear from them about her anymore. Sorry to say, but Michael has been gone only six years–a relatively short time–so it may take another six years for the abusers to tire and/or become bored and go away. Michael, however, is timeless, and his legacy is in good hands via The Estate. All we can do is support their efforts and, every once in a while, let them we know we appreciate them.

    1. If I’m not mistaken, CatherineC, Raven’s dismay at the extreme behavior of the “anti-Estate” fans is actually NOT her endorsement of the Estate itself. And I don’t think she’s particularly interested in any expression of “support” or “appreciation” of the Estate’s efforts. They are in business to make money, after all—-and the way they’ve released and marketed much of Michael’s posthumous material is, in my view, underhanded and badly worked out. (Raven, I hope I’m not mischaracterizing your meaning here.)

      But none of excuses the sheer viciousness with which these fan-zealots—-whose stated purpose is to honor Michael’s legacy—-have attempted to take down writers whose integrity, attention to careful scholarship (and, frankly, intelligence) far surpasses their own

      By the way, may I ask what you mean by an “abuser”? Just curious.

      1. That’s right. It’s not an endorsement of the estate although I am not necessarily anti estate, just “anti estate critical” when it comes to certain issues. I agree, for example, that the posthumous albums certainly could have been handled a lot better. As I mentioned before, between the best tracks on “Michael” and the best tracks on “Xscape” (in their original forms) they had enough material for an excellent album. I believe they banked on the controversy of the Cascio tracks to drive sales of “Michael” and the strategy backfired. All in all, there have been some brilliant moves and some misses. I don’t entirely blame them. Michael isn’t here to oversee these issues, and I think they’ve had to iron out a lot of kinks insofar as how to best market and promote his posthumous work. I would like to count “This Is It” also among those brilliant moves, but the AEG trial (not to mention my own disturbing vision of how Michael died, which I still can’t shake from my consciosness) really opened my eyes to a lot of things and caused me to shift some of my priorities. I do believe now it is very likely that Michael was murdered. At the very least, the suffering he went through those last months was inexcusable, and too many stood by and allowed it to happen. But that is, I suppose, another topic for another time. The bottom line is that I understand why some fans feel resentful when they think there are fans who place more importance on Michael’s chart sales than what actually happened to him as a human being. But the point is that, while I respect immensely any blogger, journalist, etc who chooses to address those issues, it should not be an excuse to engage in terrorist tactics against writers who simply want to focus on his life and legacy. BTW, I think this is what Catherine meant by “abusers” if I am reading correctly.

  5. Hello Raven and again a great post. I especially like the example of Brad Vice and the effects that a false claim of plagiarism can have on an academic writer. I still like to tell myself that the claimant had no idea of the seriousness of making a claim like that.
    What’s unbelievable is that a Michael Jackson fan made a false claim of anything against anyone. Didn’t the false claims in Michael’s life teach us anything?

    1. I knew Brad Vice well. I never actually took one of his classes, but as an English major, we became very well acquainted with the English department faculty because we mixed and mingled with them all the time. I think his story was genuinely meant as an allusion to Palmer’s story. At any rate, he was a nice guy whom I don’t think deserved the viciousness with which the campaign against him was carried out. According to Leonard’s article, he is living and teaching abroad now (or at least, was in 2013) and has no interest in returning to the U.S. or revisiting what he called “the most painful chapter” of his life. Sound familiar?

      To be fair, I really would have liked to review The Michael Jackson Academia Project videos again, but as you know, they were taken down long ago. I do remember watching them and really liking them at the time. But I really didn’t get the alleged connection between them and Vogel’s piece, other than that both were dealing with the same subject matter. If anything, I was reminded more of Kaufmann’s pieces and Armond White (whom Vogel cites in his article) but it has been a few years since I saw the MJAP videos. All the same, however, I am aware that there has been a lot of friction between these parties for a long time, and it stems well before the publication of Vogel’s article. The accusations of Joe Vogel as an estate schill have been going on for a long, long time. But the thing is that almost every writer and journalist who writes on Michael Jackson has been accused in like fashion, at some time or another. When Charles Thomson’s pieces in defense of Michael were first published, many haters were saying he was just a paid schill of the estate. The point is that these kinds of accusations, even if not made directly, are often too freely made, then openly discussed on forums and social media. The next thing you know, someone’s conjecture has suddenly become an accepted urban “fact”-often at the expense of an individual’s reputation. This is the kind of thing that is happening far too frequently.

  6. I have been a huge fan of Michael since I first saw the Jackson 5 on the Ed Sullivan show years ago. Michael was a wonderful man who was so full of love for his fans. I can only imagine how bad it would hurt him to know how some of his fans are acting. I feel that he knew what he was doing as far as taking care of his business and preparing for the fact that someday he would not be here. I love and support Michael. As a fan I want everything Michael. If you do not want all the new music, don’t buy it. For me, I want it all because it’s part of him. I have shelves full of books on him, binders full of writings on him and walls full of pictures of him. I talk to people all the time about how wonderful he was. So many people know nothing about him beyond the tabloids. I work hard on my own and have changed a lot of peoples minds about him. If I come across something written about him that I do not like, I put it down and go on my way. Michael would not have wanted his real fans bullying anyone. People, please, just love and support Michael. Act the way he would have wanted us to act. If you really love him, it’s not hard to do.

    1. Sandy G, THANK YOU for your post. You said the MOST important thing, short and sweet: if you TRULY LOVE Michael, do what he would do, carry yourself with dignity, harbor no hatred toward anyone (even SONY or the Estate). Yes, Michael hated the way SONY treated him, but I don’t believe he had a hateful bone in his body. So, FANS, STOP being hateful. Put down your swords and spread the L-O-V-E.

  7. I’ve been seeing a lot of complaints from varying MJ forums about these kind of fans attacking and bashing other MJ fans…. the ‘pro Estate’ fans who believe that anything and everything is linked to ‘supporting and promoting’ the Estate’s projects and stuff. It’s very disheartening and sad. Can’t they see we are already dealing with haters and skeptics from outside on an almost daily basis, why add all that now from within??

    Personally, !’m neutral when it comes to such topics. I just prefer to celebrate Michael. I sincerely hope that writers who genuinely want to celebrate Michael’s legacy, his life, music or cultural impact will not shy away. I can’t help but aalso feel scared for them, ashamed and embarrased cause of these certain fans who are slowly crippling Michael’s legacy by bringing forth unnecessary quabbles.

    Another thing. There’s another group of fans claiming that we are turning the attention away from Michael and to them, who appreciate and say nice things like Michael. I think you mentioned it. Those who supposedly have ulterior motives and are not sincere about what they say about Michael. Seriously? Maybe there are some, I don’t know. But it’s not All of them, All the damn time!
    I hope all this fiasco will come to an end. It’s very frustrating, to us fans, Michael’s supporters(writers, scholars, etc) and Michael, in heaven.

    1. Sally, that’s my take on it, too. I just want to celebrate Michael-everything about him. But these divides won’t go away anytime soon because too many of the forces that have created them-such as Michael’s entire adult catalog of music being tied to the company he came to despise, and the disagreements over executorship of his estate (which I am convinced will remain an issue no matter WHO takes over)-have also created this very unusual and complex paradox of controversy that most fan bases simply don’t have. In this case, so many of the puzzle pieces fell together in the wrong way-the manner in which Michael died, for example, which has left so many unanswered questions; the timing of certain individuals suddenly coming back into the picture; the ongoing disputes regarding ownership of the Sony/ATV catalog; the disagreements and factions even within Michael’s own family; all of these factors have combined to create the perfect storm, whereby almost everyone has splintered off into one faction or another, according to what/who they choose to believe. These are all issues that may take years to untangle, if they ever do get untangled.

  8. Excuse me, m-r Raven, but you missed the very point: Vogel STOLE materials from fans and “forgot” even to mention about them.

    I’m writer. I’ve been writing about Michael’s songs. But I’ve done it for free – to inform people, whose are not MJ fans. And now I don’t. Cause there are people like Vogel, who’s stealing thoughts of others and even doesn’t mention them. I don’t want to work for people, who “take advantage (for themselves) of such a platform”. I don’t want to be a brick in this “such platform” – thanks to Vogel and other “honest journalist”.

    1. Galy (Russia), if you make such a bold assertion, you must be prepared to back it up with proof. Please post any evidence you have that Joe Vogel “stole” anything.

    2. Well, I do know that on more than one occasion-several, in fact-there have been instances where bloggers have found a lot of their own research being used in published MJ books by credentialed journalists. A few of them have given credit, but that has not always been the case. Truth be told, I think a lot of them know and realize that Michael Jackson’s fans are, indeed, far more knowledgeable and researched than they are. They know, in many cases, that the fans have done the nitty gritty hard work, and they are quite well aware of our existence. I know they monitor us like hawks, while pretending they would never take anything we write seriously as we are only “biased” fans. That does happen, and has happened. Fans are often the last people credited, if they are credited at all. But I think something that all of us who write on Michael have to be aware is that none of us are operating within a cultural vacuum that is completely devoid of the influence of other writers and the past body of scholarship that has already been written on Michael’s work. I call it an osmosis effect, and it is something we all have to be intellectually aware of. For example, if two writers both happen to write about Michael’s use of duality, that isn’t plagiarism. Two writers who both happen to write about racial themes in “Black or White” are not committing plagiarism. It IS plagiarism, however, if one is blatantly (or even implicitly) copying the same phrasing, theories, and/or ideas from the other without proper acknowledgment. Do you have a link to the articles or pieces in question?

      1. Raven, “Well, I do know that on more than one occasion-several, in fact-there have been instances where bloggers have found a lot of their own research being used in published MJ books by credentialed journalists.”

        How can you know that? In the case of Brad Vice, apparently there were entire passages, lifted from the other writer word for word, in a work of fiction. But those researching Michael’s life – he was born in Gary, Indiana, his birth name is Michael Joe Jackson, he married Lisa Marie Presley, etc – are going to find the exact same information. Bloggers don’t own the facts. Have credentialed journalists lifted bloggers’ unique findings and claimed them as their own?

        1. I can’t vouch for the validity of those claims, but there have been a few instances where bloggers believed that their research was utilized in published works without credit. I would assume in those instances that they aren’t referring to mere common knowledge facts. Some of those authors will list the blogs they used in their acknowledgements, and it always pleases me to see journalists who recognize what we do as valid research worthy of recognition. But there is still very much a stigma against using blogs as source material because it is generally assumed that blogs are biased sources of information that aren’t well researched. The irony is that this is true in most cases-except in the MJ world, where bloggers in many cases are much better informed than, say, the typical, average journalist for whom MJ is just one of hundreds of other subjects covered. For the record, I don’t believe that bloggers need fear an epidemic of plagiarism, but those issues of concern have been raised. I believe, if memory serves me, there were some allegations concerning parts of Randall Sullivan’s book. However, again, I’m not vouching for the validity of those claims, which may or may not have merit. But I think it is something we have all become a lot more conscientious of in recent years.

          1. Even the New York Times described Sullivan’s book as a bloated, cut-and-paste job. But it begs the question – why do bloggers bother to do extensive research, which they post openly, if they don’t want their work disseminated? I am concerned that writers who actually manage to get published, like Sullivan, are turning in sloppy work that isn’t sufficiently fact-checked, because they don’t take Michael seriously. So much so that I am considering offering my services gratis to Tavis Smiley.

            Acknowledging the source is the proper thing to do. But even that won’t satisfy some, like those who believe that Joe Vogel steals their thoughts from overseas.

          2. Sullivan book may have some sensational stories but sloppy it is not. He has more to back up what he claims than many other books that I have read and he does provide new information. After reading many biographies , articles , interviews, court documents and even books like Halperins, all that glitters etc. we know very well how to seperate the wheat from the chaff.

          3. Maybe I structured the sentence carelessly. I was trying to point out that Sullivan is considered a bona fide professional, with an agent, a major publisher, and friends in the right places, like his pal at the NY Times who rallied the troops to give Sullivan’s book five star reviews on Amazon, even though they hadn’t read it, in order to push down detailed, intelligent, honest, bad reviews from knowledgeable MJ fans. You don’t get all that by being “sloppy”. But many of those who choose to write about Michael are. And some of them get published.

          4. Maybe Sullivan had that backing and support but I’ll say that when he was i’viewed about his book he was crass, insulting and behaved like a frat boy…he and Marc Lamont Hill had lots of chuckles at Michael’s expense. He didn’t display a lick of that professionalism he claims for himself. If I had any inclination to read that darn thing, his acting out cost him one potential buyer.

          5. “like his pal at the NY Times who rallied the troops to give Sullivan’s book five star reviews on Amazon, even though they hadn’t read it”

            The same can be said about certain fans ( rapid response team anyone ?) who vehemently campaigned against the book and against Mesereau for endorsing it and as Layne4 admits, have not even read it. (Not that I necessarily agree with TMez, imo he should have stayed neutral and above parties) Sullivans is an a,,hole re the underhanded jabs , disparaging comments and sensationalism (noses in a jar). But most of the bigger issues he adressed turned out to be true in the AEG trial, Tohme vs MJE administrators and other documents. He had sources with inside information, like Perry Sanders who imo breached his duty towards his clients ( K,P,P,B-J) by providing him with information that was to be used in court. Hate to say it but he is better documented in his metier(biography) than I find many academic writers who write about Michaels artistic work or his cultural significance are in theirs. What I personally want to read are insightfull, enlightening, informative, innovative and substantiated books . Even All that glitters intended or not, gives us an insight into the dark side of Hollywood , Chandlers criminal MO and the shocking incompetence of Michaels legal team.

          6. I have seen claims in Sullivan’s book that he presents as facts but which are in reality bold-faced lies by his sources, such as Marc Schaffel. Of course, you could say that Sullivan could only cook with what his sources told him and if those were lies what could he do? To an extent that is true, however if he had actually done his homework and had done a research into certain claims he could have easily realized they were lies. In that way, I actually agree with whoever said that book was sloppy.

          7. Sullivan made the mistake of getting too close and chummy with certain sources. This skewers any sort of objectivity. You can’t become “best buds” with your sources, and I think this was what happened with Sullivan and Schaffel.

          8. “Sullivan made the mistake of getting too close and chummy with certain sources. This skewers any sort of objectivity. You can’t become “best buds” with your sources, and I think this was what happened with Sullivan and Schaffel.”-

            It is not uncommon practice especially if there is an incentive. The same can be said about Zack O malley whose main source John Branca even threw him a party at his home , as we learned from the leaked sony emails( must read inside about Michaels catalogue and sony /executors interactions). He and others who have praised the executors to high heaven ( sometimes at Michaels expense) supported their controversial decisions (e.g. the Cascio songs) and/or kept unfavorable information under the rug ( the 730 million IRS claim and the fact that Michael was sick and frail during the This is it rehearsals while Branca was wheeling and dealing with AEG ) were given a generous platform to promote their books.
            What makes Sullivans book a failure is not the salacious stories that can be ignored or the imo minor inaccuracies that will happen with an 800 page book , but the disrespect towards his ‘subject’ and the racist undercurrent that can be detected throughout the book ,which undermines the credibility of any book about a black man. I get the impression that Sullivan resents the fact that the most famous artist in the world is black.

      2. The fact is that such “researches” (as Vogel did) came out to the air only with the wide researches of the fans which have been started widely only since 2009. And Vogel (come and see some examples http://www.izbunet.ru/img/2015-03/29/v8p9fpanh4a8m1izwlhngnane.jpg) was very far from awareness of many of these points. And (how marvellous a coincidence!) Vogel issue “his” researches exactly when many of fans have issued their researches already. Of course it’s a sort of work – to bring them together, but why not do the right thing (respectably)? At first – to ask a permission to use any material or thoughts and second – to make a mention of where and from whom these thoughts were taken?

        And one more point. Vogel said not only about the music. He said about “many plastic surgeries” and other gossips and he’s used very often of Tarraborelli. I doubt that many fans are chuffed from it, really. So he’s used thoughts of fans without any permission and has embed there some dirty things.

        1. I know I’ve seen this fact mentioned at various sites, but here it is again…Joe began his research and work on his book in 2005 (that’s five). He said he was disheartened by the emphasis placed on superficial tabloid bs and thought he might nudge the conversation back to the music.

          1. “Joe began his research and work on his book in 2005 (that’s five).”

            As Vogel’s said? :)) It is not surprising, is it? :)) Even if he’s started his work at 2005, then why he’s published only at the end of 2013, when many of researches was done by MJ’s fans? We’re talking about songs and music – and who know what was about Vogel’s work before 2009?

          2. November 1, 2011 (at the end of 2011 – I’ve just a little confused). And what does that change? It’s been two years since 2009. For two years fans were doing their researches widely.

        2. So a fan ASKED Joe Vogel his opinion and he gave it. What else have you got, besides the expertise on the American education system, gleaned from second hand accounts of those who lived here a few years but couldn’t hang? (That’s African American slang, referring to those who, despite the highly – favorable treatment the US government afforded immigrants from Russia, couldn’t make it here and went home.)

          Under American law and common practice, ideas can not be copyrighted, only the expression of the idea. Unless you can cite instances where Joe Vogel lifted fan writings, word for word, and claimed them as his own, you have no case.

  9. When one writes on any subject, and presents it to be read by the world, one must accept the fact that there may be those who will dislike what you have written. I don’t participate on social media, but I’m aware that it’s possible to block comments, and to shut out those who have proven themselves to be pests. As far as I know, as nasty as they can be, no one in the MJ fan base has the power to get a writer fired, or their work pulped. As TheresaB suggested, perhaps some writers need to develop tougher skin. Michael himself was sued more than a thousand times, with one bullshit claim after another. While it was no doubt unpleasant to be accused, Joe Vogel was vindicated. It might be a good idea for those who jumped the gun and pulled his work to remember that a mere accusation is not proof.

    I read that piece about Brad Vice from the New York Press, and while the author comes across as something of a bitch, if the facts are as he reported, there was considerable evidence that Vice actually did plagiarize the other writer. Certainly those who had the power to fire him believed so. “Qworty’s” penchant for maliciously editing other writers’ Wiki pages notwithstanding, as the saying goes, even a broken clock is right twice a day.

    Maybe it’s time we stopped calling all individuals who muck about in Michael Jackson affairs “fans”. When Paris Jackson was being cyberbullied, I read accounts of it where the abusers were called “MJ fans”, which is ludicrous. If you consider yourself a fan, there is no test you have to pass. But if you behave like a deranged a-hole, don’t expect others to excuse or validate your behavior just because MJ is your chosen subject.

    That said, an appalling amount of the academic writing about Michael also ignores his musical legacy and concentrates on the writers’ unfounded theories about his racial identity and his sexuality. Many of these writers have no credentials or background in music at all. I don’t believe their writings deserve any consideration from those of us who call ourselves fans and actually know a lot about Michael. It’s legitimate to tackle those subjects, but there is a certain level of knowledge, and interest in Michael as a musician that needs to be demonstrated before I can take a writer seriously. Otherwise they’re all just tonier Dimonds, Halperins, and Taraborrellis.

    1. ‘ That said, an appalling amount of the academic writing about Michael also ignores his musical legacy and concentrates on the writers’ unfounded theories about his racial identity and his sexuality. Many of these writers have no credentials or background in music at all. I don’t believe their writings deserve any consideration from those of us who call ourselves fans and actually know a lot about Michael. It’s legitimate to tackle those subjects, but there is a certain level of knowledge, and interest in Michael as a musician that needs to be demonstrated before I can take a writer seriously. Otherwise they’re all just tonier Dimonds, Halperins, and Taraborrellis.’

      Amen. !

  10. It is a myth that there has ever been a unified fanbase , even Michael was not exempt of harsh critic from fans when he was still here. Sadly with democracy of social media bullying and harassment have become rampant and a second nature to some who cannot handle disagreement.
    Imo online bullying should be reported immediately as a standard. I have seen accounts deleted after multiple complaints. There are also ways to block unwanted interference , ignore them or simply not engage in online altercations.
    Everyone who writes or even talks about Michael or is compared to him will meet with criticism . Depending on name, face or race and fan fraction the criticism will morph into perso-nal attacks to online moblynching.
    Fans suffer from favoritism and have multiple standards re who they think qualifies to write about Michael, cover his songs or talk about him even in private matters such as who should take care of his children,
    If you think writers are targets wait till you see what is leveled at Michaels family on a daily basis. They are even accused of spreading rumors that Michael paid off boys who he molested. Even Michaels old parents have become targets of nasty attacks.
    Mesereau was bullied by a fraction of the fans when he supported Sullivans book, but he is still here defending Michael .
    Michael never quitted , his family was here 50 years ago and will not go away, Michael is not for the fainthearted so for a writer to .quit because of online bullying should not be an option.
    .
    Everyone has a level of interest in Michael , to me it is not only his art and humanitairism but also justice on every level and I am not neutral at all when it comes to false allegations , AEGS cs negligence leading to his death, how he was undermined by sony and their attempts to get their claws on his catalogue , that I do not think Michael intended to have these administrators to run his estate and that I dont think they qualify considering the Cacio debacle, the loss of Neverland and the billion dollar tax evasion they burdened Michaels estate with.

    1. Sadly everything you’ve mentioned here is territory I am all too familiar with. I have followed enough fan groups through the years to know that these kinds of divisions aren’t unique to Michael Jackson’s fans, either. However, they do seem to be more extreme, for all of the various reasons we’ve discussed. I can imagine that before 2009, there was still a lot of division, but obviously that has intensified since his passing. I’ve never involved myself with the disputes of the family or the “Jackson family bashing” bandwagon, except when it comes to the bullying of Michael’s own kids.

      On some issues, I’ve definitely grown a lot less neutral over time, as more is learned. I do think it is important to have hard evidence before making allegations against individuals, but I am evolving on this journey, along with many.

      I think to some extent, all who take on Michael Jackson as a topic are opening themselves up to much of the same abuse he endured. For that matter, a writer opens themselves up and becomes vulnerable by the sheer act of putting their words out for public consumption. We know, for example, that we will be judged and critiqued; that not everyone is going to like what we say or how we say it (in the same way that artists make themselves vulnerable every time they put something “out there”) so we do have to learn to develop thick skin to a degree. The problem is that I think most writers are equipped to deal with a certain degree of criticism that is within normal range. What many aren’t as well equipped to deal with are viciously personal attacks that can even threaten their jobs and personal security. For some of them, they may have reached the point where something they enjoy has just simply become more hassle than it’s worth.

  11. It is about allowing all authors who choose to write positively about Michael to be able to do so without being harassed and hounded by any faction of the fan base (and yes, that includes all factions, including the rights of authors to write books that are also critical of the estate). It is about allowing all writers to do what they do best-and to be able to choose the topics they wish to address, and that are within their area of expertise-freely without censure and harassment.

    Raven, why are only writers who pen positive stories about Michael allowed to be free from censure and harassment? Do we only want a one-sided image of the man? As you say, we need all points of view out there and if you don’t agree, don’t read or buy it.

    1. Seems to me that we had ‘one sided’ opinion(s) of the man for quite a long time..care of tabloids and biased writers. Personally, I’m interested in fair, balanced, well researched and vetted input about the man, his art and his enormous cultural impact. This, in my opinion, will balance that book shelf in libraries and Barnes and Noble so we are not left with choosing between Dimond and Halperin, et al. In that vein, Tom Mesereau has informed that he is writing his own book. I’m more than sure he will have nothing but positive input about his main subject.

    2. You miss the point. There is, and always has been, an abundance of garbage that has been written on Michael Jackson. The market is glutted with it. And I generally let it alone other than to give my opinions on it in the form of reviews and so forth, which I am entitled to do. Heck, a lot of the so called “negative” books I have read myself-they are often quite informative, in surprising ways. All That Glitters, for example, turned out to be one of the most damning exposes’ I have ever read-on Evan Chandler.

      But those kinds of books and writers weren’t the topic of the post. I am referring to writers who have been harassed by certain fan factions despite having written only positively about him. A united fan effort to boycott a controversial book is one thing, and is something that many fanbases do, not just Michael’s. And boycotting isn’t the same thing as banning. If fans boycott a certain book, it simply means they are refusing to buy or support it. I remember quite well, for example, when fans were boycotting the Halperin book. Of course, there were some who did go to extreme measures, like actually snatching the books off shelves and tossing them in dumpsters. And, yes, I would take that as an extreme measure that is infringing on others’ rights to read the book and make up their own minds. A lot of the sensationalistic stuff that I know is out there I can take or leave. Most intelligent readers can filter the bs for themselves. As long as there is a balance of material available, that is what counts, and in the last few years, a lot of good progress has been made in that direction. But when that balance starts to become threatened is when I think that fans and people who truly care about Michael’s legacy need to be concerned.

  12. I just wonder… when you – americans – will STOP “take adventage” from Michael Jackson and from his fans? Isn’t enought?

    1. Last time I checked, Michael Jackson was an American. He has and will always have millions of fans here who love him. I understand he didn’t always feel that love, but other countries like the UK have played their part as well. It was the British press, for example, that started all the “Wacko Jacko” garbage. But, sorry, Eastern Europeans and Asians don’t have some kind of exclusive claim to him. Are we suggesting now that true fans can only come from certain parts of the globe?

      1. I think that americans can’t understand of what I’m talking about – and your answer is the right example of it. Because we have a very different upbringing and values. Americans love money at first. But Michael was brought up not like other americans. That’s the point of why he became “a freak” in your state. Don’t forget about it.

        1. My response (if you are referring to me) was because you made your comment into a personal attack. America is a huge country. It’s naive to think that out of an entire country of over 300 million people, that Michael and Michael alone was somehow raised with a completely different set of values. We are not all a bunch of capitalist pigs who worship the almighty dollar,and while I know the perception that many overseas have of us (I might add not without some justification) you can’t judge an entire country of 300 million based on some stereotype of what you think all Americans are. We are not a monolith. Michael’s parents came out of a poor, working class background the same as mine did, and I can assure you that the values we were both raised with were not that disparate. Michael’s maternal grandparents were raised in Alabama, where I have lived all my life. I do understand where you are coming from, though, in regards to the American press and the lynch mob mentality of the American media (but again, it wasn’t exclusive to the U.S. but Britain as well).

          I will read your links; thanks for sharing them.

          1. As I know (from russian people who have lived in US over 17-20 years and then returned to Russia) your education system start to create “normal american citizens” from very early years. Michael was growing up in a different way – it’s obvious. And honestly I don’t know where you find attack, really. This is the truth – that americans society crucified Michael. And the truth is bitterly always. But it’s not an attack.

          2. Remember that America was built on the idea of “the melting pot.” The idea was to create a homogenous American culture out of the many nationalities who were immigrating to this country. In more recent decades, we have come to realize that “the melting pot” is a great myth, and the idea that so many diverse nationalities could be converted to one language, one belief system, etc etc was neither a realistc nor even desireable goal. Thus, the idea of an idealistic “melting pot” has been replaced with a more realistic, inclusive embracing of diversity-well, in theory, at least. Of course, as we know, this country is also plagued with a dark history when it comes to issues of tolerance and equality. That history isn’t unique to America (and indeed, most of the intolerance and prejudices that the founders of this country had were products of their European roots) but I think what strikes such a deep chord here is the irony of this being a country founded by people who were escaping persecution, and then creating a constitution that guaranteed things like freedom, democracy, and equality-as long as you were a WASP male, of course.

            But, yes, you make it a personal attack when you state comments like “you people” or “you did this” rather than “America did this” or “your country did this.” I don’t like nor appreciate being addressed as if I am somehow personally representative of the entire country and its system. This is no different than if I had a reader who is, say, from Saudia Arabia, and I wrote in a comment, “You and your people are all terrorists.” I would imagine I would get quite a backlash, as I deserved! For your information, I am half Native American. My people were DISPLACED by the U.S. government, so I do not need any preaching from overseas about the flaws of our system or its bigotries. My ancestors paid the price for them.

            And, to stress again, Michael wasn’t raised any differently than any other working class, American citizen. His father worked in an Indiana steel mill. His mother worked part time at Sears in downtown Gary. They were enrolled in the Indiana school system, and later in California, and learned everything that is taught, typically, in the American school system. Michael was taught the typical American ethics of hard work and that anyone can come from nothing and still earn fame and wealth (and Michael, in turn, sought those things as well for himself. He didn’t become one of the richest and most powerful entertainers in show business because those things were magically bestowed on him). But as an African American, he also learned early the history of this country’s racism, and I think this played a large part in why he eventually became embittered with the U.S, feeling that a lot of the media persecution was racially motivated.

            Like most well read and aware Americans, I am more than aware of my country’s history, including its long, often bloody history of bigotry and violence. Like all Americans, there are things I love and things I hate about America. There are things I know need to change, but we have our claims to greatness, too. After all, wouldn’t it be a much poorer world without jazz, the blues, hip hop, country or rock and roll? With no Walt Whitman, no Robert Frost or Jack Kerouac, with no James Brown, no Johnny Cash or B.B. King, no Elvis-and no Michael Jackson. All of these were gifts that America gave to the world; that could only have come about to the unique circumstances and rich heritage of being born and raised here; of coming from this soil. No other country in the world could have produced Michael Jackson. He embraced the whole world, yes. His message was universal. But his roots, as he knew and recognized, were deeply embedded here-from his native Choctaw ancestors, to the banks of the Mississippi, to the cotton fields of Alabama, and finally, to the steel mills of Gary, Indiana. All of these made up who he was. They were the blood that ran in his veins and the heart that pumped it. Like all of us born and raised here, he recognized and appreciated what was good, even as he could often be critical of what was not. And those are my feelings as well. I can’t help that I was born here; that wasn’t my choice to make. A lot of us have similar mixed emotions. We love this country because it is home; we love our culture. At the same time, we recognize the dark side of its history. Most of us today are not proud of that history, and want to work to make this a better place-but that can extend to the whole world, as well, and that was Michael’s goal. And even though Michael was treated badly by the American press, a lot of us now are working to rectify that past.

            And that gets back to my whole, original point of this piece. I can understand people wanting the proper credit and acknowledgement for ideas and concepts they may feel originated with them. That is one issue. But far too many, in my opinion, are lumping that in with a general disdain for anybody and everybody who is writing about Michael post 2009. And that simply isn’t fair. A lot of us are just genuinely, and with all love and the best of intentions, trying to bring some enlightenment to the past history of ignorance and mistreatment that was heaped on Michael. So what if some of us are part of a new generation of awareness? What is fundamentally wrong with that? It seems that a lot of it stems from bitterness that past works have not been officially “recognized” or in some cases, unfairly censored. That, too, is a situation that needs to be rectified, and I will probably be doing a follow-up post on some of those issues because I agree those need to be addressed, as well. However, I sometimes think there is a deliberate muddying of the waters here; an overlapping of charges of plagiarism (which is one idea) and that of writers who have begun writing about Michael post 2009, which is another and separate issue, altogether. I just don’t feel that it should matter when someone started writing about Michael. As long as what they are presenting is factual, intelligent, and knowledgeable-or, more aptly, sincere and heartfelt-what does that matter? If we look at any iconic, deceased artist we will find a long history of people who wrote about them before their passing, as well as a very long list of people who have written about them since their passing. In my opinion, the Michael Jackson fan base needs to let go of some of this deeply embedded mistrust and suspicion that everyone has some shady, ulterior motive for writing about Michael. For me, personally, it’s something I enjoy and feel to be part of my life’s mission, and I think that is true for more writers than not-again, regardless of when they started.

          3. Thanks, Raven, for demonstrating so beautifully how we can respond to each other when we feel attacked. Your in-depth explanations, and willingness to continue the conversation, without resorting to counter-attacks or assuming bad intent, is awesome.

          4. Yes, Raven, I agree with Keely, yours was a compassionate and balanced reply to Galy’s comment. No person is without flaws, and no country either. Yes, in many ways, especially in the court system, Michael was ‘crucified,’ as Galy says, in USA, but he WAS found not guilty on 14 charges, so that’s something. As you said, Raven, UK was horrible in their relentless tabloid attacks, so in my view they don’t get a pass by any means in causing him grief. Bashir is a Brit after all, and came right out of that tabloid media environment. Victor Gutierrez, another primary persecutor, is Chilean.

            I agree with Raven that Michael IS a product of USA culture, especially black musical culture, of the 60’s and 70’s. Her point that “No other country in the world could have produced Michael Jackson ,” is worth reflecting on. The other thing to keep in mind is his religious upbringing and how that influenced him–Jehovah Witnesses, and later his association with Deepak Chopra and so on. He was born here in USA and died here–so maybe USA both “produced” him and “destroyed” him.

            It’s an interesting question as to whether it was actually capitalism and the love of money that lay at the basis of his destruction. In the bodyguard book Remember the Time, they were willing to stay with him even though they weren’t getting paid and barely had enough money for food and gas. That’s dedication. But it seems most people around Michael were there for a paycheck or a piece of the action.

            I think the legal systems worldwide are deeply flawed and where is a country that one can find true justice? Let me know on that one ’cause I don’t see it anywhere. He was beset with so many lawsuits and it drained his time, money, and strength. The bodyguards confirmed that millions were coming in and going out to pay for lawyers and legal fees. Do people have better protections from frivolous and meritless lawsuits elsewhere? I think it’s a failing of legal systems that this kind of piling on of meritless lawsuits went on. I see that the head of the phone-hacking scandal in UK got off–the tabloid editor and CEO Rebekkah Brooks, and now she is getting a big fat paycheck and promotion from her employer–Rupert Murdock (an Australian by birth). Many vultures from various countries were at the picnic that stripped Michael of his money, reputation, and liberty, and ultimately his life.

            One of the most powerful moments in that bodyguard book, for me at least, was when Michael ripped the hotel video camera off the wall with his bare hands and screamed at it: “I hate you!” He was surrounded by cameras not only in USA but in UK and other countries too. Why were they so desperate for photos of him and his kids–to sell them, of course! He was a cash generator for so many, and truly a man under the microscope.

            What his life story tells about the society in USA and elsewhere in the world isn’t pretty, but it’s a powerful message, a teaching moment which we–as a national culture and as a world culture–can study and learn from. When he said, “Heal the World,” he was obviously referring to global problems and not just local ones. IMO too many of us, worldwide, have lost touch with the Earth, with love and compassion, and celebrate death and violence more than life. ‘The Man in the Mirror’ is everyone, not just citizens of one country or continent. “Make that change!” is a message for us all, and today more than ever.

          5. Thank you, iutd. Very beautifully put. Also, I think one thing we have to keep in mind when comparing cultures of the world is that USA culture and UK culture, in particular, are very consumer driven and celebrity driven cultures that have built the tabloid industry into an empire. From what I have observed, many European, African, and Asian countries treated Michael almost like royalty, but here and in the UK he was just another celebrity and prone to the same treatment, albeit it sometimes seemed on a much more magnified scale. In this country, the press loves to build people up and tear them down. They love to put someone on a hot seat and ask invasive questions about their personal lives. Just yesterday, I was looking at a clip of a 1996 Barbara Walters interview with Courtney Love. When Courtney started to balk at some of the questions, Walters would come back with the standby line, “This is what people want to know.” I was reminded, similarly, of Michael’s interviews with Oprah Winfrey, Barbara Walters, and Diane Sawyer, among others, and reminded me again that Michael definitely wasn’t just singled out for this kind of treatment. Rather, it’s simply part and parcel of our “celebrity gossip” driven culture. And as we know, even presidents and royalty aren’t immune to it (look at how the private lives of Britain’s royal family are splashed all over the tabloids!). A celebrity’s downfall, for sure, makes great copy and sells, and that is why the US and UK press glory in it. Also, as we know, they can even play a hand in creating that downfall. I don’t know if it is as bad in other countries, but I don’t think anywhere are they nearly as obsessed with famous peoples’ lives as here and in the UK.

            Here is the Barbara Walters interview with Courtney Love. You can see she that the line of questioning is very similar to Michael’s interviews:

            https://youtu.be/2b0jtX8YWI4

            To think of Michael as someone both “produced” and “destroyed” by the US is an interesting theory. But as you so aptly state, there were many parties from all over who played a hand.

  13. First of all, I can’t see the logic in statements like, “if you think writers have it bad, you should see what the Jackson family goes through!” Or, “just look at the thick skin Michael had “! Some people have a way of tallying up one person’s suffering against another’s, as if two wrongs *will* somehow add up to a right.

    Raven has already explained what’s at stake for writers when they are accused of plagiarism. People from all walks of life endure all kinds of pressures, many of which are *undoubtedly* different from the specific ones Michael Jackson and his family have been subjected to. Does this mean we shouldn’t extend our compassion toward these others, and act accordingly?

    I’ve heard many fans extoll Michael’s generosity and empathy, stating that they want to emulate these qualities in him. But then, it seems their overwhelming desire to punish the world that punished Michael has often caused them to adopt a small-minded and fundamentally *un*generous position toward any viewpoint that fails to corroborate their own narrative about Michael’s life—-*especially* about the magnitude of his suffering. Or the writer’s thesis doesn’t fall into line with their own priorities or perceptions about what, precisely, his “vindication” might look like. Clearly, these fans feel the very rawness of their own (seeming) disempowerment.

    And so, the ways these fans go about arguing for carrying out this much-needed justice—on Michael Jackson’s behalf—- often bear a strong resemblance to the tactics used by the tabloid and other “lowbrow” commentators themselves used when they simply followed the prevailing fad of trashing Michael Jackson.

    Most people I’ve known who have worked as scholars and teachers in academic institutions—-especially the women—-have been through MUCH more severe challenges than heckling by a few fans. As a result, we’ve already developed extraordinarily thick skins; so, fortunately, none of us are likely to quit doing what we’ve a mind to do. But my feeling is that the morale of *everyone* who has even the slightest interest in Michael Jackson’s musical legacy will suffer some form of demoralization as a result of this hurtful behavior.

  14. Isn’t such controversy a way of killing again Michael Joe Jackson, the man, the humanitarian, the great artist, the social and racial activist? He doesn’t deserve it. The American culture doesn’t deserve it either. Neither the World at large deserves it.I remember when he said that both the music and the words “heal the world” came to him at the same time from the botton of his heart. We have to remember his own words. Silencing educated and influential writing on his art and its impact on society is not only unfair but also a great loss for his legacy.

  15. Thanks for asking about the links to my fan fictions but they have privacy policies and I no longer have control over my own works. Still we touched on some reality concerns by replying back to my comment. I never mention ‘Mommy Dearest’ on this blog. I wonder where she got it from other than a group chat that comes on twitter every Wednesday. She must be a follower of some writers that I know. That was the only way she could have made that coincident. That also farther let me know on twitter you can be anybody anywhere. That is a quote that I too saw and retweeted years ago. To stay on topic, please do not twist that I wanted his children to write a Dear Mommy Dearest comparing their memories, that should never been an example. Instead, it should have been they might not want to ever write because they are not writers, would have been a lot more understandable to the one making the reply back. I never mention that I wanted to read such a shocking contrast to be misunderstood by all the other blog commentators on here. I used to be a Top Commentator on HLN about difference of opinions about freedom of expression. Tomorrow is Wednesday and on twitter is #1lineWed by hashtag there is where writers can leave a quote about what the subject matter is. There is where I left that mommy dearest quote about my mother being a black mommy dearest and when she open her door all the clothes ran out. See, I was making a gesture towards my own mommy, so she had to have seen it on #1lineWed. That brings me back to this blog, who are you in fan fiction as of late? Because those writers only know me from watty. There are some who I would say are professionals. I am an amatuer writer and wrote before I joined twitter. I have over 300 poems on poerty.com and some are in the Library of Congress. I have written over 25 sequels of The Smoke Town Series my home town. Nine were my autobiographies. As an aspiring upcoming writer and poet. I was featured in my hometown in a magazine called Today’s Woman back in 2004. I have lots of recognition for receiving certificates for my poetry. Thank you for reading about my life as a passionate writer. So in closing I will comment again on the reality of the novels that have been written about Michael, I feel in reality some might have mis-spoke and if they know they did on purpose as any writer professional or amateur they should edit before publishing. As far as links, what links? We are on a blog to discuss should comments be taken out of contents. No is the answer to both questions. Neither should anyone want links to fan fictions. They do not get any real awards but they get sampled. Truth be told. My links are for New Adult only . Let’s be fair , Love Peace and Hair Grease! “TeeHee. !!! “

    1. I think we had some miscommunication, La’Quita. I wasn’t implying (or didn’t mean to) that you wanted Michael’s kids to write a “Mommie Dearest” type expose’. I knew what you meant. I was only agreeing that I think it would be wonderful if Michael’s kids did decide to write a book, and that I’m sure if they ever did, we need not worry that they would pull a Christina Crawford. That sort of thing has, unfortunately, become all too common with celebrity children writing some pretty harsh tell-all books about their famous parents. I know that Bette Davis and her daughter didn’t speak for years before Bette died, due to the book that she wrote. However, I know that any book written by Michael’s kids would be a project undertaken with love. Still, I know the fan base well and some would no doubt criticize them for opening up about their father’s private life with them, even if they were doing so by choice and even if it was all positive. Of course, I don’t even know if it is something they would ever want to do, but I would definitely support them in their decision if they did.

  16. Raven, although I like the idea of your offering your services gratis to Tavis Smiley, I hope you don’t mean you would also stop blogging on your own site. I love your articles as do many, many others so keep doing your good work, it’s obvious to those of us who count how much research goes into your articles. The people who want to criticize, complain, bash, whine, etc. are, to me, in the margins of life and their opinions are not worth wasting too much time on. I feel the same way about so-called “fans” of MJ. We, the rational fans will prevail, and all the truth will prevail–it just takes time, as you said.

      1. I think you absolutely should, Simba, offer your services to Tavis Smiley! And to Steve Knopper, too—though his book has probably gone to press already.

        I think it would be great, too, if you’d offer your services, gratis, to Smile—- not just as a fact-checker for his book, but as a *guest* on his show when it drops. I’ll bet you and he would have a lively debate!

  17. Absolutely! It all goes back to MJ–what did HE say, what did HE do, how did He feel about this or that? It would be interesting to do a demographic study of MJ fans around the world. I feel like the ones who are “fighting” are immature, emotionally unstable people who happened to fall in love with MJ for his “star” status, his beautiful looks and his singing/dancing talent. Not that anything is wrong with those things, I’m saying they aren’t really that interested in his messages.

  18. This is the very first time I hear about “MJ fan fiction”…perhaps that is because it’s a “closed” genre, I mean with no links to anything, only Twitter accounts, etc? Reading your description left me more confused about fan fiction. So, is it not available to anyone who is interested in it?

    1. I usually comment without mentioning the author who has spoken and keeps speaking because she has a problem of making sure her sly remarks get heard maybe a dozen times. Fan Fiction are authors that has relayed to first time writers, that they too started out as Fan Fiction, later went on to write fiction Fantasy and other genre. Fan Fiction is a genre offered by writing sites. Copyrights are to be respected of their works as well. Now that we got the respect back for Fan Fiction, you welcome to become a beginner and check your grammar. First very important piece the professionals give their expertise advice on free of charge. Next, I am responding, I wrote about my Hometown long before I joined mjj fiction writers and all the great fans who love to create in all genre of Fan fiction. The y gone on to write novels after changing to become aspiring writers. A writer has the skills to create, a book. That is a writer. Next, you have no imagination so you are not capable of ever being discovered. Next, if Fan Fiction makes you swarm you should not want links to Fan Fiction. Next, any book that is written and have the ability to bring forth the believably characters, they are not to be mis-staken as non-writers. You have not read any Fan Fiction. You lone to read the real lies that make it to the book shelves? This to you is more creditable? You got the money to spend on real lies? Well I do not care to. Fan Fiction are written by fans who are as old as our legend. They know his Eras and know who he was dedicating his music too. They know his love of Neverland and how he cared for the Make A Wish Foundation. Some of these wonderful memories makes it into a work of art, called a book with at least 200 pages and 200 parts. That is a lot of imagination. Stop taking comments out of context. Fan Fiction is a wonderful way to express memories of our legend. You got a way of denouncing? It’s closed? Gurl Go On!. Since you rather that be the one to also need so attention, here is a mouth full. Like the blogger she so graciously, allowed you to add your 13 minutes of Fame. What I got out of it was pure nonsense and a lot of yang yang. That is Slang! You surely do not need any Ghetto Fabulous Translations. Google it please. Next, my warm thoughts that my comments that was not taking out of contexts were read by the Host and replied back by the host. Next, I am sure what else I want to say to you.

  19. “Look, I am not writing this to further stir the pot. I am posting it in the hope that we might all come to our senses and realize the damage we are doing to Michael’s legacy every time these battles are publicly aired”
    Well said Raven and how badly it needed unfortunately to be said!! When I read all this negative stuff I feel as if the person who is suffering most is Michael again, and we as fans are doing it to him!! I find it very distressing.
    I totally agree with every word of your blog and would implore fans not to try to destroy each other, because we all need to be there for Michael – his music, his legacy and indeed his sacrifice. He needs all the help from us he can get, or else as you so rightly say, all that will be left is all that tabloid crap, and we know Michael deserves so much more than that.

    1. Actually, like the overwhelming majority of fans, I don’t believe that I’m doing Michael any damage. I don’t like being lumped in with the handful of unpleasant characters who launch personal attacks against writers they criticize. But I reserve the right to be highly critical of some of the people in MJ’s orbit, including Branca and McClain, who have, in my opinion, been less than stellar in their handling of the estate.

      1. Yes, and I certainly don’t think there is anything wrong with that. I just believe that people can disagree and be critical and still be civil.

    1. Yes, no worries, Anna W. I don’t plan to go anywhere anytime soon, though I AM foreseeing a very busy year in 2016 that may force me to go on brief periods of hiatus from time to time. Nevertheless, I love it here too much to ever close shop :).

  20. Michaels legacy is set in stone . He withstood the biggest modern day witchhunt, accusations of henous crimes, hundreds of lawsuits , sabotage of his career and what not .As abject as the infights are , it is a gross underestimation of his power to think that his legacy will be affected by a comparatively ( in Michaels world )minor distraction.

  21. In my opinion, some fans are letting their ego get in the way of their common sense. I think that over time this fight became less about “pro-estate” versus “anti-estate” and more about which “faction” will gonna “rule” the MJ fanbase. One faction attacks the other with the goal of scare them away from the online fanbase because they can’t stand different opinions about Michael’s estate. They’re disputing the leadership of MJ fans.

    I don’t think that Michael made any rules about who were his “legitimate fans” or who would speak in his behalf to exclude people of his fanbase based on difference of opinions. Neither I’m aware that exists some kind of hierarchy division between the fans for some people to think they have a right to bully others that don’t think like them.

    The authors are being caught in the crossfire about this dispute that it’s going on for six years and will not fade anytime soon. It’s a shame.

  22. Thank you, Raven, for bringing this all up again, and helping us sort through it.

    I keep imagining that what Michael wanted was an end to the personal attacks and for critics to fairly address his actual WORK… his words, ideas, vision, and the results of that work. I’d love to see all of us do the same.

    And sometimes we get really pissed off. For good reason. There were truly horrendous attempts to silence and steal from Michael. As a relatively new fan, I’d just suggest that anyone wanting to kick butt focus that anger on trying to find and untangle solid evidence, instead of attacking other fans for not seeing what you see. We all see different pieces of this puzzle, and everyone of good intent has a different piece to contribute.

    And of course, there may be people posing as fans who do not have good intent. How do we know who they are, when just about everyone I know with good intent can also have a bad day and say things they regret?

    My own solution to that question is to go back to what Michael wanted, and criticize the behavior and not demonize the person.

    Thanks again Raven, great conversation.

  23. Well, I see this whole phenomenon—including increasing internet-driven hostilities—as part and parcel of a larger social phenomenon. We live in a time that’s increasingly marked by paranoid fantasies of who can be counted as an “insider,” who must be excluded as an “outsider,” and what kinds of penalties should be exacted against anyone who dares to breach those seemingly “sacred” boundaries.

    And the need to declare who does or doest belong, and to mete out punishment for those who are resolutely different, isn’t too far from what happened to Michael Jackson himself.

    After all, what can we say about a time when a man who emerges as a serious contender for the U.S. presidency (a onetime friend of Michael’s, I might add!) actually advocates the deportment of 11 million people currently living in the United States, and the construction of a wall that runs some 1,000 miles along our southern border?

    Madness.

  24. Of anyone who has claimed to be a Michael Jackson fan—among writers of all stripes, bloggers, academics, critics, etc.—-
    I’m probably among the LEAST concerned with creating a “positive” image that might enhance Michael’s legacy. The legacy is there. It’s been established. It’s not “written in stone,” as Sina claims, simply because nothing ever is, and artistic reputations rise and fall—and rise again—all the time, as the unfolding of events might demand. I’m fascinated by at least a HUNDRED topics (if not a thousand) that touch upon Michael’s remarkable life, work, and career, and I’m writing about some of them.

    But the atmosphere of paranoia, the despair of achieving any rational or humane approach toward how we treat one another (a sense of desperation, of which Donald Trump’s ascendancy is only the the most recent manifestation), reflects a mindset that’s not too different from those adherents who want to police the boundaries of MJ “fandom,” and who resort to a destructive tribalism and *fundamentalism* in the process.

    Furthermore, this mindset—which I’ve come more and more to believe must function as a cover for deep trauma— isn’t all that different from the need to dictate who does or doesn’t “belong” within ANY social group; or any racial, national, ethnic, or sexual minority, for that matter. People are terrified.

    To be quite honest, it wasn’t until I began to participate on these MJ discussion sites that I encountered (at least among a group of people I was obliged to call in some sense “friends”), such a variety of prejudices. The expressions of bigotry I regularly read were mostly based on various people’s sexual orientations (real or perceived), their gender expression, ethnicity, nationality, and religious and/or cultural affiliation. I’ve even read posts—by the most enthusiastic and devoted Michael Jackson fans—-where outright anti-black racism has been expressed.

    In response I became a very contented race traitor, as well as a hypocrite; a militant purveyor of a “gay agenda” (and *why*, if I may ask, doesn’t anyone ever talk about a “straight agenda”?); probably trans* myself; and definitely not a full-fledged, red-blooded resident of the “Normal Valley” of Michael’s short film, “Ghosts”—–a work whose overwhelmingly OBVIOUS message about the dynamics of banishment, exclusion, and difference seems to have escaped many fans’ notice.

    That’s why, for the past five years or more, I’ve been adamant that no “defense” of Michael can conceivably be worth the perpetuation of even more serious manifestations of institutional violence and social injustice. (And, yes, there ARE injustices going on in the world that, in their severity and widespread use, FAR exceed all those things that happened to Michael Jackson, as grave as those actions were.)

    In other words: I’d never, EVER throw a marginalized group of people under the bus, simply to make a case for Michael’s superior *normalcy,* as so many of his “true fans” have done.

  25. Wow, Nina. I think you hit the nail on the head there. Who belongs, who doesn’t belong, and who polices these boundaries is at the heart of what I see as the problem: our world has been divided and conquered so that a few can rule over us. Michael fought that institutional violence and social injustice, saying we ALL BELONG. Particularly those groups who have been so deeply excluded from power. Thank you for saying it like you see it.

    And that you for that stunning reminder that Michael was addressing this whole idea of banishment in Ghosts. I believe we all play both parts, like Michael playing the Maestro and Mayor, and over and over again, we get to choose: which part will we play today?

  26. And yah, that longing to belong is so strong. What if we welcomed new views? What if we said, “Well, I don’t really agree with you, but can say more about why you think X is true? I’m curious why you think so…”

    1. Exactly so, Keely.

      Some people will say this is all about Michael, but I don’t agree. I think that more precisely, it’s about our *relationship* with Michael, or with our idea of him; individually and collectively. And so I think our best bet is to move toward greater self-knowledge, through all the ways we think and feel about Michael.

      For sure, there are a lot of known facts about his life, which can help us to sort out how we can best honor his memory, and do justice to what he has brought out in us.

      But while many yearn for something like absolute “Truth” where Michael is concerned, I think the truths that touch us the most deeply must reside within own hearts and minds. We will find them there. And so, there are as many ways to love Michael as there are people in the world who love him.

      So, while objectivity may be a laudable (if unattainable) goal within some contexts, I’d also like to make a case for the value of frank *subjectivity.*

      I suggest we acknowledge the *decisive* role our own subjectivity plays in the ways we communicate across our many differences about Michael Jackson, which will necessarily encompass the ways we communicate about our lives. I don’t think we should try to suppress our subjectivity, or to consider it inconsequential. It’s not inconsequential at all, in my view, and it’s best to consciously acknowledge it. (In some Buddhist practices, this would be called part of our “basic goodness.”)

      We all have deep histories that have informed all the ways we think about the world, for sure. I think this is where we see the limits of the concept of “negative” and “positive” representations of anyone, including MJ. One person’s “positive,” compelling, adventurous, radically progressive idea of his work may turn out to be another person’s gallingly offensive and “negative” description of a pathology.

      This is how the Maestro becomes the Mayor, and vice versa.

  27. Well said, Sina! I agree 100%. I truly believe that Michael’s spirit is among us and knows what is most important. All this infighting is insignificant compared to the BIGGER picture. Like other famous people who have gone before him, Michael Jackson the superstar “King of Pop” will always be remembered with some level of controversy and criticism. Geniuses who helped changed the world can’t avoid it. It’s part of what makes them so interesting and what keeps them relevant, and I believe in the long-run, he will be remembered mostly for his genius talent, his humanitarian works, and his efforts toward peace and saving our planet. Unfortunately, it might take a couple more generations for that to happen.

  28. “hatelfulness carried out in his name”….doesn’t that sound familiar? People who come into this world and leave it radically different when they go out of this world seem to leave an opening for the creation of “factions”, but that says everything about the people belonging to those factions and NOT about the people themselves. Setting aside all the divisiveness, the essence of who Michael Jackson was will never be destroyed. It lives on and on, regardless of who says what, and the people who know this will carry on his work and his legacy.

  29. To Keely and Nina, thank you for your insightful input and for bringing up “Ghosts”. My comment is regarding whether we play the Maestro or the Mayor, and to me, that speaks to the social, cultural, familial, and even biological influences that drive our beliefs and behavior toward those we see as “other”. Our bigotry is so ingrained that even the most open-minded and accepting of us must admit that we sometimes catch ourselves going into “flight” mode or at least “caution” mode when we see a stranger and decide they are of “questionable” character because of their skin color, their clothes, their lack of hygiene, or whatever is “different” from what we perceive to be “normal”. That being said, I believe our race has come to a place where it’s time to shed the biological influence, shed the familial influences, and begin to change our mindset towards cultural and social Oneness. All of the prophets taught and continue to teach this Oneness in their words and by the examples they set. I include MJ in this group of prophets and I believe he knew that the time for change is more critical than it has ever been in the history of mankind. Notwithstanding those “factions” in certain countries who are killing people by the hundreds and thousands in the name of their religious beliefs, I am hopeful that we will soon begin to see more and more evidence of people coming together in Oneness, for the sake of humanity’s future. This dialogue, I believe, is an important part of that movement.

    1. Yes, we do need to shed a lot of baggage. And that baggage definitely causes all of us to struggle with our inner Mayors. And yet, I don’t want to erase the rich cultural histories and identities to create cultural oneness. Is that what you meant?

      For me, recognizing One in Spirit is hugely important. But I don’t see it as helpful to seek cultural oneness. I’d rather celebrate cultures than erase them.

  30. Michael advocated major changes and people who challenge the received wisdom invariably face a huge backlash of hate, anger, accusations, and so on. The effort to silence them goes to extremes. Here’s what happened to Gallileo–who agreed with Copernicus that the Earth revolved around the Sun, not the other way around:
    “Galileo’s championing of heliocentrism and Copernicanism was controversial within his lifetime, when most subscribed to either geocentrism or the Tychonic system. He met with opposition from astronomers, who doubted heliocentrism due to the absence of an observed stellar parallax. The matter was investigated by the Roman Inquisition in 1615, and they concluded that it could only be supported as a possibility, not as an established fact. Galileo later defended his views in Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, which appeared to attack Pope Urban VIII and thus alienated him and the Jesuits, who had both supported Galileo up until this point. He was tried by the Inquisition, found “vehemently suspect of heresy”, forced to recant, and spent the rest of his life under house arrest. It was while Galileo was under house arrest that he wrote one of his finest works, Two New Sciences. Here he summarized the work he had done some forty years earlier, on the two sciences now called kinematics and strength of materials.”

    1. This is my take exactly. When 6 corporations own 90 percent of the media in the US, and most of that media refuses to print any good stories about Michael for decades, you know he upset the one percent. Even the Huffington Post, which had printed some good stuff about him after he died, stopped accepting positive articles after they were bought out by AOL.

      I’ve started a blog to look at why Michael’s social change work was effective and innovative, and how we can also use the tools he was using. It’s called Dare to Rise Up: We Can Change the World, at keelymeagan.com.

      Raven, I hope it is ok to post this, I’m new to the blog world and don’t exactly know what is ok.

          1. I added the link and also subscribed. I read your post on the importance of having an open heart, and must say I found that one especially enlightening. I had never really thought of phrasing it exactly that way, but I knew instantly what you meant. I sometimes think of it as when I am putting forth positive energy. For example, I can feel it even in my classroom. If I am having a negative day, it doesn’t matter how hard I try. Everything I do or say just feels, well, negative. Everything feels forced and tense. When I allow my heart to be open, there is definitely a molecular shift. It changes the entire dynamics of the classroom, though just as with a congregation, the students must likewise have open hearts to truly receive. However, the teacher generally sets the mood and tone of the entire classroom, and I have found more often than not that positive energy is contagious. But like the preacher, I can’t force it. If my heart simply isn’t open that day, it doesn’t seem to matter how much I repeat any self empowering mantras to myself. It may be equally important that we learn to accept there will be times when we are closed, and to not beat ourselves up over it, since negative energy is also part of our normal human experience (i.e, sometimes we will have bad days when everything is going wrong; we will be angry and upset sometimes) so it may be equally important to learn to recognize this and to accept that there may be times when we are simply not as productive in getting our messages across. There are days when I get so ticked off that I really just want to post negative messages all over Facebook and Twitter; when I want to lash out (not necessarily about Michael or anything connected to the fandom; just life in general). The hand of common sense always holds me back. Why spread negativity around like a contagion? Instead, I know on those days it is time just to take a step back and breathe. Those are, I guess you could say, my closed heart days.

            It is interesting to think about this in terms of Michael being a performer. You are absolutely right about the connection he had with his fans through the power of keeping an open heart. The reason it worked when Michael said “I love you” was because it didn’t feel phony. There could be thirty thousand people at a show, and each one of them would feel he was addressing them personally. I’m sure he had nights when he didn’t feel like going onstage, but (and I have actually heard him say this in interviews) the minute he stepped into the spotlight, he felt the love and the energy. So the relationship between Michael and his audience was the perfect example of reciprocal open heartedness. The fans genuinely felt his love; he genuinely felt theirs’. It was always a giving, fluid, and dynamic relationship.

          2. Thanks for your comments Raven. And I do agree, some days we might need to write our own version of Stranger in Moscow or Scream!

            Gotta say, I do so wish I could have felt that “I love you” at a concert. I didn’t “get” his work until 2014, so all I get are the video versions. Not the same effect, though I can sure feel the love cycling through the stadium. I’m glad he got to receive all of that, and so many got to feel his enormous love.

  31. Case in point, iutd, Anna. Just a couple days ago (you may have followed this news), a fourteen-year-old high school kid in Irving, Texas, was arrested when he brought a homemade clock to school and his teacher thought he had built a bomb.

    The principal was called, the police were called, and this boy—Ahmed Mohamed—went to the police station for interrogation.

    In just a day or two, Ahmed Mohamed has now become something of a cause celèbre, as this incident has sparked invitations from Mark Zuckerberg, head of Facebook, and Barack Obama. The hashtag #IstandwithAhmed has appeared, as people are starting to realize that Islamophobia is a serious problem in this country, especially since the events of September 11, 2001.

    Didn’t someone say that even a broken clock is right twice a day? Apparently a working clock isn’t right at *any* time, if its maker happens to be brown-skinned and Muslim.

    This article is one of many that appeared online today:

    “The Arrest of a 14-Year-Old For Making a Clock Is the End Result of a Decade of Anti-Muslim Fearmongering”
    Glenn Greenwald, September 16 2015

    “There are sprawling industries and self-proclaimed career “terrorism experts” in the U.S. that profit greatly by deliberately exaggerating the threat of Terrorism and keeping Americans in a state of abject fear of “radical Islam.” There are all sorts of polemicists who build their public platforms by demonizing Muslims and scoffing at concerns over “Islamaphobia,” with the most toxic ones insisting that such a thing does not even exist, even as the mere presence of mosques is opposed across the country, or even as they are physically attacked.”

    http://gawker.com/the-arrest-of-a-14-year-old-for-making-a-clock-is-the-e-1731061138

    1. Yes, I saw that Nina, and am happy Ahmed is getting such big support and that his case is attracting a lot of attention. The photo of him in handcuffs was truly disturbing.

  32. REALLY???? YOU TWO ARE STARTING TO DO THE VERY THING THIS ENTIRE CONVERSATION WAS ABOUT TO BEGIN WITH–ARGUE, DEBATE, ATTACK EACH OTHER. AND YOU BOTH LOVE MICHAEL. COME ON. DROP THE DEBATE AND JUST SPREAD THE L-O-V-E!

  33. I apologize for the above “shouting” message. It seemed as though Layne4 and Galy(Russia) were getting a bit out of hand with the discussion, and it provoked ire in me that here we are trying to find a way to NOT have division among fans, and you two were starting to get a little bit defensive with each other. I read the subsequent comments and it seems toned down. Please forgive my fussing.

  34. Dear Galy Russia, Simba is correct: to reiterate, ideas cannot be copyrighted, only the expression of those ideas. I have been in the editing business for over 25 years, am also an author of various fiction and non-fiction articles. I hope this gives some credibility to back up what Simba is saying.

    1. That is true especially in regard to creative works, which goes back again to the issue of Brad Vice’s story. Two writers can have a similar idea for a story-for example, a similar plot, or similar characters. But it can only be considered plagiarism if the idea is executed in such a way as to be obvious that one writer copied another. However, copyright laws also protect parodies, so if a work is an obvious PARODY of an original work, the author cannot be sued for copyright infringement. That is how all of those movie parodies are able to get away with what they do, or how a book like “The Wind Done Gone” can be written and published. And, of course, that became the obvious debate centering around Brad Vice’s short story collection. Was it parody, or intentional rip off?

      However, in the academic world, there IS a code of ethics regarding ideas, theories and interpretations that may be unique. For example, a particular interpretation of a literary work that is original to a certain author may give that author grounds to pursue a charge of plagiarism if another writer publishes the same idea without credit. Admittedly, this can often be a very gray area. For example, with certain works there can be reached, over time, a general critical consensus of what that work “means.” For example, that Michael Jackson’s “Black or White” video contains many allusions to racism and to historical events such as the Chicago race riots is now so generally accepted as truth-having been so thoroughly dissected by scholars for some twenty-five years-that such a statement would now be considered practically common knowledge in the academic world. And granted, given the song’s title, lyrics and subject matter, that wouldn’t exactly be a rocket science interpretation, anyway. However, that would not apply to very SPECIFIC interpretations that have obviously originated with a particular source or individual. For example, the Michael Jackson Academia Project did draw the parallels between “Black or White” and Birth of a Nation, which, to me, would constitute a unique interpretation. Vogel drew this parallel also, though in a different context. This is where such issues can become decidely more cloudy. But as I said in the beginning, this is not so much about validating or invalidating those claims, which is not an issue I really feel I have the right to determine without further and much more in depth review of The Academia Project’s works and Vogel’s, but rather, the topic in general of automatically assuming that every writer who has written positively about Michael post 2009 is somehow in league with the estate and Sony. I can understand the sentiment of being careful who we trust, but at what point does this overlap into sheer paranoia? Think about it: There isn’t a writer out there who has written about Michael Jackson (and here I am discounting those who write obvious hate books) who hasn’t been “gone after” by one faction or another-sometimes, perhaps, with legitimate cause, but more often, simply because they are not obviously pro estate or anti estate. And that, I feel, is where a line that has to be drawn. And it’s getting worse. More recently, I’ve seen evidence that a lot of the “He’s still alive” believers are getting nastier and more pro-active in their attacks, some even leaving nasty comments on what was obviously a very loving tribute vid on Youtube just because it referred to his “last” interview. When you see things like that, it really hits home just how divided we are, and why. We have fans who believe he was murdered on the one hand, and fans on the other who refuse to even believe he is dead, so how on earth can it be expected that we’ll ever see eye to eye on anything?

  35. Beautifully, beautifully written. I would only add that Russia, having had its own dark periods in history, has also produced some of the world’s most beloved authors, composers, and musicians.

    1. Absolutely. Every country, and for that matter, every race and ethnicity, has contributed so much that has enriched humanity in some way. Which is why we all need to learn to be a more compassionate and tolerant world. We have so much to learn from each other, but prejudice and hate so often blinds us.

  36. You are abolutely right Raven when you say tha we all need to learn to be a more tolerant and compassionate world, but prejudice and hate so often blind us. These days as a European I can’t help being sad, indignated while witnessing what is happening in Hungary. The hundreds of kilometers of barbered wire being set up to drive back the refugees from Siria ,often skilled and learned people escaping from war in their own country, is a shame. Hungary has answered to this request of help by harming people even kids . These harbered wires are also a terrible reminder to us Europeans of the Nazi prosecution against innocent people and the subsequent tragedy of World War II. My country is a peninsula near Africa, and we have been facing the landings of poor refugees for many years. The rest of Europe has long been indifferent to our requests of help. The refugees camps are overcrowded. Our Navy, Police forces and most of the inhabitants of the southern coast have been doing whatever they could to accept these people, feed them and give them a shelter. But their number is so great and increasing. Nonetheless many tragedies have occurred with people dying drown at sea , boarded on illegal “death boats” coming with terrible sea conditions and being overcrowded with desperate people in search of a better future for their families, and escaping from famine, wars , dictatorships and illnesses. This is an enormous and epocal movement of people never to be seen before. Only recently has Germany opened her borders to a number of immigrants welcoming them in the country. This is a very good start and an example hopefully to be followed by other countries in the EU. Michael Jackson was well aware of the terrible living conditions of most people of Africa and was on the front line trying to give a substantial help. Were he alive these days I don’t think he could believe what’s happening here in Europe. His song “not be always ” seems to me the most appropriate to describe the tragedy taking place.

    1. @Cleis,
      The problem of refugees is not new, it only became news because it now affects norhern Europe.
      Lebanon and Turkey have taken in millions of refugees. Italy and Greece in the past years have had a very hard time with a massive influx and rescuing thousands of boat refugees from drowning and bury hundreds who did not survive. As we speak Greece are looking for survivors of a boat that capsized yesterday. These countries were left hanging by the EU community while it was to be expected that refugees would migrate further north . And Greeces ecomonomy is already in dire straights. There is little to no solidarity.
      Most former East European countries and some others like Austria do not have the mentality nor the means and willingness to help. It also becomes a breeding ground for fascist tendencies. Yesterday in Germany a refugee shelter was set on fire.
      Besides the solution is not just taking in refugees because basically it is a powerplay between Russia and ‘the West’ and the countries in the region looking away , all with their opportunistic support of groups who forward their agenda. They have helped create this monster that no one knows where it will end.

    2. I think there is a tendency in most of the world for people to ignore what does not affect them directly. Michael wrote about this in his poem “That One in the Mirror” and it is one of his pieces I go back to often. As we know, the welfare of Africa was one of the causes he took directly under his wing, and was very active in working for Africa throughout most of his lifetime.

      In the U.S. they were well aware of what was happening in Nazi Germany, but chose to turn a blind eye and to not intervene until Pearl Harbor forced us into the war. Then, all of a sudden, the cause of the Jews became part of the propaganda to boost U.S. morale. Yet in 1938 they had put Hitler on the cover of Time Magazine as “Man of the Year.” The government later tried to say they were not aware of the extent of what was being done in the concentration camps; they believed he was simply exiling the Jews, not killing them. Most have never bought that excuse. They had to have known.

  37. Thank you, Cleis, Raven, Anna, and Keely.

    The migrant situation that’s happening right now may (not surprisingly) partly account in a rise of violence and hatred, all over the world; though it takes different forms, and more or less virulent ones, in different places. I think economic and environmental instability has also contributed to a sense of panic, where people yearn to find the most easily-identified scapegoats to assuage their fears. This move assures people that only by “getting rid” of these troublesome others can they look forward to a future where they will, once again, be restored to their “rightful” place as masters of the universe, and return to some kind of Edenic scenario (which of course never existed in the first place.)

    And so, in North America, there are anti-Muslim rallies in Canada; Islamophobic sentiments being seconded by U.S. presidential candidates; increasing numbers of cases of police brutality, and mass murder—sometimes spurred on by histories of white supremacy—to name only recent developments.

    In their terror, many people are increasingly unable to deal, psychically or spiritually, with the sources of their terror. As a result they panic and embrace the nearest demagogue who can righteously *confirm* their terrors, offering hate-filled rhetoric in place of viable solutions to their very real problems. The overall message is this:

    How dare these aliens cross OUR borders, threatening OUR way of life, OUR economic survival, the sanctity of OUR women, OUR racial and ethnic purity, OUR Christian values….. and OUR very identities?

    It makes me sad, and at times angry, to see some of these very kinds of prejudices—-although writ small—-consistently put forward (perhaps unconsciously) among a handful of Michael Jackson’s fans who have expressed great admiration for his humanitarian efforts.

  38. Lately I’ve been looking at a number of songs whose lyrics Michael had a hand in writing (or wrote entirely on his own), and that deal more or less directly with war, injustice, and institutional violence.

    Thanks, cleis, for your insights about the situation in Europe; and for mentioning “Be Not Always,” which is indeed a great example of one of these songs.

    I was also recently struck by these lyrics in “We’ve Had Enough” (on the “Ultimate Collection” CD/DVD set from 2004):

    “Love was taken, from a young life
    And no one told her why
    
Her direction has a dim light
    
From one more violent crime




    “She innocently questioned why

    Why her father had to die

    She asked the men in blue

    How is it that you get to choose
    
Who will live and who will die
    
Did God say that you could decide?

    You saw he did not run
    
And that my daddy had no gun




    “In the middle of a village

    Way in a distant land
    
Lies a poor boy, with his broken toy

    Too young to understand



    He’s awaking, ground is shaking

    His father grabs his hand

    Screaming, crying, his wife is dying
    
Now he is left to explain




    “He innocently questioned why
    
Why his mother had to die

    What did these soldiers come here for?
    
If they’re for peace, why is there war?
    


Did God say that they could decide

    Who will live and who will die?

    All my mama ever did

    Was try to take care of her kids


…”

  39. This is an excellent piece. I know I have commented on this site before saying I don’t consider myself a fan of Michael, and this is exactly why. I don’t know which ‘faction’ or ‘side’ I belong to. I once wrote a 100%, pro-Michael article on my personal blog a few years ago and it went sort of viral among the fan community. Of course, I was subjected to harsh criticism and scrutiny over nothing. I even got attacked on Amazon for leaving a positive review of the bodyguards’ book a few months ago because I was one of the only people who reviewed the book who actually read it.

    Someone says they like the Xscape album, they get attacked. Someone says they don’t like how he lip-synched on the HIStory tour, they get attacked. Dare to bring up the fact that he was a total idiot for dangling Blanket over that balcony and you can expect death threats. God forbid you think one of his albums isn’t as good as Thriller or laugh at one of the harmless jokes about Michael (like his voice being high pitched). It’s beyond disgusting and immature. I even saw some fans say they “lost all respect” for Mr. Mesereau because he supported Randall Sullivan’s book. LOL, losing all respect for the one true friend Michael had who saved his life over a book that defended him?

    It’s funny because although Michael loved his fans and lived for them, they are the main reason his legacy is so tarnished today.

    1. I wouldn’t go so far as to say they are the “main” reason-I think we have a lot of more damning factors than that-but certainly the behavior of fans has been a contributing factor in why some have lost interest in writing about him. Granted, if that person is writing malicious, ill-informed dribble, that’s one thing, and maybe they deserve what they get. But I’ve also seen cases where very positive pieces were ripped to shreds over a single line or a single fact the writer got wrong, or because their opinion didn’t tow a certain line, as you say. Usually if I find a factual error in a piece, I’ll try to comment respectfully to the author, but there is no point in going on a tirade especially if the overall intent was good. I do understand, however, that there are certain topics that MJ fans are simply wearied with hearing. Topics such as plastic surgery and the endless debates of whether he did or didn’t have vitiligo (which really is a topic that shouldn’t even be debated anymore, since the autopsy did confirm it) or is or isn’t the biological father of his kids are considered irrelevant to most. Nevertheless, fans don’t like it when some writers presume things or state their opinions as facts (one even referred to Paris as Michael’s “adopted daughter” without batting an eye!). Sometimes even writers with the very best of intentions will make such statements out of ignorance, but that is where it’s important to respond with factual information, not an attack. However, I have likewise seen some writers who will respond with hostility or sarcasm even to well intentioned readers who are simply pointing out an error, so it kind of works both ways, and must be a two-way street of give and take. Journalists, for example, who write about the allegations are often notorious for refusing to listen to fans who simply wish to offer counter information, thinking that Michael’s fans are simply delusional and biased.

      I am proud, for the most part.of the pro active stance that MJ fans have taken against the media. A lot of bullsh*t was allowed to go unchallenged for too long. The media now knows that they can’t just print whatever they want about Michael and get away with it, as they did in years past. That is the positive side of the pro activism. The downside, however, is that as the fanbase has splintered into more and more factions, we are now often even attacking each other from within. You will, of course, find many varied opinions on just about everything. There are fans who love Xscape and fans who hate it. There are fans who don’t have an issue with the lip synching on the HIStory tour, and those who do (btw I have an interesting theory on this that I am going to share in a future post, and I think it may help bring some enlightenment to this oft debated topic). Everyone has their own tolerance level about the jokes, etc, or opinions about books like Sullivan’s or the bodyguards’. The bottom line is that we have to allow for some middle ground and the freedom to exchange ideas, without having it turn into a lynching. By the way, if it is any consolation, I did a very positive review of the bodyguards’ book as well (and yes, I did read it!).

      I think that overall, as many have stated here, writers may simply need to get a thicker skin and realize that if they put stuff “out there” it is going to be subject to criticism, and that MJ fans can certainly be some of the most critical. I am reminded of something I wrote in my recent proposal to Bloomsbury. One of the topics we had to address was the fandom of our subject. I wrote that Michael Jackson fans are the most intelligent and well researched fans I have ever seen among any fan group. Contrary to often popular opinion, they do not object to balanced writing about Michael Jackson, but they do expect that a writer will have done their research and that, most of all, they approach their subject with respect. There is a part of me that still likes to believe that assessment is true, and I think for the most part, it is. But, yes, it can get discouraging sometimes when it seems all we see is in-house fighting. A lot of earlier blogs have now gone offline or ceased to be active because the writers simply got tired of dealing with the fighting.

    2. ‘It’s funny because although Michael loved his fans and lived for them, they are the main reason his legacy is so tarnished today’

      Vicky , most of what you said is true, however fans have nothing to do with Michaels or any artists legacy. As far as I know Frank Sinatra has no fans , James Brown does not have a fanbase, John Lennon may have one , Bob Marley and Jimi Hendrix have fans but nothing near to Michaels, but 30 years after their death their legacy survives with or without fans. As does Michaels . The legacy is his body of work and the majority of people who admire him for it do not consider themselves fans or are even aware of the goings on between fans. My brother who has taught me a lot about music is a walking music encyclopedia on any genre and has seen every artist, group or act from the 70s 80s, 90s 2000s and all of Michaels tours. But the only time he was aware of anything going on between fans is with the Cascio tracks because it has to do with MJs music. It is not Michaels legacy but the fans reputation that is notorious and it was like that long before any infights.
      But fans deserve alot of credit for the shift in media reporting about MJ because of their consistent and massive reaction to false statements in the media. In 2010 among other Michael things l visited Gardners Elementary. Because of the allegations they had erased Michaels name from the auditorium that he paid for. It was through the advocacy of fans that his name is now proudly back on the building.
      Just to put things into perspective.

      1. Frank Sinatra has no fans? Lol. Are you sure you aren’t confusing fans with stans? (Though in his heyday, he certainly had those as well!). All of the artists you mentioned still have fans, but it is true that over time, a lot of the more ardent factions will die down, just as it was mentioned earlier in this discussion how the fan rivalry over Yoko Ono once divided Beatles’ fans but now it doesn’t really seem a going concern. Over time, most eventually learn to accept what can’t be changed. John Lennon obviously wasn’t going to divorce her just because fans didn’t approve. Those fans had to learn to accept it and move on. Today, after forty something years, the controversy is just considered part of the Beatles’ legacy. I think there is still some division within the Jimi Hendrix fan base over his management and estate, though those battles aren’t as heated as they once were. but they still rear up now and again, especially whenever new evidence is brought to light regarding the murder conspiracies.

        An excellent point, by the way, about Gardner Elementary School and the auditorium. I had forgotten about that, but yes, that is certainly an excellent example of a time when the pro activism of the fan base brought about a positive result and a desired change. There have been other victories, too, such as the cancellation of the Discovery autopsy show, which wouldn’t have happened without fan activism.

      2. Maybe I should clarify what I mean by “legacy”.

        You may be aware of that “viral” tweet on many of those popular twitter accounts that shows screencaps of Michael’s Oprah interview where he talks about his vitiligo. In the comment section, there is always someone saying something about him being a pedophile, and when someone sends them a link to one of the vindication blogs or whatnot, nobody takes it seriously because they’re run by Michael Jackson fans. The same people with this horrible reputation. Since Michael’s fans are notorious for threatening people over petty things, nobody cares for their opinions on the allegations, etc. That’s what I mean by they are the main reason for the damage to his legacy. The average Joe doesn’t know that Diane Dimond is best friends with the prosecutor’s wife, or that Wade Robson was an employee of AEG. The fans know these valuable things, but their bickering makes them lack credibility and nobody listens. Michael’s reputation is sullied by many fans. I saw that feud between Corey Feldman and a fan on Twitter over Corey saying Michael was “Just a normal person”. So now you can’t even say Michael is a human being? You have to believe he’s some demi-God? Bashir and Randall Sullivan have both mocked Michael’s fans in interviews before for believing he’s some “saviour” or “angelic figure”. Can you honestly blame them?

        I agree that Michael’s fans have done a lot of good. In Randall Sullivan’s book, he exposes Diane Dimond for the snake that she is, and he obviously got this information from the fan sites. Bill O’Reilly even compared Michael to McMartin pre school. So there is a lot of change, and I credit that to the fans.

        I am a person of faith, like Michael, and Jesus said “A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand”. A lot needs to be fixed within this community.

        And like Michael himself said, you got to look at yourself and make a change.

        I really appreciate this site and the discussions in the comments are always very informative. I’m grateful to have my comments and concerns addressed because most fan sites wouldn’t allow someone like me to comment.

        1. @Vicky

          I normally don’t comment on blogs, but I’d just say that I’m really grateful for your comment. I often feel ”squeezed”: If I say I like Michael Jackson as an artist and admire his creativity, non-fans automatically label me ”a fan” (and I go into the ”crazy bin”). If I yield and say ”allright, then, you’ve got me, I’m a fan”, I feel I have to tread very carefully not to offend the hardcore fanbase. I don’t think MJ was a demi-god or an angel. I also think he sometimes made errors. (And please: Don’t come with an angry: ”So, what errors did he make, then?”) We should be able to discuss ANY aspect of this brilliant artist freely and without fear of being mobbed or ridiculed.

          1. (And people who don’t agree MJ that was ”a brilliant artist” should of course also be allowed to take part in the discussion and express their views – provided their intentions are honest and they haven’t come to ”troll around”, of course! 🙂 )

          2. Bjorn and Vicky, I agree with what you’ve stated here about being mobbed. When this has happened to me, I’ve persisted in “speaking out,” probably LONG past the point where I should have quit and simply left the less-than-open exchange.

            For example, I’ve been involved in one particular discussion forum where I’ve broached—in all good faith—-topics that I believed would help all of us better understand the *many* complex and interconnected reasons for the hostility that was directed against Michael by the press. I thought I could shed some light on how certain forms of hostility were readily bought and sold to a gullible public that is eager to embrace the tyranny of a “Normal Valley”—with its “nice, normal people”—-that Michael and Stan Winston so brilliantly allegorized in the short film “Ghosts.”

            Of course, racism is a huge, huge element of the mindset that punished Michael and that regularly punishes and kills lesser-known blacks and other people of color in this country. But racism alone can’t entirely explain the protracted and intense form of ridicule he was subjected to over the years.

            Hoping to add a different perspective to these conversations, I’ve tried to work out a more complex concatenation of Michael’s *public image*—- which were NOT necessarily about the realities of his private life, as many fans supposed. I suggested, for instance, that his appearance was widely perceived (by detractors and supporters alike), as a departure a more traditional masculine look. I maintained that Michael’s more “feminized” appearance —whether intentional or not—had aroused the discomfort of a culture that has yet to shed its fierce attachment to viewing human existence in exclusively gender-binary terms, and that has some violent methods of enforcing existing sexual and gender norms—including punishing certain public figures that seem (in more vulnerable ways than, say, David Bowie, or other pop stars) to veer outside of these norms.

            In trying to explore this topic—simply EXPLORE it, with no conclusions offered—I was informed in no uncertain terms that I was, in effect, reiterating the very “insults” Michael had to endure throughout his life. This was of course a VERY far cry from what I had been trying to do.

          3. @Bjorn, there will always be people who think their way is the only way. If you take a cross section of MJ fansites, twitter facebook and other social media accounts you will find the same behavior as in any random group on social media, good and bad to borderline obsessed. Because we have the same interest in the artist and humanitarian does not automatically mean that we share the same values , political, social views etc. or look at MJ the same way.
            There are 3 or 4 MJ blogs worth following because they are knowledgable, without a ‘I know ít all” attitude , put alot of work in their articles, are good writers , take a broader approach than just Michael Jackson , are open to different opinions and respect their visitors.
            What is missing that I would like to see is a site with focus only on his music dance and art .

          4. Keely running a blog is not something I have the skills or time for . That is why I have so much respect for all the dedicated bloggers who put their time and hard work in it . And like Raven manage to keep it fresh and interesting after so many years. I am sure there are enough fans who could do it and I hope they do.

          5. Got it. I just started my own blog and am amazed at the time it takes. It also gives me huge respect for people who have done this for so long. Kudos to you Raven!

          6. This blog, especially, has always been very time consuming for me because I tend to write very intensive pieces that often require a lot of research (sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on the piece). I always feel guilty when I can’t be as productive with it as I would like, but during the academic year, I teach a full load and it just gets very draining. I wasn’t working as much when I started the blog six years ago, so I could stay up writing all night if I wanted to and sleep all day (lol). These days it’s a very different scenario, so I have to prioritize. I remember when I used to post new content every single day. That was insane! I do miss the days when I could do that, but I’ve learned that opting for quality over quantity isn’t a bad thing, either.

  40. IMO a lot of the disastrous shifts that have taken place in our worldwide culture in the last decades can be laid at the door of one Rupert Murdock. This man came out of Australia with a plan to break down the doors of the elite Fleet Street honchos in UK, and he went about breaking unions, taking over newspapers with a long history of reputable reporting, and turning it to his purposes (his family was in the news business in Australia and he was a wealthy man). His purposes included focusing on what would sell in terms of sex, scandal, and celebrity–not what we could call ‘hard news.’ Rebekkah Brooks was on board from the get-go and oversaw the various tabloids that came up with the endless attacks on MJ (“Sunday Times not a friend of mine”). When he was accused in 93, they were in heaven. Other tabloids, newspapers, and media around the world stepped up to the same line of “reporting.” Now, I know Murdock was not the only one but he excaerbated and expanded the existing situation and created the crap reporting that we have almost universally now. He owns over 800 news entities. If it hadn’t been for the phone-hacking scandal in UK, he was on the verge of having a controlling interest in Sky News (satellite TV). He is polluting the minds of literally billions.

    Why did MJ attack the tabloids so relentlessly? (See his Barbara Walters interview as an example of his ongoing fight, and of course his many songs.) He knew where the poison was coming from and how that poison was spreading. Now it’s everywhere. I agree Michael’s fans took it on and to a large extent thay have made significant inroads on the way he is presented, but in terms of the media as a whole–they haven’t changed, even though they may be easing up on Michael per se just a bit. They delight in getting us to point fingers of blame at others.

    There was an interesting point made by Michael Brenner:

    “An informed public is the bedrock of American democracy. That belief has been a central pillar in the national creed since it was eloquently stated by Thomas Jefferson. A free press is the prime and prized instrument for ensuring it.
    Today, at the height of the communications revolution, keeping the public informed should be easy as pie. That is not the case, though, as we know from surveys and our own anecdotal experience. Citizens are probably less aware of what is going on around them on matters of politics and policy than at any time since universal literacy became a reality.
    Why this incongruity? It stems in part from the habits and inclinations of a populace that is self-absorbed to the point of functional autism. It also due to the abject failure of the MSM to uncover and present the news in ways that extend and deepen peoples’ understanding of what is happening. ”
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-brenner/the-fourth-estate-takes-the-fifth_b_8104666.html

    Here’s Noam Chomsky on a similar tact speaking about media : “It’s not just the case that it [popular media] tries to entertain them [public], it tries to entertain them through means which will intensify attitudes that support the interests of elites.” “Professional sports are a way of building up jingoist fanaticism. You’re supposed to cheer for your own team.” “This idea of cheering for your home team . . . that’s a way of building into people irrational submission to power, and it’s a very dangerous thing . . . “ “The indoctrination that’s done on TV . . . is trying to inculcate attitudes . . .” anti-Arab racism—accepted racism—fear of the Arab terrortist—and against that background you can bomb Libya. “

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZztRMKLojnE [Chomsky on indoctrination in media c. 34 minute mark]

    “Irrational submission to power”–this means people stop thinking for themselves–I have seen MANY people having online debates where opinions presented in popular media are recited as if they were fact and the idea of making any further effort to find facts and research is not there. That’s what Michael’s fans were up against, and still are to some extent. After he died, there was a group effort to fight back, and the creation of a group called “the 500”–a group of fans who would commit to combatting online media misrepresentations and lies in their comments. It’s this kind of group effort that will make headway. Michael wanted us to join forces and act as one to change the world. It’s not that we have to agree on everything of course, but on basic goals and principles. I don’t mind the infighting to some extent but we should not lose sight of the basic, fundamental goals he fought for or the enemies to reaching those goals that he specifically named.

  41. What about those of us who are not members of any so-called faction? I’m starting to resent entreaties to “fix the fan community”. If such a community were to exist, who gets to decide the proper manner in which the members are supposed to behave?

    I will not take responsibility for those who behave viciously. Haters are gonna hate – it doesn’t matter what I do. When people disparage Michael’s supposedly “crazy” fan base, they’re playing us. They just don’t like him.

    Tom Mesereau did a great job defending Michael, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be criticized. For example, he has stated that Michael adopted two “white” children and a “Hispanic” child! While many single white people are able to adopt black children, to my knowledge, there has never been even one instance in the US of a single black man being allowed to adopt white children. If there had been an adoption, the papers would have been leaked and sold for a fortune. Most importantly, Michael was always adamant that his children are his biological offspring. And yet intelligent, heroic Tom Mesereau contradicted his own client. He made a statement that, whatever his motivation, has no proof to back it up, and for many people, puts Michael in a bad light. Why shouldn’t it be okay to criticize Mesereau for that? He’s the opposite of a broken clock – he’s right most of the time, but not infallible. ( Now he’s defending Suge Knight. Some people might have a problem with that.)

    If people refuse to even entertain the possibility that Michael was a completely innocent man, it has nothing to do with the disparate personalities in the fan base. Meanwhile I live in hope that Jordie and Gavin will confess their lies. It could happen. The guy who lied about being in the World Trade Center during 9/11 finally owned up. But even if they did confess, some haters wouldn’t believe them, because they don’t want to.

  42. Absolutely! Oneness, although an almost incomprehensible concept, is what we need to promote, while not only celebrating cultural uniqueness but embracing it.

  43. “The fans genuinely felt his love; he genuinely felt theirs’. It was always a giving, fluid, and dynamic relationship.”

    Raven, this brought tears to my eyes…not sad, just deeply heartfelt. Thank you.

  44. You mentioned “check your grammar”. With all due respect, yours is so poor that I hardly understood anything you wrote. I am not trying to argue or put anyone down. I’m only asking questions because this is new information to me. Please forgive any offensive if I made them.

  45. Dear Nina, I am quite ignorant of the negative interactions among so-called MJ fans that you refer to, and am appalled by it. But hopefully they are a minority. One other comment I want to make is that, in my opinion, the world is going through a GREAT shift towards enlightenment, and because numbers of individuals, communities, and some cities are moving towards greater awareness of the sanctity of nature and humanity, the rest of the world is rebelling, terrified that it’s unconcscious existence is in danger of extinction. I shudder when I hear certain American politicians cry “Take Our Country Back!” Really? Take it back from whom? Descendents of the slaves who were dragged away from their families to build our country for us? Immigrants we welcomed here to work under horrid conditions for insufficient wages, again to help build this country? Now that the slave descendent and immigrants are becoming the majority, demographically, they want to send everyone back to their home countries. This is the type of thing that brings embarrassment and shame to those of us Americans who oppose their narrow-minded, greedy and hateful view.

  46. So very well said! IMO, the very point of Michael’s existence.
    …”too many of us, worldwide, have lost touch with the Earth, with love and compassion, and celebrate death and violence more than life. ‘The Man in the Mirror’ is everyone, not just citizens of one country or continent. “Make that change!” is a message for us all, and today more than ever.”

  47. I disagree, along with Raven, that the fans are the “main” reason MJ’s legacy is tarnished. But I do want to add that I think we are using way too much of our precious time discussing those so-called fans who battle with each other, and/or who attack anyone for not idolizing MJ and anyone who was positively associated with him. Those very same people, I would bet a million, are the same way with just about everything else in their lives. People they don’t like for whatever reasons, news they hear that isn’t in line with their own beliefs, religious ideologies they don’t agree with…the list goes on and on. These people just happen to call themselves Michael Jackson fans because 1)they like his music and 2)think he’s sexy. Although his music is genius, and he has a boatload of sex-appeal, one must admit that liking his music because it’s great to listen and dance to, and gazing at his beautiful face and sighing are pretty superficial. That’s probably how those people can best be described. I for one would rather ignore them, yet I agree that it’s an important issue to be addressed.

  48. About these factions, seems a lot of it is not happening face to face but via online communications. There are downfalls to this form of communication, although I certainly enjoy some dialogue, like this one, and have myself been targeted by various ‘haters’ or fierce critics. Here is some of Pope Francis’ words on this (from his encyclical Laudato Si): “when media and the digital world become omnipresent, their influence can stop people from learning how to live wisely, to think deeply and to love generously. In this context, the great sages of the past run the risk of going unheard amid the noise and distractions of an information overload. Efforts need to be made to help these media become sources of new cultural progress for humanity and not a threat to our deepest riches. True wisdom, as the fruit of self-examination, dialogue and generous encounter between persons, is not acquired by a mere accumulation of data which eventually leads to overload and confusion, a sort of mental pollution. Real relationships with others, with all the challenges they entail, now tend to be replaced by a type of internet communication which enables us to choose or eliminate relation- ships at whim, thus giving rise to a new type of contrived emotion which has more to do with devices and displays than with other people and with nature. Today’s media do enable us to com- municate and to share our knowledge and affections. Yet at times they also shield us from direct contact with the pain, the fears and the joys of others and the complexity of their personal experiences. For this reason, we should be concerned that, alongside the exciting possibilities offered by these media, a deep and melancholic dissatisfaction with interpersonal relations, or a harmful sense of isolation, can also arise.”

    1. That is a brilliant observation, and goes back to a scary but basic truth about online communications. People will say things, and act out, online in ways they never would face to face. Just like road rage (due to the fact that being confined to a vehicle provides much of the same feeling of power and anonymity that hiding behind a computer gives) it can bring out the worst in people.

      1. In a way social media ( including some MJ fan media)have surpassed the tabloids in many respects and are more dangerous than the tabloids. They are cheap, do not need to pay reporters , are not official media, so cannot be helt to any standard or complaints, they copy paste without fact checking, harrass people , create false rumors and make these stories go viral without repercussion.
        At least the tabloids are known to be what they are, but on social media people can take on false identities and create a whole virtual world, which if you think of it is surreal and scares me more than the tabloids.

  49. Pope Francis’words well describe today’s weak points of social media. Marshall MC Luhan wrote a pamphlet, paraphrasing his own book ” The media as a message”, entitled “The media as a massage”, thus pointing out the media, at those time mainly television, as the first element to influence people’s opinions and tastes, depriving them, unconsciously, of self criticism.As Michael liked to say there has been a quantum leap from Mc Luhan’s important writings foreseeing a world connected society by means of technological devices. But Michael was well aware of the importance of physical presence to make a connection with people. Before concerts all the world over, he personally visited the hospitals and orphanages he had given money to. May be it was a way to be sure the money he had given had been really employed what it was meant for.Certainly it was a way to create a brief but sincere contact to those unfortunate kids for whom he had checked the night before the proper work of batteries or other devices of the toys he was going to give them the following day.

    1. Thank, Cleis, for pointing out McLuhan’s work and Michael’s visits to orphanages and hospitals. I agree this personal contact with the children and with his fans was such a wonderful manifestation of his love for them and us. When he had a fan come up on stage to dance with him during YANA this was another way to have that personal contact with all of us, as well as the lucky fan–I treasure youtube videos where he is embracing kids, fans, and so on (even the guy who jumped on the cherry picker during Earth Song)!

  50. Truly, it’s those “fans” who ridicule us who admit that Michael was human and had flaws who belong in the crazy bing. They are not dealing with reality. He certainly made mistakes as ALL of us do, he used bad judgement at times, as ALL of us do. Now that he is gone from this world, however, I DO believe that he is an angel! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Anna. I am reading his Laudato Si encyclical–it’s available in a pdf online in case anyone wants to take a look.
      w2.vatican.va/content/dam/francesco/pdf/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si_en.pdf

  51. Oh for goodness’ sake, really? Those people were apparently not aware of the dozens, if not hundreds by now, of academic articles written on these very subjects: how Michael’s artistry confronted head-on our beliefs about gender and skin color; I don’t like to use the word “race” because I believe there is only ONE race–the human race. Culturally speaking, he also catapulted across “boundaries”, which might be even more threatening than simply one’s different (darker) skin color. Each culture naturally holds dear its own traditions, religious beliefs etc., and for someone from another “tribe” to venture into an existing tribe’s territory is threatening to the degree of power the “other” tribe member holds. And Michael certainly came into Power quickly and globally. Oh yes, the “Establishment” tribal leaders and their followers were indeed threatened! Public figures such as David Bowie, Boy George, Gavin Ross, Conchita…the list could go on and on, had nowhere the power that MJ acquired primarily as a result of his phenomenal talent. Talk about upsetting the status quo!

  52. All of the thoughtful, insightful & intelligent comments here about Michael–a continuation of a dedicated group of people interested in promoting & exploring the artist and person who was Michael . . . so much successful effort in revealing the silver beneath the tabloid tarnish. . .

    So, I can’t even begin to describe how terribly upsetting I find this: “The Michael Jackson estate has just suffered a setback in a lawsuit brought by former Neverland kid Wade Robson. A judge has ruled that Robson can go ahead and sue Jackson’s companies for sexual harassment because Robson was an employee. Robson had previously been denied in his efforts to get money from Jackson’s estate.”

    Hearing this makes me heartsick. And I don’t know what to do, how to combat, or how to cope with this.

    1. To echo Anna’s sentiments, it doesn’t mean much. It certainly doesn’t mean he will be victorious in this ridiculous pursuit.

  53. Ara, try to keep the faith. I doubt he’ll get anything from the Estate, that is if they don’t decide to just settle with him. If they do that, then I am finished with that family for good. But I believe Katherine will not let her son’s name be tarnished any further by doing that. All we can do is hope and pray for the best, and continue to Pay Michael Forward, as well as spreading his legacy of LOVE to as many people as we can, one person at a time.
    Keep your chin up. Michael is, ultimately and forever, the victor in all of this, because after EVERYTHING he went through, his character did not once falter.

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