“The most pure people are always torn down.. It will continue to be proven that my beloved dad has always been and forever will be innocent.”-Paris Jackson
As I’m readying to post this third installment of my series rebutting the lies Radar Online was responsible for spreading throughout the media, I am noticing a disturbing trend. Memories are all too short in today’s world of sound bite journalism, and already the malicious lie Radar Online released just in time to darken celebrations honoring Michael’s death anniversary is starting to fade from headlines and is dropping from the search engines. Traffic here has pretty much stabilized to normal, and on social media, many fans are back to tweeting images of Michael’s gold pants and all of the usual stuff we enjoy discussing when news is slow. Maybe in a way that is a good thing if this story that was never a story is dying down, as it should.
But I find it beyond disturbing that what Radar Online and the rest of the media did to Michael Jackson and his family this past week is being allowed to sink without formal retraction or apology, even after being called out by several conscientious journalists and even after the Santa Barbara authorities issued a statement concluding that they had issued no such documents to the media and that the documents included falsified information, which their statement made plain in no uncertain terms. It is also inexcusable that much of the media has turned a deaf ear as artists like Jonathan Hobin and others whose work has been similarly slandered as “pornography” have spoken out.
Jonathan Hobin Retweeted MJJJusticeProject
More than a 1000 tweets and the media are not listening.
Michael’s friend Corey Feldman has also reached out to the media time and again to say that he was abused as a child by a Hollywood pedophile ring. He continues to insist that his real abuser is still out there, but the media and-most importantly, the police-stopped listening to him as soon as he told them his abuser wasn’t Michael Jackson. The response to any offers to reveal his true abuser? Crickets chirping. Even The Daily Mail ran a story on it in 2013, so no one can say Feldman hasn’t been trying to get the truth out for a long time-that Michael Jackson provided him the only sense of normalcy he had as a child.
Time and again, I have seen this cycle repeat itself-a really malicious story is printed about Michael (we are guaranteed at least one really good hit piece every six months or so) and the furor is stirred for a little while; then, eventually, the story drops from the headlines and everyone becomes complacent again-for a little while, until the next storm hits. This cycle has got to stop! How long can they keep picking the flesh from a dead man’s bones? I am going to continue working to expose these people for as long as it takes-not because I enjoy keeping the story going or “fanning the flames” but because I refuse to rest this time or to become complacent again until Radar Online and all of the outlets who spread this latest trash have issued a FORMAL RETRACTION AND APOLOGY. In the last seven years, I have seen quite a bit that has been allowed to simply sink without formal retraction-a good case in point being the phony FBI files story which was eventually squelched after a damning story in CNN exposed the hoax. At that time, many media outlets that had ran with that story simply deleted it, allowing it to quietly drop out of search engines. But not everyone. And again, because no formal retraction was ever given, the bogus story is still occasionally unearthed and given new legs for the uninitiated who, of course, will not remember the expose’ of 2013 (as I said, memories are fleetingly short in the media world-but that doesn’t make the damage done any less forgiving).
We really do have to ask some tough questions about the especial vindictiveness around this particular anniversary-June 25th, 2016. For example, although certainly a much less damaging story than the fabricated assertions of child pornography, The Daily Mail ran a hit piece on June 25th asserting that Michael had viciously dissed Prince during the taped sessions for his “Moonwalk” autobiography, claiming he was “the rudest person I ever met.” The purpose of running with such a story on June 25th of all dates is pretty obvious: They know that the emotions of Prince fans right now are very raw (the man just died in April) and, of course, what better way to play up the “rivalry” than by having Prince fans turn en masse on MJ on his own death anniversary! A cheap tactic to be sure, although I credit Prince fans with more intelligence than to fall for it. The fact is, if any such tape exists, it hasn’t surfaced. Secondly, even if we extended benefit of the doubt and assumed maybe, okay, he said it, I would say to that: Big whoop de-do deal. If truth be known, most fans would be shocked to know what artists really have to say about each other in private moments-they are human beings, after all. Let’s not forget that this was the era in which Prince had just refused, twice, to collaborate with Michael and had effectively snubbed every overture Michael had made toward him. But what we do know is that their respect for each other as artists was immense and only grew exponentially throughout the years (I even learned recently that Prince hung out with Michael in the recording studio during the HIStory sessions!) and in 1983, it was Michael who persuaded James Brown to call Prince up on stage with them. As I have been writing in many previous blog posts, Michael’s relationship with Prince-just like his relationship with Madonna-was a complex one fraught with all of the complexities that comes with success, ego, and artistry, but also with the kind of immutable bond that only those who have shared the experience of fame can understand. This is nothing more than celebrity gossip, of course, which doesn’t mean much in the grander scheme of things-gossip, as always in the celebrity and tabloid world, will come and go, and we can’t afford to expend too much energy getting overly riled up about these things. However, I am concerned-very much-with the especially slanderous allegations of the past week which cannot afford to go unchallenged.
With that in mind, I am going to resume where I left off in refuting the claims that Radar Online and other media outlets professed, via overly sensationalized headlines, made about the 2003 police reports on Neverland. To do that correctly, I will need to go back to a previous page that was missing from RO’s originally published 88-page document. Here goes:
Item #505 is especially important to this discussion, as this was an apparently sealed package containing three books that will be crucial to our discussion in this post-Underworld, Room To Play, and Drew and Jimmy. Room To Play is important because this book played a prominent role, both directly and indirectly, in creating many of the most sensational media headlines. First, this was the volume for which Jonathan Hobin’s “American Idol” photo was mistakenly identified as being a part of in Radar Online’s pages that were falsified. As discussed in Pt 2, we now know that this image was not included in Room To Play at all, but instead, was part of Hobin’s collection of art photography titled In The Playroom-an important detail because In The Playroom, a book published in 2008, could not possibly have been a book recovered during the 2003 raid. Granted, we could attribute such an oversight to human error, but this was not the kind of error that would have been allowed in an actual police report! However, it is exactly the sort of error that could be made unknowingly by someone doing a sloppy Google search for images from Room To Play-just exactly the kind of error that could have been made by Robson’s and Safechuck’s attorneys before “leaking” these newly sensationalized documents to Radar Online (the “Amercian Idol” photo featuring a JonBenet Ramsey lookalike with a noose tied around her neck is now among the twenty-seven pages that have suddenly “disappeared” from Radar Online’s documents). Just as a test, I did a Google search myself for In The Playroom. Guess what image came up? That’s right-Hobin’s photo!
Here you can see page 11 of Radar Online’s version, where the “American Idol” photo from In The Playroom is identified via a handwritten note as being from Room To Play.
This image does not appear at all in the original report-and now we know for good reason! Because it didn’t exist in 2003, and was never recovered from Michael Jackson’s home!
But what about the actual book, Room To Play, as well as the other two books that were in this sealed package? I would like to take an especially close look at Room To Play because the description of this book in the report was responsible for a particularly reprehensible headline ran by Vanity Fair, an article written by Laurie Bradley claiming that pornographic photos were seized in Michael’s home of children’s heads morphed onto adult bodies. That headline was particularly disturbing because they had the brass balls to run it above one of the most innocent photos of Michael that could have possibly been used-a photo op from one of one of the many charitable events at Neverland for under privileged, inner city children.
The sensationalized juxtaposition of the image and headline were completely intentional. Unfortunately, this was a hit piece that received a lot of traction from the fan community because Vanity Fair was the first outlet that also ran the rebuttal statement from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department denying that they had authorized the documents for release and also that some of the information appeared to have been tampered with. That was an important step, but unfortunately, having that information did not lead to a retraction or formal withdrawal of the story-it is merely tacked on as a kind of obligatory footnote, where it is bound to be all but ignored amidst that glaring salacious headline.
Even though I knew that no such photos had ever been claimed to have been found in Michael’s possession (this “revelation” was total news to me!) I couldn’t help but find the headline disturbing. I know of pedophiles who have been convicted for possessing just such material. It is a particularly sick “hobby” in which pedophiles will sexualize children by placing images of their heads and faces onto adult bodies. But going back to the report, it is clear that those descriptions came solely from the description of the book Room To Play (i.e, these did not refer in any way to photos Michael had personally taken or doctored himself, as the Vanity Fair headline suggests).
I did some more digging, and guess what? Room To Play, like so many of the books that came into question from this report, is a perfectly legal art book by Simen Johan that can be purchased on Amazon! (Provided one can afford the exorbitantly high cover price of $750.00; evidently the book must be out of print or an extremely valuable collectible!). An excerpt from a review of the book written in July of 2003 stated thus:
Johan has many similar images in Room to Play. “Untitled #71. 1999” shows a girl in a gymnasium, taking a model’s pose, one hand on her hips, facing to the left of the viewer into the distance. She is wearing a transparent one-piece outfit, and her young face does not match the pre-pubescent body. Indeed, the darker complexion of the face makes it easy to guess where Johan stuck the image of the head to that of the body. In “Untitled #79. 1999” a girl with a baby doll-like face but very styled hair is reclining in a park, exposing adult breasts. She has bright eyes but her face is utterly devoid of expression. The picture brings to mind bring to mind some of Hans Bellmer’s use of dolls and the psychoanalytic interpretations such work invites. It’s easy to analyze them as the expression of forbidden fetishistic desires, embodying a consciousness of their own depersonalization. They also could be read as feminist works, protesting the sexualization of young girls in pageants, and the loss of childhood innocence that comes with the commodification of girls’ bodies.
However, the other pictures here tend to discount such readings, because they are darker, more bizarre, and more complex. The first image in the book, “Untitled #71. 1998” shows a boy and a dog, and is more obviously a well-crafted collage. They seem to be in a trailer park surrounded by high-rise apartment buildings. The boy has Asian facial features and looks at the viewer. His body is that of a toddler, but his face is of an older boy. He is wearing an odd sort of hat or crown, with a furred cylinder topped by a crude bejeweled dome with a cross in the middle. His underwear has a wet dark spot in the front. The little dog is a highly groomed fluffy white poodle, also wearing a garish ornament on its head. The picture has a drab feel to it, but it relishes its own incongruity. “Untitled #65. 1997” shows a girl in a foggy field holding a dead sheep, with flies on her and the sheep. Her face is intend but not upset. “Untitled #78. 1999” shows a boy and girl dancing in their underwear against a background of jet planes leaving impressive looped jet trails. The blond boy looks about four years old, and is wearing a wet tight fitting pair of swimming trunks — he seems to have a rather large penis for his age. “Untitled #75. 1999” shows a girl in a room with the curtains drawn. Her face gives little clue to her age — her hair is unevenly cut and disheveled, and her upper teeth have large gaps between them. Her eyes are rolled up in her head and she has running mascara; a tear rolls from her right eye. She is wearing a bright silver necklace and the pendant shines from inside her mouth. She looks drugged or even possibly dead. These are not pretty images, and their flirting with taboos of child sexuality, disturbance, and death place Johan’s work in the realm of a rather adolescent surrealism. Yet they are emotionally powerful, and even darkly humorous.
A detailed discussion of the book (and others) on the Vindicating Michael website contained these images from the book to give a feel for Johan’s particular style of photography:
Something that struck me was that the image at top left bore an uncanny resemblance to Aubrey Powell’s famous cover for Led Zeppelin’s 1973 Houses of the Holy album. That cover photo had, in turn, been inspired by the ending of Arthur C. Clark’s novel Childhood’s End. So…does this mean that all of us who own classic rock albums are guilty of owning porn?
The image on the top right also reminds me a lot of a slightly demonized Carol Ann, the character that Heather O’Rourke played in Poltergeist.
As with Jonathan Hobin, whose work was discussed in Part 2, the images in Johan’s work can be viewed as disturbing because they depict children in various extreme settings, but they are not pornographic in nature. The purpose, as with Hobin’s work, seems to be depictions of how society has victimized children. We know that childhood was a subject dear and close to Michael’s heart; it permeated much of his own work, and in songs like “Childhood,” “Little Susie,” “Hollywood Nights” and “Do You Know Where Your Children Are” he was brutally honest in confronting the darker aspects of childhood. “Little Susie” depicts a child who is murdered. Both “Hollywood Nights” and “Do You Know Where Your Children Are” feature as subjects young girls who have been sold to prostitution.
Michael’s Own Artistic Vision Of Childhood Could Be Quite Dark: He, Better Than Anyone, Recognized It’s Not Always A Happy Time For All Children. “Little Susie,” For Example, Is The Story Of A Murdered Girl.
Given Michael’s artistry and vision, it’s easy to see how and why he might have found inspiration in these works-that is, if we can assume he indeed had ever even looked at or opened this book! Let’s not forget, it was described along with the other three as being inside a sealed packaging-one for which the the seals had to be broken in order to review the items! This suggests the possibility that Michael could have merely received the books as gifts and had never opened them-for sure, we know Michael received thousands of such gifts from fans every day, as Michael often said and which has been confirmed by many sources who knew him.
However, what about the morphed images referred to in the report? Although some of the images were described in the report as “appearing” to sexualize the children by morphing them with adult images, the intent in most of the images seemed to be more about showing the children as neglected and prematurely aged by a society that has forced them into adulthood too soon-a society that has literally left them with no “room to play.”
What of the other two books contained in the packaging-Underworld and Drew and Jimmy? Kelly Klein’s 1995 book Underworld is also a book that can be purchased on Amazon. It appears to be nothing more than a boudoir coffee table art book featuring Calvin Klein-like images of models wearing underwear in ads throughout various decades of the twentieth century. And guess what? It was a book highly endorsed by my all time favorite author of vampire and Gothic fiction, the venerable Anne Rice, who wrote the introduction!
“The camera empowers you to be intimate with the lens, even abandoned, in a way that may not be possible with another human,” Rice muses. “This book is a monument to our freedom, not only to express ourselves but to want more than we are allowed. The camera is the safest vehicle for this excess.”-Anne Rice, from the introduction to Underworld.
Underworld is also a highly rated book on goodreads.com.
Drew and Jimmy by John P. Salisburyis also available on Amazon and appears to be little more than a pictorial of rural boyhood. This is what one reviewer wrote of the book:
I came across this book on the recommendation of the author’s mother. She was my grade school art teacher and mother of a long time classmate-Burton. I had not seen her since Burton’s funeral, but when she mentioned Patrick’s book I couldn’t resist. I had been back in Walnut Grove for a weekend visit for a girlfriend’s wedding. I had left for college a few years before and kept going. My family was not as deep rooted there as the Salisbury’s were, but I grew up there and those roots run just as deep. Whenever school or life was getting stressful, the Delta was the first place I’d run to. It was a truly wonderful place to grow up, and the book depicts the eviroment beautifully. When I saw the pictures of the glass-like water, it made me want to be behind a ski boat once more. I knew Burton well, but Patrick was always the quiet older brother. I did know that they were total opposites personality wise. Burton was always the daredevil; class clown, as well as very gifted artistically like his mother and now as I see, Patrick also. My earliest memory of Burton I have is:him standing on a huge round table in our kindergarten classroom, which he then fell off of and cracked his head open for a few stitches. We grew apart after graduation, but he was part of many good memories I had while growing up in Walnut Grove…including one of my first crushes. I think about him often, though my life is far away from where I knew him last, and I miss him. Thank you Patrick for a little more closure:)-
Even the original police report couldn’t offer too much to say about this book or its contents, conceding that it contained merely “photographs of two Caucasian male juveniles that appeared to be in their early to mid teens. The boys in these photographs are primarily clothed with occasional photographs of them wearing swim trunk-type clothing.”
From what I can tell, the following example photographs are about as “erotic” as it gets, and quite frankly, these young men appear to be far older than “early to mid teens.”
Typically, the report concluded of all three books:
“None of the above noted books contained materials, which depicted illegal activities (including sexual acts with children) None of the books would meet legal requirements to be considered child pornography.” -Sheriff’s Department, Santa Barbara County Continuation Sheet Page 3.