Does This Look Like The Face Of Dysfunction?

While The Media Sold us The Idea Of “Wacko Jacko,” Michael Jackson In Reality Was Embarking On The Most Politically Active Era Of His Career

I’m dipping a bit into the vault today. This was a piece that I originally wrote back during the trial, but since Allforloveblog was still offline at the time, I didn’t have a means to widely distribute it. I decided it was a topic still worthy of examination, so I’ve dusted it off and made a few tweaks. The article originally came about in response to a comment made one night on HLN by the ever brilliant and scholarly Dr. Drew (I am being sarcastic, of course!). For the record, I don’t classify Dr. Drew among the MJ haters. Throughout the trial, his position came across to me as one that was mostly sympthaetic towards Michael as the victim in the case-but nevertheless, his was a position steeped largely in ignorance, as evidenced by many of his comments regarding Michael’s life. Whether ignorance comes cloaked in malicious intent or not, it is still just that-ignorance. And when one is speaking to a potential audience of millions, ignorance is dangerous.

I fired this off the night I heard Dr. Drew comment that it was tragic how Michael Jackson’s artistry had been overshadowed by the “dysfunction of his life.”  That one brought me up sharply. It reminded me that for almost two decades the media has been trying to sell us on the idea that Michael Jackson in his last years was a poster boy for the dysfunctional adult, one who was at best mentally regressed; at worst, a very unstable individual. They sold an entire generation on the idea of “Wacko Jacko” to the point that even one of my students-a very smart young man who simply hadn’t had the time or inclination in his short life to delve seriously into the subject of Michael Jackson -asked me, “Do you really think he was very intelligent?”

Oh boy, talk about a palm-slap-to-the-head moment! Where does one even begin to unravel the intricacies of such deeply entrenched and ingrained beliefs?

It’s especially troublesome when we realize that we’re talking about one of the most influential musical geniuses of our time. Of course, most people are aware that there is a difference in the way we quantitatively measure “genius” as opposed to “intelligence.” Throughout history, most geniuses have been considered eccentric and odd by the standards of so called “normal” people. It’s accepted that geniuses simply operate on a different level from most of us. But while most people will agree that Michael was eccentric, somewhere along the way the media began to deconstruct what had been considered his charming and mostly harmless eccentricities into that of an erratic, unstable and (after 1993) even sinister persona.

In The World of Michael Jackson, “Black or White” Is More Than Just About Race. It Also Seems To Define How Everyone Wants To View Him!

Even now, I still see debates where people will ask: Was this man an innocent simpleton, or an evil genius? As if there could be no room for anything in between! As if only the most extreme, polarizing ends of the spectrum could apply!

In truth, Michael was a genius, yes. But evil? Certainly not! An innocent simpleton? Well, only if one is so cyncical as to believe that innocence and being of a simple mind go hand in hand.

But let’s examine who was the real man behind this tabloid myth.

Yes, if we believe all of the tabloid stories, one would wonder how this man even had walking around sense, let alone the ability to raise children, conduct business, and still create music. But the problem is that the idea of a Michael Jackson so “dysfunctional” and strange that he was barely a functioning individual is just that-a tabloid myth. Sadly, I understand all too well how easy it is to become brainwashed by these myths-I was one of those people myself, for a long time. I remember once, several years ago, I was riding in the car when “Wanna Be Starting Something,” came on the radio. I remember gushing enthusiastically as I cranked it up, “Oh boy, Michael Jackson, back before he went crazy!”

Yes, I said that. An ignorant spurt from someone who hadn’t bothered to really learn what was going on in this man’s life, but only believed what I heard on TV and in tabloids. I am here right now to say ignorance is not an excuse. The “real” Michael Jackson is there, if you care to learn who he really was. I did. It took many dedicated hours, days and months-and now years. But I did it. Others can, too. There’s no excuse other than laziness or apathy-and maybe the driving need for a scapegoat, who knows?

For years, Michael Jackson had become such a convenient scapegoat that I think we simply took it for granted that he could always be our punching bag. The media pointed fingers and laughed at what seemed the wreck of a once talented artist’s life in ruins.

But what was Michael’s life REALLY like during his last decade or so? Was it really the definition of dysfunction? Consider this:

Michael Jackson spent his last twelve years as a single parent, raising a family. And not “just” raising a family, but raising three exceptionally mature, well adjusted children, as the world has now seen. We have heard testimony from his own children-as well as everyone who knew him-about what a wonderful father he was. Had he ever, in any way, been an abusive or dysfunctional parent, his kids certainly would not speak up for him now, nor would they be so determined to carry on his legacy. You can tell when his children speak about him that their words and emotions come from the heart. They are truly grieving a wonderful father who gave them unconditional love-but also strict discipline (had he not, they would have turned out as spoiled brats, not the very emotionally mature children they have turned out to be). Could a dysfunctionally operating parent achieve this? I think not.

In The Recording Studio, 2006. Still Working. Still Creating.

In his last decade, Michael Jackson was still working on music-actively writing, recording, and producing. The world is just now catching on to the wealth of material he left behind-and not just from the 80’s and 90’s. In fact, the very day of the raid on Neverland, he was working on the music video for “One More Chance.”  The legal battle of the resulting trial halted many of his artistic projects that were in the works at the time. It wasn’t that he had ever stopped working or recording; it was simply that the financial and personal strain of fighting a drawn out, two year legal battle would put a crimp in anyone’s artistic endeavors. But the truth was that Michael Jackson was a Working Artist right up to the very end-if nothing else, This Is It should have disspelled that myth. Of course,  the success of This is It also brought about its own romantic legacy, of a sort- that Michael Jackson, after years of tragedy, “dysfunction” and scandal, had finally “jumped back into the saddle” and was ready to make this great comeback. Keep dreaming. The truth is that Michael had never left the saddle at all. If some things had to be put on hold to fight the money grubbing Arvizos, so be it.

If This is The Face Of “Dysfunction” Maybe We Should All Be So Dysfunctional!

In the 2000’s, Michael Jackson was extremely active, involved in many causes. He began the decade by forming the Heal the World foundation; in 2001, he gave a famous speech at Oxford where he advocated for children’s rights and urged us all to love another; in 2001, he released a #1 album (Invincible), performed at Madison Square Garden, and organized a benefit for the victims of 9/11. By 2002, he had become a staunch civil rights activist for Black artists in the recording industry. Listen to his speeches sometime. They are not the words of a raving madman-at least, not the raving madman the media would have had us believe he was. Rather, they are the words of a thoughtful, intelligent, sensitive man who had seen too much, and lived too much-and knew intuitively how the world operated. Most of all, they were the words of someone fighting to make a difference-for the planet, for our children, for music, and for us.

So all in all, it begs the question: Are we talking about the same person here? Is this really the person the media tried to tell us was so weird, so strange, so “dysfunctional?”

The answer is no. Yet the media still persists in trying to sell us the lie of this “dysfunctional” Michael Jackson. The truth is that this so called “dysfunctional” Michael Jackson is a myth that the media itself created, through tabloid stories, lies, and distorted exaggerations of the truth. Through this manipulation of our minds, they managed to create this fictional being whom we then, all too unfortunately, believed was real.

Here, in its entirety, is Michael Jackson’s speech at Oxford in 2001. Consider that this was at the height of when the media was trying to convince us that this man was so weird; so strange; so bizarre.  Well I challenge you to listen and judge for yourself if these sound like the words of someone who was “wacko.” Then ask yourself if you can really in good conscience go on believing the myth that the media has fed you.

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XzIQlVSH8GU[/tube]

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zZCOR6H1Bk&feature=related[/tube]

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-3zuDB0_JY&feature=related[/tube]

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMCqtNEgZYY&feature=related[/tube]

Have any of you ever seen that show on cable called “Monster Quest?” (I think it comes on The History Channel, or used to).  I have watched that show a few times. It’s somewhat interesting, but after awhile, it gets boring because you catch on to the pattern very quickly. The show always starts off as a kind of teaser, in which we get a story and alleged eyewitness accounts of some mythical monster that is lurking about some specific locale. They then go to great lengths to “track down” this monster-teams will go hiking into the wilderness, set up camp, and have all of this special night vision equipment to try to capture this “thing”-whatever it is. But each episode ends exactly the same. They never actually find a thing. Instead, we are teased for almost an hour with innuendo, false alarms, and photos or something captured on camera that “might” be something, only it’s always conveniently too blurry to tell. Usually there is some tantalizing bit of evidence, but nothing that can ever be proven conclusively. Every show ends on a kind of anti-climactic note because the monster is never found.

the Search For The Mythical, Tabloid Michael Jackson Is A Lot Like The Premise For This Cable TV Show…And Every Bit As Futile!

Trying to find the tabloid  Michael Jackson is a lot like that. One finds as they beging to research that the “monster” the media tried to create simply doesn’t exist. Michael himself sang of this very “Monster Quest” over and over. In songs like Threatened, Is It Scary, and the song entitled Monster he acknowledged that we were a society ever in search of the elusive beast.

Remember how Nancy Grace seemed to almost glorify in constantly reminding viewers that Michael Jackson had died “surrounded by his own urine?” While this seemed like a ploy to garner sympathy for the way he had to die as a victim, there was also a far more sinister undertone-she was also rubbing it in that, after all the fame and the glory and the adulation, this was how Michael’s life had ended. This was what it had all come down to. They still want us to believe the myth of a tragic, washed up, has-been great artist wallowing in the madness of his own dysfunctional life. When one finds that the reality is that of a hard working, still dedicated artist who was even considering going back to school to study art, who was quietly raising his three kids, still honing his craft,  and still actively engaged in charities and the causes he believed in–suddenly, the myth doesn’t seem quite so glamorous or attractive anymore-if one is looking at it from a medialoid standpoint. After all, a washed up, dysfunctional superstar sells a lot more copy than a dedicated, hard working dad.

But I learned something when I began researching the life of Michael Jackson. I learned the difference between sensationalism and truth.

Sensationalism sells. Truth is often boring.

Boring, yes. But also, real.

20 thoughts on “Does This Look Like The Face Of Dysfunction?”

  1. I believe there is a book about that subject but unfortunately it’s only in french. It’s called Michael Jackson n’a jamais existé by Amélie Dalmazzo who spent 6 years studying, for university, the subject of MJ and his relationship with the fans and the media.

    1. I love it, sounds very interesting! I am not terribly fluent in French but I can read it. I would love to know more about this book.

  2. Can you understand french? In that video she also spoke about bullying from people who hates MJ (she said lots of people insulted her because she was “a pedophile supporter” and some people even came to her house) and from fans (they insulted her because she wrote a book)

    http://www.kopmeeting.com/Intervenants/AmelieDalmazzo.php

    I also suggest the 2nd video with Gonzagues St Bris

    http://www.kopmeeting.com/Videos.php

    He is a journalist and an historian. He spoke about his meeting with MJ during the Africa trip in 1992. He said they spend hours talking about art, debating who was the best between Leonard Da Vinci and Michealangelo.
    He also wrote the book

    1. I’ll watch the vid. I may or not be able to decipher all of it. Native French speakers are more difficult for me since they’re usually speaking very rapidly. I can read it better than I can speak it or understand it spoken. But usually I can pick up enough to get the gist of what they’re saying.

  3. I tried to give an idea of what was said in that 1rst video.

    You have 2 people speaking, one of them is Amélie DALMAZZO.

    She said discovered him with the movie Moonwalker and he had a big influence on her: she spent 6 years studying him & she worked in the media because of him.

    She started her study in 2003 (it’s about media “speech” & their influence on the public. It’s about how the media influence your thinking)

    She wanted to show, in her study, that there was a media lynching against him and watned to prove it from a scientifical point of view.

    Her idea was to translate her work in english and sent it to him but he died 2 weeks after she got her diploma.

    After he died she wanted to defend him and she did an interview where the journalist asked her if MJ was the black guy who became a white woman. She said she was tired of that and she wanted to show another side of him and it’s why she decided to publish the book.

    She said she never earned money with that book, she sold only 1000 books probably because she chose a scary title. She wanted a title wguch translate the idea that the MJ from the media( the alleged pedophile; the man who slept in an hyperbaric chamber) never existed. She had several ideas for her title: The Mirror or MJ it’s us.

    She said she was accused of wanting money and fame but it’s not the case. She said that there are lots of people who published stuff about MJ who are genuine and spend lots of time working on their book and it’s of to earn money. She gave the example of Christophe Boulme who is a photographer who worked for him (he did the cover of the Stranger in Moscow cd and the poster for Ghost) and never spoke about him for 10 years and got insulted and attacked just because he chose to show his MJ’s pictures.

    She spoke about Dr Blancherot who claimed that MJ was a castrato and she think it’s sad because people believes him just because he is a real scientist. She said the guy loves castrato and she believed he sued MJ to sell a book about his own research on castrato. She think it’s because it’s very hard to sell a real scientific book, according to her 200 books is a big success, so with MJ he can sell lots of book. She thinks it’s sad.

    After that, people asked her question about Internet bullying.

    1. Thank you shelley. I haven’t had a chance to look at them yet (been at work all evening). But it sounds really interesting. I will have a look as soon as I get a chance.

      If nothing else, the published autopsy results should have put that ridiculous castrato theory to rest, lol.

    2. Watched the vids. Your summary helped a lot; otherwise, I would have probably been lost for most of it. It’s too bad that Michael never got to see her work.

  4. “If nothing else, the published autopsy results should have put that ridiculous castrato theory to rest, lol”

    Agreed.

  5. Raven, with all sincerity, this article should be published at Huff Post, or on some celebrity website. People really need to have their interest piqued and should take time to learn the truth. I get so sick and tired of hearing people repeat such stupidity where Michael is concerned. And though I never considered him dysfuntional, I did begin to be concerned about the extent to which he indulged in plastic surgery. However, after all that I’ve read about him, I now believe he viewed his body as a canvas through which he could also express his art.

    I’m trying not to appear arrogant or judgmental, but I believe that most people aren’t really interested in knowing the truth. They’re much too comfortable not knowing!

    1. Unless someone does have an avid interest (not just in Michael Jackson, but in anything) they aren’t going to bother to look much beneath the surface. I can understand that. Research takes time and dedication. People have busy lives. Something has to trigger enough interest to make them want to dig deeper.

      For me, Michael’s death was that trigger. Something about the whole thing just struck me as being so sad…that here was this person, this great talent, who had known nothing but ridicule for the last several years of his life, and had died without ever truly having his name cleared. Something about the injustice in that struck me to the core, and that’s when I began my intensive research. Also, I was trying to come to terms with why his death had shaken me up so badly, more than any other celebrity death, when I hadn’t even been that huge of a fan in life. Sure, I went through my Thriller infatuation in the 80’s like we all did, but after that, I had long moved on, to other artists and other genres. I always loved his music, but just hadn’t taken the time to learn much about him or his life. Yet the news of his death shook my Richter scale. I was trying to come to terms with it all; trying to understand why it MATTERED so much. Along the way, I started to realize that I loved him more than ever, not because he was gone, but because I was finally understanding who the real man, Michael Jackson, was. The sad part-and the part I will always regret-is that it took him dying to get to that point. But I know that has been true for many people. His death was a kind of awakening for many; perhaps a guilty realization that we had allowed this to happen. As Madonna said, we had allowed “this beautiful, magnificent creature to slip through our hands.” How did that happen? Why did we let it happen? These were all the questions that I’m still seeking answers for.

      But it does take having that level of passion and interest to inspire someone to want to research to learn more. His death was a massive trigger. I imagine the Murray trial may have been a trigger for some, though on a lesser scale. Anytime he’s in the news for any reason, there is always going to be more public interest, which means more people will be googling. Even here, my stats always peak when something hot or controversial is in the news about him. It’s a sure sign that people are taking an interest in researching him. And that always makes me feel good, especially if I know I’ve helped them in some way to understand the real man a little better.

  6. Hi Raven, that was beautiful! As Ladypurr has suggested why don’t you try posting it somewhere like Huff post?

    U know what, in India and many Asian countries we did not hear this non-stop media viciousness against MJ…off and on there was something but nothing big deal. So to us he was still a gr8 artist, may be a lill weird…but that was it. We wud only be aghast at his whiteness 🙂

    So, when I lent my This is it DVD to my friends, they came back and said…ummm…but what is the Big deal? They found it uninteresting…because unlike the west we did not know the wacko-jacko…the mythical dysfunctional man…so the movie that humanised MJ in the west…did not mean much to most people here except that we were happy that he ended his life on a high note.

    🙂

    1. Yeah that’s interesting. In the west, you had all these people going, “Wow, he could still dance!” As if they thought he must have just spent the last ten years of his life, I don’t know, dangling babies off of balconies or whatever. Lol. You know, people were saying he wouldn’t have been able to do 50 shows. Well, he WAS notorious for canceling out of shows. But you know what? I think he would have done those 50 shows. And here’s why: Because after those first couple of shows, he would have been feeding off the pure energy of all that love and adoration! That’s what would have kept him going; giving him his strength and sustenance.

      It would have been spectacular. I’m still sad that it never happened for him, that one last, great hurrah. I think he needed that; he deserved that.

      Anyway guess I’m getting off topic. Maybe that needs to be its own blog (wink).

      As for Huffington Post, well, I think they do accept material from freelance writers. I would have to look into their submission guidelines.

  7. And pls before I forget again, can u send me ur email…I wanted to fwd u the emails we exchanged about ur head-to-toe series…:-)

    1. I know. Really sad, isn’t it? That’s why I don’t buy any of the suicide talk, never did. All he wanted was a good nights’ sleep so he could wake up the next day and perform…and continue fulfilling those dreams.

  8. And before I go…right upto 2003 when MJ attended his bday bash did u hear the plans he had? He told his fans about them…movies..hotels..reports…and most imp..”Go for your dreams project”..he said, I would be very proud if fans become the ambassadors of the Go for your dreams project….

    Dreams…that were stamped out….

  9. What you shared mirrors my experience almost exactly. Had I gone to see him in concert (thee biggest MISSED experience on my bucket list), I would have undoubtedly become a really over-the-top devoted fan, attending all his concerts and appearances. I saw the MJ Immortal Tour here in Sacramento last Tuesday night. I realized then that no other entertainer could ever make me get into and “feel” music like Michael can. I joked with the guy sitting next to me when he said “I can see you’re a fan”. I said, Me? Nah! And we both laughed. Great show, by the way. I did come close to losing it when Gone to Soon, Will You Be There and Earth Song came on. His sweet, clear voice on Gone Too Soon always makes me tear up and the emotion generated by the other two songs (really anthems–gospel at its best) just overwhelm me and in that atmosphere it was pretty intense. The energy was so infectious in that arena. People connected with the power and magic that was and is Michael, forever.

    I have no explanation for why his death so affected me so and caused me to take that path that so many, many others have felt compelled to take. There’s not a day that goes by I don’t think about him or engage in something connected to him, blog, video clip, book, e-mail. I do know one thing, he has profoudly changed my thinking about alot of things. I guess that’s part of his legacy. To touch people not only through his incredible genius creativity and talent, but by his gentle and loving presence is a pretty monumental influence. I still feel so sad to know he’s not “here” physically with us. He had so much more to give and thankfully, the response he got to the planned concerts must have surely convinced him that he was missed, still able to sell out concerts and that those who cared, couldn’t wait to see him back on stage. I, too, believe now that he probably would have rocked all 50 concerts. He became “otherwordly” when he stepped on stage and he thrived on the energy of his fans. I guess like alot of fans, I now want to make sure that whenever something is written about him that is unkind, inaccurate, and just plain stupid, I want to do what I can to address it and help to make people see the beautiful and unforgettable man he really was (IS!).

    I just can’t speak of him in past tense.

    So glad you’re back, Raven.

  10. @Ladypurr, I think many Michael supporters feel as you (and I) do. It’s inexplicable how thoughts of him stay with me on a nearly daily basis and I read as much as I can through blogs like Raven’s, reputable sites and news articles, all in pursuit of whatever I can gather, and spread to others, as to the truth of Michael’s life over the last 15 or so hellish years he endured. I pretty much wind up at the same point: Tom Sneddon and his ilk. And while I realize other forces were at work, I feel Michael Jackson never fully recovered from the 1993 charges sufficiently to emotionally overcome the 2005 trial with its salacious, vicious media lies. There will never be true justice for Michael; however, as you say, countering inaccurate, hurtful, distorted myths now and in the future is our responsibility and purpose.

  11. Oh I had to write now. This urine glorified mean action comes simply out of ignorance and jealous. I belive and know, being deviant and ahead time, causes envy. For me… He suffer much envy, he even explained that himself.

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