Father's Day Reflections

My Favorite Pic Of Michael and Joseph

Every Father’s Day, I try to take a look back at the dual roles Michael played, as both a son to a father, and as a father himself.

I have always had very mixed feelings about Joe Jackson. I’m sure a lot of that ambivalence comes through when I write about him. Michael once said he wished he could understand his father better. I think Joe Jackson remains a bit of an enigma to every Michael Jackson fan. We’ve heard so many stories, and so much conflicting and even contradictory information from the family, but what is the truth?

On the one hand, I have the utmost respect for Joe Jackson, a man who, by all accounts, was a hard worker and good provider, and who managed to take his children from a lower working class neighborhood to the heights of success.  We have to credit Joe with instilling in Michael the work ethic that made him such an incredible performer. Yet, always in the back of my mind, there are the stories Michael told about this man-stories that I can’t help wondering are true, and if they are true, would certainly color any amount of respect I could feel for this man.

After all, what can you really say about a father who refused to allow his own children to even call him “Father”?

I’ve Used This One Many Times, But It’s Still My Personal Favorite Pic Of Michael With Prince, Paris, and Blanket

I met Joe Jackson briefly in 2010, when I was in Gary, Indiana for the Fanvention and Michael’s birthday weekend. I also observed him on a number of occasions throughout that weekend; occasions when we were in the same room even if I didn’t get to speak to him directly. What I observed personally was a man with a very commanding, intimidating presence. Standing in front of him, with those hard, gray/green eyes staring into you, one can really start to understand what it might have been like to be a small, frightened, sensitive child in this man’s presence. One thing you can pick up on very quickly is that this is NOT a man you want to be on the wrong side of. He can freeze you with a single glance, and make you feel as worthless as a gnat-if that’s what he chooses.

However, I also had an opportunity to witness him among the comfortable company of many family members and old time acquaintances. When he lets his guard down, Joe can be personable and engaging. He loves to laugh and joke around with the people he feels comfortable with. Like his son, he has a very contagious laugh-it is not Michael’s wild, shrieking giggle, but it has a kind of music and resonance all of its own, a rich belly laugh that you sense he doesn’t allow himself to give in to often. It struck me that a lot of Joe’s harsh demeanor is a kind of protective mechanism, against the media and people he doesn’t trust. As a poor black man growing up in the South during the Great Depression, and later as a black father fighting to ensure his children’s success in a very difficult industry to break into, Joe had to learn to be tough.

“If you don’t look mean, white people will walk all over you,” goes one of my favorite movie lines, spoken not by an African-American, but by a Native American character. However, there is irony in that line, as less than two minutes later, the character’s “warrior look” completely fails him when two cowboys on the bus nevertheless refuse to give up their seats. But I think this was the philosophy that was ingrained in Joseph from a very young age.

When Joe spoke to Jennifer Batten at the event, he told her that everything Michael knew, he had learned from him. Many people applauded the speech-“Tell it, Joe; tell it!” However, a few thought this was another example of Joe being his usual, arrogant self (“Yep, there he goes again, trying to take credit for everything Michael accomplished!”). Well, let me set that record straight. Joe wasn’t trying to take all of Michael’s credit. He was simply saying that Michael’s intense work ethic and perfectionism-that drive to always be the best-was a value that he, Joe Jackson, had instilled in him. And that value was at the core of everything Michael achieved professionally in his life.

This was the first time Joe and Jennifer Batten had met each other face to face, and I understood what Joe was telling her. He was saying, “If my boy drove you hard, look to me cause I was the reason he drove you all so hard. He instilled in you all what I instilled in him.”

That all seems very admirable until you hear Michael’s words painting a very different picture of what that “being driven” was like. Michael often described himself, both in private and public conversation, as a child who never felt anything he did was good enough to please his father. All of his performances were driven by a desire to make his father proud, but it never seemed enough.

In this concert in Munich, when a technical malfunction caused the bridge that was part of the stage prop for Earth Song to collapse and slammed Michael 60 feet to the ground, he stunned everyone by pulling himself back onstage and finishing the performance, despite being in excruciating pain for the rest of the performance. Later, people asked how on earth he was able to pull such a feat? He said all he could hear in the back of his mind was his father’s voice, telling him he couldn’t let the audience down.

 [tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPIFLhR-BGA[/tube]

But where in all of this did the child-the human being-ever come first? When did his needs come before the audience, or giving them the best show he possibly could?

When Joe asked Jennifer to play a song for him, she humorously played him a song she had written, she said, “just for” him-a little song called Ass Whoopin’. Joe was sitting very close to me, so as Jennifer played the song, I could occasionally glance to catch the expressions on his face. He listened intently, without twitching a muscle. His gaze never left her. For all purposes, there were only two (well, maybe three) people in that room-himself, Jennifer, and the ghost of Michael, the son he never allowed to call him “Father”; the son who always felt he was never good enough; never loved enough.

Joe Jackson Is A Tough Old Man, And Not Very Articulate. But Sometimes Actions-Or As Michael Said, A Simple Gesture-Can Say More Than Any Words

Tears welled in Joe’s eyes, and the deep lines of his face creased even deeper with the intensity of an emotion that he could feel, but could not quite allow to just let go. Joe Jackson would never be a man to allow himself to cry in a room full of strange people. But as soon as the song was finished, he rose abruptly, thanked her, and quickly left the room, his attendees making sure he was able to exit swiftly without being further questioned or hounded by the curious fans.

That one instance revealed to me a lot about the nature of his relationship with his son. Joe is a tough old man, and not very articulate. He’s not someone who can ever just say “I love you,” let alone “I’m sorry.” I think it is possible that he lives with a lot of unspoken regret; maybe if he had it to do over, he would have done a lot of things differently. Maybe he regrets all those times he never just said, “Son, I love you.” Maybe he regrets all the hugs he never gave.

Maybe. But we can’t really know what goes through an 80-year-old man’s mind when he’s thinking about the son he buried too soon. All I can say is that on that day, I saw Joe Jackson cry.

We also know that, for better or worse, it was Michael’s relationship with his father that shaped the father Michael became to his own children. Even if it was mostly learning what not to do by example. That Michael was an exemplary father to his own kids is a fact that is well documented. He went above and beyond to ensure that his own kids would never lack for the emotional bond he had lacked with Joseph. He taught his kids to call him “Daddy.” He never raised a hand in anger, but rather, instilled in them the discipline that comes from a place of respect, rather than fear. He was never afraid to tell them “I love you”-and, by all accounts, to look them directly in the eye when he said it.

People Can Say What They Want, But “The Grieving Father” Is No Act. I Saw That Much With My Own Eyes

Most of all, he was determined that his own kids would never have to question his love. But I think it was also more than that.

It was his own insurance that he would never be an old man filled with sorrow and regret for all the things he didn’t say to his children.

“But now I am a father myself, and one day I was thinking about my own children, Prince and Paris and how I wanted them to think of me when they grow up. To be sure, I would like them to remember how I always wanted them with me wherever I went, how I always tried to put them before everything else. But there are also challenges in their lives. Because my kids are stalked by paparazzi, they can’t always go to a park or a movie with me.

So what if they grow older and resent me, and how my choices impacted their youth? Why weren’t we given an average childhood like all the other kids, they might ask? And at that moment I pray that my children will give me the benefit of the doubt. That they will say to themselves: “Our daddy did the best he could, given the unique circumstances that he faced. He may not have been perfect, but he was a warm and decent man, who tried to give us all the love in the world.”

I hope that they will always focus on the positive things, on the sacrifices I willingly made for them, and not criticise the things they had to give up, or the errors I’ve made, and will certainly continue to make, in raising them. For we have all been someone’s child, and we know that despite the very best of plans and efforts, mistakes will always occur. That’s just being human.

And when I think about this, of how I hope that my children will not judge me unkindly, and will forgive my shortcomings, I am forced to think of my own father and despite my earlier denials, I am forced to admit that me must have loved me. He did love me, and I know that.

There were little things that showed it. When I was a kid I had a real sweet tooth – we all did. My favourite food was glazed doughnuts and my father knew that. So every few weeks I would come downstairs in the morning and there on the kitchen counter was a bag of glazed doughnuts – no note, no explanation – just the doughnuts. It was like Santa Claus.

Sometimes I would think about staying up late at night, so I could see him leave them there, but just like with Santa Claus, I didn’t want to ruin the magic for fear that he would never do it again. My father had to leave them secretly at night, so as no one might catch him with his guard down. He was scared of human emotion, he didn’t understand it or know how to deal with it. But he did know doughnuts.

And when I allow the floodgates to open up, there are other memories that come rushing back, memories of other tiny gestures, however imperfect, that showed that he did what he could. So tonight, rather than focusing on what my father didn’t do, I want to focus on all the things he did do and on his own personal challenges. I want to stop judging him.”-Michael Jackson, Oxford Speech, 2001

As another Father’s Day rolls around, three children are without a father, and a father is without a son to say “I love you.” Both are equally tragic, but at least Michael’s three children are secure in the knowledge and memory of their father’s love.

Michael’s Kids Face Their Third Father’s Day Alone. But At Least They Know They Were Loved.

The greatest tragedy of Michael’s life was that he never had that assurance. The tragic relationship of Michael and Joseph should be a reminder to us all that life is too short to allow things to go unsaid.

“..Now, tell the person … tell the person next to you that you care for them. Tell them that you care for them. Tell them that you love them. Tell them that you love them. This is what makes the difference.”-Michael Jackson, Speech at Exeter Football Stadium, 2002

 [tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tq8IndUyr2E[/tube]

Father And Son, Learning (Finally) To Laugh And Heal Together. Sadly, It Took Michael’s Darkest Hour To Make It Happen

22 thoughts on “Father's Day Reflections”

  1. Great post Raven! I’m gonna tweet it right now!

    By the way, in case you want to add it, here is the song “To Make My Father Proud” by MJ!

    1. I’ll see if I can find room for it. I had some problems earlier when I was trying to add another image to this post, but it may have just been a temporary glitch.

      ETA: I found another clip of the song that I really liked, too. I’ll keep yours here. People may enjoy seeing both.

  2. I have to say, we really can’t fault Joe. It was the way he was brought up. I really believe Joe had a HARD life. He tried his best with his kids, from what he know.

  3. Raven, thank you for humanizing a person that is very difficult to like much less love. Michael’s relationship with his father is certainly a very complicated one just from what he has shared pubically not to mention being excluded from the Will. We know Michael didn’t agree with his father’s methods and certainly recognized his faults, some of which were very serious, but he did have a deep sense that his father wanted the best for him and the family even to the point of calling him a genius. I always remember that Michael said that although he didn’t understand his father, he still loved him. Complicated emotions indeed. Wishing all the best on this Father’s Day.

  4. If there is a more loving, devoted father than Michael, I’d like to meet him.

    Oh, Raven….I was thinking about Father’s Day every day this week. I miss my own father. He passed away in 2004 at just 74. But as strange as it may sound to some, I was thinking about Michael Jackson and his wonderful children. I simply can’t imagine the range of emotions they must feel. The intense sense of loss. I like to think that he spoke to them about losing a loved one so they understood in their own childlike way and would somehow be just a little prepared. Though Blanket is quiet and shy, they all seem very well adjusted and normal. Paris seems to be emerging as the strong and articulate voice for them. She’s really beautiful. I hope that she is able to pursue her dreams but does so with a level of toughness–able to see through the facade of fame and celebrity.

    I guess we’ll never really know if Joe Jackson was as brutal to them as outsiders say, and even the children themselves admit to. Michael seemed very emotional when he was asked, point blank, by Bashir whether his father beat him. It is truly sad that a father would not allow his children to call him “dad or daddy”. After reading Jermaine’s book, I caught a gllimpse of why Joe built that impenetrable wall around him. He was just 11 years old when his beloved sister Verna Mae took ill with an undiagnosed illness. She passed away and Joseph sobbed for days afterward, unable to understand why. Quoting from Jermaine…..”One loss in life sealed our father’s emotions and Joseph kept his word; he never attended another funeral. Until 2009.”

    The story Michael tells about his father picking him up and putting him on a pony made me cry when I first read it and it still makes me emotional. Here was a boy that was so sensitive, so filled with the wanting to love and show affection to his father and receive it back, and it was never allowed. That Michael grew to be a such a strikingly sensitive and loving human being is surely proof that our Creator had a great mission for this special child. And yes, his loving mother played a strong part in nurturing that beautiful nature.

    I love that picture of Michael and Joseph, too. And the pic of him with his three babes just me smile, and despair. Such a loving and caring father and adoring children. How cruel that their relationship didn’t last much, much longer.

    Watching the many videos and photos on June 13, verdict day, you can see that Joseph really did care and was holding his son’s hand and arm on many occasions. He was there for him. Michael knew it.

    I never got to see Michael perform live–it must have been an indescribably magical experience. But knowing what I know about him now, I think if I had an opportunity to choose between a concert, or be in his presence as he delivered an eloquent, moving speech, I believe I’d have chosen the latter. Yes, I love the one-of-a-kind performer, but now I love the wonderful man he was (is!).

    Thanks, Raven!

    Happy Father’s Day, Michael Jackson! Best wishes to everyone as they celebrate the love of their fathers.

    1. Thank you for sharing that story. I have Jermaine’s book (thanks to a very generous gift!) but I have not been able to read it yet. I have a very long reading list of books I’m working through at the moment, but I’m very much looking forward to getting to that one.

      1. If you read this @Ladypurr, please accept a hug from another Michael admirer who cried reading ur post…

        I wish to make point about an observation often made. People often comment that Joe was tough on all his children then how come everyone seem to have come out well and only Michael seemed to have problems and could not let go almost till the end.

        Is it so hard to understand that people are different and so are the siblings and their sensitivities. A rare harsh word from my mother to me and my brother wud affect each of us differently. The insult was the same, yet the response can be very different…one sibling can immediately forget and get on with play and another can feel humiliated and sulk for days…

        Michael Jackson was an extraordinarily sensitive human being…his eyes cud see what others cud not…his ears cud hear what others cud not! I read somewhere that Michael was like a harp…an emotion cud get 1000 times amplified in his being. That is why all the rest Jackson brothers seem un-scared and Michael had raw wounds…

        Also, what is amazing is that Michael..the soft one was the one who literally resisted his fathers physical violence the most and tried to give Joe back…therefore according to Jermaine he got into more trouble with his father because of his rebellious spirit. It then surprises me that a grown up Michael never resisted the attacks…of course the attacks were not physical but they were more cruel and damaging…but Michael did not resist…

        Coming back to Joe as a father…he did his best from what he knew. He was a hard working black man who worked 2 jobs sometimes to bring bread on the table…it must hv been hard. But I can never come terms to the extent of the physical violence unleashed on his children…

        The fact that Janet and Michael would pretend burying Joseph speaks volumes…the two most sensitive siblings out of all the Jackson kids.

        1. The reason I can relate so much to how Michael felt about his dad is because it’s the same kind of relationship I’ve had with my own father. This is something my siblings and I often discuss. We grew up terrified; literally shaking in our shoes from the time he would come home from work till we went to bed. The only peace we had was during the day when he was at work. We lived in dread of the hour when he would come home. In his old age he has mellowed, and I’ve made the effort to build that bridge and to try to forgive. I came to realize in my own middle age that he needed my understanding, not my hatred. Love him or hate him, he is the only father I have; the one God chose for me. And when he’s gone, that will be it. So in some ways, I’ve sought to heal the relationship and understand him better because I am preparing myself for the inevitable, and I don’t want all those regrets haunting me when the time comes.

          I do think Michael was a more sensitive child than most of his siblings, so perhaps things bothered him that more or less just rolled off the backs of the others. Michael did not respond well emotionally to Joe’s “tough love” approach to parenting. In some ways, Michael was the most high spirited of all the kids (for example, he was the one who had the nerve to throw shoes and bottles at Joseph; he was the one who could get out of his punishment by simply running too fast to be caught) but he was also the one who could be cut the deepest by a harsh look or word. Also, it seems Michael had a bit of a strange personality as a kid-he could dish out teasing, and apparently did it mercilessly, but couldn’t take being teased in return.

          My dad would think nothing about giving us some weirdly inappropriate nickname-something HE thought was affectionate-and calling us that, no matter how WE felt about it. My younger sister was stuck with the nickname “Pig” throughout most of her childhood. It was cute when she was a chubby baby; not so cute to her when she was ten years old and being called “Pig” in a restaurant or the check out line at a supermarket. She later developed severe body image issues, which has been a lifelong struggle for her.

          Joe, similarly, was a very insensitive parent who didn’t seem to take heed of how he was affecting his children emotionally-until, perhaps, being forced to realize in his old age how much deep-rooted resentment his children actually bore him.

          In fact, I can tell you exactly what went through my mind as I stood in front of Joe Jackson (and yes, I was shaking in my shoes because I wanted to get up the nerve to say something, but in that instant, when he looked at me, I felt everything I had felt as a child around my own dad; all of those feelings came rushing back and rendered me completely moot). I kept thinking, Michael Jackson was a superstar loved and worshipped by people all over the world-but THIS was the man who could make him afraid, with just a single look.

          In that moment, I understood. I understood everything Michael had ever said about him.

          I actually had an opportunity to have some sit-down time with Joe but I blew it. They had told me he was in the Star Cafe having breakfast (the Star Cafe’ was the main hotel restaurant there at the Radisson in Merrillville) and if I hurried, I could catch him. Well, between the confusion of the moment and my selective hearing (argh!) I thought she said the Starbucks Cafe’, so I went in Starbucks. Of course, Joe wasn’t there. I must have killed a good 20 minutes waiting, before I glanced across the lobby and saw…The Star Cafe! Only then did it hit me what a blunder I had made! Of course, by the time I realized my mistake, I was too late, and Joe was long gone.

          It might have been interesting if I had gotten my sit-down time with him. First impressions can be misleading. But as I said in the article, I had many chances to observe several sides of Joe, and I think just from my observations alone I got a very good sense of who he is. I could also understand why his children have such mixed feelings about him.

    2. You know, I was just thinking of something else, too, when you mentioned how Joe was there to hold Michael’s hand during the trial. I always try to include those photos when I do my Father’s Day tributes. The reason I think they make such a strong statement is because we know how much Michael talked about his dad’s lack of physical affection for him. Although my own time around Joe was very brief, I saw enough to believe Michael described him too a tee. He does not come across at all as the type of man who would give emotion and hugs very easily. For him to show such a public display with his son had to have been a huge sacrifice on his part. This wasn’t, after all, just a manly pat on the back; it was holding hands-a very intimate gesture that a parent usually does only with a very small child. And when do parents tend to hold their child’s hand? Usually only when that child is afraid, or when the parent is trying to guide or steady them. But here was Michael, a 46-year-old man, and the tough father who had never given him so much as a hug. But this man knew his child (no matter the age) was afraid, and in need of guidance to keep from falling. Their hands (if one notices) are never tightly grasped (they are actually clutching fingers) but it’s enough to say, “I am here for you.”

      By contrast, even though there was never any doubt as to the love between Michael and his mother, there is rarely any physical contact between them as they enter or leave the courthouse. Thus, all the more reason why I believe the hand holding between Michael and Joe makes such a powerful statement. I’m sure this was something Michael was able to add to his memory of the doughnuts, and being put on the pony’s back. perhaps it finally confirmed for him what all those fleeting memories from years before had meant.

      1. So true Raven! That instant captured is very telling but I also noticed that it was Joe’s who was wrapping his fingers around Michael’s…Michael seemed to be just brushing…cud he be avoiding…or may be I am reading too much!

  5. Raven ,those are very wise words about these two fathers who both did what they knew best. One repeating what he was tought, as having to provide for a family of 11 and desperately striving for succes leaves no time for self-reflection. The other making a conscious decision to do better.
    Its sad that instead of dealing with their differences one on one, it was told to the world, which didnt help either. Must have been as painful for Joe to hear, as it was for Michael to say.
    But they all seem very forgiving, considering the harsh words many members of that family have said about each other in public.
    It must have been heartwrenching for a father to see his son dragged through the mud, because what hurts your child hurts you double.
    In his interview with Geraldo in 2005 Michael spoke affectionately about his father and so I tend to believe that in private they must have sorted things out. No matter what we think of Joe, in the end we are all a product of nature and nurture, the good and the bad and Michael didnt fell out of the heavens.
    I even believe that had Joe known what Murray was doing, he would have thought twice about the treatment he was giving Michael.

    When your parents pass away you never stop mising them but you accept it because they lived a full life.
    But its different to lose a child or to lose the only parent you know at such a tender age.
    So despite whatever happened between father and son, today I feel sad for Joe and for the children. Sad that after everything that Michael and his family went through there was no happy ending.
    But I hope the good memories of Michael keep them going and all the love he gave them will last a life time.

  6. Hello, Raven, today I would like to say something perhaps not too soft, and forgive me if I want to express to you, to a person who has suffered much because of his father. I quite understand the speech of the important role played by Joe about the ethic and sacrifice to emerge from poverty and arrives to succeed.

    But I believe that there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that can repay the lack of love or the inability to express and communicate love in a life of a child.
    I’m sure Michael would have been an artist in any field in any case and I am sure that if he had love from his father, he could be an artist and a person healthier, happier and more complete.

    I think the Joe’s tears that you’ve seen, because I’m SURE about Michael’s words regarding his relationship with his father, I think they are really small compared to the damage he procure to a special creature as it was his son (and how it is every child).

    I may miss a Christian spirit, or I’m unloving, but it is too terrible that a man should focus on some rare gesture of affection of his father (donuts, pony etc) and find the strength to forgive. And, perhaps, from a certain point of view, it is fair to judge. Why should not I judge the person who would love me unconditionally and instead has destroyed my life?

    And perhaps it is not always forgiving that you find peace for yourself.

    Perhaps it is right to be angry and much…

    I have two small children and I observe their delicate existence, their sweet feelings, their unconditional trust in me,in their father, the loved ones, I can not think that, for success, fame, money, for social revenge,for madness, we can perpetrate what Joe did to Michael.
    So everything is broken in a child, especially the same capacity to love themselves.

    I know that everything looks different in old age and include things of the past you could not understand. But everything is postiche, the only true thing is the broken heart of one who accepts the nothing to cling to hope again in a little love.

    The speech at Oxford, made me ​​immense tenderness, but also a lot of anger, because I know that Michael is dead too soon – for many reasons, but also because of his relationship with his father – his life was full of tribulations.

    1. I don’t take your observations as hard, but as truthful and honest. My heart does bleed for Michael that he had to look to such small tokens of affection to try to understand if he was loved or not.

      In the Glenda tapes, he talks about how Joseph never had any problem showing affection to Jo’Vonnie (his illegitimate daughter). “Oh, he can hug her; he doesn’t have any problem hugging her.” Latoya said the same thing, so when something is corroborated by two different siblings on two different occasions, it’s a pretty good indication that it is probably true.

      I tend to be a very forgiving person because that is how I was raised. If anything, I probably tend to find too much good in people who may or may not have that much good in them (lol). But I think Michael was trying to understand his father better, and trying to build that bridge. Of course, he still left him out of his will-Michael was soft, but no idiot, lol! He was probably saying, “No way in hell is Joseph going to be wasting MY fortune on one of his get-rich-quick schemes.”

      All I know is that from what I saw, Joe does have a lot of pent up emotion about his son, which I think is borne of some regrets. Does that absolve him of everything he did to Michael in life-or perhaps more aptly, didn’t do? No. But I think perhaps it can help us to better understand that when we are talking about these people, we are talking about real people whose private, personal lives were a lot more dynamic and complex than we-as outsiders-will ever know. I felt like it was a reminder to me, personally, to not be so quick to judge what I don’t know. The big thing that I took away from the experience was feeling satisfaction in knowing that Michael did not lie-the truth he told was HIS truth, based on his own experiences with his father.

      I think he came to realize over time that his father loved him in his own way. He deserved more than that, of course, and craved more than that his whole life. That is the tragedy. But I think he finally came to realize that it was what it was, and that (very similar to my situation) that this was-for better or worse-the only father he was ever going to have. So it was either make amends, or live with the baggage of all that bitterness, hatred, and regret.

      1. “But I think perhaps it can help us to better understand that when we are talking about these people, we are talking about real people whose private, personal lives were a lot more dynamic and complex than we-as outsiders-will ever know.”

        Yes, thanks Raven, this is very true, there are millions of nuances in human relationships that can not be understood “outside”.

        I also tend to always see the good in people and I understand that yours is an open heart and positive, full of grace towards people.

        I believe that Michael was so like you, and that you share also this respect with him and makes you so special!
        I think Michael should too, that this aspect will close and there unites

      2. I found the comments between you, Raven, and Nicoletta very moving.

        “I believe that Michael was so like you, and that you share also this respect with him and makes you so special!”

        I agree!! This is why I keep coming back to your blog, Raven. You have a very kind heart and though I find Joseph extremely difficult (as we all do) I very much appreciate reading your compassionate thoughts on him while at the same time not excusing any of his very real flaws and control issues. Michael deserves a great deal of credit in his attempt to understand Joseph and come to terms with him as a person and as a father. Michael forgave Joseph while at the same time keeping him at a distance when needed…which clearly included distancing him from his fortune as stated in his Will. What a stunning statement that spoke louder than words when it was first revealed!!

        Although I doubt I will ever “like” Joseph, thank you, Raven, for helping us, through your compassionate heart and thorough research, understand this person a little better which ultimately helps us understand Michael that much better.

        1. Michael and I were/are a lot alike in the way we have dealt with our “father issues.” That’s one area where I can say I understand him completely.

  7. Speaking of the power of Joe Jackson – in her interview with Katherine Jackson and the children at Hayvenhurst, Oprah tries to talk tough about Joe Jackson, and even questions his presence at the family home. But in the show about the making of the interview, when Oprah first meets Joe, he makes her spin around like a circus pony!

    Playing Joe Jackson in the mini-series about the family was Lawrence Hilton Jacobs’ finest performance. He captured the complexity of the man. There should be a serious biography of Joe Jackson, but since there’s still no serious biography of Michael, I won’t hold my breath.

    1. Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs was wonderful in that role! You really got a full sense of who Joe Jackson was to his wife and kids-why Katherine fell in love with him, and then why she fell out of love; why the kids feared him, yet respected him.

      One of the most difficult scenes in that movie for me to watch is the one where young Michael is so afraid of flying that he pitches a screaming tantrum, and Joe forces him-screaming and crying-onto the airplane. Later, Michael is still sulking as he goes onstage, but then the music hits, and suddenly he’s in an altogether different place. It’s all right. He glances back to the wings of the stage, and Joe is there. Sort of like saying, “See, that wasn’t so bad. You just took the first steps towards being a man.”

      Another one that stands out to me is the scene right after the Pepsi accident, after Michael has been rushed to the hospital. A reporter stops Joseph and asks him how he feels about what just happened. He asks the reporter if he is a parent. “That’s my child in there,” he says.

      Yet there are many scenes where you get a full sense of just how terrifying he could be. But you got a sense that his “issues” came from a sense of needing to be in control. It was always whenever he felt his control threatened that he was his most violent self, for example, when he started to feel that he was losing control of his children to Berry Gordy.

  8. Nice post i do believe the stories Michael told about his father were true (do not see a reason for him to make them up) like the beatings etc.

  9. I can also see why Michael never included him in the will its obvious Joe became clingy to Michael by the 80’s came around so Michael god rid of him.

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