“One day he told me, ‘God forgive me, and don’t tell Katherine I ever said this, but I hate that kid. I so hate that kid…Part of me thinks that’s not right. You shouldn’t hate. But then I think, I can’t help it. I hate that kid for what he did to me. My therapist is telling me that I need to get real and feel what I feel, not suppress it like I usually do. Well, how I feel is that I hate that kid. I do.'”-Michael Jackson, as quoted in The Magic, The Madness, The Whole Story 1958-2009 by J. Randy Taraborrelli.
For a man who befriended hundreds of children in his lifetime, who helped thousands; who donated millions of dollars to charitable children’s causes; who worked tirelessly most of his adult life to promote causes that benefitted children; who advocated for children’s rights to the point that his dedication became almost saint-like in its zeal, Gavin Arvizo has a unique distinction among them. He just may be the only child Michael Jackson ever admitted to hating, at least if we are to believe this account related by Taraborelli. Admittedly, it’s a second-hand account passed on from a source who “claims” to have heard it straight from the man, but nevertheless, I don’t doubt its authenticity. Michael was no saint, after all, and after what he was put through by Gavin Arvizo and his scheming family, he certainly had every reason to hate “that kid.”
But today, I want to take a look at what transpired in this so-called friendship even before it got to that point. There exists a persistent media myth of Michael as a man who had many “special friends” among a select group of boys. There is some partial truth mixed into the myth. Michael did form many enduring friendships with some of the young men who idolized him-friendships that lasted well into these young mens’ adulthoods, despite some claims that he tended to lose interest as the boys matured. Over the years, a lot of twisted beliefs have been purported regarding those friendships, but I’m standing by a firm belief, based both on strong theory and fact, that the nature of these friendships have been much exaggerated. However, that is a topic I will take up again when I resume the Wade Robson series.
However, if we look at the history of his acquaintance with the Arvizo family, it becomes apparent that Gavin Arvizo was never a “special friend” of Michael’s. In fact, based on what I have come to know, I believe it is entirely reasonable to assume that this was never a kid that Michael even particularly liked; a kid he never wished to even get close to, let alone one he would have ever attempted to molest. That may sound cold, but based on what I have researched, what I have been told, and even from Gavin’s own words, I believe it is true. Aside from the fact that Michael paid for Gavin’s cancer treatment (a goodwill gesture Michael extended to many such kids in need) there doesn’t exist beyond that any proof that Michael much wanted anything to do with this kid-or his family-past that point. He was kind enough to pay for the boy’s treatments; he invited this family into his home when they had no place else to go; he even bought (or gave them) a car, which, like everything else, they then abused to the point that it was no longer serviceable.
In short, though Michael Jackson may have had many such close friends among the young boys of his acquaintance, Gavin Arvizo-the only kid to ever bring Michael Jackson to court-was not one of them. Ironic when you think about it. Maybe a little too ironic. Just maybe, that was part of the whole problem.
When Gavin Arvizo got married last November, an explosion of well-timed articles by notorious Michael Jackson hater Diane Dimond suddenly appeared in many major media outlets. I don’t have permission from Dimond to reprint her articles here (nor do I intend to seek it), but nor do I wish to give her the satisfaction of increasing traffic hits to her apologist propaganda for Gavin and this family, a family that she obviously chose to become personal friends with long ago, thus eradicating even the slightest veneer of objectivity on her part when it comes to this case. In short, I won’t be reprinting her lies here, nor linking to them. But that being said, most fans and regular readers here are familiar enough with the details of those articles, in which young Gavin was painted as a victim, as a brave survivor of cancer and child abuse; as a martyr and hero (the only “victim” courageous enough to take on Michael Jackson in court; a good religious boy so selfless that he refuses even now to take advantage of the “six figure” amounts he has supposedly been offered; a pure soul so forgiving that even when the wedding dj “unknowingly” plays a Michael Jackson song, he just shrugs it all off good-naturedly and continues to dance, as if to say, “Aw, shucks. Well, it’s all good.”
Geez, could we just hang a halo on this guy’s head and be done with already? I already feel like I need a barf bag, and those are just the highlights.
But I will accede a few things about Gavin Arvizo. Yes, he is a cancer survivor, and I would certainly never begrudge any child who has survived cancer the right to a happily-ever-after end to his life. In fact, I hope he is able to achieve that (I am Christian enough to believe everyone deserves some measure of Grace, and Gavin Arvizo has had a pretty tough life). Yes, I believe he was a victim and an abused child-but not a victim of Michael Jackson. His abuse came at the hands of his own family, including a father who physically beat him and a con artist mother who manipulated him from an early age to lie for her. In fact, Gavin’s psychological abuse at the hands of his manipulative (and most likely mentally ill) mother was still causing him such emotional stress that as late as 2004, it was said that he still feared that “the bad people from JC Penney’s” would come to get him and his siblings (Janet had involved her kids in a lawsuit over an alleged sexual assault by JC Penney employees). And in July of 2007, a story ran in The New York Daily News that claimed Janet had turned her back on her son for apparently failing to do a better job of convincing the jury in 2005. However, oddly enough, the story has disappeared and no links given to it seem to work. I was only aware if it myself after reading this 2010 post from the Smoke and Mirrors website:
However, it wouldn’t be a shocker for me if The New York Daily News has deleted the story. As always, the media has gone out of its way to protect the so-called “victims” of Michael Jackson, while thinking nothing of dragging Michael’s name through the mud-a fact even more interesting when you consider the media villification of Mia and Dylan Farrow, a subject that has already been hashed out on many blogs. Clearly, the idea that the media automatically sides with the perceived “victims” in these cases is a myth. It depends on who is being accused.
But given what we know of Janet Arvizo’s mental history, the story is most likely true. Oddly enough, Janet was not even mentioned in the wedding articles ( Did she even attend? Was she even invited?). If true, this would be in perfect keeping with the pattern that has emerged in both accusation cases, since Jordan Chandler effectively “divorced” himself from his parents and had very little to do with them after the ordeal of the Michael Jackson allegations.
UPDATE (3/22/14): Janet Arvizo DID attend the wedding, as confirmed via the wedding photos. (See link below in the comments section).
But whatever may have transpired privately, the public Gavin has never wavered in his claims and has stood staunchly by the lies he was coaxed to believe-not only by his family, but an entire prosecution team. Gavin’s childhood was not unlike that of poor Sartoris Snopes in William Faulkner’s “Barn Burning,” a child who is forced to back his con artist father in every scheme until he finally realizes his only chance to save himself and his own soul is to run away, leaving his family behind and starting a new life on his own. Not exactly an easy thing to do when you’re just a kid-in that time or any other.
Unfortunately, Gavin Arvizo never seems to have had any such degree of moral consciousness or awakening where his own mother was concerned-or if he did, he certainly never acted on it. The truth is that children like Sartoris Snopes probably only exist in fiction. In real life, children are usually apt to become what their parents mold them into. This certainly seems to have been the case with Gavin Arvizo. And it is enough to mitigate any sympathy that I might be inclined to feel toward him. Let’s not forget that by the time this whole mess went to trial, Gavin was fifteen years old-still a minor, yes. But old enough to be quite aware of the charade that was going on, and his own part in it.
The fact that Gavin’s claims of molestation were totally ripped to shreds in the courtroom, resulting in Michael’s acquittal on all counts, still leaves one puzzling question: If Michael didn’t molest Gavin, then why did Gavin so willingly put both himself and Michael through this ordeal? Could it have been spite of another kind?
I believe that is not only a possibility, but the most logical conclusion.
The evidence has shown that Gavin not only sought out and wanted Michael Jackson’s friendship, but even wanted him as a father figure (unless, of course, this was simply more of Janet Arvizo’s manipulation, which is possible). The kids were instructed to call Michael “Daddy.” According to what Michael said in his Shmuley Boteach interviews, he didn’t mind it at first:
SB: Do you feel that when you speak to people like Gavin, part of the pain goes away for them?
MJ: Absolutely. Because every time I talk to him he is in better spirits. When I spoke to him last night he said, “I need you. When are you coming home?” I said, “I don’t know.” He said, “I need you Michael.” Then he calls me “Dad.” I said, “You better ask your Dad if it is ok to call me that.” He shouts, “Dad, is it ok if I call Michael, ‘Dad?”‘ and he says, “Yes, no problem, whatever you want.” Kids always do that. It makes me feel happy that they feel that comfortable.-(Excerpted from The Michael Jackson Tapes, by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach).
However, accounts I have heard from many who knew Michael contradict this. At any rate, he definitely seemed to resent being called “Daddy” by Janet Arvizo’s children as his relationship with this family soured, and especially once he began to realize that the Arvizo children calling him “Daddy” actually translated in this family’s minds to “Sugar Daddy.”
Additionally, Michael had children of his own by this point, so perhaps the word “Dad” had lost some of its appeal and luster. In other words, he didn’t quite have the driving need anymore to hear it from other kids besides his own. And I honestly think by this point, his own kids were the only ones he wanted calling him “Daddy.”
I firmly believe that Gavin Arvizo, at one point, wanted a close relationship with Michael, like the ones he may have heard that Michael had with Macauley Culkin, Frank Cascio, Brett Barnes and others, and was deeply disappointed-and later embittered-when things didn’t work out that way.
But there was one important difference. Those were friendships built on mutual respect and trust. Macauley Culkin, for example, had his own money, and wasn’t some needy kid who was co-dependent on Michael’s affections. To be fair, of course, he also wasn’t a cancer victim from a dysfunctional family. (I think the Culkins were most likley dysfunctional in a different kind of way; show business families generally are, but at any rate, they were not a family dependent on Michael for money and “perks” so therein lies the difference).
However, it didn’t take Michael long to learn that both Gavin and his family were milking the “cancer victim” thing for all it was worth. It was also proven that this family had bilked many celebrities out of millions, even though the family had medical insurance that covered most of Gavin’s treatments.
What’s more, as soon as the illness was in remission and some of the harsher effects of the treatments had worn off, Gavin’s true personality started to emerge. From many accounts, ranging from Neverland employees to witnesses in the courtoom, it seems that Gavin Arvizo was just not a very likeable kid. Spoiled and prone to temper tantrums when he didn’t get his way, Gavin seems by most accounts to have been a testy and temperamental child who had all the early markings of a trouble maker. Court testimony would reveal quite a different story from the innocent little angel who was being depicted in the media, and even in the Living With Michael Jackson documentary. Instead, he was revealed as a bit of a hoodlum who vandalized property, terrorized the staff, acted as though he had free reign of the property, wrecked golf carts (an act he and his brother Star both seemed quite adept at), broke into the wine cellar, and on at least one occasion, were caught by one of Michael’s cousins masturbating to pornography that they had gotten access to by breaking into Michael’s private quarters. For sure, Gavin was not the innocently naive boy about sex and sexual matters that much of his testimony relied upon:
You know, I’m not going to judge Gavin’s character now because I don’t know him. Maybe adulthood has brought some level of maturity. But apparently, the Gavin Arvizo that Michael Jackson knew as a kid was one conniving little manipulator-one that Michael quickly came to see through.
It’s a complex issue because, on the one hand, here you have this kid who does seem to be desperately seeking a father figure-and some much needed guidance. Perhaps Michael tried to be as patient as he could, but in the end, his patience wore out. He had to start distancing himself from this family for his own sanity and peace of mind-and perhaps to preserve what was left of his home before these little terrorists wrecked it completely and drove away all the staff!
Before things turned sour, this rare video footage was shot of Michael showing Gavin about the grounds of Neverland. I find the body language of this video somewhat interesting. Michael is affectionate enough with Gavin, but his demeanor is very reserved and uncharacteristically withdrawn (if one notes how he usually behaved around kids). It seems that Gavin initiates much of the physical contact, such as the hand holding or locking of arms (watch at 5:13). Michael reciprocates, of course, but only after Gavin has made the initial gesture. Otherwise, Michael seems to be keeping a distance throughout the tour, usually walking ahead or to the right. Although he is heard joking around with Gavin and Star at about 6:01, his whole demeanor throughout this video seems perfunctory and rather cool. I get the feeling he was doing this more to satisfy the child’s whims than his own. Why was it being filmed? Who knows. Michael tended to document most everything in his life; most likely, he intended to use this as some sort of promotional footage down the road, just as the footage with Ryan White eventually became a very smart promotional strategy. (While Michael certainly genuinely cared for all of the sick children he helped through the years there was no argument that it was also very good for the image). Or perhaps this was merely private footage that was leaked, but I suspect there was most likely some motive behind it. Michael had also learned by this time that it paid to keep a record of everything-just in case, well, you know, someone gets it in their head to bring a lawsuit. Or to make an accusation. Which, of course, was bound to end in a lawsuit of some sort. Having most of your life on camera was one sure way to hedge a lot of it.
No one ever said it was a “normal” life.
But if we pay close attention to the body language of Michael and Gavin in this casual clip, we can see there is none of the easy camraderie that we see, for example, in similar clips of Michael and Ryan White:
In other words, the impression I get is that Michael didn’t ever seem especially comfortable or at ease with Gavin, and his interactions with him seem more like fulfilling an obligation as the kid’s host. That seems cold, but is it possible that Michael simply never took to this kid-perhaps sensed something “off” about him, and was trying to create distance?
What we do know, based on Gavin’s own court testimony, is that over time he became bitter-not because Michael had sexually abused him, but for quite the opposite reason- because Michael ceased wanting anything to do with him, and became increasingly remote. There is even a story, revealed during Gavin’s court testimony that once, Gavin had been told Michael was not around-only to have the embarrassing and rather awkward experience of accidentally “bumping into” him on the Neverland property. By that time, the message was loud and clear that Michael was avoiding him. Gavin would recount this incident as one that “broke his heart.” But while this statement makes Michael seem very cold and poor Gavin as a victim, let’s not forget all that Michael had done-which was certainly above and beyond-to save Gavin’s life and to ease his family’s life during this difficult time. Michael had extended kindness and lavish hospitality upon this family, only to be repaid by having his property vandalized, his employees terrorized, and his credit cards maxed as Gavin’s family helped themselves to thousands of dollars worth of shopping sprees. In short, how much did Michael owe Gavin Arvizo or this family beyond what he had already done?
Intense hate is only the flipside of intense love, and it seems that in Gavin’s case he was a kid doggedly determined to be Michael’s shadow. And-here’s a fact that may surprise some of you!-he seemed to have an inclination to be very physically affectionate and touchy-touchy in a way that made MICHAEL intensely uncomfortable!
I have already pointed out that in the above video of Michael and Gavin at Neverland that it is clearly GAVIN-not Michael!-who initiates whatever physical contact is made between them, whether it be hand holding or walking arm in arm. We can see with our own eyes in this clip that Michael goes along with it and reciprocates-as most adults would-but never at any time is he the initiator of the contact. This is important in establishing the fact that IN EVERY SINGLE CASE, from sleeping in Michael’s bedroom to the infamous “hand holding” segment shown in the Bashir doc, Gavin was actually the aggressor (though in the case of the Bashir doc, there is some dispute as to whether Bashir himself was, in fact, responsible for that shot. I will get to that incident in just a bit).
Frank Cascio describes how Gavin initially asked MICHAEL if he could sleep in his room:
Michael had actually been extra cautious about allowing strange kids access to his room since what had happened with Jordan Chandler in ’93. If it had been me, I think I would have kept my resolve with a firm and unequivocal “no.” But Michael had always been a softie when it came to kids. It’s too bad that the firm resolve and distancing that he later took with Gavin may have been a case of too little, too late.
And, from Gavin’s court testimony, here is another incident that describes Gavin VOLUNTARILY resting his head on Michael’s shoulder-a gesture he was apparently prone to doing, with no prompting on Michael’s part.
19 Q. Now, you talked yesterday about someone
20 named Brett Ratner. Do you remember that.
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. And he was working on a Rush Hour movie,
24 A. Yes, he was the director for both of them.
25 Q. And you met Brett Ratner at Neverland one
26 time, right.
27 A. Yes, he came to Neverland once.
28 Q. And you saw him in the library, right. 2029
1 A. Michael and him were in the library, and
2 they told me to go there.
3 Q. You saw him in the library with Michael,
5 A. They told me to go in there.
6 Q. Okay. And you sat down next to Michael
7 Jackson, didn’t you.
8 A. I sat on the couch. I sat on this red couch
9 and Michael was sitting here on the seat, and Brett
10 Ratner was sitting here also.
11 Q. At one point during that meeting, you rested
12 your head on Michael Jackson’s shoulder, didn’t you.
13 A. No. It was early in the morning, and I
14 was — we were sitting — he was sitting on another
16 Q. And you asked if you could go with Michael
17 and Brett Ratner to Florida, didn’t you.
18 A. I don’t remember asking that.
Gavin denies the accusation, but even so, the pattern is consistent with many behaviors on Gavin’s part that we already know to be fact. Gavin would often use such ingratiating gestures toward Michael to build up for some huge favor he wanted to ask (note that in this case, he was said to have been begging to be taken along on a vacation to Florida with Michael and Brett Ratner).
Of course, Gavin’s exaggerated advancements of affection could have had a more sinister motive. The theory has been raised by some that the Arvizos may, in fact, have been plotting from the get-go to set Michael up. It’s possible although, I believe, a little far fetched. I am more inclined to believe that this was an idea that took hold once they were within Michael’s circle and the relationship turned sour. It would not explain, for example, why the Arvizos willingly left the picture until being called back for the Bashir doc. I think the idea took hold and grew in the aftermath of the Bashir doc, when the resultant media scrutiny both resulted in a further breakdown of the relationship and gave them the idea that not only could they make this accusation fly, they could even make it somewhat “plausible,” especially after consulting Larry Feldman, the attorney for the Chandlers. Let’s not forget that the Arvizos actually tried to sell the idea that Michael had only molested Gavin AFTER the documentary had aired, which is completely ludicrous considering this would have meant Michael only decided to molest Gavin after the eyes of the world had turned on this relationship.
The Arvizos had actually been out of Michael’s life for some time-and might have thankfully remained so-had it not been for the Martin Bashir doc “Living With Michael Jackson.” It was reportedly Bashir’s idea to get on film some of the children Michael had helped in the past, although it is possible this idea may have at least partially originated with Michael himself. Remember that at the time, Michael was hoping to use this documentary to help promote his idea of a National Children’s holiday. Michael was also under the impression, having been falsely led by Bashir, that the purpose of this documentary was to help rehabilitate his image. People would finally be allowed to see what Michael Jackson was all about-helping kids.
What would emerge as the most controversial aspect of that documentary-aside from Michael’s “What’s wrong with sharing your bed?” comment-was the shot of Gavin apparently “cuddling” with Michael. In the footage that sent many shock waves rippling, Gavin places his head on Michael’s shoulder and holds hands with him. Had this been the sickly, emaciated child of a couple of years ago, it might not have had quite the same effect. But this was a now apparently healthy kid who, for all purposes, was making goo-goo eyes at Michael for all America and the UK to see.
However, there was apparently much more to this footage than met the eye. We have already seen that Gavin tended to behave very affectionately toward Michael, even with no encouragement from Michael. And indeed, in the rebuttal video, Gavin is seen holding hands with his own mother just as he had with Michael! Of course, this part could very well have been staged but I’ve seen enough to convince me that this was a natural reaction of Gavin’s when he was around an adult he felt close to (or perhaps wished to manipulate). Also, note Janet’s uncharacteristic make-up and perfectly manicured nails when the camera zooms in for the close-up of their clasped hands-that was all courtesy of Michael Jackson’s expense!
It was revealed a few years ago that Bashir had actually coached Gavin to lay his head on Michael’s shoulder and hold his hand during that segment. Aphrodite Jones had mentioned this in several interviews, which apparently was information relayed to her by Thomas Mesereau. I asked her about this in 2010, and she not only confirmed that I had heard correctly, but also revealed for the first time the information she relays in this radio interview of Michael’s response: “Why is this kid leaning on me?”
Let’s go back and re-visit that segment of the Bashir doc. What I find interesting is how the segment featurng Gavin segues from a previous segment showing Michael taking a group of kids through Neverland. All of this builds up to Bashir’s voice over narration reminding viewers of the Chandler allegations ten years before, and stating he would have thought that Jackson had learned to be more cautious. He then goes on to say he was “appalled” to learn that children were still sleeping over at Neverland. What is ironic in this? Because it was actually BASHIR’S idea for Michael to have that busload of kids come in that day, just for the express purpose of having footage that would show Michael interacting with kids! The true story would be laughable if it hadn’t all turned out so tragic. What Martin Bashir (whose very agenda was to portray Michael as a suspected criminal from the get-go) discovered, much to his dismay, was a Neverland without kids! At least, other than Michael’s own, but that hardly suited the agenda that he had come prepared to “prove.” So he convinced Michael to bring in a busload of kids for the express purpose of filming his Neverland interactions with kids. Granted, this was a tradition that Michael had begun at Neverland some time ago, but there were no kids on that particular day. And often, Michael was not even on the premises when these under privileged kids came and went. But…on that day, because Bashir had specifically requested that he have kids to film at Neverland, Michael makes a call and has a busload come in. (I can’t help but feel a bit sorry for him in that footage; he doesn’t even look as if he feels particularly well that day, and he’s having to entertain these kids just so Bashir can get the footage he wants, never dreaming, of course, that the finished product would be played out with that sinister narrative voice over reminding viewers of the Chandler allegations).
And the deceptive manipulation gets even better when the narration about kids “still sleeping over” cuts to Star and Gavin Arvizo, who-let’s not forget- had only been called back for the express purpose of filming this documentary!
But here’s where I want to go with this. If you watch this clip beginning at 9:01 you can see an interesting contrast between Michael’s and Gavin’s demeanor and overall body language. Whereas Gavin seems perfectly comfortable and natural holding hands with Michael. Michael clearly looks very uncomfortable and squirm-ish in the scene. Notice that his entire body and posture remains very stiff. Just as in the earlier footage from 2000, he seems to be maintaining a purposeful, physical distance from Gavin. It’s akin to the adoring partner who tries to cuddle on a sofa, while the disinterested party tries as surreptiously as possible to scoot to the opposite end-without being blatantly obvious, of course.
In fact, the more I watch this footage the more convinced I am that Michael most likely was set up in this scene. Obviously, he wasn’t going to be rude and push Gavin away with the camera rolling (in fact, I doubt he would have done so even had no cameras been rolling) but his discomfiture is quite obvious. It makes it seem even more plausible to me that he probably asked the question, “Why is this kid leaning on me?” Even if he never spoke the words, you can tell he certainly must have been thinking them!
Whatever the case, Michael and Gavin would both have their share of fall-out over that staged scene. For Michael, it would result in a nightmare of media scrutiny and a criminal investigation. For Gavin, it led to school bullying and intrusive harrassment as the pressure increased from all sides to “confess”…Something. Anything.
8 Q. Now, when you went back to school after you
9 left Neverland Ranch – okay. –
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. — March and April, you were at John
12 Burroughs, correct.
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. Did — what was — what was it like when you
15 went back to school.
16 A. All the kids would laugh at me and try to
17 push me around and stuff, and say, “That’s the kid
18 that got raped by Michael Jackson,” and stuff like
20 Q. Did — what was your reaction to that.
21 A. I would sometimes not say anything and just
22 walk away. And if they got close enough, sometimes
23 I would fight them. After they hit me first,
24 because I didn’t like to throw the first punch,
25 because I believe that — I mean
Despite all of the bullying and media scrutiny after the Bashir doc, Gavin Arvizo was at first reluctant to go along with his family’s scheme to bring charges against Michael. So what made him change his mind? Let’s not forget that teenagers are still very emotionally vulnerable people. If you have enough adults around you hammering and chipping away at you, sooner or later you’re either going to give in, or break.
I believe strongly that what happened in Gavin’s case was that here was a man he had once idolized and looked up to, who had seemed in Gavin’s eyes to have turned on him. In Gavin’s mind, he had taken a lot of flack for being Michael’s friend, and couldn’t understand why the man he called “Daddy” had now turned on him. Perhaps he was genuinely unaware that his own bratty behavior and the questionable motives of his family had led to that distancing; that rather than being genuinely grateful for the help they had been given, their sense of entitlement had grown exponentially. Apparently, from all I have gathered, they were doing more than just taxing Michael financially. They had become a bit of an emotional burden as well, demanding that he fulfill some role that he had never been obligated to fill in the first place, as not just a financial provider but a surrogate parent as well.
Could it be that Gavin’s eventual resentment of Michael Jackson had more to do with abandonment issues than any supposed molestation? I am at the very least 99% convinced that this is the case. Or at least I believe it is the factor that planted the seed. Eventually, I believe that somewehere along the way-between the brainwashing of Sneddon, Feldman, Zonen, and, of course, his good friend Diane Dimond-Gavin became genuinely convinced that, even if Michael hadn’t molested him, that he was a bad man who deserved to be punished. After all of these years of the pestilence that has been poured into his ear from these factions, I’m sure he has convinced himself quite well that Michael must have been guilty of something.
13 Q. Okay. Gavin, I just have one last question
14 to ask you: Yesterday in response to Mr. Mesereau’s
15 questions, you told him that Mr. Jackson was like a
16 father figure to you; is that correct.
17 A. Michael Jackson.
18 Q. Yeah.
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. And that you thought he was one of the
21 coolest guys in the world, correct.
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. And that you admired him.
24 A. Well, I only admire God, but he was a pretty
25 cool guy.
26 Q. How do you feel about Mr. Jackson now in
27 light of what he did to you.
28 MR. MESEREAU: Objection. 352; relevance; 2073
2 THE COURT: Overruled.
3 THE WITNESS: I don’t really like him
4 anymore. I don’t think he’s really that deserving
5 of the respect that I was giving him and as the
6 coolest guy in the world.
But the one thing he will probably never confess-not even to himself, I would suspect-is that his resentment of Michael really began that day he was told Mr. Jackson was nowhere around, only to bump into him on the Neverland grounds. There is a part of me that pities a child who looks up to a man, who calls him “Daddy” and then has to find out the hard way that this man is actually trying to ease him out of his life. But given what we know of the Arvizos and their behavior at Neverland-as well as a past history of grifting that Michael was slowly becoming savvy to-we can’t entirely blame him for doing what he had to do. In a way, perhaps this whole, unfortunate case really claimed TWO victims-Michael, whose life would ultimately be ruined over it, and Gavin, whose innocence and ability to believe had to have at least become somewhat tarnished as a result of this experience.
But while I can feel somewhat sorry for Gavin the child, Gavin the man is a different story. He has the adult ability now to look back in hindsight and realize right from wrong. Perhaps we can argue that Michael’s way of dealing with the situation was cold, but over the years, Michael (whose life we must remember had not been “normal” since age ten) had learned early that it was sometimes the only way of coping with a bad situation. If you want a bad seed out of your life, you nip it before it even has a chance to become a bud. I would imagine the situation with Jordan Chandler had further fueled his distrust of too-clinging kids and parents with dubious motives.
Of course Gavin will probably never accept himself as that potential bad seed. I believe his view of Michael is still that of the thwarted child who has never been able to forget a promise that, in his mind, somehow went unfulfilled.
The only thing that still leaves an unsettling question in my mind is…why did Michael agree to bring the Arvizos back into his life? Surely there were many other children he had helped that he could have chosen to call in for the documentary. As Aphrodite Jones stated in the above interview, he had considered Dave Dave, the boy who was severely burned by his father. I’m sure there were many others who would have gladly accepted this offer. Why Gavin? The question is a bit of a mystery although perhaps, in the end, the sheer miraculousness of his recovery was incentive enough. Gavin, at the time, was the best example of how love and faith (along with a lot of financial help) can create a miracle. He was the best example of what Michael was innocently hoping to prove with this documentary-while also, perhaps, best fitting the bill for Bashir’s own ulterior motives.
Did Gavin ultimately feel used, perhaps even betrayed by Michael? I certainly think that we can’t rule it out as a possibility, and again, this may go a long way towards understanding how and why Gavin ultimately came to be so bitter towards a man who never touched him sexually, to the point that he was able to convince himself that Michael Jackson was a man unworthy of “the respect” he claims he had once felt for him.
But there are some things we have to keep in perspective. If Michael “used” Gavin to promote his own image, it perhaps bears no greater culpability than the amount of “using” this family did to him in terms of milking every advanatge that could possibly be gained by this relationship-and in the end, destroying his life. Whatever the ends to the means, there is one fact we have to keep uppermost in mind. Michael didn’t have to take on the expense of this kid’s cancer treatments, nor invite them into his home and his life. In the end, whatever you can say, Michael and God were directly responsible for giving Gavin his life. Did Michael really “owe” the Arvizos anything more beyond that? It’s great that Gavin still credits God’s role in saving him. But it is despicable the way he has treated the man who was, in essence, the other half of that healing team.
While this post may be an attempt to understand Gavin’s motives, it is by no means an excuse for them. It would be nice to say that, regardless of who was using who or who betrayed who, that in the end the score was evened between Michael and Gavin Arvizo. But that is hardly the case. While Michael lies in a tomb in Forest Lawn, Gavin Arvizo dances to MJ tunes at his wedding.
I’m sure in his mind he perceives this as a just and fitting end. At any rate, even now-nine years after “The Trial of the Century”-he certainly has enough cheerleaders in his corner to convince him that this is the case. This perceived sense of “justice winning out in the end” was certainly the entire slant of Diane Dimond’s many articles “celebrating” the event. But the reality depends on which side of the glass one is looking from. Gavin’s story did not convince a jury, and to this day, even many of the most cynical, diehard Michael Jackson haters have expressed genuine doubt over this case. While it may be true to say that Gavin was the only kid who faced Michael Jackson down in court (a fact is a fact, after all) Gavin also must live every day with the fact that his story wasn’t believed, and that the man who helped make it possible for Gavin to live to see his wedding day has paid the ultimate price. Diane Dimond didn’t bother telling that part of the tale. She never will.
Gavin Arvizo may have survived cancer, and he may have survived a dysfunctional raising. But in that regard, Gavin is no more or less courageous than the many hundreds of kids who beat those odds every single day. He managed to beat those odds, at least in part, with the help of a man he later turned on. His motives appeared to have been as genuinely muddled and confused as the case itself.
I don’t know how much credence to give the Taraborelli source. However, Michael was human and as prone to human emotion as any of us. “Hate” is a strong word, and even in this context, we see that Michael was reluctant to use it. But if he was acting on a therapist’s advice, it was advice intended to make him finally embrace his honest emotions, rather than, as he said, suppressing them “like I always do.”
Ultimately, Gavin Arvizo will be viewed as either a brave, unsung hero (if you buy the version Diane Dimond is selling) or as the villain that he is to most MJ fans. But the truth, as they always say, is probably closer to the middle. Gavin chose the most vicious way possible to lash out and “pay back” the man he felt had turned his back on him. At the time, perhaps he failed to realize that the greatest and most precious gift Michael had given him-his life-should have been one that far outweighed all other petty matters.
To be the only child that Michael ever hated is no easy feat. It took hard work and dedication to earn that title, for we know it was not a title easily won. But Michael would have been expressing these thoughts on the flipside of everything that Gavin Arvizo had put him through.
But hatred aside (which, as I’ve said, is a pretty strong word) I have come to the conclusion that Michael never even particularly liked Gavin Arvizo, at least once Gavin had gotten better and his real personality started to show itself. I believe that Michael engaged in a deliberate campaign to distance himself from Gavin and his family. At best, Gavin was a clingy, overly needy child who demanded attention and special favors. Perhaps if he could have been isolated at an early age from the influence of his mother, there might have still been hope for him. But by the time he met Michael, the damage to his personality was already complete. And thus, Michael Jackson, the man who had spent so much of his adult life “adopting” families, effectively rejected Janet Arvizo and her kids. There would be hell to pay, and indeed there was.
Only Gavin knows what was going through his mind as his hired wedding dj spun “The Way You Make Me Feel.” I would like to think that what he “felt” was at least some twinge of guilt or shame. Or something, even if only all of those old repressed feelings of betrayal and resentment. But the far more likely truth is that Diane Dimond got it right (this one thing, at least) when she said all it elicited from him was an indifferent shrug. Of course, her spin would be that Gavin has moved on from the painful memories of nine years ago.
The far more likely truth is that Gavin, true to his nature, is a man who doesn’t waste much time thinking about the consequences of his actions, especially in regard to how they affect others. “Looking out for number one” is a lesson his mother Janet taught him well.
As painful as it may be to accept, the most likely response that Gavin felt to hearing “The Way You Make Me Feel” was to feel absolutely nothing at all. In all likelihood, Gavin will raise a family and have a respectable career. He will spend as little time as possible thinking about Michael Jackson, and when he does, it will be with the conviction that he was justified in his actions. But mostly, Michael Jackson, the man who stepped in and saved his life when so many other celebrities had turned his family away, will just be an unpleasant blimp on those accomplishments. Something he would probably just as soon forget if it weren’t for his good friends like Diane Dimond and Ron Zonen who continue to make him the martyr that perhaps he never wanted to be.
Michael could forgive most anything except a selfish nature. He was hard on that quality in himself; even harder when he perceived it in others. Could it be that Michael saw in Gavin the quality that would compel him to bite the very hand that fed him? Perhaps. Personally, I find it revolting that Gavin would have reacted the way he did to the teasing at school after Michael had saved his life. You would think he would have been willing to whale hell out of any kid who said anything about Michael. Of course, trying to predict or second guess what goes through a teenager’s mind at any time is a risky venture. Peer pressure is a power never to be under estimated. But whatever the case, it was clear that by the time all was said and done, Michael and Gavin had clearly become two parties locked in mutual hatred, distrust, and loss of respect. Perhaps they both saw in each other some qualities that were less than admirable. But keep in mind, this is not about Michael Jackson the perfect (or imperfect) human being. It is about whether he did or did not commit a crime. In the end, that is the only thing that matters.
If Michael disliked Gavin Arvizo to the point that he was actively avoiding him, then it stands to reason that he had zero interest in molesting him, at that time or any other. But we can hardly fault him if his life didn’t revolve around Gavin Arvizo. That was never his intention. It was the Arvizos who expected Michael to deliver the moon. And apparently, a rainbow and a bridge or two.
In a way, I suppose there is a kind of twisted poetic justice in Gavin’s ability to move on with his life, reducing Michael Jackson and everything he put him through to a mere blimp on his conscience. In his mind, I believe he feels totally justified in thinking this was what Michael did to him.
It’s not exactly turnabout, since the playing field is hardly even. But it seems to suit the Arvizo family logic perfectly.