It never fails. Just when I am on the verge of being ready to post a new article that I have spent weeks putting together, there is some huge breaking story in the Michael Jackson camp that forces me to “halt the presses.” This week, we had the scandal of Brandon Howard and the bogus DNA test. And this story has sure enough been a rollercoaster ride of emotions. I went from dismissing Brandon Howard casually as “just the latest fruit loop with a hand out to the estate” to actually thinking there might be something to this. After all, as the old saying goes, DNA doesn’t lie and…well, as fishy as the whole thing seemed, they were claiming this was a legit DNA test, one that had come back 99.9% positive. And as I have said before, it would not shock me in the least to think that “maybe” there is a possibility that Michael fathered other children besides the three we know to be his legal offspring. I never believed Michael was a saint. He was, in fact, someone who had been famous for most of his life, and along with all the perks of fame come women willing to do most anything just to be near you. Michael certainly sang about his fair share of those women. They’ve become the stuff of legend-Billie Jean, Dirty Diana, Susie (who crops up in more than a few songs), and so on.
A lot of fans seemed upset about the revelation, and not without justification. The whole thing was carried out in a very tacky and tasteless manner, from the whole TMZ leak to the pseudo press conference to announce the “results” on FilmOn.com. But after the initial shock of the news wore off, my mind began to settle into the idea, and I realized…not only was I not upset, but I was actually kind of tickled pink to think that maybe Michael’s little family was really a bigger one that we intially thought. I looked at the photos of Brandon. I watched the clips of his interviews. I thought I could “see” a lot of Michael in him, but perhaps the brain and the eye sees what it wants to see. I did not know what to make of Brandon’s protestations of innocence during all of this. I didn’t quite believe him. Who gives a DNA sample unless it is for the express purpose of determining a parent? But that didn’t necessarily mean his intentions were corrupt. He said he had no intention of going after the estate for money, so the other obvious explanations are either attention or the personal satisfaction of just wanting to know the truth. However, if it had been the latter, that could have been handled privately, I am sure, without involving the press. That leaves Option #2. Still, Brandon Howard seemed like a nice enough young man and a part of me began to half embrace the idea of looking forward to getting to know this “new” son of Michael’s. Additionally, it was kind of fun to see all the collective jaws dropping around the world from all of the idiots who had so long proclaimed Michael as either an asexual virgin or a pedophile. It seemed pretty hard to argue against scientific DNA evidence, and watching all of the creative ways that many of those people were now coming up with to back pedal their way out of those claims was at least quite entertaining.
Nevertheless, the shock waves were understandable because accepting a truth like that means, to some extent, reassessing everything we thought we knew about Michael-and that goes for all sides of the camp, fans and haters as well as anyone who has allowed their heels to dig in a little too deeply in their entrenched beliefs of who Michael was. The problem for haters, as well as those who want to cling to the caricature notion of Michael as some virginal asexual being (and this mostly includes the same people who will swear up and down that he has never fathered a biological child, either because he hated his race/didn’t like sex/was afraid to be intimate with women/ only liked boys, etc etc etc) is that any “proof” of a biological child pretty much shoots down all of those theories with one, single bullet. Also, undisputable DNA evidence that Michael fathered a child would help silence that faction who continue to insist he did not father Prince, Paris, and Blanket, at the very least putting to rest any issues of fertility or unwillingness to father a child naturally.
Michael’s fans, on the other hand, have never had issues with accepting him as a fully intact, red blooded, and functioning man. But any story of an illegitimate child stepping forth-especially now-is bound to be met with a lot of suspicion. Additionally, there are some fans who will simply never want to accept that Michael was anything less than a pure angel who would never do such a thing-that is, father a child illegitimately and just leave the girl to raise it as best she can. And in theory, it doesn’t seem to make sense. Why would a man who claimed to want children so much turn his back on his own child? Well, of course, there could be any number of reasons, all of them perfectly legit, and all worth keeping in mind (you know, just in case this sort of thing ever comes up again, which could well happen). For starters, there is always the possibility of simply not knowing (happens to guys all the time, though in Michael’s case probably rarely since it seems likely any woman with a legit claim would take advantage of it; in Michael’s case it was far more of an issue having to disprove claims that were actually false). But still, we can’t rule out ignorance as a possibility. Secondly (and far more likely) is that such matters would have been kept in struct confidentiality, with special arrangements made between Michael and the young woman to provide for the child in a way that would not draw public scrutiny. Trust me, if Michael indeed had illegitimate children, knew of them, and had drawn up such a confidentiality agreement with the mother (or mothers) it is highly unlikely to be anything the world will ever know about except for them.
Indeed, the B. Howard story had no sooner hit than the snide (and cruel) comments were already starting to infiltrate the internet (you know the ones; how “unfair” it was for Michael’s “black” son to be left out while his “white children” inherit the fortune, and so on). My first reaction to these comments (before the story was proven false) was: And how do we know that Michael wasn’t amply providing for this kid for years?
This is worth keeping in mind regardless, because Brandon Howard hasn’t been the first and may not be the last such shocker. Even though most of these so-called “love children” of MJ never get beyond the tabloid rumor stage, there is still something worth keeping in mind, knowing as we do that Michael was both a globally famous pop star and, frankly, a human being. As much as we sometimes like to believe that we, as fans, knew Michael inside and out, the truth is that we really didn’t. For all that he lived in the center of the public eye and a media whirlwind for most of his life, Michael was also very adept at keeping secrets. That he may have had a few skeletons in his closet doesn’t shock me (and, no, I don’t mean the Elephant Man’s Bones-sorry, couldn’t resist). And no, I am not necessarily referring to anything criminal. But Michael was a man who liked to keep his casual flings private. Perhaps compartmentalizing is a much better word. Michael was very good at compartmentalizing his life. He had to be. This is a side of him that I’ve long been aware of, ever since I first began researching him in earnest. And as a youth, Michael was just as prone as any young man to making foolish mistakes. Just because he sincerely wanted a family later in life may not have meant that he was necessarily ready to settle down to fatherhood in his early twenties, at a time when his mind was still set on building his solo career.
In other words, I think that when people say things like, “Michael would never do such a thing” it doesn’t take into account either his complexity as a man, or his right to have stumbled and made some honest mistakes in his life.
Although my connection to the Jackson family is minimal, I do have a friend whose brother-in-law has known the family well for years, and I can tell you this much: The possibility that Michael does have children other than Prince, Paris, and Blanket isn’t exactly a family secret. This, of course, is coming from a family for whom “love children” are nothing out of the norm. Joe’s “extended” family has been a common knowledge secret for years, and if we look at the history of Michael’s brothers, we see that none of the Jackson boys seem to be apples who fell too far from the family tree. For several years, I had assumed these whisperings were in regard to Omar Bhatti (though Frank Cascio debunked that myth pretty thoroughly in his book) but the B. Howard story made me start to wonder.
I am quite disgusted right now with Corey Feldman for his role in all of this. Yes, he has been up to now a good friend who has staunchly defended Michael, but why would a friend knowingly partake in something that could be so detrimental to Michael’s three children? Nevertheless, Corey has known the Jackson family for years, and his comment to The Daily Mail was quite revealing:
‘It’s not been denied that he’s part of the family, we just don’t know what part of the family.”-Corey Feldman, On The Possibility of Brandon Howard As A Jackson.
That Michael had somewhat of an obsession with this subject is a given. Pregnant girlfreinds, those claiming “the kid is yours” and the moral consequences of giving in to the temptations of the flesh crop up in too many songs to be mere coincidence. As news of the DNA “test results” spread (notice I am putting that in quotes considering what we learned less than 24 hours later) I started to cringe as every story brought up the lines from “Billie Jean.” This is how instant cliches’ are born! Besides, the history of Billie Jean” and that song’s origins are far more complex-and less mysterious-than any of these people know. Still, we all know how often this subject cropped up in Michael’s work. “The kid is not my son/”Don’t have a baby if you can’t feed your baby”/”She’s got your baby/It happened fast.” I don’t believe that such thematic motifs’ are accidental, or coincidence. Clearly, these were issues Michael was familiar with and working through, even if on some subconscious level. He claimed much of it came from witnessing other peoples’ experiences, but it is just as possible he was also drawing on personal experience, as well. Whatever the case may be, there was a reason why this particular topic-unwanted or unplanned children, manipulative women trying to entrap him, and the consequences of sin-was something he returned to repeatedly throughout his career, but especially in the 80’s when he was most struggling with the demands of a skyrocketing fame, experimenting with newfound maturity and independence, and all while still trying to keep a foothold in the religion that had been his lifelong anchor. It’s easy to read too much into anything, but the fact that illegitmate children seemed to crop up so often in his work-or at least the accusation of being the father-at least gives some pause for thought. It seems to be an experience that he was intimately, and painfully, familiar with, so much so that even the music became a kind of catharisis for it. It sometimes seemed that Michael was cautioning an entire generation of young men to “keep it zipped” and watch out for those wily girls who promise you anything-and only end up giving you babies with “eyes like” yours. (Ironically, while advising young men to “keep it zipped” he seemed to have no qualms in “Abortion Papers” about inadvertently advising pregnant girls that they were signing their names “against the word of God” when they signed those papers. The line he sings in “Wanna Be Starting Something”-“Don’t have a baby/If you can’t feed your baby” -is not advocating abortion, as some have mistakenly claimed. Rather, he is promoting abstinence, telling women in effect that if you can’t afford to feed it, then don’t be making it).
Now keep in mind, however, this was all going through my head during a phase of roughly about 24 hours, when I still thought there just might be something to this DNA story. But a couple of things were still nagging at me. 1: Who was to say this was actually Michael’s DNA that they had supposedly extracted from this 31-year-old orthopedic device? Had the DNA been authenticated in any way as belonging to Michael? 2: How did we know that these were authentic DNA tests that had been performed, in actual DNA laboratories? All we saw at the “press conference” was an envelope being opened, and a guy reading off a document that, for all we knew, might have just been a blank piece of paper! (the truth, as it turned out, was even more bizarre!).
Still…the story was growing like wildfire. Every time I hit “Google” it seemed at least one more major news outlet had added the story of “DNA TEST PROVES OHIO MAN IS MICHAEL JACKSON’S LOVE CHILD” and those words “99.9% positive” stood out like glaring head beams. A kind of surreal reality began to set in for me, that this thing just might be true, after all, and if it is…what then? I could already see the global reactions setting in, millions of us, just as I said, reeling and reassessing everything we thought we knew about Michael Jackson.
Such is the media’s power, even after all of the negative things we say and are certainly aware of. With the recent hoax of the Blanket story still fresh in our minds, however, it didn’t take long to realize something just wasn’t smelling right. I kept waiting to see an official media outlet like CNN pick up the story. When they didn’t, some doubt began creeping in. TMZ, after all, appeared to be the main culprits behind this-at least, the leaking of the story, if not the bogus test itself. In other words, we can safely say that, yes, DNA doesn’t lie…except when TMZ somehow has their hands in the DNA.
As I went to bed that night, at least a dozen conflicted thoughts were swirling in my mind. I was nearing completion of an article on Gavin Arvizo that I had been working on for weeks, but those plans would have to be put on hold because I knew by morning, no one in the MJ blogosphere was going to give a damn about Gavin Arvizo and old history from 2005. Everyone’s mind was going to be on Brandon Howard, even if only to ask who is he, and why now? I thought of all the reasons why I hoped the story was true, as well as all the reasons why I hoped it was not true, trying to reconcile them all in my mind. I wondered what kind of revelations would the new day bring? Part of me already dreaded the feeding frenzy that I knew this story was going to create. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for Prince, Paris, and Blanket, wondering how this story would affect them. Especially with headlines like “B Howard is Michael Jackson’s Only Biological Son.” I also felt bad for Brandon’s father, Augie Johnson. In a series of increasingly desperate sounding interviews, where his reactions ranged from denial of the story to lashing out at his son, one thing came through loud and clear-hoax or no hoax, there were real people involved, people whose lives were being torn apart over this story. What should have been a private matter for this family was being treated as headline fodder for TMZ and Alki David.
‘I KNOW Brandon’s my son – I was there in the delivery room, I have the pictures of him being born. I got the records, I got everything.
‘Before me, Miki wasn’t with anyone else – she didn’t even know Michael at that time. But you know what – I love my son and he can do whatever he likes. I’m not tripping on this – I want Brandon to have a successful career.’…
‘Brandon spent a lot of time with Jackson kids over there, this was during the time when Miki and I broke up and she was hating me for a few years because we didn’t get married.’
When asked if he would be happy to take a DNA text himself, Augie said ‘Oh yeah! That’s not a problem.
‘My name is on his birth certificate, when people talk to me, I tell them the truth. I know my son- he’s got a lot of drama going on.
Brandon was once praised as the ‘reincarnation of Michael Jackson’.
However, Augie said: ‘They have these pictures with Michael and Brand on looking alike, but how can you compare my son and Michael. Michael don’t look like that – that’s not his original look.
‘Brandon just happens to be one of those kids – the wannabe Michael kids – his whole life. He loved Michael Jackson so much.
‘He wanted to look more like him and he had a little success in Japan, that’s where this whole thing started. It became this mystery that he would never answer.
‘It’s been a plan for a long time, he wants to help his career, that’s what I believe.
‘Any kind of controversy that gets out there in the world, right now, helps.’
Miki Howard joined Side Effect as a 16-year-old singer, and asked about any romance with Michael, Augie said: ‘She was never romantically involved with Michael. He didn’t even know her.’
Now friendly again with Miki, Augie said he spoke to her today, adding: ‘Miki thinks Brandon is losing his mind!-Excerpted From The Daily Mail
In reading Augie Johnson’s words, I thought of the very thing that fans have so often said about Michael when Mark Lester, Arnie Klein, Matt Fiddes or any of the revolving door of “wanna be dads” has tried to come forth claiming to be the father of Prince or Paris or Blanket. “It takes more than just donating sperm to be a father,” we always say. Yes, indeed. And by the same argument, I think we can pretty safely say-even had the DNA test proven authentic-that “99.9% match” or not, Michael Jackson was not Brandon Howard’s father, and never was. His father was Augie Johnson, the man who apparently was at least there in his life to change an occasional diaper and wipe his runny nose. Of course, I agree with those who have said that the only parent who probably deserves real credit as both Brandon’s mom and dad is Miki Howard.
So what is the point of trying to “prove” a biological link to Michael Jackson, even if one existed? Well, we all know the answer to that one. The media just wants a story. And Brandon wants…? Well, if not money, at least the fame and notoriety. I think Augue Johnson hit the nail on the head with that one.
All day at work, I waited until I could get to a computer to see what the latest developments on the story were. It didn’t take but a quick browse on Twitter to see that the story was already being reported as one huge hoax, and boy oh boy, what a hoax it was!
I suppose the big question is: Why would Alki David and company go to such lengths to create such a hoax in the first place? Why the driving need to create a phony DNA test to link Michael Jackson to this man? The media’s handling of this entire story-as well as the public’s reaction to it-has only served to remind me of the bizarre dichotomy that exists with both the media’s and the public’s fascination with Michael Jackson. He is probably the only person I know of who is so routinely emasculated in the media-who is so often portrayed interchangeably as asexual, or as a pedophile, or as gay-and yet, by the same token, an apparent super womanizer who has secret love children all over the planet. Heck, at least one love child is guaranteed to pop out of the woodwork every few years-and oddly enough, the media never seems to have any problem swallowing the idea that Michael Jackson-who according to them had to solicit donors to father his own, legal children-must have nevertheless been quite the stud muffin when it came to making babies he evidently didn’t want. How he managed this feat while still being, apparently, afraid of women or only interested in little boys-if you believe the popular narratives-remains the biggest mystery of the last century. Scientists, philosophers, and theologians, I’m sure, are all at work trying to figure it out.
All of which goes to show that the world’s fascination with Michael Jackson’s penis-what he did and didn’t do with it, apparently-continues to be an even greater obsession than his music.
But on a more serious level, this story-just as the phony story about Blanket that surfaced recently-points to a very disturbing media trend, and shows just what depraved lengths these people will go to. It becomes easier, perhaps, to believe and understand all of those stories such as how even after routine haircuts, the hair of Michael’s children is immediatly swept up and placed in bags, so as to avoid any attempts at DNA theivery. Such stories sound rather extreme, paranoid, and highly suspect. Until we witness what transpired this week.
It’s scary as hell to think that slimeballs like Alki David are out there; people who wouldn’t think twice about conducting a “public” DNA test on Michael’s kids-and even worse, skewering the results to fit whatever agenda they want. That, for me, has been one of the scariest and most disturbing realizations of this whole event. We tend to rely on DNA tests as definitive truth. If DNA tests are now something that can be willfully fabricated, like any tabloid story, what’s to stop them from making up any lie they want; claiming parentage or not with anybody they choose; playing God with any target they decide to go after? The media, as always, will copy and paste such stories, spreading them like wildfire with no thought as to whether they are true. In this instance, the bogus story was revealed, but only because Harry Levin (for whatever personal reason, I am sure) decided to turn the cards on Alki David and FilmOn.com. And only because, in this case, the exposure of the hoax was bound to generate even more hits than the phony story.
It has been said that the movie “The Truman Show” was based on Michael’s life. Observing what transpired this week truly makes that reality hit home. If the events of this week began with forcing us to reassess what we thought we knew about Michael and his life, it ends with a surety that is exactly what we have known for years. Michael Jackson’s life continues to be a highly manipulative and profitable media sport.
But the new levels to which that sport is sinking are scary indeed.
So…as per my post’s apt title, Michael Jackson both “gained” and “lost” a son in less than 24 hours. I am being only partly facetious. The fake story, at least for a little while, may have shaken some deeply held beliefs about Michael on all sides, for better or worse. But now that the dust is settling, what really emerges from this is the lesson it may teach us in just how depraved the media’s tactics are, the depths to which they will sink, and the desperation of the motives of those who surrounded Michael. It’s not a new lesson by any means. But if we ever needed a refresher course, boy this was it!
As for the rumors that Brandon may, in fact, be Joe’s son instead of Michael’s…well, that’s another Jackson family soap opera I will tackle some other time, some other day. Right now I just need an Excederin. Yep, it’s been one of those weeks.
And what’s even funnier…I still get people who ask me, all the time, what can there possibly be left to write every week about a guy who’s been dead for five years?
LOL. If they only knew…