Category Archives: Video

Exposing Radar Online’s Secret Shame: The Truth About What Michael Jackson Had (And Didn’t Have) In His Bedroom-Pt 2

What Michael Kept "In The Closet"...Is Maybe Not All That Sensational.
What Michael Kept “In The Closet”…Is Maybe Not All That Sensational.

In the time since I posted Part 1 of this series late on Friday, the focus throughout social media has been largely about Radar Online’s tomfuckery in falsifying the documents they claimed as “official” police documents in the original story they dropped on June 20th. My purpose in Part 1 was mainly to provide a broad overview of the story and to rebut the sensationalistic media claims that these were “new” or “recently unearthed” reports; secondly. to remind readers that there was nothing in those original reports that ever stated child pornography had been found at Neverland-a statement that was signed off by both the defense and prosecution, as well as Judge Melville. From there, I touched briefly on how Radar Online had faked a lot of the information and was making grossly exaggerated claims about the items that were in the authentic reports.

Late Friday, just as i had posted Part 1, the crap really started to fly when Canadian artist Jonathan Hobin reached out to the media to let the world know that one of the photographs Radar Online had falsely inserted as “evidence” of Michael’s “sick and twisted, disturbing stockpile” of sexually graphic images featuring children was, in fact, part of Hobin’s well known collection titled In the Playroom. It is, in fact, an art book of photographs for which the theme is the depiction of children who have been victims of violent crimes. It is a collection that uses “shock art” as a call to social awakening of what is happening to children in our modern society. Further research revealed that the media has covered this collection and its author quite extensively. There were stories on Vice.com as well as an extensive write-up for The Huffington Post by Priscilla Frank in 2013-yes, the same Huffington Post who jumped on the MJ story bandwagon and repeated verbatim Radar Online’s lies that an image from this collection supposedly was included as part of Michael’s “stockpile” of “disturbing images.”

Yet here is what Huffington Post wrote of Jonathan Hobin’s book in 2013:

Although generally childhood is portrayed as a time of innocence and bliss, the reality is often far more sinister. Photographer Jonathan Hobin captures our childhood fascinations with the darkest aspects of adult life in his polarizing series “In The Playroom.” The series recreates disturbing historical moments such as the attacks on September 11, 2001 and JonBenét Ramsey’s death. We reached out to Hobin to learn more…

Note that the JonBenet Ramsey photo is clearly mentioned here, which means The Huffington Post as well as other media outlets were clearly aware of this photo’s origins as part of an art collection.

Jonathan Hobin's Photo "American Idol" was falsely identified as a photo in MJ's collection at the time of the 2003 raid of Neverland
Jonathan Hobin’s Photo “American Idol” was falsely identified as a photo in MJ’s collection at the time of the 2003 raid of Neverland

But the real clincher is that Hobin’s book wasn’t even published until 2008! So this book was not possibly something Michael Jackson could have even owned in 2003 when the raid of Neverland took place!

This same photo was featured as part of a Huffington Post slideshow of Hobin’s work in 2013-there was no mention then of it being anything other than a work of art!

Hobin has tried to reach out to the media to spread the truth about the photo and its origins. So far, I don’t know if anyone has taken him up.

Im the artist of the infamous photo. Who wants the real story? via

hobin tweet

 

But interestingly, as soon as Hobin spoke out-and as soon as other media outlets began circulating that Radar Online had faked at least a portion of the documents-the original 88 page document Radar Online had posted suddenly lost 27 pages overnight, shrinking to a mere 61 pages. This is clearly a case of track covering! With no retraction and no formal apology forthcoming, the gesture of merely removing these blatantly falsified images and documents means nothing.  They created the damage by putting this fake crap out there in the first place-now that they’ve been caught, they are trying to cover it up.

And to make matters worse, now that the spotlight has been placed on how Radar Online falsified official police reports. they and their cohorts have merely created another diversion, one that is far more disturbing since it involves unfounded speculations about Michael’s own children and nephews. If this isn’t the ultimate in defamation, I don’t know what is! I do know that it’s time it has to stop; this feeding frenzy has gotten so crazy that anyone, it seems, can make up anything they want about Michael or his family-or his children (one of which, let’s not forget, is still a minor!) and have it printed by media outlets who will never bother fact checking the story. In fact, it’s scarier than that. One can truly speculate anything they want, and in so doing, create an atmosphere where people will believe it is fact. What they are doing is creating a lot of smoke to cover up the fact that there is no fire. It’s an old media tactic, but unfortunately, one that often has the desired effect.

Anyway, I guess I am allowing my anger to get me sidetracked and ahead of myself. What I intended with this series was to rebut Radar Online’s claims with what I know to be true about the Michael Jackson case and what was found (as well as what was not)-to separate truth from sensationalized fiction. And the best way to do that is just to go straight through the documents, addressing each item or issue as it appears. I will be basing this, obviously, on the original 88 page document which Radar Online has since deleted-not because I wish to further sensationalize their fabrications, but because I think it is important that everyone knows what they tried to get away with (I don’t think it was because they honestly didn’t think they would be caught; more like they just wanted to see how much and for long they could milk the story before the truth did  catch up). The fact we must keep uppermost in mind when reviewing these materials is that many of these items had already gone through one round of misinterpretations and attempts to view them out of the context of their original intent-remember, the prosecution was trying hard to build a case for them as “possible” grooming materials since they had no actual evidence on which to build their case. Radar Online (as well as Vanity Fair and others) then merely added another layer of sensationalism to what was already, in many cases, gross misrepresentations of these items. It has also been reported by sharp-eyed fans that many of the “fake” images obtained from internet sources carried identifying information pinpointing them back to Wade Robson’s and Jimmy Safechuck’s attorneys. You will be seeing this as we move through the documents and come upon the faked images.

Here is the first page of the document:

RO-report-88-pages (2) (1)

The first three pages, as noted, are missing so the document essentially picks up with page 3.  (Updated: You can find a discussion of the content of those missing pages here). The first item being discussed is Item #507, a drawing made on notebook paper of a boy in a circle. There were some apparent impressions made onto the paper by someone writing on a sheet of paper that had been on top of it, but nothing could be determined as far as what the writings may have been. However, anyone familiar with Michael’s art style knows that this sounds very typical of the types of drawings he liked to do. Many of his sketches have been seen publicly (many are available at a glance with a quick Google search) and we can see that, typically, Michael liked to draw self portraits of himself as a child, other famous figures and cartoon characters, or scenes that in some way evoke the essence of childhood. Below are some very typical examples of his art work:

mjdrawing2

mjdrawing1

 

mjdrawing3

mjdrawing4

 

mjdrawing6

It is very obvious, then, that the drawing described could have been very typical in style and content to any of the above. Notably, nothing further is inferred about the drawing other than that it would need to be “forensically processed” in order to read the latent writings. Translation: They knew they were wasting time even taking up space talking about it, as it was just a drawing of a boy sitting in a circle (interestingly, this could have been one of Michael’s many self portraits depicting himself in the spotlight, but without actually seeing it, it’s hard to say. All I know for certain is that, being familiar with Michael’s style and the types of subjects he liked to depict in his artwork, this is typical).

Moving on:

Next described is a book found in the arcade room, The Fourth Sex: Adolescent Extremes. The report describes it as a book about adolescents and the counterculture, with “some” pictures featuring apparently adult individuals “with no clothing, or in a state of partial dress.”

I did a little further research on this book (which frankly wasn’t hard-a quick Google search is usually is all the detective work that is required, since these were and still are perfectly legal art books) and found out that the entire project was part of an Italian art exhibition that opened in Florence in January of 2003. The project’s purpose, as stated on the pittidiscovery website was:

“an opportunity for reflection on the increasing importance of teenage tribes in our society. A society where the obsolesence of concepts of sexual and demographic identity reflects social changes in progress in a violent, contradictory manner. The fourth sex belongs to adolescents. A sexually indefinite moment, in which gender ambiguity prevails. Adolescents are not boys or girls and not yet men or women. They belong to a parallel, fluid universe, in a state of becoming. They are closely connected to the present, yet symbolically contain the seeds of future.

Adolescence is not just a phase of passage in human life, it also is a mental state, an existential condition with an overwhelming impact on lifestyles and trends. Adolescents are omnivorous, tireless consumers, distracted but also attentive, easily persuadable but also independent. Adolescents do not want to be well-balanced, they love extremes in everything: from fashion to art to music…

Unbalanced between the present and the future, adolescents appear to us as both agitated and strangely passive. They may give form to their world in an aggressive way, but at the same time they are also forced to come to terms with the labels, the judgments and  the formulae of the adult world.

Observed and studied by experts of all kinds, monitored in their behavior patterns, adolescents represent a decisive segment in the strategy of consumption. They adore clothes and music. They want to be cool at all costs. Fashion watches the teenage universe closely both as a source of inspiration and as a crucial target group, while contemporary art explores, exploits and analyzes the myth of the eternal adolescent. From the rebellion of the historical avantgardes, through the counterculture of the Sixties, to the doubts and uncertainties of Generation X, contemporary art has treated adolescence as an indispensable point of reference, coming to grips with its radical gestures, its violations and impatience.

The exhibition The fourth sex. Adolescent Extremes observes and portrays the restless territory of teenagers :an incredible resource of creative energy. The show lights a series of emotional fires where ideas meet and derail in new constellations of meaning. The materials in the show reflect the complex universe of contemporary culture: fashion, communications, art, music, cinema… The themes are many, and inevitably touch some of the nerve centers of our society. Talking about adolescence doesn’t only mean the subject of young people, but it also means talking about their restless relationship with the adult world. This doesn’t only mean representing the positive energies of this age group, but also exploring the insecurities and fears that can lead to terrible, extreme gestures. 

The two curators, Francesco Bonami and Raf Simons, intend to construct an exhibition that is itself an expression of the languages of adolescence, mixing expressive codes and disciplines. Drawing inspiration from the multiplicity of the languages of teenagers, The fourth sex will be a space in which different ideas and trends release, transforming the show into a place of encounter and dissemination.
The exhibition, installed at Stazione Leopolda by a group of young architects, the Cliostraats, sheds light on the strength, weakness and promises of the fourth sex. The book/catalogue offers a variegated montage not only of the images in the show, but also of supplementary iconographic materials, such as images from art, fashion, teenage icons, legendary films. The volume is also an anthology of the most interesting writings on the theme of adolescence, in which a mixture of poetry, literature, current events, journalism and essays, give form and color to all the contradictions and ambiguities of an unhappy age we will never regret.

After wasting considerable space to describe the book, the report clearly states: “None of the material within this book would meet the legal requirements to be considered child pornography.”  Get used to hearing that phrase; it’s one that’s going to crop up with just about every item described! The only thing they could try to claim is that such items could be used for grooming material. This, again, is going to come up a lot because, remember, it was all they had to go on and the prosecution was trying desperately to build a case on this!

Well, this is as much as I’m going to have time to post today, but I will continue on Wednesday to take you through both the real and “imagined” journey of Michael Jackson’s “stockpiled” porn. Sorry, though, if it isn’t as titillating as the tabloid accounts. Truth seldom is.

In the meantime, here is a cool rebuttal video that’s starting to go viral. Share it and make it go viral some more!

And don’t forget to sign:

“We’ve Had Enough” – An appeal to the fan community to take a stand against slanderous tabloids.

Read Firpo Carr’s statements rebutting Radar Online as well! This is in two parts. He gives an excellent example of how innocent items that didn’t even belong to MJ were entered as “evidence”!

http://firpocarr.com/firpofiles0625a2016.html

http://firpocarr.com/firpofiles0625b2016.html

 

Exposing Radar Online’s Secret Shame: The Truth About What Michael Jackson Had (And Didn’t Have) In His Bedroom-Pt 1

Cik-9E5UUAAZzbnIt truly pains me to have to spend Michael’s death anniversary debunking the media lies and distortions that have made headlines this week, but this, unfortunately, has not been just another one of those trashy little tabloid stories that can be ignored. This is a vendetta that has grown wings, thanks to the lowly tactics of one particular publication whom I long ago “outted” as having a personal invested interest in slandering Michael Jackson and tarnishing his legacy. Yes, other publications have picked up the story, too, and I’ll have my bone to pick with them later. But for the most part, those publications have simply been guilty of the same old lazy, copy and paste journalism that we have decried for so long-you know, one outlet prints it, and all the others, not wishing to be left out of the hits, jump in on it like a pool of hungry sharks. Only in this case, a few did, at least, take the time to contact the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department, and the statement obtained has been crucial in shedding light on what is actually going on here. Anyway, my point is that while other outlets have picked up and spread these false stories, we have to start where the evil truly lies-with Radar Online.

But first, let’s start by busting some of the distorted myths and outright lies that are circulating currently. I have been a dedicated Michael Jackson researcher for seven years. I have studied the in’s and out’s of the 2005 case brought against him-in which he was fully vindicated-and the 1993 Jordan Chandler settlement. And what I don’t know, I can get quickly from dedicated researchers  even more thorough and knowledgable than myself. This is going to be all about separating media sensationalism from factual truths-and be patient because this may take awhile; it is not going to be something I can neatly wrap up in a single post, though I certainly wish I could.

The first thing we must address is that the information and descriptions in these reports are NOT new or “recently unearthed” reports-this is all information that both the prosecution and defense were well aware of in 2004 when the indictment and grand jury process began. In fact, a lot of this information was leaked then and circulated in the press after the grand jury hearings, prompting a statement from both Michael’s attorney Thomas Mesereau (which was signed off by Judge Melville acknowledging that no child pornography had been found)that Michael Jackson read on air in 2004:

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Eventually, most of these items were deemed as inadmissible because they were commercially available art books that anyone can purchase legally. The “sadomasochism” books were adult books featuring adult subjects (he owned a copy of Madonna’s “Sex,” a book that was legally sold in bookstores in the early 1990’s) and because none of these materials fit the legal definition of child pornography-in fact, a lot of it wouldn’t qualify as pornography at all, but as artwork.  This left the prosecution in the rather embarrassing situation of having to build a case on Michael’s adult legal porn collection, which was-let’s just say-healthy, but not unusual for a single guy. Let’s remember, these people invaded his private quarters, after all. But essentially, this left the prosecution in the position of trying to build a case of child molestation against a man for whom the only “evidence” they had was issues of Hustler, Playboy, Penthouse, Barely Legal, and the like-along with, well, a lot of art books. The thing you have to keep in mind is that the prosecution never had one shred of what we might call “smoking gun” evidence-the kind that usually leads to an easy, “case closed” conviction. There were no explicit love letters written to any child, no photos of himself or children engaged in sexual acts, no video tapes of himself with children in lewd acts, no taped phone conversations, no online “sex chats”-in other words, none of the things that can lead to an easy conviction in most cases. You have to remember that Michael was under constant FBI surveillance for over ten years. The reports eventually concluded nothing to be found. At one point, all of his computer hard drives were seized but a search of over sixteen computer hard drives seized in the 2003 raid  revealed nothing except that he occasionally visited a few adult legal porn sites where he liked to log in as “Dr. Black” and “Marcel Jackson.” Juicy gossip fodder, yes. Illegal; no.

Madonna's "Sex"-A book Michael was known to have purchased, is typical of what the prosecution referred to as "sadomasochism" books in his collection
Madonna’s “Sex”-A book Michael was known to have purchased, is typical of what the prosecution referred to as “sadomasochism” books in his collection

In the lack of any such hard evidence, the case essentially boiled down to accuser Gavin Arvizo’s word against Michael’s. From that point forward, the only hope that district attorneys Tom Sneddon and Ron Zonen had was to construct their prosecution as a character assassination. In their desperate attempt to make “evidence” out of no evidence, the art books were argued (unsuccessfully) as books that “could” fit the definition of what a casebook pedophile would own, and the legal porn was argued to be “grooming material” (an argument that likewise did not persuade the jury, especially after Gavin Arvizo, under cross examination, admitted that a magazine he had earlier claimed to have been shown by Michael was an issue that, in fact, wasn’t even published until five months after the date of the alleged incident).

The problem is that, in the absence of any truly hardcore evidence, it becomes increasingly difficult to try to convince a jury of what someone’s “intentions” are with a particular photo or art book. You can’t second guess what is in someone’s head, or if they are using certain materials-legal or otherwise-for sexual gratification. That is getting into the realm of “reasonable doubt” and is not something that can be proven. The only thing a judge and jury can do is to look at a certain piece of exhibited evidence and ask: Is this pornography or is it not? And if it is pornographic, is it legal? Keep in mind that anything that isn’t, strictly speaking, child pornography cannot be held as admissible evidence because it is not criminal-at least certainly not in the United States-to own art books or adult legal sex books, no matter how “graphic” the imagery (which a lot of this, also, is being grossly exaggerated in the media reports, but one thing at a time).

The original Radar Online story that ran on June 20th did, in fact, acknowledge that these reports were from 2003 and are not new information, but they slanted their story in such a way that made it seem as though this was somehow “newly leaked” information or as if this was “newly discovered” evidence that somehow-for whatever unearthly reason-was never brought to light during the trial. This is simply not true, as all official court documents related to the 2005 case clearly show that these items were well known to both the prosecution and defense. Many of these items were discussed and exhibited before the jury in what came to be known as the infamous “Porn Day” at trial (a day for which Michael’s very religious mother Katherine chose to sit out). What was left out was left out simply because it was deemed not pornographic in nature and therefore, inadmissible evidence. Michael Jackson was subjected to one of the most zealous cases of prosecution that an individual could be put through. He had a district attorney who had made it his personal life’s ambition to put him behind bars-or drive him permanently from Santa Barbara County, which he eventually succeeded in doing. This was a prosecution effort that combed the globe in search of “victims,” evidence, and any witnesses willing to come forth, regardless of credibility, and that spent millions in taxpayer dollars in the process. Granted, Sneddon and Zonen may have had their moments of ineptitude, but one thing they could never be accused of was being unthorough or of committing a half assed investigation that would have left evidence of actual child pornography overlooked. Indeed, nothing in these reports was overlooked, nor was it withheld. It simply wasn’t child pornography, then or now.

This is an important fact to establish because I think the impression many are getting, from the slanted media reports, is that these items being discussed are some “shocking new bombshell” revelation that has just come to light. That simply isn’t true. This is all old news from a decade ago, and there is absolutely nothing in those reports that hasn’t already had its day in court-that is, of the items that even made it past the discovery stage. The media is trying to slant the story that way because it makes for more salacious headlines and click bait, but if you read the fine print, most have to own up at some point that these are, in fact, old documents dating to 2003 when the discovery process for the trial was underway. So, nothing new here and nothing that the attorneys, as well as the judge and jury, were not well aware of when Michael was tried and acquitted in 2005.

So the next question…why now? Well, that goes back to the close ties between Radar Online (formerly headed up by Dylan Howard)and the attorneys of Wade Robson and Jimmy Safechuck, as well as a certain traitorous “friend” to the Jackson family, Stacy Brown, Stacy Brown,who has made a career off of peddling smut to the tabloids. Robson and Safechuck both have civil cases pending against the Michael Jackson estate, and Radar Online has become their ally and willing mouthpiece. We know from the statement released by the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department that they did not issue the documents to Radar Online or any other media source:

Some of the documents appear to be copies of reports that were authored by Sheriff’s Office personnel as well as evidentiary photographs taken by Sheriff’s Office personnel interspersed with content that appears to be obtained off the Internet or through unknown sources. The Sheriff’s Office did not release any of the documents and/or photographs to the media. The Sheriff’s Office released all of its reports and the photographs as part of the required discovery process to the prosecution and the defense.

But what’s most disturbing-and a fact that the rest of the media outlets who have run this story seem to be turning a blind eye to-is Radar Online’s willingness to falsify official documents and photos. Many of the media outlets who copied the original story have now updated their information to include this statement. That is at least a step in the right direction, I suppose, but still doesn’t take into account their apparent willingness to run a story that has been blatantly identified by the very authorities who investigated the case as false information.

Let’s look again at that official statement released by the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department with the most crucial passages emphasized:

Some of the documents appear to be copies of reports that were authored by Sheriff’s Office personnel as well as evidentiary photographs taken by Sheriff’s Office personnel interspersed with content that appears to be obtained off the Internet or through unknown sources. The Sheriff’s Office did not release any of the documents and/or photographs to the media. The Sheriff’s Office released all of its reports and the photographs as part of the required discovery process to the prosecution and the defense.

 

This is a public statement that Radar Online intentionally falsified information being purported as official police documents. I will get more into the specifics of which parts are genuine vs. fabricated in the next installment, as well as a detailed account of those items actually listed in the official reports which were grossly exaggerated in an attempt to fabricate “evidence.”

The statement also makes it clear that someone other than an official source is responsible for feeding this information to Radar Online-someone (or someones) who timed this malicious smear campaign just in time to coincide with the remembrances and celebrations of Michael’s death anniversary-a time when the emotions of his family, friends, and fans are most vulnerable.

In the meantime, here are links to many of the media outlets that have already retracted the story and have exposed it for the malicious Radar Online hoax that it is:

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/jun/23/authorities-rebut-claims-child-porn-found-michael-/?utm_campaign=shareaholic&utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=socialnetwork

http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/people/2016/06/22/michael-jacksons-family-sheriff-respond-child-porn-allegations/86225804/

http://www.people.com/article/michael-jackson-estate-blasts-porn-reports

BET, it looks like, has removed the story altogether.

Most damaging to the hoax perpetrators has been this statement from Ron Zonen himself, one of the prosecuting attorneys who certainly would have moved heaven and earth to have the “evidence” against Michael Jackson he so desperately craved:

zonen statement

Let’s go back to the most important statements given here: “…there was no child pornography. There were no videos involving children.”

So what, then, is all the hoopla about? You’d be shocked and surprised to know! Obviously, the media uses words like “shocking,” “disturbing,” “harrowing” “disgusting” and so on to create click bait. I used the same tactic here. (Do I really think Radar Online has any sense of shame? Nah!). Yet if one truly examines and dissects the materials and images being discussed, it turns out that not only are all of them from legal sources (art books and such) but that most of the more erotic images are of adults! So…what’s the deal here? It actually seems that a huge media storm is being created over Michael Jackson’s tastes in art and adult erotica. Like I said before: Gossip fodder? Yes, maybe. Evidence of criminal behavior? No.  And Radar Online is purposely tampering with many of those images to make them “appear” more explicit than they actually are, as per this example. On the right is the image as Radar online posted it. On the left is the original image from the book it was taken from. As you can see, Radar Online purposely blocked out the crotches so as to make it appear as if the young men were naked, when in fact they were actually clothed in shorts.

meowKittens

UPDATE: MJ fans do great detective work (if only the media was this thorough!). The source of the above photo is a book titled Bigood by art photographer James Bigood, whose specialty is homoerotic art. This particular photo was from a 2009 reissued edition (which Michael most likely didn’t even own since its publication date was May 15, 2009-a time when Michael would have been busy rehearsing for This Is It and had only a little over a month to live; it definitely would not have been among the books recovered in the 2003 raid of Neverland unless-as sanemjfan pointed out in the comments below-Michael owned the original edition, which is possible. However, in any event, Radar Online did clearly doctor the image to make it look more graphic than it actually is, since the image on the left is what appears in Bidgood’s book (and needless to add, this is a book of homoerotic adult art, so even if Michael did own it, there is nothing shameful or illegal about it). You can learn more about Bidgood’s book-and his art-here:

http://www.booktopia.com.au/james-bidgood-bruce-benderson/prod9783836514521.html

http://www.homohistory.com/2014/10/james-bidgood.html

I will be posting more on this topic over the next several days, but in the meantime, for those who are curious about the extent of Michael Jackson’s porn collection, this is a very good comprehensive list . For the record, the items included in that list are the only actual pornography that was found. Also, an excellent series on the art books found in Michael’s collection-much of the source of the current media frenzy-can be found here .  As far as I can tell, this was the first post of the series. You can start there and follow the rest of the series through its various installments.

There is much, much more to come as I will be tearing down and exposing Radar Online lie by lie over the coming days. But as June 25th approaches, I want to add these parting words: Seven years ago, we lost an amazing artist, man, and humanitarian. From Ferguson, Missouri and Black Lives Matter to Paris, France and, most recently in the wake of the tragedy in Orlando, Michael’s music continues to be the music of healing for our planet. Why is it that whenever tragedy strikes, or there is a new awakening for the need to bring us together as a global family, it is Michael’s music that people turn to, time and time again?

Participants in Mass Vigil For Orlando Victims Sing “Heal The World”

Michael Jackson was a rare gift to the planet, one who certainly didn’t (and still doesn’t) deserve this kind of treatment. I said it on social media the other day, and will repeat it here: If the world spent a lot more time listening to the words he wrote, rather than obsessing over what he had in his bedroom, we would be the better off. Michael’s personal life has already been well dissected. He was put through a grueling and publicly humiliating trial that left nothing to the imagination-his inner sanctity completely ransacked, his most private possessions put up for public inspection; even his own body violated.

My point is that there is nothing new here to see. All of this “evidence” was hashed out in court a decade ago. So why is Radar Online so gleefully jumping on this fabricated smear campaign, regurgitating decades old information for which Michael Jackson has long been tried for, and acquitted? My guess, which is probably not too far off the mark, is that it is all part of a carefully orchestrated plan to force the estate into a settlement with Robson and Safechuck. And in Radar Online, they have the perfect, willing accomplice-a publication that doesn’t mind bending all the rules of fair play, or even falsifying information, in order to bait a gullible public into believing that a list of items that was reviewed and dismissed as “evidence” twelve years ago is somehow front page burning news.

He Was A Gift To The World That Deserved Far More Than What It Gave Him
He Was A Gift To The World That Deserved Far More Than What It Gave Him

Strangely, perhaps, the first thing I thought of when this story hit was the recently renewed controversy over the Confederate flag. President Obama said that the Confederate flag needs to be retired permanently to a museum, where it can be remembered as a part of history, but not flown as an act of defiance for an ideal that no longer exists. I feel the same way about all of this regurgitated information from Michael Jackson’s trial. Those documents (the real ones, that is) have resided in the Santa Barbara County records’ department for over a decade. They are a part of history, but no longer relevant. The trial ended in acquittal on all fourteen counts on June 13th, 2005, and Michael Jackson died on June 25th, 2009.

But just as there are some individuals who will never accept that the Civil War ended in 1865, so, too, is a faction who will never accept that Michael Jackson was fully exonerated by a court of law in 2005. To this end, they will continue to lie, to rehash and sensationalize old stories, to distort truth and yes, even to fabricate new “evidence” where none exists. It is all merely a thinly veiled attempt to keep an old battle going that has already long been fought-and won.

If you read this and agree that we need better laws to protect the deceased against this kind of slander, please sign this petition for the Anti-Defamation Legacy Law Advocates. It is an initiative that, if passed into law, will enable the heirs of deceased persons the same laws and protection against slander and libel in the media as living persons currently have.

“We’ve Had Enough” – An appeal to the fan community to take a stand against slanderous tabloids.

UPDATE: Here is some explosive information that is just coming out via the Canadian press (big thanks to my friends  sanemjfan and Melanie who shared this breaking story on Twitter and FB): The artist of one of the photos that Radar Online “falsely added” to the 2003 police reports, Canadian artist Jonathan Hobin, has confirmed that his photo DID NOT EVEN EXIST UNTIL 2008 and therefore it could not POSSIBLY have been confiscated as part of the 2003 raid!

Here is what Radar Online originally reported:

ramsey image

The full story behind the actual photo can be found here on the CBC news site. 

In an excerpt from the above article, Jonathan Hobin states:

A lot of the work that they’re referencing in the Radar Online report isn’t in fact pornography, but images obtained online from art books, according to Hobin.

“People are manipulating the context of art for their own sinister purposes. I think again, it harkens back to poor journalism and the excitement around creating drama that doesn’t exist,” he said.

Hobin believes the best way to put an end to the misinformation is for the police department in question to deny the claims.

“(The sheriff’s department) could have put out word immediately saying that this is someone’s attempt to … corrupt a previously existing police investigation,” he said.

“I’d like them to speak to it sooner rather  than later … everyone from Vanity Fair to Daily Mail to wherever, they’re talking about this thing that supposedly exists and to some extent I question if there is some sort of intention of them to allow that discussion to continue when they can put a stop to it right now.”

So there you have it…more proof of the lengths this rag has gone to in order to falsify and sensationalize the truth. Now Michael is being accused based on a photo that 1: Isn’t child pornography by any legal definition, and that 2: He could not possibly have even owned at the time of the raid. 

Just What The Hell Is A “Respectable” Death, Anyway?

The Media-Fueled "Rivalry" Is Adding A Macabre Final Chapter.
The Media-Fueled “Rivalry” Is Adding A Macabre Final Chapter.

I was starting to feel, finally, that it was time to move on from the MJ/Prince-related topics, but with the toxicology reports from Prince’s autopsy finally in, and with the sense of closure that comes from having an official cause of death, I couldn’t help but feel compelled to comment on yet one more point of comparison between these two artists for which the media has seen fit to compare, whether fairly or not. I am talking, of course, about the matter of their deaths.

Propofol-Use

Fentanyl Citrate, a CLASS II Controlled Substance as classified by the Drug Enforcement Agency in the secure area of a local hospital Friday, July10, 2009. Joe Amon / The Denver Post (Photo By Joe Amon/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

At least, with the toxicology reports in, we now have some answers as to what killed Prince-acute fentanyl toxicity. We also know that  according to the coroner’s report, it was a self administered fatal dose. That puts to rest at least one question-we know now that all of the rumors of Prince having died of a drug related death are true, and we know the drug that was the culprit. Frankly, I never bought the story of the flu (yes, the flu can certainly be nasty, but let’s get real, the chances of it killing an otherwise healthy 57-year-old with access to the best in medical care just does not compute) but it still leaves a lot of puzzling and disturbing questions, of course, which I’m sure (just as we saw with Michael) will result in continued investigations, as well as  endless conspiracy theories, tabloid stories, and future books to be written. The fact that Prince died alone, with no apparent witnesses, will no doubt only further serve to deepen the mystery of “what really happened.”  And we still don’t know the full story of the circumstances that led him down this path. The only thing we can fully ascertain is that chronic pain-the debilitating chronic pain of a performer’s body that has come from years of wearing the body down through high intensity performances-and lack of adequate health care are the primary causes. (And yes, I am aware that this may sound contradictory to what I said earlier, but there is a vast difference between being able to afford adequate health care and actually having it). And by lack of adequate health care, I mean the lack of anyone with medical credentials who cares anything for this person’s well being other than as a never ending supply of cash. If looked at from that perspective, then yes, Michael and Prince at least died with that much in common. But I think we have to be very careful about lumping both of their deaths into the same tragic mold. Yes, we might say both came to very tragic ends, but the manner in which both died bear very striking differences that have to be considered. If we rely solely on media reports, however, we are never going to get that truth. You see, the media loves nothing better than stories of tragic, fallen superstars who ultimately do themselves in due to their own inability to cope. Just look at how the media continues to perpetuate the false story of Michael Jackson having died from a “prescription drug overdose” with every story written about him, despite having had full public access to the autopsy report for nearly seven years (and yes, even despite a fully televised trial leading to the conviction of his doctor Conrad Murray on the charge of manslaughter!).

Recent Typical Media Headline From ibtimes.com:

Like Michael Jackson, Prince Was Overprescribed Drugs By ‘Friendly’ Doctor: Report

 

The truth of Michael Jackson’s death has become, unfortunately, muddled by this inaccurate reporting. Remember Michael’s own words: “If a lie is repeated often enough, it becomes the truth.” The truth, as verified by his official autopsy report, is that Michael Jackson did not die from anything even remotely resembling a prescription drug overdose. His death was a result of acute propofol intoxication, administered by another’s hands (hence the reason why his death was officially ruled as a “homicide”). In this regard, we might argue that dying from propofol intoxication is still a drug-related death. But propofol is a surgical anesthetic; it is not a prescription drug. Part of the issue I have with this constant repetition of the erroneous “death from a prescription drug overdose” is that, first of all, it is patently false; secondly, it is lazy journalism, and third, it conjures for the uninformed reader a sense that Michael, like so many troubled celebrities before him, simply self administered his own end, whether willfully or accidentally, with a handful of sleeping pills. Or else they are left with the stereotypical image of another junkie shooting himself up with a fatal overdose.

Slowly but surely, the media is writing the narrative of his death that suits them.
Slowly but surely, the media is writing the narrative of his death that suits them.

To be sure, many celebrity deaths have occurred just that way, and it is no less tragic. But what I find most disturbing in the case of Michael Jackson is the media’s determination to write the narrative of Michael’s death in the manner that suits them, while blatantly ignoring all readily available evidence that either contradicts the narrative or makes it a lot more difficult to explain. It is certainly much more convenient-and less troublesome-to simply throw around the “death by prescription drug overdose” phrase than to do any actual research or to ask the tough questions. It irks me even more when such quotes are thrown into otherwise positive pieces about Michael’s art or humanitarianism. It bothers me because even when such pieces are sympathetic (as a lot of them are) it is still perpetuating false information. The danger in this is that, just as Michael prophesied, it is a falsification that is slowly becoming an accepted truth through sheer dent of repetition. When even well meaning writers and journalists are blindly repeating the “prescription drug overdose” lie (not because of malice but because they have simply been led to believe it is an accepted fact) we know it has become a problem-at the very least, it is a problem for those of us who care about truth and who care about justice. With another June 25th anniversary fast approaching, I am dreading what I know will be another onslaught of death anniversary “tribute” articles that will no doubt, once again, continue to perpetuate the “Jackson died from an overdose of prescription drugs” lie. Already, since Prince’s death in April, there has been no shortage of articles relating his death to Michael’s. I imagine that as June 25th approaches, we will be seeing a lot more of these memorial tributes that will no doubt laud their artistry on the one hand while, in the same breath, condemning them for what will be perceived as their shared inability to cope with the pressures of fame and addiction.

Allow me to back up a bit and talk about what prompted this post. On April 21, 2016, the day that Prince died, Nancy Grace hosted a call-in segment in which she was asked about the possibility of foul play in Prince’s death. Granted, it was the caller who invited the Michael Jackson comparison but it was Nancy Grace who chose to give the off-the-cuff and grossly misinformed answer that no, their deaths (like their lives) couldn’t be compared. Prince, she said, had died a “respectable death” and “wasn’t strung out on drugs; he didn’t need propofol to go to sleep.” She went on to speak of Prince as being “normal like us” (my reaction to that: since when?” and further insulted Michael’s work ethic by needlessly adding that “Prince went to work everyday” (never mind, I suppose, that Michael died while in the midst of a grueling rehearsal schedule). She also made a point of saying that Prince was someone who had remained “in control” of his life.  Actually, I would agree with that statement but for reasons quite different than hers.

I know that I am probably going to get an onslaught of comments about how we shouldn’t get worked up over anything Nancy Grace says, and that her opinions are basically worthless. But all the same, the comments are troublesome because they serve as a microcosm for the media in general and for the prevailing attitudes and double standards in reporting on Michael Jackson’s life or death. It also troubles me because this was the same woman who covered the Murray trial extensively for HLN and who knows the in’s and out’s of all the ugly information that surfaced in that trial; the same woman who went on nightly tirades against Conrad Murray for leaving Michael to die, as she put it, “surrounded by his own urine.” Her rants then were all in favor of Murray’s conviction, and Michael was the victim whose life had been taken. Now, suddenly, three years later,  she seems to have conveniently forgotten all of that, and it’s back to Michael’s death as an orchestrated will of his own inherently weak character.

Vitriolic (But Truthful!) Response to Nancy Grace’s Comments From a Prince Fan

Well, it wasn’t even within twenty-four hours of Nancy Grace’s tirade when the reports began to leak that Prince’s death was being investigated as a possible drug overdose (among many other crazy rumors that quickly spread throughout the media and tabloids). I bided my time, however, determined not to prematurely jump on that wagon until the official toxicology reports were in. Now that they are, I have to ask-is Nancy Grace eating another crow sandwich? And does it taste as nasty as the one she had to swallow on June 13th, 2005?

Don’t get me wrong, Prince’s death was a terrible tragedy. So was Michael’s. Any death, we might argue, is tragic unless, maybe, for the people who get to make it past ninety and who expire peacefully in bed surrounded by family. My real issue-and motivation for writing this piece-is that when it comes to the celebrity world and untimely deaths, it seems ludicrous to somehow hold up one celebrity’s manner of death as superior to another’s. And of all the “MJ vs. Prince” points of comparison-some fun, some intriguing, some ridiculous and some just inane-this comparison is probably one that has to rank among the most disturbing. It only goes to show that even when it comes to the manner in which a celebrity exits this life, Michael is still somehow held to an unfair double standard. Prince certainly didn’t die anymore or less of a “respectable” death than Michael Jackson, and depending on one’s view of these things, there were certainly many commanalities as well as important differences.  In this post, I would like to look at some of those important differences, and why their deaths cannot be simply lumped into the same category. But I will also examine those important commonalities, as well, which I do think must serve as a vital warning of what is happening in the medical profession in regards to celebrity care.

First of all, we have to keep in mind that we still do not have all of the facts yet about Prince’s death. Many media outlets have been falsely reporting that Prince’s official autopsy report has been released. It hasn’t. We still do not have a full autopsy report, nor the toxicology report. What has been released to the media is simply a coroner medical report press release, and that press release only states some very basic information. It does not go into the full clinical details of the autopsy procedure or its findings. So it is not a lot to go on, actually. But for the time being it is all we have. And based on that information, we  at least know the official cause of death as well as the official coroner ruling-accidental (a key component I will be examining).

However, Michael Jackson’s full autopsy report has been public record for some time, as well as his full toxicology report, and those documents are a key component for looking at important differences in how he and Prince died, and why they died. While much of this information is going to be old news to MJ fans, it bears repeating here due to the media’s reluctance to discuss the real facts of Michael’s death. That reluctance has continued to perpetuate myths that are only growing-rather than diminishing-with every passing year, especially given the media’s refusal to treat with any degree of seriousness the official coroner ruling of “homicide” (let alone the fact that prosecutor David Walgreen had lobbied hard to get a charge of second degree murder against Conrad Murray, rather than manslaughter).

But let’s look at what we have, and what we do know.

Michael Jackson Coroner Medical Report:

michael autopsy3

Prince Coroner Medical Report:

prince_autopsy_report

As these two official documents show, their manner of deaths were completely different, and rendered under completely different circumstances. The only similarity is that both died from some form of chemical toxicity. But Prince’s death was ruled to be caused by a self-administered fatal dose of fentanyl, a powerful  opioid whose potency is roughly equivalent to heroin, and in fact, is often mixed with heroin or sold as a heroin substitute.  The coroner ruling of the death was accidental. If we rule out all of the various theories of suicide and murder (although I don’t think those can ever be ruled out completely) this means that Prince, acting of his own free will, chose to administer the drug that ended his life. He probably didn’t mean to die (though I have to admit, I do find many of the details around his death a bit odd, such as the all black clothing and being found in the elevator: that could have only been intentional or else one of the greatest coincidences among pop star deaths) but the end result was the same.

Now let’s look at what Michael Jackson’s coroner medical report reveals. The cause of death is listed as ” acute propofol intoxication.” Propofol, usually marketed under the brand name of Diprivan, is not an opioid but a surgical anesthetic. It can, of course, mimic some of the effects of an opioid, but its general purpose is to render unconsciousness, not euphoria. And unlike fentanyl, it is seldom used for recreational purposes (as Wikipedia reports, largely because of the monitoring that is required to use the drug safely). In the small percentage of cases where the drug  has been known to be used recreationally, it has mostly been by-surprise, surprise!- those in the medical profession, whose work allows them easy access to the drug. Obviously, for the casual drug user, even if the effects of injecting propofol were worth the risks, the sheer unavailability of propofol outside of a hospital setting makes it an unlikely choice for simply “getting high.” It is not, in other words, to be confused with painkiller opioids or prescription meds that can be easily obtained with a prescription (legit or otherwise). This brings us to the second important difference between how Michael and Prince died.

Michael’s death was ruled as a “homicide,” meaning he did not die by his own hand-an important distinction. The medical report clearly spells out: “Intravenous injection by another.” And although Murray’s defense tried to make the argument that Michael had self injected (among many conflicting and confusing theories they desperately offered up at trial) the report clarified exactly why and how the ruling of “homicide,” rather than “accidental,” was justified. Indeed, it is naive to think that the medical and coroner professionals who were putting this report together would not have considered the possibility of a self administered injection. Thus, considerable space was dedicated in the report to explaining the reasons why the determination of of a homicide ruling was appropriate, and why the idea of a self administered injection was all but impossible:

michael autopsy 7 standard of care

 

michael autopsy 6 standard of care

It was this official ruling which paved the way for Michael’s death being investigated as a homicide, eventually resulting in the conviction of Conrad Murray.

But what about the so-called “benzodiazepine effect?” Would that not justify the claims of a “prescription drug overdose” death? Not exactly. The report clearly states that the benzodiazepines detected were not direct causes of death, and are consistent with the reports of what Murray had given him that night. Even further revealing is the toxicology report. Of all the chemical substances that were tested for, only six came back positive (discounting Lidocaine, which is simply a drug used to prepare the area of injection for propofol, and is routine procedure for its administration, especially for patients with smaller veins who are exceptionally sensitive to pain-as Michael reportedly was). If we discount propofol-the known direct cause of death, the Lidocaine (standard procedure) and Ephedrine (generally only used as a mild stimulant-Michael had died as a direct result of cardiac and respiratory depression, so we can rule that out)) this leaves only the drugs we already know, via Murray’s statement, that were administered to Michael that night by his hand, and most of those, including midazolam, are also part of routine procedure in conjunction with the administering of propofol:

michael toxicology2

 

But what about those who will argue that Murray was merely abiding by Michael’s wishes? If I have heard that argument-“If it hadn’t been Murray, it would have been some other doctor”-once, I have heard it a million times. For Conrad Murray, it remains his personal mantra; indeed, his entire defense was built on it. He has already given a media interview to Inside Edition  since Prince’s death, claiming that “Prince’s doctor will need  to get  a good attorney” (why the media even continues to give this man a platform is beyond me, but that is an old argument I have already beaten in many previous posts).

Why Does The Media Continue To Give This Convicted Killer A Platform?
Why Does The Media Continue To Give This Convicted Killer A Platform?

This is precisely why the Michael Jackson death case remains so muddled-and it is the loophole through which the media continues to justify its relentless insistence on lumping his death with other similar celebrity self-administered overdose deaths (Prince’s included). But even if we grant that Murray wasn’t the first doctor to introduce to Michael the idea of using propofol as a sleep aid, we still have to consider the peculiarities of this particular case. During the AEG trial, it was revealed that Murray had been administering this “treatment” to Michael on a nightly basis for over two months, an unprecedented experiment in the human body’s tolerance for this drug, and which had resulted according to expert witness  testimony during the trial as a kind of slow, systematic poisoning. Whether it was intentional or not is beside the point.  However one looks at it, the end result was the same-Michael had died as a direct result of his treatment at another’s hands. Any reasonable person would see this goes well beyond the more typical scenario of a doctor (or many doctors) whose biggest culpability is writing excessive prescriptions for their celebrity patients. We could argue, certainly, that those doctors are still culpable for those deaths, but it is a far more distant culpability than the direct actions of a physician who takes his patient’s life with his own hands, and as a direct result of his own actions. One can argue that the patient still makes a conscious choice when they decide to take the prescribed pills, especially in excessive dosage. In Michael’s unique case, the drugs were being directly administered by a doctor who certainly should have known better, and who had an obligation according to the Hippocratic oath to look out for the well being of his patient (regardless of how much money he was receiving, or what the patient may want).

But we also cannot afford to completely dismiss the similarities of their deaths. Both the untimely deaths of Michael and Prince are part of the new wave of musician deaths that have resulted-not from recreational drug overdoses as was common in years past-but as a result of prescription drugs and/or as a direct result of physician malpractice and greed. From an Inquisitor article on the rise of celebrity prescription overdoses (yes, again, another article that lumps the death of Michael Jackson in with all the other “celebrity prescription overdose deaths, but bear with me-this part of the article is worth quoting):

The Perfect Storm

A “perfect storm” is defined as a rare combination of events or circumstances that converge to create an unusually bad situation. In the case of these celebrities, in pretty much every single case, their perfect storm consisted of the same three attributes: access to doctors that would prescribe them anything; money to be able to afford it; yes-men surrounding them who didn’t have the courage to tell them they shouldn’t do it, and a lot of alone time, or a combination of the last two.

CNBC reported on a survey that was released by the Kaiser Family Foundation that found “44 percent of Americans said they personally know someone who has been addicted to prescription painkillers.” Most Americans believe the government is not doing enough to provide health care resources for the people who are addicted to prescription painkillers (66 percent), or heroin (62 percent).
Read more at http://www.inquisitr.com/3061420/celebrities-prescription-drugs-and-the-rise-in-overdose-deaths/#7eGJGcOk43614srE.99

 

What we do know of Prince’s situation is that he had actively sought help for his addiction, but that “help” arrived too late. His body was discovered by the son of the addiction specialist who had arrived into town that very morning to begin rehabilitation therapy. The media was also quick to pounce on another morbid fact after the medical report was released: The paparazzi shots taken of Prince as he left a local Walgreen’s pharmacy on Wednesday evening, April 20th, 2016, evidently show him wearing the same black clothes he would later be found in, and most likely carrying the bag containing the fatal contents.

The Mantra of The Paparazzi: "You Just Never Know When That Random Pic You Snapped Is Going To Prove Valuable"
The Mantra of The Paparazzi: “You Just Never Know When That Random Pic You Snapped Is Going To Prove Valuable”

While this post may have been inspired, to some extent, as a defense reaction to Nancy Grace’s comments and my continued irritation with the media’s continual insistence on ignoring the facts of Michael Jackson’s death, it is definitely not my intent to pass judgement on Prince for the way he died. Rather, I think we do owe it to ourselves to examine their commonalities. However we may add or subtract the details, the fact remains that we have lost two amazing music legends way too soon, and it is a crime against humanity if we don’t at least pause for a moment to ask ourselves why we lost both Michael Jackson and Prince before either could make it past their fifth decade. Both deaths occurred without reliable witnesses, compounding the mystery and speculation. The only ironic difference we might note is that if Prince hadn’t been left alone-if someone had been on the premises to witness the onset of a medical emergency-he would probably be alive today. On the other hand, if Michael had been alone (without Conrad Murray present) he would probably still be alive. Personally, I have my own theories about the circumstances of Michael’s death, as I related in this post last year, and conversely, I have found some of the circumstances surrounding Prince’s death to be disturbing and puzzling as well, but since the official accounts are all that we can go on without entering the realm of conspiracy theories, that is where I will leave it for now. Ultimately, the thing they shared most was pain-not necessarily emotional, though we can’t ignore that aspect of it-but the sheer physical pain of a dancer’s body that has worn itself down through years of demands. By far, one of the best (certainly one of the most profound and sympathetic) pieces to come out since Prince’s death was an article from Lorraine Berry titled “Prince Did Not Die From Pain Pills-He Died From Chronic Pain.” I would highly urge everyone to click on the link and read the article in its entirety. I can only quote a small excerpt here, but it is an excerpt that certainly highlights what I have said here:

Prince was not addicted to pain medication. Prince had a medical condition — chronic pain — which is criminally under-treated. It is also a medical problem that is more likely to be reacted to with stigma and condescension, even challenges about the patient’s moral character, or, if male, masculinity. Pain is still the condition that we treat by telling its sufferers to just “suck it up,” or “maintain a stiff upper lip,” or to stop acting like a “wuss.” And yet, when someone dies from complications of the disease — for that is what chronic pain is — we react with shock and pity and anger that the person died from a drug overdose. Some outlets make money off our confusion about overdose and medications and our fascination with drugs.

In another interesting excerpt, Berry notes the racial discrepancies in the medical profession for dealing with pain and very real medical issues:

Into the mix must surely be added the element of race. Prince was a black man. Strong racial disparities in how doctors and other medical staff respond to pain in the emergency room has been documented. For example, a recent study published in one of the most prestigious pediatrics journals studied the treatment of appendicitis, a condition that is often initially suspected after a “chandelier test.” In medical slang, if a doctor places her hand on the pain point in the lower abdomen affected by the pain of an inflamed appendix, the patient will try to jump up into the metaphoric chandelier on the ceiling above their head.
And yet, even here, black kids cannot get a break.

“Our findings suggest that there are racial disparities in opioid administration to children with appendicitis,” wrote one of the lead researchers, Dr. Monika Goyal.

“Our findings suggest that although clinicians may recognize pain equally across racial groups, they may be reacting to the pain differently by treating black patients with nonopioid analgesia, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, while treating white patients with opioid analgesia for similar pain.”
Similar studies have documented that African Americans’ chest pain is less likely to be diagnosed correctly as a heart attack. Other studies have attempted to measure whether African Americans have a “lower pain threshold.” Similar studies about why women’s pain is not taken seriously in emergency rooms have also been produced.

However, while treating Prince’s death with unusual insight and compassion, even Berry is guilty of trying to hold his death as somehow “above” Michael Jackson’s when she casually lumps Michael’s death in with Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston, Phillip Seymour-Hoffman, etc as typical celebrity “drug deaths” from heroin and other illegal substances. Ironically, she chastises the media for “pushing Prince toward that precipice over which we have pushed Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston Phillip Seymour-Hoffman, Michael Jackson, and every other artist who has died from drugs in the past century” while she, herself, contributes to the continued confusion and media misrepresentation of Michael Jackson’s death. In some ways, as much as I loved the rest of her article, it is merely another variation of a trope we have seen far too often, and far too disturbingly, in the last two months-the need to build Prince up by tearing Michael down. But when this even comes down to the manner of their deaths, I say something has to give.

First, we need to look at the facts. Second, we need to get past this societal tendency to judge-not only in judging other peoples’ pain, but in judging their tolerance for pain as well as the methods they may choose to cope. When I look at the deaths of both Michael and Prince, and the means by which both were taken out, one fact stands abundantly clear above all others-both died as a result of craving oblivion. That is what both fentanyl and propofol provide. I have long wondered (and granted this is just a personal theory of mine) if part of Michael’s attraction to propofol over other means of sleep aids may have been desire for the complete, dreamless state it provides (even dreams are a state of consciousness, and can be terrifying; propofol simply brings on a state of temporary non-existence). And we cannot begin to understand why either of them died until we are prepared to understand the root causes of their need to obliterate pain and to have oblivion from the demands of consciousness. In that regard, I think we have a long, long way to go-and until we get there, maybe it is best to refrain from our shallow judgments. How do we begin to judge what is a “respectable” death, especially in the celebrity world? I’m reminded of the comments which that old geezer Gene Simmons recently took heat for, when he likewise tried to claim that “David Bowie’s death was a tragedy; Prince’s death was just pathetic.” Aside from the fact that he was speaking out prematurely (Prince’s autopsy results weren’t even in at the time) there are simply too many fallacies in a statement like that. How do we know that even David Bowie’s liver cancer wasn’t a direct or indirect result of his lifestyle and his partying days? The answer is simply that we don’t.  Every death, ultimately, has its cause-even a so-called “respectable” death like cancer. In the end, it all comes down to a common factor-the lungs stop breathing, and the heart stops beating. That is all. Death shows no favoritism, either in who it claims or how, or why. True, some deaths are perhaps more avoidable than others, and that is the gauge by which we tend to judge them, especially for celebrities whose entire lives have already been an open book for our greedy consumption. In the case of Michael and Prince, we owe it to both of them to continue putting the pressure on unethical doctors who take advantage of the vulnerabilities of celebrity patients. Their deaths and the circumstances that led to them are indeed very different in many critical ways-certainly we can’t afford to overlook the crucial difference between a homicide case and a self-administered accidental overdose. But it is equally irresponsible to ignore their tragic similarities.

CfncmkLWEAEP4IwPerhaps, ultimately, we owe it to both of them to stop comparing their deaths, especially simply for the sake of exploitative sensationalism , or simply to add yet one more final, macabre chapter to the “Who Is Better” rivalry.prince-1-671x377

 

If we have to talk about why they died, we had better be prepared to look equally hard and critically at our own failings, and journalists, especially, must be held accountable for inaccurate reporting that tries to cast every premature celebrity death  in the same mold. If not, then we are better served by investing our energy and focus to where it matters most-cherishing their lives and celebrating the legacy they left.