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michael jackson and the chocolate factory
reflections through a broken mirror
by jason gilmore (@JasonGilmore77)
pop culture

Now you can laugh and criticize Michael Jackson if you wanna/
Woody Allen molested and married his stepdaughter/
The same press kickin' dirt on Michael's name/
Showed Woody and Soon-Yi at the playoff game/
Holding hands

-- Mos Def

Acknowledging the residence: So Cal -- incomplete without controversy -- where we went from the governor’s recall to Kobe’s freefall to Watts snowballs without so much as batting an eye, but tripping that yet another scandal has hit the newsstands.

Knowing that none of us is adequately qualified to serve as judge or jury since not one of us was there, but wondering, both directly and indirectly if there some sort of correlation between creativity and pedophilia:

Remembering R. Kelly -- late of Chocolate Factory resurrection -- whose videotaped exploits with teenage girls were more prevalent on high school playgrounds than textbooks. Remembering also, one Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland author, noted mathematician and photographer, who was also known for his personal collection of snapshots featuring young, naked girls. Recollecting Jerry Lee Lewis (biological) and Woody Allen (adopted) who married their teenage lovers, neglecting to be bothered by the fact that they were members of their family. Recalling Errol Flynn and Roman Polanski, cinema icons, whose love of adolescent girls derailed their freedom and reputations. Summoning Who guitarist Pete Townshend and Ferris Bueller’s principal, actor Jeffrey Jones, each of whom, metaphorically, were caught with the paraphernalia minus the drugs.

Questioning the DA’s intent in bringing forth these charges against Michael Jackson. He was, you may remember, the DA on the first case back in ’93, and was quite pissed that his client decided to settle out of court. When asked if he possessed a hidden agenda, he replied that this was more or less a coincidence, concluding that “it’s not like the Sheriff and I listen to that kind of music.” Observing that Michael has become the Peter Frampton of the 80s, an artist larger than life in his prime, but now spoken of so maliciously in musical circles that many will deny that they ever liked him in the first place. Like I bought all those Thriller albums by myself.

Inquiring why no one has asked Corey Feldman, Macaulay Culkin, Kieran Culkin or Emmanuel Lewis -- former child stars who hung out Michael back in the day -- their take on all of this. Understanding that if anyone bothered to, they would only hear that Michael was a perfect gentleman and a great friend and that no one wants to hear that. Finding it odd that out of all of the thousands of kids that have come in and out of Neverland, the only ones we’ve heard from are the ones that we’ve heard from. Assuming that if Michael was this major menace to the safety of children, that once one of them spoke up, many more would, like the lawsuits against Big Tobacco or the ongoing Catholic priest molestation debacle. Learning that pedophiles don’t traditionally molest three or four kids if they have access to thousands. Contemplating the link between controlling parents who push their children into show business in search of a payday and controlling parents who push their children into making false accusations in search of a payday.

Wondering if Kobe Bryant is like, “Woo wee, I’m glad these bastards are off MY back.” Him and Scott Peterson. And President Bush. Considering the irony that in the midst of Michael’s self-described “darkest hour,” Prince has just been inducted into the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame. Reminding everyone that Michael is already there, twice, for his solo career as well as his work with the Jackson Five. Missing the little boy who sang lead for that group. Pondering if Joe and Katherine would’ve let him spend the night at Neverland with the grown man that he became, in light of these current allegations.

Wading through a cesspool of a shattered past and a stagnant present, not mine, but Michael’s. Discerning that the childhood he seeks -- if he had received it -- would not have lasted as long as the time that he’s spent pursuing it. Hoping he’ll come to understand that it’s time to let go. Believing he’s too far detached from reality to come to that conclusion.

Observing both sides of the coin: Seeing the side with bloodthirsty vultures so eager to take him down that they could care less whether or not he’s actually guilty. Seeing also the other side, with starstruck idolators so enraptured by his considerable talent that they, too, could care less whether or not he’s actually guilty.

Praying for wisdom, truth and patience, again, not for myself this time, but for everyone involved in this situation, because it is a hopelessly sad affair. Feeling the human component to it all, that Michael is not a freak, nor is he Wacko Jacko, not even the King of Pop, not the guy who showed us the Moonwalk, but Katherine’s son. Dealing with the fact that just being Katherine’s son doesn’t sell newspapers.

Waiting to see what happens next. Thinking I already know.


Jason Gilmore is a film director, screenwriter, novelist and unrepentant Detroit Pistons fan. Track him down on Facebook.

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russ carr
12.5.03 @ 12:20a

OH! hee-hee-hee. You had me SO close, right up 'til the end when you said NOT A FREAK. Not so much Katherine's son as Joe's victim. Not caring one whit about the accusations that don't really matter outside of the arena and why is it they only seem to surface when he has a NEW album excuseme CD to promote. The way you make-a me feel? The kid is NOT my son and thank god for that.

Michael Jackson is not the little boy who sang "I'll Be There" and "A-B-C" when I danced to him at five years old. I don't care what planet he's living on. I don't care if he gets a fair trial. I don't care if it goes to trial. I don't have a lick of interest in the non-reality of it all.

And meanwhile there are scads of people out there, baiting and tempting and raping and destroying the children who could be my boy someday and we're expected to come screeching to a halt because this insignificant has-been, this walking skeleton, who has been a shell of a man held together only by what he plays the media for can still demand two hours of attention on CNN just to show his hands flipping cuffs over his ass?

No. I don't care. Seal him in his oxygen tent with Bubbles and his llamas and his peccadillos but leave the world outside. Michael, we've stopped caring because you've already turned your back on us. If you weren't who you were, your friends and family would already have intervened.

jack bradley
12.5.03 @ 4:34a

HEAR HEAR, RUSS!! (Well...except the bit about the llamas and the monkey. I see no reason to be mean to them.)

tracey kelley
12.5.03 @ 9:22a

Surprisingly, the new song isn't bad.

It is just painful. Painful because you would think someone at some point - Caulkin, Liz, who-ever-the-hell - would say, "Mike, babe, ya gotta build a reality house on Neverland, my friend." Because he so obviously does not currently live in it.

russ carr
12.5.03 @ 10:14a

Michael doesn't exactly surround himself with people known for their intimate grasp of reality, either. Do you really want him soliciting advice from Liz or Liza or Brando?

dathan wood
12.5.03 @ 11:28a

If people would just stop being such obsessed starfuckers this would be a non-issue. These parents who serve up their children to a known child molester with the hopes that little Johnny's tight cornhole will earn them a first class ticket on Mike's gravy train need to be sharing the cell right next door to his.

rachel levine
12.5.03 @ 8:35p

I wish I had a child so I could send him up to MJ and score me some money!

robert melos
12.5.03 @ 10:31p

For some reason I don't think he is guilty of the charges. I'm not a big MJ fan, but I don't think he did it. I think the parents either want to believe he did it, or are just flat out moneygrubbing liars.

As for living in reality, I have nothing against someone who doesn't choose to participate in a world of lying, backstabbing, deceit, and chicanery, terrorism, double-dealing, and violence perpetuated by politicians, lawyers, and media news hounds. I'm all for living in an non-reality. I think the obsessive plastic surgery is a bit much, but aside from that, if you've got the kind of money that allows you to step so far out of reality you're on Pluto, all the better for you.

jason gilmore
12.5.03 @ 10:54p

J. Randy Taraborelli's bio on Michael sheds some light on what Robert's talking about with his loose grip on reality. Namely that, growing up, Michael was a hypersensitive type who was never comfortable with sex or anything expressly "adult." Not to make excuses for him now because -- like, my article said -- he's a grown man now, dang near 50, but it does show that a lot of what he does are things that we just don't understand. Or are mad that we can't do. (i.e. "Why the hell does he get to hide at Neverland when I gotta go to this stupid job?")

Since a lot of people don't understand it, they criticize it. Michael saw some of the worst sides of human nature you can imagine at the age of eight. A lot of other people would "get away" too, if they could.

louise arnold
12.6.03 @ 9:30a

I think the whole angle of Micheal Jackson only getting this attention because of his high profile/high money is a bit double edged. MJ may only be accused of these things because of his money, but he sure as hell only gets away with it because of his money too. Imagine there was a guy in your neighbourhood who set up a playground in his garden, invited children inside to eat sweets and sleep in his bed? He would have the police round there in a flash, and parents would drive him out of that neighbourhood. He certainly wouldn't be allowed to adopt children. He certainly wouldn't get away with being an african american male, buying three white children, and then insisting they are his children and when someone argues the biological argument they are just "ignorant". Those poor children are going to have to grow up with an identity crisis beyond all proportions.

You can like MJ, you can loathe him, you can pity him, make excuses, you can feel him a victim of circumstances, but really he is a grown man, and if refuses help and only surrounds himself with sycophantics that refuse to condemn his behaviour then he can't just keep claiming innocence. Regardless of motive, what he does to those children is grooming, be that his end intent or not, it is inherently unhealthy to encourage boys of that age into that kind of relationship with a grown man, and this is assuming there is no abuse, just that the relationship is everything MJ says it is. If you make it acceptible for your child to hold hands and sleep in a bed with a fully grown man, what the hell message is that sending for the future? I think it's incredibly inappropriate for a twelve year old boy to be holding hands with his father like that and sleeping in the same bed as him, let alone someone else.

I'm writing all this assuming MJ is innocent of these charges, but I must say I find him loathsome and vile.

robert melos
12.6.03 @ 3:21p

Amazing as it may seem, there are a lot stranger people in the world than MJ. He just has the money and foolishly continued to make himself accessible to the public. He basically should Howard Hughes'ed long ago.

Sure he obviously has issues with reality, and feels more comfortable with children than with adults, and his best friends all have reserved rooms at the Betty Ford Clinic, but take away the money and the fame, and look at him as if he were a guy down the block, and you'll see the guy down the block has best friends who are in and out of county rehab programs, and maybe he is taking children in through the state forster care system.

The only difference is, if he didn't have money I seriously doubt anyone would be charging him with anything. And if he didn't have money, people wouldn't be pushing for him to live in their reality.

Reality isn't the same for everyone, and he is happy in his. Not everyone is happy, and not everyone sees the world as a welcoming place to be. His biggest mistake was every trusting anyone. One may be the loneliest number, but in the world he lives in, it would've been the safest.

louise arnold
12.8.03 @ 6:01a

I don't doubt there are people in the world stranger than MJ. I'd have exactly the same level of contempt for them as I do for him. If the man on the street was acting in this way (obviously in a financially scaled down way) I'd be aghast if he'd be able to get away with it. Thousands of children sleeping in your bed? Holding your hand? (An act far different in a six year to a twelve year old). If he didn't have the money, people would have charged him a long time ago. What's eccentric in a multi millionaire is just plain perverse in the man on the corner.

These aren't children from a broken home he's fostering out of compassion, these are children he's *bought* to fulfill a fantasy. His biggest mistake wasn't trusting anyone, his biggest mistake is having the arrogance to assume that he can over ride all social conventions and norms just because he's Micheal Jackson. Fine, his reality isn't everyone elses, but he shouldn't subvert these children's sense of reality and appropriate boundaries just to please himself.

andre cathey
12.10.03 @ 10:10p

Couple of points....#1...funny how these allegations come out just as the "victim" becomes deathly ill....but its not about the money....I'm sure his family has plenty of it to pay for all the medical expenses....#2...based on some of the comments that I have read, I feel that alot of people kind of watch from the sidelines wishing for bad things to happen to certain people, without regard to the facts of the situation. But its funny how people can try to write this man off as a freak and convict him without knowing what really happened, and at the same time defend police officers who frequently get caught on tape assaulting black men....but I guess thats different.

robert melos
12.10.03 @ 11:06p

Louise, I agree that money is a large part of what sets MJ above the average man on the street. As for holding hands of a child, or another adult, I see nothing wrong with it, if he wants to hold hands. Personally I distance myself from children as much as possible as I really don't like them, or trust them.

The latest news I heard on this case seems to be that the charges he is facing at the moment were investigated by DYFS (Division Of Youth and Family Services) months ago, when the child was seen in a video from a BBC television program on MJ, and his school teachers raised concern over his possibly being molested by MJ. At that time the charges were dismissed as unfounded. The child at that time stated nothing happened, and MJ slept on the floor while the children slept in the bed. Suddenly the child changed his statement after undergoing psychotherapy.

I should point out, I don't like or dislike MJ. He's just another person who exists in the world, and whom the media seem to gravitate toward. Today I heard Gwyneth Paltrow (sp?) was being criticized for wearing spiked heels while she is pregnant. The media is fickle.

As for cops beating anyone at all, I always side with the person being beaten. I trust police as much as I trust children.

dathan wood
12.11.03 @ 3:16p

It's not about siding with the cops (Fajitagate anyone? That was some white men getting beaten by cops over a bag of take out food in case you aren't aware), it's about siding with the children. I am a father and there is no way no how not ever that my child will be sharing a bed with a grown man. It's not about MJ being a freak or being famous or even being a molester. He is a grown man sharing a bed with small boys and there is something very unsettling about that. It may be all innocent but I doubt it. Would you feel OK letting your significant other or spouse share a bed with another adult? "Sure Honey, I know your company is trying to save money, go ahead and share a bed with Bob from accounting on your business trip." Not freaking likely! And why not? You trust them right? But there's something wrong with that scenario isn't there?

andre cathey
12.11.03 @ 7:32p

Hell no...my children would not share a bed with an adult...but why isn't anyone asking what the hell are these childrens parents thinking about? Assuming Michael is completely naive and doesnt know any better...the childrens parents definitely know better...and because of that...they share responsibility in putting the children in that position. The bottom line to me is at the end of the day...I DONT KNOW WHAT HAPPENED...so I cant pass judgement on that man, and nobody else should either. Regardless of what happens in the situation legally, he will deal with the situation with GOD if he really did anything.

robert melos
12.11.03 @ 10:27p

Dathan, I would trust my significant other to share a bed with another person and trust them to be honest with me about what happened or didn't happen. Of course that would be an adult, whose actions I have no responsibility for. I understand there are religions and customs where entire families share a communal bed. Personally I won't share a bed with anyone. I don't like to share, and I hog the covers.

As for children sharing a bed with adults, that's up to the parents. If these parents are so concerned about the welfare of their children, exactly where were they when this was supposedly going on?

Andre, what if there is no God? What if the only one we have to answer to in life or death is ourselves?

Frankly, I have no children so I don't really care one bit about Michael Jackson. In fact, I was pretty annoyed by the media coverage of "the event," AKA his arrest. The child molester down the block, the one without the money or fame, was hauled off to jail without a fanfare.

MJ's brother Germaine was heard on CNN cursing (unbleeped if you were lucky enough to catch the live showing) and asserting his brother's arrest was racially motivated. I don't think race played as much of a part as celebrity, and the entire thing was media driven.

My beliefs may not be shared by all of society, but they are my beliefs. Michael Jackson's lifestyle and beliefs are most certainly not shared by all of society, but he has a right to them. I don't particularly think he's all that entertaining, but I would defend his right to be who he is, as he is, because he lives in a country based on freedom.

If he truly did molest a child, and the parents aren't willing to sell their kid down the river for a few million bucks, I believe the truth will out. I'm guessing money will win out, as it usually does in these cases.

dathan wood
12.12.03 @ 2:25p

If a regular citizen is accused of molestation, he's done. A fair trial and being proven innocent won't matter, he'll lose his job, his house, his wife... MJ gets accused, writes a big fat check, and the kids just keep pouring into Neverland. Was he ever proven innocent? Any parent who would pimp their child to MJ should be tossing salad. No check is big enough to pay for the suffering these kids will go through later. You might ask, "Well, what if he is innocent?" Wrong question. What if he's not? That's the only question that matters. No parent should love their child so little as to be willing to take that chance.

robert melos
12.12.03 @ 4:43p

Dathan, the law in this country, contrary to popular opinion, is innocent until proven guilty. He shouldn't have to prove his innocence. The DA should prove his guilt.

As for parents pimping out their children, that happns quite a lot in the entertainment industry, if we are to believe all the TV movies about child stars.

The fact Jackson has made this into a media show of sorts, and the fact the media is so willing to follow along, shows the world something about the mind set of the public.

If you're really popular you command the attention. Whatever happened to Robert Blake?

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