Preface: His name was Michael, but then we knew that. His epithets include: the King of pop, the Sultan of surreal, and, supposedly, the Master of misunderstood.
When my favourite author of celebrity journeys wrote his odyssey of a biopic, I read it as soon as I knew, in 2005. I also read it again in 2009, when he died, and in 2011 when the biography was extended.
When I revisited it I remembered large sections, and realised, actually, I didn’t very much like the man. I hardened to someone who allowed his past to consume his future, his relationships and his general stability.
This year I got around to discovering my article I did in 2009, about how Michael Jackson was the perfect psychological study. Since reading it, I realised that I was heavily biased and rewrote substantial sections. As seen below.
Looking to Jackson’s death & the subsequent media coverage of it, I view Michael’s life in two easy-to-demarcate psychological sections; namely repression, followed swiftly by regression. From the look of his media profile, it is relatively easy to separate the early years of Michael Jackson’s life as being repressed, from working with his father and his brothers to the bleaching, wild plastic surgery, sleepovers with people young enough to be his children. One can’t help but dig into his progressively stranger life, and with his continual profile available for public consumption, we have been unable for years to avert our greedy eyes from his unraveling car crash of a life, followed much later on by a car-crash of a career. The media as a pillar of our society can be a major factor in crystallising our opinions of a star like Michael, and boy did they have bait to work with.
There are at least two major images of Michael: the first as a predator; the second, as a fragile, misunderstood (the essential word) man whose love of childhood, purity and an adult-free existance. The first was crafted by the public’s perceptions over a number of years, the media and its mocking headlines, and, obviously as a direct result of the trials. The second has Jackson’s own stamp on it, from his appearance on Oprah opening up about his childhood, his own video recorded in the mid nineties refutting the allegations of his first trial for child molestation and his own voluntary appearance on the Martin Bashir documentary, Living with Michael Jackson.
These images are fundamentally bought back from childhood, not from a psychological perception, but Michael’s own answer to every fallacy that subsequently befall him. The childhood sacrificed to fame is an oft-told story from many celebrities though. Funny lady, Ruby Wax, once stated that the need for fame is a direct result of having an unfulfilling, unhappy childhood. But clearly, Michael had to become a star because it was a family business and one that had him at the helm. Michael finally broke away from the Jackson 5 after an album and ‘Victory tour,’ which started the major separation from Michael with the Jackson family, something that Michael never appeared too bothered about, under the circumstances of that childhood.
The story of childhood fame is one we know so well, and with Michael it was no different. Money did not bring happiness. He would always resent his career as being like an arranged marriage. Michael also never forgot the beatings endured by father Joseph: the world’s greatest taskmaster. The Jackson brood would eat, sleep and breathe dancing, singing and, very soon after, became the stars of Motown. Insular, sources say, Michael became obsessed with mother Katherine wanting to protect her from her husband, in a very Freudian way. But Katherine’s continuing ability to live with a man who hit her truly disgusted Michael and thereafter, he grew into a trapped, loveless environment. So much so it seems that Michael went out of his way to bypass the mother’s role when he had his own children. Michael, repressed by circumstance was not at all like his brothers. They all rather enjoyed their idol status – and famously traded it for sexual factors. Once the Jackson 5 disbanded, many couldn’t even remember the four other members of the group, especially poor, lonely Tito.
When it was evident Michael inherited his Dad’s nose, he grew to resent the patriarch more It also became a subject of great entertainment for the brothers when they teased Michael about ‘his big nose,’ he held that against him for many years.
Michael’s lonely childhood also became as well known as the lyrics to Thriller. He was isolated, so much so in fact that he found great vocal emphasis with a rat from a film by the name of Ben.
His hatred of his father and the frustration he felt for his mother led him into the arms of a small plethora of unsuitable female friends, Diana Ross, Liza Minnelli and the big cheese, Liz Taylor to name a few. With Michael going out of his way to tow a line away from his family, Michael thereafter became obsessed with helping others from unhappy or impoverished backgrounds, which coincidently turned out to be a great way to continually remind the world of his unhappy childhood whilst hanging out with children, a win-win situation for Mr. Jackson.
Jackson was perfectly honest with his emotions, in fact he grew to resent what normal people could do. They could be anonymous and they could have friends without the fear of being betrayed. Michael couldn’t, in fact he had to rely on agents and managers to control his life, which is something he grew to resent, hence why, towards the end of his life, he had managed to sack virtually all the people he had previously worked with at the height of his success. So let’s analyse the factors as to why the King of Pop, who had everything, regressed so badly. There’s one answer that keeps cropping up:
By coincidence, Michael’s nose was broken; so, naturally he had it fixed. This was the start of many rhinoplasties designed so his nose would literally form the polar opposite of his father. His previous nose with big nostrils was sliced to a bony muscle with plenty of skin cell matter miraculously hanging on his face. The chin, without any previous definition was ‘clefted,’ yet the eyebrows were feminized. The list continues. Why Michael continued though is anyone’s guess. This article is closest is deciphering what Michael had done: http://www.anomalies-unlimited.com/Jackson.html. (It’s a brilliant article, one I desperately wished I’d written.)
I am bad with placing the date on Michael’s progressive transformation, but I’ll say it occurred around 1980 onwards. This continual progression away from the father was a clear attempt to further demonstrate his disdain from his sadistic father. What’s technically pretty amazing is that in the early years, this seemed a minor issue. With Thriller’s legendary sales, maybe people were too engrossed in his songs to make a huge deal about his skin. But Michael was living off the wall and surviving on the bleach. People weren’t blind for too long though, they noticed and condemned. Nevertheless, I have long praised the NAACP and Soul Train awards for not looking into Michael’s skin colour when awarding him many of his major awards. Luckily for these two benevolent music events, it genuinely didn’t matter if Michael were black or white to scoop the stash for his musical magic.
Originally Michael made supposed improvements, seemingly to look like his pseudo-mother Diana (Ross.) But if bleaching, plastic surgery and the later wearing of women’s clothing wasn’t enough, Michael than began to raid La Toya’s own make up collection, specifically for bleached skin. Many say that Michael got eyeliner tattooed on his face, although I remember vividly an image in J. Randy’s biography. This image is of Michael and his new wife, Lisa-Marie being in a hotel room in darkness. Naturally, a fresh-face Lisa-Marie turned on the light, only for Michael Jackson, sans makeup to run and hide in the bathroom whilst he applied a fresh coat of makeup. There seems to be no real reason why Michael became obsessed with mascara, but judging by the previous image problems, we can safely assume Michael became obsessed with controlling his image to further separate himself with the family that taunted his big nose. It’s hard to know whether Michael really cared about his black identity, but it definitely came second to his obsessive vanity.
The victim was Michael’s greatest role. Beginning when Michael got asked about his childhood, Michael gradually turned any positive PR around when he continually begrudged his past and unhappy present. Michael’s career technically fizzled out around the late nineties. Within his last really successful new album, HIStory, Michael managed to launch an aggressive fight against the media, managed to emulate a personal image as a personal savior to the blighted in society, and still found time to drag up, and incorporate his childhood. Take a look at the opening lyrics to Scream alone:
I’m Tired of injustice
I’m Tired of the schemes
it’s kinda disgusting.
what does it mean damn it.
Kicking me down
I got to get up
As jacked as it sounds
The whole system sucks
Clearly, referring to the media, this song is entertaining because of its frankly ridiculous lyrics, and it’s only bettered by the opening verse of They Don’t Care About Us:
And They Don’t Care About Us:
Skin head, dead head
Everybody gone bad
In the suite, on the news
Everybody dog food
Bang bang, shot dead
Everybody’s gone mad
Breakdowns have never been so lucrative, evidently! The main problem with alienating the press for Michael was their role in helping cement Michael’s public image to the public. Whilst Michael became more difficult, he also wanted to project an image as a victim of his childhood, in much the same way that he also wanted to propel the image of a good loyal friend to many, through such songs as You Are Not Alone.
Childhood is basically just keeping the Peter Pan complex alive in Michael. The whole song is more sickly and saccharine than a sweet shop. The problem with these lyrics were that he was now 36, It just became a bit weird, why he wouldn’t grow up and accept that he was veering towards middle age:
Have you seen my Childhood?
I’m searching for that wonder in my youth
Like fantastical stories to share
The dreams I would dare, watch me fly…
Before you judge me, try hard to love me.
The painful youth I’ve had
Have you seen my Childhood…
One wonders why he never saw a therapist. Instead he seemed to find it much more cathartic to let it consume him.
Marrying Lisa-Marie Presley…
There were many reasons for why people were cynical about this marriage, noticeably for the public timing of the marriage, the person he married, the spontaneity of the marriage, the list goes on… This is however just another example of what Michael was turning into his mastermind subject: celebrity nepotism. Lisa-Marie’s dad was the King, who died when she was five. She had a weird childhood, he had a weird childhood. A marriage made in heaven, right? It didn’t last, but it did last for about twenty months, which is excellent for Michael and pretty good for Lisa-Marie. (Lisa-Marie later married Nicholas Cage, who probably would have been happier to have married Elvis, after all, he was his biggest fan. The marriage lasted ninety days.) This was the best way of entering Michael’s inner-circle. Other friends he had over the decades that came from celebrity backgrounds and involved a working childhood included Macullkay Culkin and Brooke Shields, along with his bestie, Liz Taylor, naturally. The problem with this marriage, and this odd assortment of friendships was very simple: for a man who entered adulthood fifteen years ago, having friends who he could discuss his calamitous childhood over and over again was not conducive, and further alienated him from normal adult life.
A Predator or Peter Pan?
Jackson regressed so much towards the end of his life that by 1993, nobody knew what to think, especially when La Toya was condemning him and Liz Taylor was defending him. Whilst the second trial looks like it was a bit of a joke – which was strung together with a major payout in mind – the first trial definitely is a tricky one to decipher. The factors that go against Michael from the first trial include the perfect description of Jackson’s genitalia (which would test anyone’s gag reflex) and the obvious payout of many million dollars. From the second trial there was Jesus juice and pornography. Either way, whatever one makes of that, it doesn’t help that Michael was entertaining sick children in his secluded range, Neverland. Many accused Michael of hunting for sick children to entice to his lair. It’s all a bit deep, that whole issue. One thing I can understand from a psychoanalytical view is that Michael was spending his life in Neverland envisioning himself as Peter Pan and delighted to see his zoo and theme park so well-used. It was well known Michael loved Disneyland and was happy to have his own version. For a number of years he could have tea parties with Liz Taylor where he could practiced his Marilyn voice and ask Liz frequent questions about the brutality of working as a contact player for MGM in the forties.
Yet Michael was the kid of all kids, so he seemed appropriate for him to have kids. A drug addict with a growing pendant for looking after other people’s children, this wasn’t necessarily a wise move at the time. Technically though, Michael wanted playmates 24-7 and it added great legitimacy to his cause to have children of his own, if he were going to babysit other people’s kids for free. This turned out to be the best way for Michael to tie up his unhappy childhood; to organically have a second with his own kids. It will divide many whether Michael’s relationship with children was loving or lecherous. I’ll leave it to you to decide…
Michael’s life had a great brevity of problems. His last batch included the fact that he had stopped taking a rational approach to money matters, probably thinking of his personal fortune as monopoly money. He also had an addiction to painkillers, and would frequently change both his religion and his home address which left his life a little crazy.
Hearing over the recent case, about whether Michael’s doctor killed him, the real question is actually whether Michael would have lived much longer had he survived. One thing for sure, his legacy has survived. The article, I referenced commenting on his bizarre surgery has some of the most brilliant comments. The best two of which I’ve posted below:
Im disgusted!! Especially at the Michael Jackson one. He did not i repeat not 4 the foolish and thick change his skin tone it isnt possible he DOES have Vitiligo and many people get it i have seen pictures of him without his makeup on and HE DOES have Vitiligo. Why would
he want 2 be white anyway!!!Especially as he released a song “Black or White’ It is the prejudice people like u who have the problem.
And the child Molestion case they never had any rel evidence 2 support it plus they have phonecalls of the boyts father distinctly saying “If all goes well we can ruin him and we’ll get millions out of it’ I know my Michael Stuff so maybe u beter get some facts right before u make assumptions!!!
Plus do not compare him with ‘Tranvestites” He is truelly the king of pop and wants 2 change the world but there are ppl like U who are 2 blinded by there own crap coming out of your mouths!!2 begin 2 see that Leave him alone!! He gets enough from the tabloids what are u destined 2 kill him off with your hate!!! thankyou 4 reading my email
I saw you Michael Jackson face page. I think you are sick and a complete jerk. Your site should shut down because you have no idea what its like to be him. I’m sorry that you fell for all that media Bull but thats your problem, while you worried about all that crap THAT ISNT true you miss some really good music. First of all who are you to say that?? How do you think it feels to be him? He was born a VERY talented African American child who worked his ass off since he was 4. He was born with an incredible voice but the dumb press said that he got shots to sound more famine. Then he was diagnosed with a disease that made him turn white….. he did not get surgery to turn white, however he did get his nose fixed but what would he look like if he didn’t? have you ever saw a white man with a black man’s nose? that’d look a little funny especially if your internationally known, so maybe you should shut down your site because about 20 million of his fans got the link to your dumb site that was a complete waste of time. Because you and you mini brain who believes star magazine should be shut off the Internet. So i suggest you shut it down! and until you don’t you will be gettin constant emails from me and all my fellow friends who happen to be Michael fans
P.S. get a life