I am not by any means excusing anything he is alleged to have done, but I will say that as a musical entertainer, he really did put his heart and soul into his music.
In the 80s and 90s, music videos were “the” mp3 player. They were our everything, because for years we’d been listening to the songs on the radio, but now we finally had a chance to “see” what the artist was thinking. At the time adults everywhere were marveling at the majick of music videos, but I didn’t fully understand it until today.
In the days of old Court Jesters were the famous celebrities of the day. The more diverse, and entertaining you were, the better chance you had of performing for richer and more successful people, the more that you rose in the hierarchy of the world, the better life you lived.
From Bards to Jesters, their job was solely to entertain the higher ruling class, and the better a job they did, the better they ate. Over time the court jester evolved into the modern day celebrity, and no celebrity on this planet has faced more scrutiny than Michael Jackson.
There are not a lot of celebrities who fascinate me, whose public version of their stories that I know by heart, but the Jackson family was so famous in my formative years, that they were making documentaries and every night on the news there was another story about what was happening in the Jackson household.
The name Jackson was remembered by my mouth much sooner than my own family name, and while that may be an insult to my family, it’s a reminder of how obsessed we have been with celebrity culture.
In the 1800s there were whole newspaper articles devoted to who was sleeping with who, and who was getting divorced, the drama of the wealthier richer class has been a drug to our human society for centuries.
The life and times of Michael Jackson were destined to be turbulent, not only because he was a celebrity, but because let’s be honest folks, he was the first Black celebrity, in about twenty years, who had inspired billions around the world.
He was the first male Black celebrity to create songs that went from America to Croatia, from Germany to Africa, and back, he was bigger than the Supremes, the Four Tops, and Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, and in their day they were as famous as you could get as a Black person.
But even then their lives were never as dissected as that of Michael Jackson and his family. To this day he is one of the most searched for celebrities on the planet, and that’s largely because much like the Beatles, Michael Jackson was absolutely fascinated to, and by, the world he lived in.
With all that pressure on his shoulders, Michael Jackson gave us some of the most cinematic music videos in the history of the craft, and he did so specifically because he knew that people were watching, and he wanted to impress them.
Jackson grew up in extreme poverty, and he lived with a lot of abuse, the amount of attention that he got at such a young age, and the fetishization of Black boys back then and even today, caused crippling mental health issues that he lived with until his death.
So much so that often times when he had to or wanted to go out in public, he would hire professional makeup artists to alter his skin tone and face, so that he could go out into the world undisturbed by fans.
There are many celebrities who have adopted this coping mechanism in their own lives, purely because for a little while they want to exist in a world that doesn’t know they exist, and I honestly can’t understand what it must be like to live under that kind of pressure and scrutiny.
I have about two thousand and five hundred or so followers, maybe more I haven’t checked in awhile, across all my social media platforms. One of my Budsistas remarked the other day that although I’ve made some mistakes recently, I am living openly with mental health issues, documenting this journey so that I can always go back to it, so that other people can see what I am going through.
When she said that, I thought “wow, someone gets it,” I realize that by living out loud, by choosing to put a spotlight on my mental health issues, I am taking on the responsibility of how other people are going to respond to me. I can’t choose how they respond, but I also can’t fully complain if they say something I don’t like.
At the end of the day if people have something to say about who I am, I kind of have to suck it up and do my best to do better if I can, or ignore their comments if I have to, but Michael Jackson was never really given that choice.
From his earliest years he was put in the spotlight without fully knowing what his life was going to be, and for every day that he existed after that first appearance on television, someone had something to say about who he was, or who they thought he should have been.
Every single mistake or alleged bad deed was judged with more harshness because Michael Jackson had slipped in front of us. He’d been vulnerable and admitted that he’d been to bed with young boys, “even though nothing sexual happened,” and all of a sudden for some he was the enemy, and for others he was just…”a little strange.”
No one will ever know the full truth about Michael Jackson, because he deliberately chose to hide as much as he could from the world, but I suspect that he had a learning disability, and I suspect that he was a soft soul, forced to be hard in a world that wanted him to be everything all at once.
Again I am not excusing his alleged behavior, I am however saying that with that part of his story left to the side for a moment, it must have been really hard to exist as “The Michael Jackson,” instead of Mike Jackson, normal human.
For those of you who are considering trying to get famous in this world for your talent, while I would never discourage you, I will say that you need to remember to know who you are, in spite of your social media capital.
Remember to take care of your heart, because once you step out on that stage the only thing the people in the audience are going to care about, is whether or not you can help distract them from whatever it is they feel the need to hide from for a moment.
And don’t even think about making a mistake or being human or vulnerable, because they will eat that shit up like sharks.
I don’t know if Michael Jackson really did or did not molest those kids, but what I do know is that the thought that he might has changed how I look at him as a man, as a human, I can recognize his talents, and admit that he was an incredible artist, but that doesn’t change the fact that he was also deeply flawed and that his behavior may have caused some serious damage in the world’s most vulnerable kinds of human.
I’m not okay with the allegations, and I wish that his alleged victims had the peace that they need so that they can move on, but I also hope that Michael Jackson is resting in peace…honestly…..he deserves to just rest now.
Sending all my love,
Devon J Hall