Tuesday, March 01, 2005
Step Right Up

I think I'm in trouble.

I'm not much of one for watching whatever "trial of the century" is currently airing -- I remember OJ but never paid much attention; I was indifferent to Gary Condit; I didn't give a toss about Kobe, nor a rat's ass about Scott Peterson; Robert Blake bored me to tears, and I couldn't care less about Phil Spector.

But I don't know if I'm strong enough to resist the temptation of a Michael Jackson trial. It's a convergence of lurid details and twisted nostalgia that I can't turn away from; my opinion is already formed, and that feeling of insight is what pulls you in.

It's all rooted in my childhood fandom of Michael -- "Thriller" hit when I was seven or eight, an age when I was most susceptible to its charms. I had a poster of Michael in a yellow sweater vest and diamond brooch on my wall; I made my parents take me to the Victory Tour in Houston for my 8th birthday; his music, along with Cyndi Lauper, was the first I ever owned and listened to. I remember a contest on Nickelodeon -- circa 1983 or so -- in which the prizes were all Michael-related: his hat from Billie Jean, his sequined glove, a jacket like the one from Thriller, and the most enticing prize of all: a trip to Neverland Ranch and a weekend with Michael. It's all pretty creepy when you look back on it now.

And discovering that the person you admired so when you were a child is most likely a kiddie-diddler -- well, there's something so late-20s angsty about the revelation, it all fits into the late Gen-X zeitgeist perfectly. Of course all our childhood heroes will turn out to be pedophiles, how else could it possibly end?

Yes, I think he did it. I have no right to judge, of course, but my gut insists that the guy is profoundly guilty. A few years ago I was involved in he production of a documentary on the priest child abuse scandal, and had to do a great deal of background research. I learned more about the psychology behind the sexual abuse of children than I ever wanted to know, but there is a defined psychology behind it, and Michael fits the pattern too perfectly. His whole life is designed to be appealing to children -- he even seems to perceive himself to be a child -- and that's the big red flag. It's totally fine for adults to like kids and enjoy making them happy, but it's not fine for them to identify with them that closely. And for fuck's sake, Michael, you don't sleep with strangers' children. Ever. Jesus.

I couldn't say about the current accuser -- they're made to sound pretty dodgy, and maybe they are. But Jackson's defense of himself also sounds too shrill, too affected. And as far as Jackson being pissed off that Martin Bashir for making a displeasing documentary about him -- that's just tough shit. Nobody made you sit there and hold a little boy's hand while you said that sharing a bed with kids was "beautiful" in front of a rolling camera... Martin Bashir didn't need to "make" Jackson look like a freak; he does quite a good job of that on his own.

Throw in the freakishness of his daily life and the way he fucked up his face, and you might as well park me in front of a carnival sideshow. Do I feel good about looking? No. But I still will, and we both know it.
9:45 AM ::
Amy :: permalink