So next in the blog series will involve several parts called Michael Jackson: Justice. I decided to call them Justice due to everyone’s complete misunderstanding of a man portrayed by the tabloid media as ‘Wacko Jacko’. Michael Jackson was a musical genius and a humanitarian – the King of Pop. He changed the music industry completely with hit song after hit song spanning several different genres and he was the first black artist to feature on MTV, such was the man’s power. He has donated over $350 million to charities and set up many hospitals across the globe. He is one of the most recognised people in the world at the top of his game. Therefore he was an easy target for the media.
So why do people call him a child molester, a weirdo, a man who changed his skin colour to gain the white audience? All untrue. So let’s start with the accusations of child molestation.
When I say he was an easy target – this man had millions if not billions at his peak and everyone wanted some of it. He could cancel a tour and still make millions from his music and other projects around the world. So this takes my to 1993 when he was accused of molesting a child, Jordan Chandler by the child’s father. Evan Chandler saw the opportunity to make a lot of money by suing Michael Jackson and was getting his son to testify at a trial. It immediately went public to the newspapers.
This backfired on Chandler as his son refused to lie by testifying and a phone conversation between him and his lawyer was leaked which contained proof that he was falsely accusing Jackson of child molestation, instead vying for every bit of money from him and destroying his career. Lawyer, Tom Sneddon ordered the singer to be strip searched – a man who would spend the next 12 years trying to put Michael away (see video for Ghosts where Sneddon is the portrayed as the mayor). The trial never went ahead. Instead Jackson’s lawyers and publication company paid an out-of-court settlement to Chandler to speed up the case, as he had several concerts coming up and they stood to lose millions if he couldn’t perform.
Suddenly everybody wanted to jump on the bandwagon. In 2003 a documentary ‘Living with Michael Jackson’ by tabloid journalist Martin Bashir was released. This documentary was supposed to give an insight to Jackson’s life and get rid of this ‘Wacko’ tag he had been portrayed as. However it was a mistake. Bashir shot the documentary with clever editing and cutting footage to make it look like Michael was sleeping with children. Children from the Make-A-Wish foundation whom he had invited along with their sponsors and parents to the Neverland ranch for a day out. It is obvious that something like this sells more than a documentary about someone’s life. This was to lead to more problems for Jackson.
Then several more cases of child abuse came in but were all thrown out until 2005 when Gavin Arvizo claimed the singer had sexually abused him. Jackson had to stand trial on ten counts including intoxicating a minor. It was discovered that the family’s claims also didn’t add up and the King of Pop was acquitted of all charges. However the damage to the star both mentally and physically was despairing for all to see. I don’t think he ever fully recovered from the 14 week trial. After several years hidden from the spotlight working on albums and spending more time with his family he announced a tour called This Is It in 2009 which would see him get away from it all.
Michael Jackson only ever meant well for children and adults alike. His parents were Jehovah’s witnesses and he was brought up to care for everyone. He established the Heal the World foundation for raising money and providing support to children in countries such as Haiti. He released songs such as Heal the World where all proceeds went to charity. He also co-wrote the song We are the World which raised money for famine-relief efforts in Ethiopia.
How can one man do so good yet be perceived to be so bad? It shows the power of the media over people even as big as Michael Jackson.
Next week in Part 2 I will be continuing the discussion on the media’s grave influence on people’s view of the King of Pop.