There are some subjects it is unwise to disagree with popular opinion about. Politics, religion, and Michael Jackson are on that list of taboo subjects. However; I have something of a reputation for rushing in where some folks fear to tread. And, I feel a certain obligation to defend my friend, Michael.
In private conversations with music industry friends I have expressed my opinions concerning Michael’s legal problems. Some people have said I am defending “unacceptable behavior.” I disagree and point out he was never convicted. I maintain and defend my opinion.
My relationship with Michael began as business based. I promoted two of his albums. “Thriller” has been the largest selling album of all time for many years. I predict it will continue selling almost unbelievable numbers of copies for many years to come. I promoted both, “Thriller” and “Bad.”
I began our relationship with large amounts of respect and admiration for his talent, showmanship, dedication to his fans, and his innate knowledge of the entertainment industry. His business savvy greatly exceeded his age. As time went on, I developed both a strong fondness for him and a lot of concern for his total inability to recognize envy, greed, and uncontrolled ambition in other people.
Michael grew up in a surreal fairy tale world. When he was only five years old, he was touring with The Jackson Five. He quickly became a child star. Everything he could dream of except a normal childhood was there for him. He was loved and pampered by everyone around him. He saw hundreds of millions of adoring fans populating his entire universe. He could do no wrong. No harm could befall him. Goodness and mercy surrounded him.
As he grew older, he applied his business skills and became one of the world’s super wealthy. Older more experienced people advised him against paying $600 million for the publishing rights to the early Beetles music catalog. Nobody had ever paid nearly as much for publishing rights. He followed his gut and went against their advice. It has proven to be a very astute business move. His many decisions concerning the composition, production, presentation, and promotion of “Thriller” were equally astute.
His downfall and early death sprang from that same fairy tale life. He had more than enough money to buy anything he could imagine. There was nobody for him to envy. He had it all. He was by nature a truly considerate and compassionate person. He had achieved his amazing success without harming anyone. He had lived in a world that was sheltered and isolated from mean and angry people.
The negative emotions of fear, envy, greed, and uncontrolled ambitions were alien concepts to him. He had never been the carrier or victim of such thoughts and feelings. He understood the meaning of those concepts the same way most people understand war. They were bad things that happened far away to people he did not know. They existed in a world he had never been exposed to.
I tried to explain bad people to him. I told him there are two ways to have the tallest tree in town. Loving people do so, by planting, nurturing, and caring for their trees. Maladjusted, angry, envious, blindly ambitious, and bitter people do so by cutting down everyone else’s tall trees. He just shot me that famous smile, rolled his eyes, and said, “You should have more faith in our fellow man.”
Michael loved people. He especially loved children. He enjoyed being around children. It provided a vicarious way of experiencing the “normal” childhood he never experienced. Children shared an innocence his fairy tale life had left intact within him. Other adults had lost that innocence. The advice I offered proved my own fall from grace. I and those who offered similar warnings were cynical and unable to see all the love and beauty surrounding him and each of us.
Michael’s first exposure to the evil side of people was the original accusation of child molestation. In his mind, it was a very rare aberration. It was not indicative of people in general. He adopted the Christly response of, “Forgive them, Father. They know not what they do.” He responded to the parents’ greed with loving kindness. He gave them a few million dollars. Perhaps; it would allow them to grow, be happy, and lay down their ways of sin. If nothing else; it would teach them how insignificant a few million dollars were.
I tried to warn him the out of court settlement marked him as an easy target for similar people. I said other greedy parents would be willing to use their children to extort greater amounts. He had not lost his faith in love and goodness. The fact two poor misguided parents had given in to greed did not mean others would behave in a similar fashion.
I pointed out the long established career paths of many politicians. The successful prosecution of celebrities has taken many unscrupulous blindly ambitious politicians into higher more powerful offices. Power hunger has driven bad people to do anything imaginable to acquire and abuse power over ever increasing numbers of regular people. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Prosecuting attorneys have near absolute power.
Of course; it did happen again. Another set of parents was willing to rob their child of innocence. Another power hungry prosecutor viciously used Michael in a bid for higher office. The international broadcast news media used his misfortune to raise audience ratings. They joined in the effort to smear what was left of his reputation. They became foul smelling vultures feasting on the bleeding flesh of a magnificent and graceful antelope.
Michael won the battle, but lost his faith in the fundamental goodness of humanity. He left the country of his birth. He changed his entire life. He ran to avoid the next accusation and trial. He knew it would come, if he remained here. This country he loved so much was no longer safe. He knew would be tormented by a long string of prosecuting attorneys. Each seeking to be the one who put that “menace to society” behind bars.
I fully expected the international media report his death was linked to drug abuse. It was linked. However; I know the true cause of his death. My friend died from a broken heart. He could not live in the vicious greedy world he was immersed in. The exposure to greed, envy, and run away ambition came too late in life. He never had a chance to develop the immunity most of us develop at a much younger age.
His death has deprived our world of a great talent, a truly kind and generous person, and the most innocent adult I have ever known. I hope the parents and prosecutors who did this to us find themselves in the worse part of Dante’s Inferno.
As a closing comment I am compelled to say, “Ask not for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.”