By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
The standard Afrocentric point of view interprets Michael Jackson as an example of racial self-hatred. Okay, that’s one view. But there’s another that links up with Michel Foucault’s notion that the power structure no longer has to police society because there are already “police” programmed by that society in the brain, which maintains a certain check on behavior. Who am I to criticize Michael Jackson’s surgeries as self-hating? That’s an essentialist point of view on race. I must respect him and allow him to make any decision he wants to make as to how he’s going to reconfigure his self or gender or what have you.
Those Hine photos will doubtless prove helpful to Jackson when he comes up for trial. “Melancholy and a little distant” is a perfect look for him on the stand. Foucault, however, is less helpful in such a setting — unless he wants to change his plea. As for power plays, they’ll be less in evidence. For while he’s on the lookout for “detectives,” presumably to supply the kind of muscle that the currently incarcerated Anthony Pellicano provided for him in the Jordie era, former “friends” are heading to the lifeboats, with the S.S. Michael Jackson taking on water faster than the Titanic. Producer Quincy Jones claimed his dealings with Jackson were “all about the music. I wasn’t involved in his personal life.” Liza Minnelli, whose soon-to-be-ex husband David Gest had Jackson serve as his best man at the couple’s lavish photo-op of a wedding last year, declined comment. And we’re not likely to hear much from such discarded Jackson playmates as Macaulay Culkin, Alfonso Ribeiro, Emmanuel Lewis and Corey Feldman. Like Jordie, they’re over the hill. And likely quite happy to be so.
“When a performer’s act for so long features random violence and strangled sexuality, how can that performer pose as a friend of a child?” asks humorist Harry Shearer, whose radio programLe Show has taken frequent swipes at Jackson’s pretensions. “Look at the ‘Smooth Criminal’ video, where he’s shown rescuing children from an evil drug lord against the background of a song about a woman being raped in her own apartment.
“The one thing that show-business people can do that public officials can’t quite do as well,” Shearer observes, “is dress themselves in the robes of humanitarianism. The difference is, Washington journalists, when they’re being lied to persistently enough, eventually smell a rat. In this town the more persistently and elaborately you lie to journalists, the more they buy it and the less curious they get.”
Needless to say, such sentiments would have to be amended in George W. Bush’s America — where being lied to is so common that rat en croûte has become the journalist’s spécialité de la maison, and a former bodybuilder famous for playing a robot in science-fiction films can be made governor of California.
“My first reaction to the whole thing with Michael was anger,” says comedian Paul Mooney, a onetime collaborator of comedian Richard Pryor’s and a veteran of the comedy circuit for decades, who has made frequent sport of the singer in his routine. “It seems they build up these black entertainers, and then they try to tear them down. But the thing is . . . I don’t know any black people like Michael Jackson.”
In February of 1993, when a Los Angeles Times reporter queried Mooney about his reaction to Jackson’s appearance onThe Oprah Winfrey Special, the comic’s reaction was brusque: “It won’t have any bearing on his career. It’s over; everybody knows it. He’s likeThe Phantom of the Opera. It all seemed so insincere.” But in the wake of the child-molestation allegations, the police search of Jackson’s property and the revelation that the authorities had pictures taken of the singer’s private parts (the better to corroborate the testimony of his 13-year-old accuser), Mooney’s attitude has altered — somewhat.
“I just don’t understand why he let that happen. For a black man there’s always the threat hanging over your head of going to jail. That don’t scare me. I’ve known that since I was a kid. But they searched through his house like it was some nigger’s apartment in Harlem! Look, you find a 13-year-old naked and tied up in my living room, and I still wouldn’t let you take pictures of my dick and my ass!
“He’s real concerned about what you think of him,” Mooney notes evenly. “He called me up one time about my talking about his wanting to make himself look white on Arsenio. I told him that I don’t tell him what songs to sing, so please don’t tell me what jokes to tell. He asked me if there was anything he could ‘do’ for me.”
Mooney pauses, rolling the recollection over in his mind. “I told him the next time I did Arsenio, I would talk about him. But the next time, I didn’t, and he sent me some Cristal champagne.” Mooney pauses again, having suddenly decided that the incident was less inconsequential than he first thought. “You know,” he says hotly, “the first thing I asked him was how he got my number and my address — that really pissed me off!”