Article by Pablo Fernández from Barcelona on Friday, May 15th 2020 ·.·★ Reading takes 19 minutes or 3758 words.
Her mother was named Katherine Jackson and was born in Alabama. Despite belonging to a long line of cotton pickers she grew up as an unusual baptist listening country music and watching movies. The sexual scandals of some Baptist pastors plunged her into the arms of that cult named Jehovah′s Witness in 1965. When their family′s last name was topping the charts worldwide, Michael was one of the few children who were still living next to their mother and doing these proselytizing tasks. He made exactly one or two hours of visits twice a week according to Katherine.
Karen Faye, who was responsible for the makeup of Michael Jackson at the time, often saw sinister uniformed figures regularly appearing and disappearing in the back seats during the rehearsals. She did not know it then but discovered it later. What those gentlemen did was take notes, documenting reports on how indecent their waist movements were. They were in front of one of the most innovative and creative dancers over the planet Earth, but they only saw the movement of their waist because as the Bible says “for the unclean, all things are unclean”!
Michael Jackson explored for that reason new ways of dancing with robotic movements. He mixed techniques from dancers like James Brown, Fred Astaire or Charles Chaplin to discover that nothing was enough in their eyes: ′In fact we don′t even allow members to work in show business ′- they alleged in their official statement. In 1987, he finally had to choose between his family and the entertainment world moving forward with his particular deep guilt feelings throughout his life. The most important of all the professionals in the world of entertainment during the 80′s, kept until the end of his days a deep awareness of being submitted to the will of God. When compared to others, however, he always saw himself as David Lynch′s Elephant Man.
His father was named Joseph Jackson, had blood from the Choctaw tribe, Lutheran education and a fondness for boxing - at least until he understood that forming music groups was more profitable than boxing. Katherine gave him enough childrens to form a soccer team with them. When he was satisfied enough, of course, he abandoned her to live with another woman. The differences between his parents and how they pulled Michael Jackson in opposite directions were key in the artist′s character formation. Michael wasn′t in the first rehearsals of the Jackson 5 for being too young but when his father discovered the little Michael′s obvious talent, he used it to lash out at the rest of his young and old brothers.
Stopping being a frightened and shy 8-year-old boy, to become a precise amusement machine required a very hard school. Michael Jackson′s talent combined with an exceptional overstraining was remarkable even before the Jackson 5 started to share the stage with the greats of black music of the moment such as Temptations, Diana Ross or Stevie Wonder. Those who knew him then, speak of a truly diligent and meticulous child in his interest in every little detail of the compositions, the dance or the music industry.
Jackson 5 would end up becoming a social phenomenon in the United States of America but obviously it was not the kids group that they pretend to be in the media. It is true that the musicians were kids or teenagers, however their father kept them on tour through all kinds of stages including the ones at the nightclubs and streeptes. The young Michael Jackson then attended, in the front row, the most sordid of night shows and often pretending to be asleep while being forced to share the room with the companions of his older brothers or his own father.
′Every day I spend time studying the Bible, no matter where I am′, said Michael Jackson in an interview for the magazine Black Stars in 1976. ′The teachings of the Bible have brought a new dimension to my life... somehow it makes me complete′, he added. Joseph Jackson continually laughed about his son′s physical appearance and beat him up for whatever reason. He beat all his sons but especially Michael according to his brothers. The sole presence or memory of his father terrified him and affected his health. Nightmares and insomnia followed Michael Jackson all his life. Even having a completely changed physical appearance as an adult, even having two cosmetic surgeries, he was still unable to look at himself with satisfaction in a mirror.
Quincy Delight Jones Jr. was born on March 14, 1933. He grew up in a southern Chicago suburb, surrounded by the mob, violence and extreme poverty. Her mother, Sara Frances Jones, sang religious songs to him and she was known in the neighborhood for her intelligence and academic training. When Quincy Jones was around 5 years old, she began to have attacks of schizophrenia. All the artist would remember about his mother for many years was how she tossed his coconut cake onto the back porch! The doctors came to the house wearing a straitjacket and took her to the sanitarium that became her prison. Meanwhile the rest of the family was looking for a different place in the world.
According to Quincy Jones′s statement in the documentary titled ′Quincy′ now available on Netflix, his father then assured all his childrens that if they saw their mother again they had to run to save their lives. And that′s just what Quincy and his brothers did when their mother managed to escape from the sanitarium: they ran away from her! Sara followed her children for many years, even when they were older. ′You should not sing music that is not from the Lord′, she was shouting to a still overwhelmed adult Quincy Jones. His father finally found a stepmother and moved to the other end of the country. The artist became aware of the seriousness of his black identity when he passed through the biblical belt and saw black dolls hanging by hanging from the facades of the churches.
Michael Jackson met Quincy Jones in 1978 while playing one of his favorite characters. He chose the role of scarecrow not without a good reason, in a film version of the Wizard of Oz titled ′The Wiz′. Quincy Jones productions catapulted his work even further on his own path of yellow tiles. His aforementioned video ′Thriller′, which includes the voice of Vincent Price, broke the curse in 1982 for black artists. Black artists back then weren′t able to stream their videos on MTV, but ′Thriller,′ in fact, remains the best-selling album in all of history and the ultimate medium that allowed him to turn the page of the career he had shared with his father.
When his father assured the press that he had been forced to hire white staff, Michael confronts him assuring the press: ′I don′t hire color, I hire aptitude!′ . Anyway Michael heritaged from his father the same shyness, demand and concern for success at all costs. He carried a marker pen everywhere with which he continually wrote down his goals: higher numbers of records sold! He encouraged those around him not only to pursue goals but also to do it relentlessly. He did in a quite different way, with the care and sensitivity that his father Joseph Jackson lacked.
Those who personally treated Michael speak of a fragile, kind and generous person, especially until 1987. He tried to take charge of a new life in the late 80s. With the help of a new harder sound, a more aggressive new wardrobe and the direction of a prestigious Martin Scorsese, he recorded the video for his single titled ′Bad′. Michael Jackson believed he knew New York until he met Scorsese. The musician had lived his nightlife up close in dance halls like Studio 54 but the corners to which the director took him left him scared.
Michael Jackson positions himself against the accusations he had received with his arm held high with such scenarios, his elaborate choreography, his confessions of wickedness and the final preacher speech, which Martin Scorsese defines as cathartic. He faced accusations from his former relatives in Jackson 5 as well as those of his former ′kingdom hall′ colleagues. The artist formerly known as Prince, who had also grown up in the same cult, was invited to the recording and had rejected Michael Jackson′s offer, whom he always considered more as a rival than as a partner. Prince told Michael Jackson according to Quincy Jones: ′You don′t need me, you will be ranked number ome anyway′.
The dancers and musicians who did accompany him in the recording of ′Bad′ assure that they do not know the meaning of many of the words he uttered in the final speech. The expression ′shamone′ that also repeats in ′Man in the mirror′, with the background of the voices of Siedah Garrett, The Winans and the gospel chorus of Andraé Crouch, is an exception. It is actually a tribute to singer, actress, and social activist Mavis Staples. That reference could also speaks of a new declaration of intent regarding his own way of striving to improve the world, thereby fulfilling God′s will.
The truth is that at the end, in his cosmology, God is not much more than an inspiration and has very little to do with final decisions. He uses a language common to both religious leaders and superheroes′s followers, which is significantly far from the language of Christ. ′I′m starting with the man in the mirror′ -sings in ′Man in the mirror′. ′I′m starting with the man in the mirror / I′m asking him to change his ways / And no message could have been any clearer / If you want to make the world a better place / Take a look at yourself, and then make a change′.
His collaboration in the campaign ′We are the world′ in 1985 came to him through Quincy Jones. Ethiopia was in that time ravaged by a famine and Michael quickly became involved not only singing but also composing practically all of the lyrics. The campaign also involved Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner, Bob Dylan or Ray Charles among many others. With all his resources, however, the campaign raised the figure of what would be $24,000,000 today, which is more or less what we spend every 8 minutes only on weapons according to the latest statistics.
Michael Jackson believed in any case all his life that it was thanks to God, that his life had the only meaning and purpose to give the world the best of its artistic and emotional expression. He believed he had missed the opportunity to enjoy his childhood so moving forward the goal of his humanitarian efforts would be markedly focused on children.
Michael Jackson seemed to have been born to the magic of Hollywood studios. His face lit up just imagining fantastic situations. Using the terminology of Peter Pan, another of his favorite characters, he builds Neverland. Neverland was a three-hour amusement park from Los Angeles that he makes his home and regularly invites mostly sick children. Let′s say you make your home your best expression of solidarity help. Hundreds of children visited the park and were cared for by a staff of more than 50 people, but the press would give their full attention exclusively to two 13-year-old children, whose parents denounced Michael Jackson starting in 1993.
His idealized concept of childhood had led him to say that he would rather die than live in a world without children and for one of those paradoxes of life, it was children who would ruin his life. The jury found on June 13, 2005 that the artist was innocent of all 14 charges and that he had been the victim of an attempted scam. ′I have nothing to lose and my ex-wife will have to give me custody of my son′, assured one of the accusing parents, when he did not know that it was being recorded. The credibility of the accusers and witnesses has been questioned until this year, that the jury spokeswoman has ratified the verdict in the press.
The accusers still have no real proof so they have tried to even question the very concept of abuse. It doesn′t take much to discredit someone, of course, you just have to sow doubt and everything else comes by itself! Michael Jackson′s self-esteem, image, and health, in any event, had reached even more dangerous degrees since the trials. Neverland had fairground rides, a zoo, a movie theater and countless race tracks and of course also a personal home with intimacy, pornography, lingerie and an active sex life as confirmed by his first wife Lisa Presley. Nothing that was prohibited but that in the hands of the media pushed the singer into a delirious fall into the void.
Doubt does not require proof to obtain short-term results and when used at the right time, it was able to sink all of creation under the effects of sin. ′Be careful what you do / because the lie will become true′ - he was already singing in ′Billie Jean′. His personal notes during the Jackson 5 era confirm that as a young man he was aware of the danger of the press. Surely for some reason related to his intended mission in this world, his sense of honesty or his naive concept of evil, he was practically unable to keep his life private.
Michael and Elvis Presley′s daughter had been good friends from childhood until they were married. Then everything in the relationship started to be like a complaint. He was complaining about not having the children she and she had promised him of being too stressed with his childish attitude. By one of those strange coincidences in life, the artist who was to break down the barriers between blacks and whites in show business had inherited from his father a disease in skin pigmentation called vitiligo. It has been proven that this disease can affect very large areas of skin and the mental health of many patients who even stop appearing in public. The coroners finally confirmed that Michael Jackson had this disease after analyzing his body.
The media interpreted the change of color of his skin as another of his many artistic eccentricities and also took the opportunity to give credibility to any of the rumors that were circulating about him. Vanity Fair, for example, claimed in 2000 that Michael Jackson was ashamed of being black and that he had voodoo cursed a list of 23 of his enemies in show business. Charles Thomson called that episode in The Huffington Post as ′one of the most embarrassing in the history of journalism′.
In 1993 he had started what he then claimed to be the most ambitious video of his career, which was titled ′Ghosts′ and for which he had three of the most important professionals in horror cinema: Stephen King, Mick Garris and Stan Wilson. The nonsense that surrounded the life of Michael Jackson caused the short film to not be promoted and has remained largely unnoticed until today. The story the the short movie contains couldn′t be more easy to understand: a mob of well-dressed people try to lynch someone who has special powers.
Many of those who visit or carry the maintenance of Neverland, which is now for sale including pets such as the chimpanzee or the elephant, claim to have met the ghost of Michael Jackson! This is reported still today. Actually the fact is that far from his purported special powers, Michael Jackson was very weak in 2005. He attended one suit for the trial in his pajamas and another did not even attend because he was in the hospital.
The shame, stress and real pain that he suffered would also lead him to consume large amounts of pain relievers, prescribed medications that in turn had seriously affected his artistic production capacity and led to an inevitable economic ruin. Michael Jackson, penniless, was preparing a return to the stage with a tour entitled ′This is it′ in 2009, but still showed a deteriorated physical appearance and serious symptoms of paranoia.
Karen Faye assures that she was proposed to make up Michael Jackson to minimize the devastating effect that she showed on stage and she refused, terrified by the possibility that she was working in those conditions. Michael was interested in the theism of Rabindranath Tagore, the Judaism of Shmuel ′Shmuley′ Boteach or in the Muslim institution Nation of Islam when the musician Andraé Crouch, his regular evangelical collaborator, visited him for the last time. That day he says that they talked about spirituality in music, about the charismatic gifts and that they sang and prayed together again as they used to do in the past.
A few weeks after that encounter, past midnight on June 25, 2009, the Los Angeles fire service received a distress call from Michael Jackson′s home. Conrad Murray, his personal doctor, was paralyzed next to the reporter. They were both watching how the drugs, the strong pain relievers Conrad had given his patient, had literally taken his life. Michael Jackson was 50 and a billion curious onlookers couldn′t help but attend his televised funeral.
What can we expect from religious hard efforts? What is the value of our self-determination at the end? Evil cannot be fought with good intentions. The desire to save the world is not actually the heritage of religion or Marvel, it is more common than it may seem to many. God has not given us our talents to put that burden on ourselves. Personal joy in private and in your own community may be an unambitious target of our talents at first sight, but deep down it is a much more likely goal. Especially since saving the world is a goal that is already in the hands of God.
The world′s main problem is not ignorance, as Rabbi Shmuley assured Michael Jackson. Our main problem is the evil that sin produces. We have good reasons for not wanting to do things as we have seen our parents do. But we are wrong thinking that the best alternative is to do it trusting in our best intentions. The Bible that Michael Jackson discovered when he was so young, in such difficult situations, taught that the best alternative is to do it resting on the merits of Jesus. The teachers he had then, however, avoided explaining it to him like that.
Popular wisdom suggests that God is there to beg and we are to hit the gavel; Jesus however is emphatic when he says that apart from him ′we can do nothing.′ Michael Jackson left many projects unfinished in addition to the ′This is it′ tour. One of the best known is the role of Captain Hook - under the direction of the Jew Steven Spielberg, when he was still applauded by ′E.T. The Extraterrestrial′ or ′In Search of the Lost Ark.′ Fear in the Bible has one of its most obvious adaptations in the scene where all those who see the content of the Ark of the Covenant die - while Karen Allen and Harrison Ford tightly close their eyes.
That big serpent that was raised in the desert was mentioned in the same book of the Bible. She points from ancient times to the cross of Christ. She was the only snake that could save those slaves who had escaped from Egypt but as a condition she expected them to keep staring at her. Just stare was all she demanded. ′I am the way, the truth and the life′, would finally say Jesus in the 1st Century: ′I am the vine, you are the branches; he who remains in me, and I in him, this one bears much fruit; because separated from you can do nothing to me ′, he said exactly according to the Gospel of John, Chapter 15, Verse 5.
This is an short translation of the original article published in Spanish by Entrelíneas: Revista de Arte as Michael Jackson: Creyente, Monstruo y Hombre en el Espejo