I feel really bad for Representative Peter T. King of Long Island.
Mr. King said this week that Michael Jackson is a “low life” and “child molester.”
Michael Jackson was undoubtedly a weird dude. His transformation over the years was mind-boggling. Was he black? Was he white? Turns out that it don’t matter. But that nose? The oxygen chamber? The Chimp! Oh man, the chimp. And of course the big one: Did he molest those children? Here’s the reality: Maybe. Life is complicated and gray. I think to understand a life like Michael Jackson’s requires an ability to grasp nuance, something that Mr. King apparently can’t do.
Michael Jackson had a hard time exhibiting good judgment and common sense for sure. He dangled his baby over a railing to show him off to a crowd. He fathered, if in fact he fathered, children with women with whom he apparently didn’t actually have sex. Unless he did. He made hundreds of millions of dollars, then he lost hundreds of millions, then he made hundreds of millions again. He moved to Dubai. By his own admission, he had sleepovers with children and they slept with him in his bed. Bad move. I’m not defending that. But Michael Jackson probably never had the chance to develop common sense given he was an international star by the age of 10. He never met people who weren’t famous. When he was 12, his best friends were people like Dianna Ross and Stevie Wonder. I’m sure Dianna and Stevie are great. But that’s not normal. And it’s not normal that your father should beat you.
So did he touch the child? Maybe.
Most mornings for our family begin with our 2-year-old crawling into bed and sleeping with us, us tickling him, we all play around. In my heart I hope Michael saw his relationship to those children the same way I see my relationship to my son. You can call me crazy. I say it’s possible. But maybe I’m being defensive. I did wear a black sequin jacket and white glove in a talent show when I was 14.
The point is that by Mr. King taking the low road, he serves no one. Michael Jackson, weirdness and all, revolutionized pop, gospel and R&B music, music videos, MTV, broke down race barriers and transcended cultures the world over. He raised money for the homeless and brought their issues to the fore.
So is it, as Mr. King says, ridiculous for society to celebrate the death of Michael Jackson in this way while ignoring the countless lives-gone-by of nurses, firefighter, teachers, etc? Yes. But I don’t think our ass-backwards prioritization of celebrities began with Michael Jackson. And I don’t think it’s fair, morally acceptable or professional to refer to Mr. Jackson as a “low-life.”
Mr. King should attempt to grasp nuance, accept the unknowable, take off his morality police uniform and show some class. At least he could keep his mouth shut while fans and family mourn.
For me, maybe Michael Jackson did, maybe he didn’t. I’d prefer to focus on 1988. I spun around, tossed my hat offstage and totally kicked ass in that talent show.