I HOPE TO BE REMEMBERED SO FONDLY

About a hundred people – and bear in mind we're talking about people I actually like – have lit up my social networking world with "tributes" to Michael Jackson. Several things.

1. We're going a little overboard remembering a child molestor who we wanted kept alive mostly as a trainwreck/curiosity, no? I mean, it's good that you enjoyed his music but, and I can't stress this part enough, he fingerbangs kids. I realize that a person can create things that entertain us while being criminals, perverts, or plain old assholes in their private lives. Regardless, I'd have a difficult time remembering a child molestor fondly unless he created something a hell of a lot more meaningful than Thriller. I mean, if Frank Lloyd Wright felt up Cub Scouts in his spare time I would look at Fallingwater and grudgingly give him a pass. But Michael Jackson? Come on. Have you listened to that crap lately?

2. It was nice of our media to devote a week's news cycle to Ed McMahon (relevant!), Farrah Fawcett (shocked to discover she didn't die 10 years ago), and "The King of Pop." This is possible because there is no other important news happening anywhere.

3. Did I mention that you need to keep in mind that Michael Jackson fingers 7 year old boys when watching the laudatory retrospectives on his life and career? OK. Just throwing that out there.

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28 Responses to “I HOPE TO BE REMEMBERED SO FONDLY”

  1. Sarah Says:

    This. Thank you. Somebody needs to say it.

  2. Brandon Says:

    At least this gives the media an excuse to stop focusing on events in foreign countries. I was pissed when I saw that Olbermann was dedicating his whole hour to the story, then I wanted to vomit when the freakin' BBC World News dedicated their full half hour to it.

  3. Cassie Says:

    You are assuming people believe that this is true. I don't know enough about the case to have an opinion, but it come across as freaky weirdo vs. gold digging parents and people opinions mostly fell on the side that they are already inclined to believe.

  4. Virginia S. Wood, Psy.D. Says:

    Imagine how the public's and the media's reaction feels to victims/survivors of child sexual abuse. Many have experienced the same thing on a smaller, community- or family-sized scale in regard to their own abusers.

    Giving Michael Jackson (or anyone else) a "Pass" completely dismisses the survivors' pain as a matter of relatively little–or no–importance. I say, "Fail!"

  5. j Says:

    You neglect one important aspect of the tragic news, Ed: the molested boy had cancer.

  6. El Caballo de Sangre Says:

    Ooh, credentials in a username! Holy shit, the pretension. Not to mention the black-and-white dismissal of a person based only on his worst failings. What would be NOT "a pass" – if every media outlet that reported on the story of Jackson's death simply said "Credibly alleged child molester Michael Jackson died today. In fairness to his credibly alleged victims' sensibilities, we have no other comment"? Does he get no credit for "Gone Too Soon"? YouTube that video and try not to tear up, treacly and maudlin as it is. Ryan White went to Neverland ranch, too – it wasn't JUST an amusement park geared to the victimization of little boys with pimps for parents.

    Jebus, even MTV News didn't reference his death without mentioning his legal troubles and his weirdness. I don't know what else y'all want. And calling him out as a sick individual (that's sticking it to the man!) without even a nod to what MADE him sick, which was beyond his control, strikes me as piling on at best, and unfeeling bordering on sadistic at worst. If you don't feel pity and sorrow at Mike's broken and tragic life (even as you feel for his victims'), then you're not fully human.

    Also: "have you listened to that crap lately?" Who appointed you the arbiter of what constitutes "crap", g&t? If all the music Jackson produced (I'm assuming you hate it all, since you didn't specify what "that crap" means) isn't your cup of tea, fine, but it's the mark of true douchebags to say that things they don't like are automatically bad. Myself, I was thirteen or so when Thriller came out, and me and my brother wore out our cassette of it, but anymore the only parts of it I really groove on is "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" and Vincent Price's bit on the title track. I prefer Off the Wall and view everything from Bad on as mostly a sad joke – but the point is that it's not for me to say whether it's any good or not – it's enough (for me, anyway) just to say that I didn't like it.

    If this post was meant to be an indictment of our celebrity-worshiping culture in general, or the debasement of our culture that it conflates popularity with quality, that's fine, but it missed the mark widely. And the Wright digression is just confusing – are we to understand that if the artistic output is approved, then the artist's conduct is to excused, "grudgingly" or otherwise? If that's the case, then whoever thinks so has really disqualified him- or herself from being listened to on the subject of Michael Jackson, human tastes in art and music being what they are.

    I think I'll just stick with the way I've felt since I heard about his death today, which is pretty much the same I've felt about him for 10 years or so:

    -Boy, what a tragic human story.
    -Boy, what a great pop musician.
    -Boy, the more I learn about the way he was brought up, the less I'm surprised he's a freak.
    -Boy what a tragedy/circus the whole phenomenon known as "Michael Jackson" is.

  7. comrade x Says:

    I'm no exactly jumping up and down with joy at the man's death, but there is a line in today's shallow, materialistic culture you can cross if you have enough fame and money to get a pass on some of society's most egregious sins. If Jackson had been a homeless guy, he would have died in jail and the few who knew about the case would have completely condemned him.
    A fellow commie put it best: " Thousands of children died of malaria today. A disease that is totally preventable. Why should I waste any tears on a narcissitic multi- millionaire pedophile?"
    O.K., alleged pedophile.

  8. Jude Says:

    Yeah, he helped launch MTV. Yeah, 'Off The Wall' still kinda blows my mind. Yeah, that moonwalk he did on national TV was mental as hell. Sure, 'Thriller' is a monster that still resonates today…

    Yeah… but,

    It's the content of your character that will always matter most. I feel he's ultimately no different than a perverted Catholic priest being protected by ridiculous throngs of deluded morons all willing to overlook what was right in front of them. All because he made pop music? Didn't they try that same shit rationale for R. Kelly? Yep. They did. "Genius" doesn't receive a free
    pass just because it attained a level of popularity. Same applies to Phil Spector, Ike Turner, Elvis, and all the other so-called "dearly departed" examples of reprehensible character.

  9. Nick Says:

    Caballo: Perhaps I'm once again revealing my lack of bleeding-heart bona fides, but saying that whatever made him molest children was "beyond his control" is, quite frankly, a steaming pile of bullshit. The desire to molest children? Possibly uncontrollable. The actual molestation of children? Not uncontrollable.

    The way I look at it, Michael Jackson did two noteworthy things in his life:
    1. Wrote some admittedly classic pop songs.
    2. Molested children.

    I don't know about you, but I find the latter quite a bit more revealing of the man's character, and trying to minimize the fact that he molested little kids by saying "it wasn't really his fault! Also, look at this music video!" is pretty fucking shady.

  10. J. Dryden Says:

    Actually, I think the fans/defenders, in their heart-of-hearts, have to look at Jackson's last 20 years and then realize "Eh, it's probably for the best." There was no comeback on the horizon. There was only a long string of damaged children and unfunny late-night-monologue-jokes. Dead, his crimes and horrors cease–and even if you think he was awesome, consider that he had maimed himself to the point of total facial collapse, a condition that was only going to get worse. Trust me: Just as well.

    Jude needs to explain why poor Elvis gets lumped in with child molestors, murderers and rapists, though.

  11. Robert Says:

    I'm guessing all you folks were just as appalled when the obituaries for Miles Davis focused on his music, and not his prediliction for beating women.
    Ditto for Sinatra.
    That said, everything I've heard on the radio or read online has definitely included the 'and of course, the persistent allegations of sexual misconduct' mentions. It's not as if everyone (for a given value of 'everyone') is suddenly developing amnesia about everything that happened after 'Bad' was released.
    IMNSHO, if you're between 30 and 50, the man's music was very possibly a soundtrack to a chunk of your formative years – that's also a part of his legacy. So is the fact that he was a seriously disturbed product of an abusive childhood, and (most likely) a committer of grave offenses against underage boys. Let's remember it all.

  12. Ed Says:

    When Sinatra died I simply didn't give a shit.

  13. MildlyDisturbed Says:

    What a nasty post. I'm sure Mr. Jackson will go down in the anals of the little children he besmooched as truly a giant.

  14. Michael Says:

    Did I miss something? Did Michael Jackson die? Huh?

  15. comrade x Says:

    M. Jackson's music was wildly popular among some segments of the population at my high school back in the 1980s. But it didn't influence me or my friends one iota, except for the fact that we used to beat up the people who listened to M. Jackson's music.
    Our major influences were Led Zeppelin and Metallica.

  16. ladiesbane Says:

    @MildlyDisturbed: I don't know you well enough to guess (and the text does not support) that your Freudian slips were intentional. If they were, it's disgusting. If they were not, it's…mildly hilarious.

    Otherwise, let's be clear: MJ the child was a prodigy, worked and warped by his rotten dad. MJ the young adult was a natural genius in dance as well as music. MJ the adult was emotionally unstable, addicted to surgery, and the song and dance are nothing compared his social behavior.

    Not all abused children go on to abuse others — even emotionally retarded adults who live at the child level don't always abuse others — but he was rich, powerful, isolated, and surrounded by people who indulged his every wish. He was our Howard Hughes in a lot of respects. Being able to see the cause of his downward spiral does not excuse it. And he, he was not convicted on a poorly presented case. Do you really think OJ was innocent?

    But Robert: please don't ever equate wife beating, which is assault on an adult human being, with sexually abusing children. I understand domestic violence is mentally degrading, physically often much more damaging, an disheartening abuse of trust, and so on. It's awful. But the spouse has legal rights, less physical disparity, and the mental wherewithal of adult coping skills and context (or at least the chance of having them) that children absolutely do not. And if you think there is not special, excessive fallout from sexual abuse…you're wrong. So Miles Davis, Frank Sinatra, James Brown, all those guys are rotten assholes. But Michael Jackson, Gary Glitter…I'd cheerfully feed them to sharks.

  17. Vinny Says:

    Al Gore will be very upset to hear that the former Chicago Bull star forward has passed on.

  18. Badger3k Says:

    It's easy to be acquitted when you have the money he did. It's safe to say that there will be children who will sleep a little more soundly, knowing creepy bleached pervert wasn't going to pay off his parents while he was forced to undergo severe trauma for the rest of his life. How many times did we hear of people bringing charges against Jackson, only to have them dropped suddenly, with the tidbit in the news regarding "undisclosed sums" ?

  19. Parthenon Says:

    Thing is, Badger, all of this is still just speculation. We don't have any facts by which to judge. I'm not really comfortable mentally convicting somebody via the 'where there's smoke, there's fire' standard.

  20. Erin Says:

    Farrah Fawcett died and went to heaven. St. Peter gave her one wish. "I just want all children to be safe and sound." St. Peter thought for a moment and killed Michael Jackson.

    Greatest day-jack ever. For a Jesus Juicer.

  21. Clay Says:

    They found out that he was, in effect, killed by his Doctor. He received a shot of Demerol an hour or so before he died. That, and he was addicted to the same pain pill Rush Limbaugh had been on. (I forget what what it's called.) So the "King of Pop" died pretty much the same way as the "King of Rock". Drug abuse.

  22. Anemone Says:

    You know, I was sexually abused as a kid, and no one believed me, and yet I was never convinced Jackson was a pervert. He could have been, but at the same time he was such an easy target. He was just a kid himself, still.

  23. Elle Says:

    He was just a kid himself, still.

    I've never really understood why this is offered as rebuttal to the notion that MJ was a child molestor. What could be more terrifying that an adult who reasons as a child and is as capricious as a child, and yet has the money, physical autonomy, physical strength, and physical maturity of an adult?

    I had the same experience as you, Anemone, but MJ always made my radar ping. FWIW, which is not much.

    If you don’t feel pity and sorrow at Mike’s broken and tragic life (even as you feel for his victims’), then you’re not fully human.

    I feel real sympathy for Jackson. It seems from the information that's out there that his father was physically (and probably sexually) abusive towards Jackson and his sisters and that this had a devastating effect on him. (Although interesting to note that the same 'innocent until proven guilty' shtick is rarely put forward in Joe Jackson's defense.)

    However, having a shitty childhood doesn't allow you to abnegate your responsibilities to be a decent person. Jackson seems to have made a series of choices to surround himself with enablers rather than take a long, hard look at himself. It takes patience, deliberation, props and planning to perpetrate child abuse the way that he supposedly did it and I can't agree that the harm done to him explains the harm he did to others. I also think that men who were sexually abused as children deserve better than this constant repetition of the message that they're a risk to their own children because they might do to others the worst thing that was ever done to them.

  24. MildlyDisturbed Says:

    @ladiesbane: My tongue was in my cheek.

  25. Kiki Says:

    Where do you all get off calling him a child molester? On what FACTS do you base this? He was found NOT GUILTY after being accused by a bunch of zero-credibility, money-grubbing, white trash scumbags. Weirdo? Yes, there are plenty of facts to support that label, but as for the rest, were any of you on the jury? If not, please shut the fuck up.

  26. Ed Says:

    Yes, this is definitely the right blog for persuading people with Argument from Ignorance.

  27. MildlyDisturbed Says:

    I've never called him a child molester. I'm partial to "kiddie pole smoker."