Home | Blog | Advice | Books | Features | Food | Games & Quizzes | Holidays | Media Morph | Movies | Music | Poetry
Requiems | Store | Television | Travel | About Us | Archive


Web www.apeculture.com   

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder:
Getting Over the Michael Jackson Documentary

by Sherry Fairchok and Mary Ladd

Although the Michael Jackson documentary watched by 27 million people last Thursday night has been covered and re-covered by media and work-place water-cooler analysts - and although we are sure to be oft annoyed by bagfuls of furious tirades from nutty Michael Jackson fans by publishing this article, we soldiered on through the pop-culture minefields and decided to share our morning-after discussions anyway because we felt the media was dwelling too much on Michael Jackson's nutty particulars and not the big sobering picture: what happens when the cult of celebrity goes wrong. And by that I guess I'm insinuating sometimes it actually goes right. Hmmm. Oh well, press on. ML


While waiting for the snow to start falling last night, I did something uncharacteristic: turned on my TV & watched the Michael Jackson interview. I seemed to know most of the stuff already from your celebrity adventure. But it was fascinating to watch the man, nevertheless.

This morning, he's become an object of wonderment & speculation for me. He seems irretrievably damaged by too early placement on the celebrity-in-training track. I don't know if his father beat him & verbally assaulted him, but he certainly had a narrow life that never opened up very much. The saddest moment was probably watching him, with his bone-white mangled face, watching his little apple-cheeked childish self spinning & singing. They really did turn him into some kind of dancing machine, didn't they? Now he only seems to come alive when he's being adored by his fans, or for the few minutes when he was doing dance steps for the interviewer. Then I think, "In spite of it all, yes, the guy is compelling & gifted. It's not his fault that trends moved on & left his career behind. Or that his music never grew up & achieved maturity, either."

I ended up feeling more sorry for him than angry at him or anxious to call for a child welfare investigation. I'm somehow doubtful that he's even sexualized enough to corrupt small children. He knows how to mime sexuality in dance moves & in his singing, but that's probably about it. He should be the case study under "arrested development" in psychology books. I'd imagine that he'd be OK raising his children for at least another seven or eight years. (Probably the nanny does most of the work, anyway, and he's only interested in playtime & being sweet daddy, never doing the dirty work.) Still, I wonder what his kids will do as they get older & inevitably outgrow their childish Dad. Can you imagine them, turning sullen around age 13 or 14? Becoming Goths? "No, Dad, Jesus -- I don't want to ride on the f**ing carousel again." Rebelling, leaving Neverland, writing exposes?

Also, I was fascinated by the German fans of Michael Jackson, particularly the girl who collapsed in tears after receiving a hug from her idol. I've never felt that way about any celebrity before.

Anyway, talk about Bob Crane having basically an empty life & absolutely no insight into his condition -- Michael Jackson looks like he could drift along for another 20 years like this. I am trying to imagine how he will look at 50 or at 60 year old. Or would he let himself live that long.



I watched everything but one middle half hour when I had to turn over to another surreal show, The Surreal Life with another arrested personality, Corey Feldman (although to such a lesser degree he seems normal in comparison). I agree with you that Michael Jackson's narrow life contributed much to his dysfunction, maybe as much as abuse by his parents. His mother didn't help him much either, by the way. She seems to be an enabler who tunneled so fiercely into Jehovah's Witness as a relief that she offered her children no realistic solutions for making it through adolescence and on to lives as healthy individuals. All of the Jackson children seem to venerate her to such a degree it feels like denial. Many of her kids have had pretty dysfunctional lives (ex-wives drowning in pools, baby-out-of-wedlock-with-the-mistress dramas, spousal abuse accusations). A mother who produces children like LaToya and Michael (both clearly damaged) cannot be blameless.

And not all the Jacksons agree about Joseph being abusive. But Joseph's own comment: "I don't know if Michael gurgitated" [sic] (referring to Michael's claim that he was so afraid of his father he would regurgitate) "but if he gurgitated, he gurgitated all the way to the bank" speaks for itself.

In the book I read on Michael Jackson to write the celebrity adventure, there were allegations of sexual misconduct by not only the boy involved in the lawsuit but by a few of Michael's former housekeepers and staff who claimed they either walked in on semi-nude or nude escapades in his bedroom or were adamantly refused entrance to rooms anywhere near the bedroom when children were in there. Maybe it's just another case of bitter employees. The book also claimed these children's parents always slept far away in either guest rooms or guest houses. Last night's show confirmed this. You have to wonder why. If, as Michael Jackson claims, he wants to add more love and physical affection into disjointed modern family life (which was his claim last night) then why not insist or encourage the parents to join in the slumber party? That's supposedly the agenda, isn't it? I'm sure the parents would have loved to have had a slumber party with the infamous Michael Jackson if they are enthralled enough with him to let their kids spend the night with him.

If Michael Jackson is really the messiah of love (the pure soul who just wants to help suffering children) that he and his supporters purport him to be and that his intentions are anything but sexual, this does not jive with that huge oil painting hanging in his house which shows him naked but for a tiny piece of material draped around his neverland area....material which is so unbelievably short that if the painter had painted genitalia, it would surely have been hanging out. Children or angels can be seen floating around his head placing flowers in his hair. I interpret this painting to say Michael is obsessed with his own mage as some kind of pied piper to children who adore him and adorn him. It's all about him and this image he fancies of himself, not really about the children at all. He doesn't have pictures of children everywhere. He has pictures of himself, Michael - focal point center, children without individuality framing him.

This was reinforced when he spoke about how his own children were conceived, Debbie Rowe gave them to him to raise alone "as a gift" because she could obviously see "I needed to be a daddy". After all he was walking around the house carrying baby dolls! First of all, a gift to whom? Did Debbie think her absence in their day-to-day lives would be a gift to the children? No, she wasn't thinking of the children really and neither was Michael Jackson. It was all about his need and her desire to please him. I think these children will write memoirs someday like "Living in the Funhouse" or "Peter Pan Dearest" unless they become as brainwashed by the cult of Michael Jackson as his fans and entourage. I HOPE they write memoirs because the cult is a more chilling alternative . If they can purge the madness someday with words, maybe there's a way out for them.

I have never understood fan hysterics either. It has a religious feel that really disturbs me. But that plays into the whole cult of the messiah we're dealing with here.

I agree with you -- it was profoundly sad to see Michael Jackson in his current body watch the ghost of himself as a child dancing so brilliantly and perfectly. He didn't seem to be enjoying watching himself as a child, either. He didn't get the same joy from himself that we do. And he was so so good. So so good. He was a joy to watch and hear. I am so thrilled every time I see that little dynamo sing "I Want You Back" and "ABC" ("shake it shake it baby...come on now!"....by the way, would I let my little boy sings such sexually explicit lyrics?). It's such a tragedy...a real Modern American Tragedy....essentially a tragedy of celebrity, the great obsession of our time.


Crazy Michael Jackson fans, please leave your comments on the Michael Jackson Hate-mail page. Thank you. And because we know you have many hatemails to write, you might want to use our mad-as-hell lib, the automatic michael jackson fan hatemail generator.

Read about The Oompa Loompa Clinic for Celebrities Suddenly Gone Wack.

Read "A Photographic History of Michael Jackson's Face" on the website Anomalies Unlimited.

More music reviews?

Where did it start to go wrong for MJ? What's your theory about the cult of modern American celebrity?


Ape Culture and all associated pages are
ŠApe Culture 1998-2007 and evermore.

Click here to learn about
the Ape editors' book

Check out the Ape Blog for the latest Ape Culture News and Reviews

Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More

Free Greeting Cards from Bravenet
Retrieving an Ape Card?
Enter Card Pick-up ID below: