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off the wall

Photo illustration by Derreck Johnson. Photo by Epic/CBS.

I had a boyfriend who idolized Michael Jackson. Actually, I think that even a few years back he still had some Michael Jackson memorabilia. He used to have all his records. I wonder how he would have taken this Leaving Neverland thing. Because it's taking me some time to process the fact that there's overwhelming evidence that point to the fact that those boys were abused. For years the stories have been out there. There have been contradicting testimonies. Trials. Acquittals. But separating the artist from the man is a very complex endeavor and some people may not be able to do it.

I really cannot imagine what being sexually abused could do to your psyche. Cannot. I have never been in that position. And the two men in that documentary, grown men now, should have had to do a lot of soul searching to be able to appear in the documentary. It's been years of them carrying the weight of what they say they lived with Michael Jackson -the good, the bad and the ugly- and that alone should allow them some respite. I feel for them.

But my question is, what will I do with the idea that I have of Michael Jackson? What will I do with the fact that I like his music and have liked it for years? When some men have been discovered to be horrible human beings I have been able to rationalize it. I was able to write Kevin Spacey off, even though I liked him as an actor. I don't care about R. Kelly's music much anyway. I don't watch Woody Allen's movies much anymore and his brand of neurotic hysteria does not connect with me anymore. Bill Cosby's Doctor Huxtable was not the whole family and the other characters are still part of a nice memory.  It was not difficult for me to shun the men and the artists in them when their secrets came out. But Michael is in my playlists. Just yesterday I was listening to Stranger in Moscow. I have many of his original records. Last year I found a 12' Thriller while crate digging and I was so excited that I did a little dance in the store. His music is quite literally the soundtrack of some parts of my life. But how do I reconcile that with this new resurgence of the allegations against him? 

That, I don't know.



  1. "off the wall" and "thriller" were fabu albums. and then he seemed to go all crazy with the plastic surgery and the sameness of the songs and the weird way of parenting "his" kids (paris & prince & blanket). I won't be able to look at him and mah homeboy cosby the same way ever again, knowing what they did to innocent people.

  2. I have not seen the documentary, but have seen enough online to know what’s going on. It’s hard when someone you hold up to a certain standard falls short. And not just a little, but possibly criminally. Is it possible to separate the art from the person? What part of the person influenced the art? It’s a messy situation and I don’t think there are any easy answers. Do we hide our appreciation for the person’s public accomplishments?

    XOXO 馃懆‍❤️‍馃拫‍馃懆

  3. I have no problem. I believed the allegations years ago, and I believe them today.
    Of course, I was never a fan of his music, so, yeah, there's that, too.

  4. I'm glad that I was never a huge Michael Jackson fan in the first place. I don't care if I never hear his music again.

  5. I dont know why, but I was never huge fans of either of them. I liked Janet better.

  6. Sexual and psychological abuse comes with so many variations and degrees. The 'art' is in the deception and manipulation of those around and close the victim. Sometimes, I think I was a victim of abuse by my first lover. He had power and control over me since he was a professor at the college I attended . He was married with a child, and I was 'assimilated' into the family. No one questioned because he could pass straight.

    Perhaps, Stockholm Syndrome.

    Who knows, and for that matter who cares after all these years.

    I'll remember Michael Jackson for the good gifts he gave to the world.

  7. Perhaps if he hadn't gotten so weird I'd have trouble believing the shit about him, but he did... and I don't.

  8. Unfortunately this conundrum will always continue to arise. Being artistically talented doesn't correlate with being a good person in other ways. In fact, it seems that many creative people are unpleasant on a personal level, even if it doesn't often rise to the level of criminality.

    Perhaps my opinion on this won't be welcome, but for myself, I'm able to separate out the art from the artist. I don't see any point in renouncing music or other art I enjoy because of such revelations about its creator. It does not do the victims any benefit, after all -- the imperative there is to stop the abuse and punish the abuser.

    I look upon it as analogous to how we can accept that the men who founded this country and wrote the Constitution showed wisdom that remains valuable today, even though many of them were slave-owners. Things of value can come from people who are bad in other areas of life.


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