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written 2003 after a documentary which did Michael Jackson no favours



commentary • 04.02.03

Jackson fell into Bashir’s trap. You would have thought a star with such an entourage could have got himself some savvy advisers to steer him clear of a manipulative journalist bent on a shock story. Jackson is now seen as reprobate and a likely paedophile by the idiot mass in a culture where any kind of cross-generational interplay can trigger a moral panic.

In our society currently there are few good models, if any, for how individuals from different generations might relate to one another beyond the traditional roles of being a parent or authority figure. Friendship or the possibility of any kind of intimate bond are generally off limits. Jackson is a victim of this depraved situation.

It doesn’t matter that he gave us some of the most perfect popular music of the 20th Century and that he paid a high price for having done that. He has lived the closeted and unhealthy lifestyle often typical of a prodigious talent and as a consequence his development has been impaired. True he does himself no favours and seems almost oblivious to how his actions might be interpreted. For all of this he should be sympathised with before condemned.

Martin Bashir is the television version of a gutter hack. His passive-aggressive style lead the star to a place that a more astute man would have anticipated and countered. I have nothing but contempt for the journalist whose motives are highly dubious, much more pernicious indeed to society than anything Michael Jackson has contributed.

A further thought:

I have suspicions about why some people are so mad keen to shout paedophile. I’m not sure it is all about protecting the kids. I think it may also be a form of projection influenced by the fact that many relationships between parents and children, as Freud suggested, are erotically charged. Of course these feelings will be largely unconscious and where they aren’t are kept well under wraps. But the apparent incidence of incest indicates they are by no means an unusual phenomenon. Most sexual abuse still happens within the family confine where it gets swept under. It has emerged just how prevalent historically it is and these are just the known cases. How many more stories have gone untold not to mention cases where the impulse was harmlessly sublimated? This kind of collective repression is prime territory for projection and the need for scapegoats. I think the contemporary hysteria around paedophilia might be such a manifestation. Jackson, like Pete Townsend, is a victim. I believe the singer’s relationships with those much younger than himself are probably innocent. They may represent immaturity but as yet, other than in the eyes of moral psychology, that is not a crime.