billiejean

Conflicted.

We used to go to visit my grandparents pretty much every Sunday.  While it was nice to see them, I usually went right next door to my Uncle Kelly’s house.  You see, Kelly had two things at his place: an Atari…and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” record.  At 10 years old I was very impressionable, and the first time I heard the title track on that album I was totally blown away.  Michael instantly became my idol.  I got the Glove, and I remember when I got a Michael poster for my birthday (the all white one where Michael was wearing a yellow sweater).  You know what?  This is the internet.  Let’s see if I can find it.

Found.  We live in an amazing age.

yellow

 

Anyway, sometimes when I look back I wonder about what my Dad must have been thinking.  When I got this poster I just sat looking at it in amazement for a good half an hour or so. 

OK, back on track; I had the Glove, the poster, and an unhealthy envy of a neighbor friend who HAD A MICHAEL JACKSON  THRILLER JACKET!

There’s the style and mystique that surrounded him, and then there is the actual MUSIC.  The whole Thriller album was amazing and I had begun listening to Off the Wall.  I was so into Michael that my least favorite song on Thriller for a while was “The Girl is Mine”, because there was some other dude fighting for the affection of some girl.  Who was this other guy?  Michael was MICHAEL JACKSON!  You’ve got no chance, guy!  (Sorry, Paul, I was ten years old). 

And the DANCING.  That guy slid across the stage like he never touched the ground – and THEN there was the Moon Walk.  People who know me now may find this hard to believe, but as a result of Thriller I became a dancing MACHINE!  One day in Fourth Grade I didn’t do my homework.  Instead of going to recess, I had to stay in the classroom with other people who didn’t do theirs, either.  So, the teacher went outside to supervise recess while we were to do our mathematics and I promptly turned it into a dance show.  Mrs. Feaster came back with the class a half an hour later and checked our work.  I had done roughly one math problem. 

She wasn’t happy.

Also – the VIDEOS!  Thriller was the first video I saw where there was a story.  Plus – a story about zombies!  And we all know the iconic dance number in that video.  Beat It!  Fuckin’ BILLIE JEAN!

Furthermore – the love I have for “Weird Al” Yankovic was clearly jump-started by “Eat It”.  I CRYSTAL-clearly remember hearing “Eat It” for the first time at home.  I thought it was hilarious!  I still do, by the way. 

I very much want to just remember all of this and finish the book with the love I had for that man.

However, I’m pretty sure he sexually abused a bunch of kids.  Granted, I wasn’t ever in a courtroom to hear all the evidence.  I do remember hearing things coming out of the trial that was on TV all day long and there was just too much disturbing info.  I may be wrong, but the viewpoint I am taking is that he was guilty.

So how does all of this reconcile? 

As most know, I am a huge professional wrestling fan, in particular that of Chris Benoit.

Wrestler Dead

In the main event of Wrestlemania 20, Chris won the World Heavyweight Championship.  While celebrating, his good friend (and holder of the WWE Championship) Eddie Guerrero came out to celebrate with him.  This is significant because these two friends had been told basically their whole careers that they would never get to that level. [breaking news – wrestling is predetermined, but this is all true].  They had been mocked due to their size (shorter than average wrestlers).  Benoit was referred to by Kevin Nash as a “vanilla midget” backstage.  But seeing these two men at the top of their profession, hugging as brothers and crying real tears, if there weren’t other guys in the room I would have started crying as well.  Truth be told, I did have tears in my eyes and fought real hard to hold them back.

benoiteddie

Three years later, Benoit kills his wife, his son, and himself.  On June 25th.  As much as I respected him before that, it all went out the window.  Was it brain damage?  Was it “roid rage”?  Did he just flip out?  Was this guy who everybody considered one of the nicest guys around just hiding behind a mask?  I couldn’t even think about it.  I threw out my Benoit DVD.  And not in the inside garbage, I brought it straight out to the garbage can.  I didn’t even try to sell it.  I wanted it gone.  I’m done with Benoit. 

Decades of amazing musical input and inspiration vs. likely sexually abusing kids.  Can I like the Thriller album if it was probably before he crossed the line?  I think so.  However, I have absolutely no interest in watching a Benoit match ever again.

Something that cannot go ignored is that I’m not sure Michael ever really had a chance.  He was eleven years old when he started in the Jackson Five.  There was no childhood after that.  He recounted how his dad used to beat the hell out of them.  A lot.  His dad nicknamed him, “Big Nose”.  As fun as it has been for everybody to poke fun at his plastic surgery over the years, when your physically abusive father makes fun of the way you look…well, things happen for a reason.

For me I think it boils down to this:  Thank you, Michael, for your contribution to my childhood.  I hope you find peace.

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Comments
  1. du says:

    I can’t believe there was ever a time that you couldn’t go out to recess!
    I didn’t know these things about you, Kevin.

    Nice tribute.

  2. jesus satan says:

    yeah, well, he sure touched a lot of people? seriously, folks… i’m fairly conflicted as well. i honestly don’t think that he abused children in a sexual way. i don’t think he “touched them down there”, anyway. he had no concept of real human sexuality, just as he had no concept of normal human interaction.

    if anything, i do condemn him for highly inappropriate behavior, possibly in a way that he may have considered to be innocent, even though society in general would say A GROWN MAN DOES NOT SLEEP IN THE SAME BED AS CHILDREN.

    all this being said, the very first lesson i learned in Los Angeles is to divest the things that people have contributed to the world from the person themselves. Jon Lovits on SNL was hilarious and made me laugh and laugh and laugh. Jon Lovits in person is a miserable, morose piece of shit so wrapped up in his own despondency that he barely notices the world around him. this is of course my interpretation, and it’s possible that many people would say the same thing about me.

    look at Nixon. he had a god complex and committed crime after crime based on biased and spiteful world views. but, you know, he also opened relations with China. nothing is ever black and white, right Michael?

  3. jshady says:

    Great post.

    Yeah, I don’t think Jackson ever actually touched kids. I think he was just bizarre beyond any and all comprehension, and didn’t know how to function as a regular human being because of it.

    I think, at least in the beginning, he felt like a victim to it. But as time went on I’d LIKE to think that he played it to his advantage. He leaked the hyperbaric chamber photo to the “Enquirer” and asked that they use the word “bizarre” in the headline.

    He played the media, the media spit it at us, and we ate it up. We poked fun and made jokes. He was a punchline. And then it would wear off and suddenly there’d be another ridiculous thing pop up: he touched kids, he collected the Elephant Man’s bones, he owned a fucking giraffe… whatever.

    He was the monster we wanted him to be, to be honest. We like freaks. I know I do, at least.

    So yeah, I don’t think you should lump Jackson into the same category as Benoit. Benoit CLEARLY killed his wife, a kid, and himself. Jackson was never convicted of anything, only accused. And I think that has a tendency to happen quite a bit when you’re a fucking quadrillionaire.

    Especially when you’re a quadrillionaire with the Elephant Man’s skeleton in your basement.

    I know, that wasn’t really true. But it sure makes for a fucking awesome story, doesn’t it?

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