He wasn’t weird. He wasn’t quirky. He wasn’t eccentric. He was insane. I’m not writing this article to try to shame anyone for mourning the loss of the pop star. But the wall-to-wall media reports about Michael Jackson’s sudden death yesterday of cardiac arrest are leaning a bit too heavily towards canonization for my taste. To be fair, the networks do include the scandalous and prurient chapters of Jackson’s life, including his arrest and trial for child molestation. But as they interview fans, friends and family who call the performer a humanitarian, they sugar-coat the most obvious facts of Michael Jackson’s life – that he had body dysmorphic disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, delusions, drug addiction and Peter Pan syndrome. And when you combine all those disorders with lots of money, you have a dangerous situation.
Distraught fans say we should all focus on his music instead of his life. He was incredibly talented – no doubt. I owned “Thriller” like the rest of the world, (although I think “Off the Wall” is a better album), and the music really holds up, over 25 years later. But let’s be honest with ourselves about the man. Given the 5000 word maximum on these articles, I’ll just reduce the evidence to words and phrases:
plastic surgery addiction
marriage to Lisa Marie Presley
dangling his baby over the balcony
pet chimp bubbles
blaming his record label when his album tanked
lawsuits over breach of contract
pain pill rehab
dancing on top of his SUV after getting arraigned for child molestation
…I could go on and on. You might argue that any of the items listed above are harmless. Or that they happened because Jackson was too famous, or that he had an abusive father, or that he was robbed of a childhood because he was performing at such a young age. But when you add the child molestation charges and Jackson’s attitude about children to the list, things get insidious.
Fans who were interviewed outside UCLA Medical Center or on Hollywood Boulevard yesterday said they were shocked of the news that he had died. I was far more shocked in the mid-90s when the accusations of child molestation first surfaced – or during his 2003 documentary, when he told Martin Bashir that he continued to sleep in a bed with many children, even after paying the plaintiff in the molestation case $20 million. That level of delusion and defiance made me worried about the welfare of Jackson’s own three children. Maybe now someone relatively sane can step in and care for them.
Jackson completely lost touch with reality a long time ago. When you combine that problem with money and fame, nobody is going to say no to you. And what you end up with is a dangerous situation (see Spears: Britney). Jackson’s death at age 50 isn’t shocking; it’s just a sad ending to a sad life.