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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Michael Jackson's Spirit Died Years Ago... and We Killed It.


(If you don't read a word I've typed here, or if you disagree with everything I'm saying, at least watch this. This fan video was made 2 years ago...and I think its the perfect tribute today.)


Yesterday I mentioned on Facebook that I had a lot to say about Michael Jackson's life and death, but that I wasn't sure it was appropriate for me to blog about it. I didn't want to come across like I was exploiting it in any way, like I feel a lot of the media/bloggers are doing. But I got a lot of positive feedback saying it was OK to speak my mind, so I will.

First of all, I have to get this off of my chest: my heart goes out to the hundreds (or thousands?) of people in Iran who have been killed over the past few days. I hope this, N. Korea, Darfur and the rest of the world's injustices will get back into the forefront of the news ASAP.

...and back to Michael: I have so many thoughts going through my head about this. Hopefully it will make sense to you. If nothing else, it helps to vent about it. I'm really touched by how MANY people are affected by his passing. Whether you know it or not, or whether you want to admit it or not, his life has most likely affected yours in some way or another. There are people out there right now who live and breathe Michael Jackson. I personally believe these people have an unhealthy devotion to him, and I pray (or whatever my equivalent would be...haven't figured it out yet) that these people do not harm themselves in any way.

Because I feel that he is finally now at peace, I'm not one of those people who shed a tear when he passed, or who is having trouble dealing with it. But I do recognize the impact he's had on me over the years. If I wrote a list of the songs and the videos and the events that he helped create that were part of my own history, this blog would go on forever.

But I'd like to talk more about him personally, than his music/talent. I personally believe that Michael probably engaged in inappropriate conduct with children. I don't think he was a predator like most, and I don't think he inflicted any physical pain. And it probably was more of isolated events involving cuddling, etc. Inappropriate, but not graphic. I think he was a broken human being who was stunted at an early age, and as a 30, 40, 50 year old man, truly thought he was 10 years old.

I think he was abused physically by his father for years, which already started the process of creating a broken man. Then he was exposed to sexual acts WAY too early. I remember hearing about a time when he was forced to hide under a bed and listen/watch one of his older brothers have sex, because his father thought it would make him "more of a man." I guess he'd been too sweet a child, and his father was worried he'd grow up to be gay.


This was more abuse. And its definitely a HUGE debate whether or not someone should be pardoned for abuse if they were abused themselves. That's HUGE. There will never be a right answer. Even within myself, I'm torn. Chris Brown said he was abused by his father and watched his father beat his mother. Michael Jackson was abused. Why can I understand Michael but not understand Chris? It makes no sense to me, and I'll probably be trying to figure this one out for the rest of my life.

I just think that Michael snapped at an early age. He snapped from physical abuse, from horrific mental/emotional abuse from his father, from pressure, from being one of the most well-known people in the WORLD before the age of 16, from having all the money in the world before he could vote, from ridicule, from praise...from everything.

I've always related to Howard Hughes. Not sure if you know much about him...he was who the Leonardo Dicaprio film "Aviator" was based on. And if you've seen any of his documentaries...it's fascinating. He was a genius. He was also entangled in his own insanity for most of his life. He suffered extreme OCD, as I think Michael must have. He was slowly going mad just as he was reaching the height of his fame.

Michael reminds me a lot of Howard Hughes.

And finally, his appearance. I truly believe Michael Jackson had Body Dysmorphic Disorder, severe OCD, suffered from physical, mental, and sexual abuse, and was EXTREMELY addicted to pain killers and opiates.

Anyone who's ever had an addiction to anything--especially chemical--knows how hard it is to stop. And if someone is feeding that to you every day and never telling you to stop, and if you're in SO much emotional pain every day because you've gone mad, this is what happens. Michael is what happens.

It confuses me as to why the Wayans Bros. are sending their condolences to the Jackson family. They've made fun of that man for nearly 20 years, first with In Living Color and then in some of their latest films. A lot of the reaction from people who made fun of him his whole career surprises and confuses me.

And the people who make fun of his death, I'll never, EVER understand. Those people should just keep their mouths shut if they can't find a respectful thing to say. They're entitled to their opinions (and to voice them, unfortunately), but would you say the same thing about a handicapped person who'd recently passed away? About a person with cancer? Because these things couldn't be helped once they started, and neither could Michael's afflictions. To me, it's the same thing.

The title of this blog post will probably offend a lot of people. And it is not my intention to make anyone feel worse about this. I just think we should own up to it. If you have ever laughed at a joke at Michael Jackson's expense, you contributed to the deterioration of his spirit. It's just true. I'm guilty of it. I don't know many people who aren't guilty of it.

But I hope that what we can do now is not take people for granted. If for a MOMENT over the past 24 years the world treated Michael the way MTV has been treating him for the past 24 hours, he might still be here.

Tomorrow is not promised. Cliche' as it may be, it is TRUTH. We have to stop breaking each other down. We have to stop with the cattiness and the negativity just for negativity's sake. You're going to treat your friends and family with respect. That's (hopefully) a given. But how about the strangers you pass by every single day of your life? How about the people you get SO angry with for driving "too slow" so you can't make that important appointment...that you won't think about a week later.

When I was in 5th grade, our teacher gave us all one sheet of paper. She told us to carry it with us over the following 24 hours, and each time something hurt us: we were called a name by a bully, or we were made fun of for any reason, or we were disappointed by someone, jealous, angry, etc--we were to tear a piece of the paper off. And the tear should be
the size of the pain.

The next day, almost everyone--every 11 year old, mind you--had a TINY piece of this paper remaining. EVERYONE. The ones with the expensive clothes. The ones who got the best seats at lunch because everyone wanted to sit with them. The white ones. The black ones. The hispanic ones. The asian ones. The middle eastern ones. EVERYONE had gone through so much pain over the past 24 hours. This is what they felt like each day.

And we did this to each other.

We can start today putting those pieces back on. We can repair the damage starting today. Small things, big things. Just an effort. The easiest and most affordable thing you can do for a stranger to help us ALL heal?

...Smile. :-)

-Arlan

20 comments:

AJ said...

Brava.

debster680 said...

:) wonderful!

Amy said...

Thank you for writing this. I couldn't put it in a better way. The little story about the 5th graders and the paper. I wish someone did that when I was in school. I wouldn't have had a paper left to tear by the end of the day.

You're an amazing person for sharing this. :]

The Adorkable One said...

Nothing to say but wow. I agree wholeheartedly.

aimeetoons said...

Beautiful post. You're amazing.

Sarah said...

xoxo

Candi said...

Amen!

MeliSwenk said...

Very well said. I couldn't agree more.

Kendra Lawrence said...

yes i agree very well said, it dont matter if you offend anyone it is your feelings all your own. and yes i have my own opinions on michael jackson..but it is true he had a horrible childhood im sure. it j ust goes to show you ...even if you have ALL THE MONEY in the world it can NOT buy joy in your heart.

lunawomyn1 said...

Thank you for sharing. Very well said and like everyone else, I totally agree with you. Michael had so many demons in his lifetime and handled them the best way he knew how. I sincerely hope that he has found peace.

Shaye Dubya said...

Beautiful articulation, Arlan. Simply sublime.

Sara said...

I have to agree with everything that you said. I have been talking to many people about this over the last few days, and had one guy go as far to tell me that I shouldn't like Michael because he was like hitler. The man was great in his prime, he did a number of things that will change music forever. He is and will always be a musical icon and hero.

As far as those who have reached out whom have used michael as a punt of all their jokes, the waynes brothers have gone on record saying they didn't pick on michael to hurt him, but it was thier way of flattery, according to them, everything they have ever done against him, they actually got approval for by the man. A lot of celebrities have gone on record saying that when they become the subject of jokes and paradies they actually find it flattering because it means they will never be forgotten. not saying what they did was right or wrong, but as you stated before, we have all laughed at a joke at his expense.

I hope that Michael has finally found his peace, he deserves it after all these years.

deanportersstudent said...

I am saddened by Michael Jackson's passing. I hadn't thought much about him in recent years but realize how much he was a part of music when I was growing up. Anyone who can't see how much of an influence Michael has been to the music of today is deluded. It upsets me that so many can't respect him in this death and constantly make light of it. I to believe that he had some serious issues with abuse and I can understand that although crazy as his actions where, it had to have been difficult for him. I will always remember him for the musical genius he was.

Anonymous said...

This was an interesting read. Interesting view points and not just idolatry. I agree with what you said about those with unhealthy obsessions toward him or any other person or artist. Being a casual fan of his music, his death honestly did not affect me. It's difficult for me to separate the artist and his songs from the broken person that was accused of those horrible acts.

I do however, strongly disagree with this: "And it probably was more of isolated events involving cuddling, etc. Inappropriate, but not graphic."
As someone who was once "cuddled" by her cousin, I felt like you were almost excusing the inappropriate act because it wasn't bad enough for you. I wasn't touched, I wasn't forced to touch,we were fully clothed, to an outsider it would have looked like just a cuddle. But being there with him somehow just felt wrong. I was just a kid but I still felt there was more to it than just our usual hugs. But I had that thought, "he's not doing anything bad, I'm just being silly." Did that scenario not leave a mark on me because it wasn't graphic? It obviously did. Not a horrible, mind fuck of a mark, but it left something. I still remember the feeling. Sometimes I still feel like an idiot for not getting up and leaving. I still blame myself! ("it felt wrong, why didn't you say something, idiot!") It wasn't graphic but it still felt, and still feels, like an invasion of sorts. A grown-up (MJ or ANY adult) should not make a child feel that sort of discomfort. Graphic or not. Maybe the kids saw him as the child MJ thought he was and felt nothing but fun and rainbows. I doubt it though. Sometimes there's a tiny grain of truth in rumors.

I wasn't expecting this to be so long, but when I read that one sentence, I had to say my piece. I'm hoping you're not actually that laid-back about such non-graphic deeds.

arlan said...

Hi Anonymous...

Thank you for pointing that out. I was talking to a friend yesterday who read my blog post, and she said that a couple of ways I expressed myself could have been said better in order to make what I was trying to say more clear.

The sentence/sentiment you mentioned was not one of them, but I completely agree with what you're saying.

In fact, I agreed with it before I wrote the post and as I was writing it. I think it would take an entire book to really express the intricacies of my feelings on all of Michael's problems.

I have been affected by abuse...I think everyone has in some way or another. And even if I hadn't, I would never want to take away from what you or anyone else has gone through. I do not excuse Michael's behavior. And as I said in the post, I question why I "understand" it more than other atrocities.

But this is something I think about with each individual case--not just with Michael Jackson. This is a moral and logical struggle I have on a daily basis.

Take for instance this scenario: we're sickened by a person who abuses a loved one, and don't care that that person was themselves abused. We want them locked up and would kill them ourselves if we could. "It's no excuse," we say. But then years later, we find out that our loved one--due in part to the abuse they suffered--has been abusing a child.

How do we feel about this? How do I feel about this?

It's a constant struggle.

For some people, its easy: ANYONE who abuses ANYONE, is wrong and bad.

For other people, they have strong opinions on the left side of that.

I wish I knew....but I dont yet.

IF Michael did ANYTHING inappropriate with children, I do not condone or excuse it. And I feel so horrible for the people who were truly hurt by him...if there were any.

But I also feel horrible for the confirmed abuse Michael went through as a child.

I am sorry that happened to you, "anonymous." Really am...and thank you for talking about it here...it probably helped someone you've never met!

Lori said...

You are an amazing human being, and thanks for the new and fresh perspective.

laydee said...

I totally agree, it is so important for us to take this as a warning to ourselves and others that it is time to take ownership of our wrongs. We have so many chances in a day to bring just a little joy to someone's life and most of us cose to stick the knife in deeper instead of helping to remove it. I have recently moved to a big city and im still trying to adjust to the coldness of the people around me. It makes you feel lonely and like the whole world hates you. Sometimes it almost feels like its to much. But unfortunatelty no one seems to care and this is the society we live in. I am greatful that you exspressed your opinion on what happen to Michael because it is oh so true. We can tear each other down so quickly, but why is it so hard for us to build each other up? That is my question I feel I will never get an answer to either. Thanx for the words of intelligence.

Solo said...

I came because of the title...I would be probably the only one who will not agree with some of things u say..however decided to write my simple opinion...
Michael's music there is nothing to comment..big part of my life...
Michael as a person...for me he seemed to be a kid locked in a body ..which was aging against his will...he had the best smile ever...the honest and beautiful one...the most innocent laugh :)
I always believed that lost of the problems he had came for the negative energy sent by ppl who envy him...and im not one of those wihooo ppl who believe (a lot) in stars planets and so on...its just a feeling i have..
I never believed for a second that he is pedophile,because in many ways i understand him....a hug from a kid is one of the best feelings u can have...i remember when i was au pair and one of the girls was comming in the middle of the night after a bad dream to my bed and asking me to hug her and sleep with her...and when she came she smelled baby and in few minutes was relaxed and peaceful...its so nice feeling to know that somebody is calm because of ur presence..and im not pedophile...never thought about that possibility even for a second...more like a mother..i still meet with them...now she is 16 and always hugs me and reminds me about : do u remember when i was coming with my pillow...sure i remember ....
About all the disorders he had...well..before we use to say : he is weirdo...now we have names for anything weird we do... if I put my sox and clothes in order i have one kind of disorder...if my mood is swinging i have that disorder..if i dont like going out and i stay in my rancho with swimming pool...forest...zoo and so on...im having phobias..This we will never know .... it did look WEIRD thats damn sure....
Still he was Michael Jackson and nobody ever understood him..I do not believe that NOW will be time when we will understand him..lets just keep enjoying his music and god bless his kids...
I dont know if anybody will read this post ever,but just felt like writing it :)
thanks for ur attention :)


ps....after reading some more posts..i agree with u Arlan on :IF Michael did ANYTHING inappropriate with children, I do not condone or excuse it. And I feel so horrible for the people who were truly hurt by him...if there were any.

But I also feel horrible for the confirmed abuse Michael went through as a child.

arlan said...

Thank you for your thoughts, Solo. I read them and I'm sure a lot of other people did too:-)

Solo said...

thank u :)
its not like im huge MJ fan...its just all this negativity surrounding his death which made me feel sad and somehow wanting to say smtg in deffence...