Oh MJ.

He was certainly a fraught character. I’ve been a life-long fan of his music, and despite his many shortcomings and flaws, I still love his songs. He made an indelible mark on pop music, and was nothing short of an icon. While Thriller is the landmark MJ video, this song is particularly touching:

Oh MJ, I will miss you.

Author: has written 5252 posts for this blog.

Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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36 Responses

  1. groovybroad
    groovybroad June 25, 2009 at 7:28 pm |

    yea…i’ve been watching this for a while and refuse to overlook and downplay the fact that he was a pedophile.

    everyone knows it and dont give me the “he was found innocent” crap…the fact is, we would nerver overlook this if it were just some dude down the street. we would be outraged.

    because he was a celebrity, people are actually writing that he will be missed and that he is a hero. ask those kids of he is a hero.

    this is more indicative of how society tends to “forget” celebrity abusers and predators….ie. Roman Polanski, Mike Tyson, etc…

    Fickle, fickle.

    i dont care how many people jump on this and get defensive….even flame me. i do not support pedophiles…regardless of their stature in this society.

  2. ThickRedGlasses
    ThickRedGlasses June 25, 2009 at 7:35 pm |

    I am pretty shocked and saddened by this news. He probably was a pedophile, even if he didn’t molest any kids (Pedophiles just need to have the urges to be labeled that way). But the Jacksons had an extremely fucked up childhood, and Michael got the worst of it. It doesn’t excuse his behavior, but it might explain it.

  3. groovybroad
    groovybroad June 25, 2009 at 7:41 pm |

    ThickRedGasses:

    you’re right: its explains it. thats all.
    i won’t deny he wasn’t talented.
    i will argue this unfaltering adoration by the masses is blindly misplaced.

  4. groovybroad
    groovybroad June 25, 2009 at 7:42 pm |

    yikes! i totally mispelled you’re name, TRG.
    i apologize, i did not do it on purpose!

  5. ThickRedGlasses
    ThickRedGlasses June 25, 2009 at 8:15 pm |

    ThickRedGasses is much funnier. I might have to use that.

  6. SnowdropExplodes
    SnowdropExplodes June 25, 2009 at 8:32 pm |

    groovybroad: I must remain firmly “we just don’t know” on the MJ paedophilia thing, because the stories were never proven. My feeling is that this is just another example of the “Big Lie” principle in action. If a story is told often enough, it becomes “true” in the minds of those who hear it, even if it’s never proved.

    I do think that MJ had a very very poor grasp of appropriate boundaries (which is explained by his own fucked-up childhood) and this showed up in a number of ways, but I really do not think anyone ever demonstrated that he ever had sexual interest in children. It is quite possible that his inappropriate behaviour and lack of proper boundaries was harmful, and we would be foolish not to acknowledge that he had those issues, so it’s a valid point “was he a hero to those kids?”

  7. groovybroad
    groovybroad June 25, 2009 at 8:35 pm |

    TRG:

    you’re hilarious.

  8. groovybroad
    groovybroad June 25, 2009 at 9:04 pm |

    SNOW:

    i completely disagree with you. but i am going to disagree with most people on this…:)

    that “big lie” was once paid off in millions to hush up victims, was taken to court for possible prison time…that “big lie” sure went far…but yep, no one knows because his fame and money bought his freedom. the avergage is easilty manipulated.

    so, to you: one has to be proven to be true? Like say, OJ?
    OJ has also lived in the pleasure of everyone “just not knowing” what happened…he was found innocent. but was he? please.

    as to his childhood “explaining” his behavior: i ask: why didn’t any of the other jacksons chose to abuse kids?
    the explaining away of behavior is a slippery-slope….

  9. Marcy Webb
    Marcy Webb June 25, 2009 at 9:08 pm |

    Such sad and tragic news. I grew up with MJ: Listening to his music, watching the Saturday morning cartoon portraying him and his brothers, and the MTV in its infancy, watching the MJ videos. Sigh.

  10. sasha
    sasha June 25, 2009 at 9:29 pm |

    I am disgusted by the replies in this thread; that is all.

  11. RMJ
    RMJ June 25, 2009 at 9:31 pm |

    GroovyBroad, I’m right with you. People should not pretend that her was not a pedophile.

    Snow, you have far too much faith in the penal system. Wealth can buy you a lot of things in this country.

  12. RMJ
    RMJ June 25, 2009 at 9:34 pm |

    Sorry for the double post, this is what he intended to say:

    GroovyBroad, I’m right with you. People should not pretend that her was not a pedophile.

    Snow, you have far too much faith in the penal system. Wealth can buy you a lot of things in this country.

  13. RMJ
    RMJ June 25, 2009 at 9:36 pm |

    Sorry for the TRIPLE post, please delete the others. This is what I intended to say:

    GroovyBroad, I’m right with you. People should not pretend that he was not a pedophile.

    Snow, you have far too much faith in the penal system. Wealth can buy you a lot of things in this country.

  14. Dana
    Dana June 25, 2009 at 11:06 pm |

    You know, I agree with Snowdrop. Does it have to do with proven innocence? No, because I didn’t know he got out of the charges.

    Basically, my approach has been that there will be NO media out there that hasn’t spun this story. People are and were convinced he was a pedophile with absolutely no evidence. As far as I’m concerned it could go either way – and if he was, it’s a pity we could not euthanise him.

    It seems entirely possible to me he was not a pedophile, but I have no way of knowing, so I reserve judgement. As for mourning his death, I don’t really get on board with mourning people his status as abuser-or-not matters little. I didn’t know him. His family is entitled to mourn. It’s no one else’s business.

  15. Jane
    Jane June 26, 2009 at 3:55 am |

    What happened to having faith in a child abuse survivor’s account? I get the feeling a lot of people would not be saying “well we just don’t know!” if this was any other case of sexual assault where survivors were paid off millions of dollars to shut up.

  16. Overkill
    Overkill June 26, 2009 at 5:23 am |

    Flaws and shortcomings? Hmmmm.

    For me a flaw or a shortcoming is something like, being persistently late or lacking a particular skill (the inability to spell correctly perhaps) :)

    I dont think that Peadophilia can be dissmissed as such.

  17. SnowdropExplodes
    SnowdropExplodes June 26, 2009 at 6:44 am |

    RMJ:

    I am not placing my faith in the penal system, but rather in a scepticism about people’s reactions to the accusation of paedophilia. In my mind there is no doubt that many men (and possibly some women) have been found guilty when in fact the evidence was inconclusive or even proven to be false, simply because people believe the worst and switch off their critical faculties the moment the accusation is made. There have certainly been cases in the UK like this, based on false accusations of viewing child pornography.

    Yes, MJ flashed a lot of cash to make the accusations go away, and he was found not-guilty in a court of law with expensive lawyers and such, but that doesn’t automatically make the accusations true, any more than it makes the accusations false. I don’t know the truth, and the truth has never been examined fairly, therefore I must conclude that I just don’t know for sure. I have explained my belief that MJ had an inappropriate lack of boundaries but did not have a sexual interest in children, and to me, this makes most sense of the information that I have available about him and what we were actually told by the media about the cases.

    groovybroad: On OJ Simpson, I was surprised by how quickly the big lie spread that he definitely had done it; in a court of law, he was found not guilty – then in a civil court, he was found guilty – both times the verdict being suspected of being based on the prejudices of the jury members rather than a calm evaluation of the evidence. There was a joke went around at the time, “Knock knock!” “Who’s there?” “OJ!” “OJ who?” “Right, you’re on the jury!” Once again, I call “case not proven” and refuse to regard OJ as guilty the way some people do.

    I respect others’ rights to form their own opinions about these stories, but demanding or expecting everyone else to have reached the same conclusions “really” is a different matter.

  18. SnowdropExplodes
    SnowdropExplodes June 26, 2009 at 6:45 am |

    For the record, my own take on my reaction to MJ’s death is here.

  19. Marcy Webb
    Marcy Webb June 26, 2009 at 8:30 am |

    We cannot overlook MJ’s tremendous contributions to modern music. No more than we can overlook the contributions Washington and Jefferson made to the founding of the US, and they were slave holders, advocating for liberty and justice.

    That said, MJ was a very confused and disturbed person. No joke. While his childhood was a reason for his behavior, it wasn’t an excuse. I don’t know if MJ was a pedophile, but his behavior with children was bizarre, to say the least. As an adult, he could have made healthier, wiser choices. He certainly had the financial means in order to do so. Which begs a question: Where was his family? Seems that they were as much an emotional train wreck as MJ, and weren’t able to help him in the ways he needed the most. A true post-modern Shakespearean tale.

  20. CartoonCoyote
    CartoonCoyote June 26, 2009 at 8:38 am |

    Same as Elvis, he was surrounded by people who gave a fuck about nothing other than the money he could make them. I wonder if anyone who had his ear at all tried to tell him, regardless of what he actually did, that continuing to associate with children in the manner which got him into so much trouble in the 90′s was a Really Bad Idea. But if he couldn’t reach that conclusion on his own and act on it, without a publicist/manager/life coach/etc., then he was too arrogant, dumb, deluded, and/or ruled by desire to be helped.

    I usually grit my teeth whenever I hear/read a variant of ‘tragic’ in news coverage of a death, because so few of the people who use it evince an understanding of what the word actually means. This qualifies LAMF.

  21. Holly
    Holly June 26, 2009 at 9:02 am |

    You know, I don’t think we have to have outlandishly complex thought processes in order to hold multiple, conflicting things about Michael Jackson in our minds. We’re human beings, we have really powerful brains capable of complexity and nuance.

    Of course Michael Jackson shouldn’t just be deified and made sacred like conservatives did to Ronald Reagan. He fell from that grace a long time ago and will never really re-enter it, except in the minds of his most loyal fans. But the fact that he was an incredibly troubled individual, that he had inappropriate boundaries with children and possibly molested them somehow (although we’ll never know beyond a shadow of a doubt, his fame and money shrouded him in so many ways) — none of that erases the impact he had on SO many lives. Lives beyond his family and friends; more impact than 99% of people living today. Even though he mostly withdrew from the world and became something different, grief over his sudden, final exit belongs to everyone who was touched by his music. It wasn’t all good. But we should honor what was, especially in the moment of grieving, even if we refuse to forget what was very bad.

    I don’t know how old all of you are reading and writing this thread, and it’s not like we all need to put this stuff out there, but I’m almost in my mid-30s. Michael Jackson is one of my first memories of pop culture, happening in the moment, along with the Beatles (well, mostly happening in the past at that point) and Madonna. For a while in the 80s, everything in music and entertainment seemed to revolve around MJ. I was a kid just becoming aware of this whole world of popular culture and the zeitgeist. I remember the moments when iconic symbols of Michael-Jackson-the-Legend burst out and went absolutely everywhere — the jacket, the glove, the moonwalk, oh the moonwalk that we all practiced over and over. To some of you this probably sounds like cheesy nostalgia for symbols that have become jokes or museum relics, but it wasn’t always like that. It was pretty insane. Michael Jackson’s gender, Michael Jackson’s race, the way he went from an adorable kid performer to the hottest 20-something on the planet.

    I am just scratching the surface here. I am not a “fan” of Michael Jackson, in some ways I never was. I mostly listened to Thriller because Vincent Price scared the bejeezus out of my little sister, and I was fascinated in terror by the moments when MJ turns into a werewolf, THEN it turns out that’s just a movie within a movie, THEN there’s another RE-traumatizing moment of horror. I mean, what? There were monsters inside of him, in the most influential music video of his life. I felt the same way. And I was fascinated by the way he performed gender, the weird ways he was starting to navigate race even then. I was never his “fan” — it was all too popular for me, and by the time I was 11 and old enough to start thinking about my “taste,” he was already doing Captain EO and kids my age were making jokes about how cheesy it was. We were listening to Falco and George Michael and They Might Be Giants instead.

    But there’s no doubt that Michael Jackson was a big part of what made me who I am today. It hurts that he had horrible demons to struggle with; it hurts that he never really was held accountable for his actions and that it wasn’t ever truly clear what those actions were; it even hurts that he was a prince of pop who never could grow up to be a king. And so it’s sad that he’s gone.

    His death is a tragedy — much of his life was a tragedy. Not just for him, but for many others, including the kids whose lives were distorted or wrecked by association with him. Like I think CartoonCoyote was trying to say, his life could not be a tragedy if it was not also full of greatness, and terribly flawed. It’s not really a tragedy in the true sense of the word otherwise. I don’t mean “oh, this good noble person died, how tragic.” Quite the opposite, in some senses. So yeah — if you don’t want to grieve, don’t. If you are pissed off about child molesters, don’t grieve. But this is a public event, not just a private death of a member of the family. There is going to be grief, and I think the grief deserves respect even if you think he doesn’t.

  22. Natalia
    Natalia June 26, 2009 at 9:20 am |

    Hm, well, as an child abuse survivor myself, I don’t take the issue lightly. Having said that, fame and money can do more than just buy you freedom, it can also leave as a ripe target for scandal. In the case of someone who had it all together, I’d probably have little doubt on the matter – but in the case of Jackson, who, by all accounts, was a very vulnerable person who deeply craved approval, I have to wonder. I have no doubt that Michael Jackson was a deeply disturbed man, but he could have been mistaken for a predator and a monster. I don’t think we will know for certain. Unless, like, his diary gets published, or something.

    A few years ago, I spoke to a gifted psychologist about Michael (he promptly refused to have his name in print, and I can understand why), and included some of his thoughts in my essay on Michael’s death.

    I don’t know if anyone might find what we talked about useful – after all, we reached no conclusion. It was a conversation I wanted to have because as a kid, I grew up loving Michael’s music. He was a symbol of so much for me – a symbol of the States, of glamour, decadence, brilliance, of all the things I could have if I ever came to America, etc. I think he was that way for a lot of people in poor countries.

    I remain as confused as ever about who he really was. But it doesn’t detract from my listening of his music, which really was lovely.

  23. CartoonCoyote
    CartoonCoyote June 26, 2009 at 9:43 am |

    His death is a tragedy — much of his life was a tragedy. Not just for him, but for many others, including the kids whose lives were distorted or wrecked by association with him. Like I think CartoonCoyote was trying to say, his life could not be a tragedy if it was not also full of greatness, and terribly flawed. It’s not really a tragedy in the true sense of the word otherwise. I don’t mean “oh, this good noble person died, how tragic.” Quite the opposite, in some senses. So yeah — if you don’t want to grieve, don’t. If you are pissed off about child molesters, don’t grieve. But this is a public event, not just a private death of a member of the family. There is going to be grief, and I think the grief deserves respect even if you think he doesn’t.

    That is indeed what I was saying, and your point about being able to hold multiple opinions simultaneously about the guy is spot-on. That’s certainly true in my case.

    I resented having him shoved into my face every 10 minutes in my early teenage years, so much so that I could no longer listen to Thriller, and I was no different from millions of people in loving that album. That gargantuan over-exposure is something I never quite got over when it came to my later assessments of him; those were formative years, after all! Nonetheless, too many people I like and respect, celebrities or not, are genuinely saddened and I understand that; there are folks who are as devastated as I was at 11 years old when John Lennon was murdered (my mother engineered a Beatles freak in the womb). But my way of showing respect is to be honest about the guy; I hope when I go people will do the same when speaking of me.

  24. Property of a Lady » Michael Jackson

    [...] I have listened to about six obituaries, and seen about two hundred Facebook postings. I have seen extraordinary YouTube videos; reminders of a great talent. I’ve heard “King of Pop” and “great talent” and “genius” and “savvy investments.” And I’ve seen maybe two or three oblique references to “controversy” or being “troubled” from individuals (not on the news). Even a feminist blog referred gently to “shortcomings.” [...]

  25. Linnaeus
    Linnaeus June 26, 2009 at 10:57 am |

    And of course, just as I’m reading this post, KEXP is playing “ABC”.

  26. Feministe » I’m Not Like Other Guys…

    [...] Season 5 Round 2, the All Up In Your Blog, Breakin’ Your Feminist Ideology episodeLinnaeus on Oh MJ.octogalore on Marrying for Moneytata on I think you’re confused as to the meaning of [...]

  27. Eghead
    Eghead June 26, 2009 at 1:48 pm |

    Thank God I did not check this site until your other post was up, because I am about to lose my shit if I read one more thing that uses ‘shortcomings and flaws’ as a euphemism for alleged child molestation.

  28. groovybroad
    groovybroad June 26, 2009 at 5:42 pm |

    “shortcomings and flaws”

    WHAT A JOKE.

    how amazing that this first post addressed NOTHING of the abuse, but today there is a new post addressing that very matter….kinda like someone worried about how people noticed such a disgusting omition and began to backtrack.

    Which proves my point of yesterday…how so many people are willing to
    overlook what he did because they are blinded by his talent, fame and celebrity.

    the first reaction of this post was to idolize him.

  29. Natalia
    Natalia June 27, 2009 at 2:53 pm |

    Groovybroad, is the sanctimony really necessary? If you’re a fan of someone, the most natural thing to do upon their death is to react with sadness and surprise. A lot of the other stuff comes later. The general impulse in the face of death, especially early, sudden death like this, is to be humbled by it. And when we are humbled, we use softer language. What were you expecting? “Haw haw! Michael Jackson, that pedophile, has finally croaked!” While I’m sure that some people have responded exactly like this, not everyone is going to feel the same emotions at his passing.

    kinda like someone worried about how people noticed such a disgusting omition and began to backtrack.

    Um yeah, it’s all a big conspiracy for Jill to preserve her image. She couldn’t possibly have deeper thoughts on the matter herself, she’s just rushing out to placate people. She’s sitting at home right now and cackling into her fist about how she fooled everyone into thinking she isn’t excusing MJ’s actions, but she really IS!

    And there’s nothing weird about being blinded by MJ’s talent. It WAS pretty blinding, especially if you really love pop music. Look at someone like Derek Walcott – he’s known for sexually harassing young women, and yet plenty of people still consider him a genius (myself included).

    Appreciating someone’s momentous artistic achievements is not the same as saying – “and it’s perfectly OK for him to molest some kids too!” Sheesh.

  30. Anna
    Anna June 27, 2009 at 3:02 pm |

    Groovybroad: You seem like a bit of a jerk. But that’s just my first reaction.

  31. groovybroad
    groovybroad June 27, 2009 at 4:41 pm |

    Natalie–conspiracy? um, no…never said that. thats quite dramatic. but i’m sure you know that…what i did say was backtracking. so…backtracking ensued again. see below.

    Anna–thats cool. but thats it? thats all you have to add to the discussion?

    Jill–yea ok. even though there are full posts about events from you on this site ALL THE TIME. come on, dont go weak. you write full posts about alot of things all the time. you are one of the authors on a website! i see you do it all the time. you’re backtracking right now. just admit it, you did not address his pedophelia because you were influenced by his talent, name and fame.

    i read this website daily Jill. I know you have time to write full posts. or even just address it with 2 sentences, seriously.

  32. groovybroad
    groovybroad June 27, 2009 at 6:48 pm |

    Jill:

    I can respect that.
    As one of your readers, I appreciate your response.

  33. haloo
    haloo June 28, 2009 at 6:08 pm |

    I think it’s quite possible, perhaps even probable, that MJ did molest children. or at least the ones who accused him of it. but I do think it’s plausible that he neither comitted these actions or had that intent. When people ask me “Oh, come on! How could he not realize how it would look to have a little kid in his bed?”, I think it shows a failure of imagination. The man had such a differently-wired brain than most people on this planet. most artists do. He didn’t have much of a true childhood, either. So, he wouldn’t relate to common society or its mores the way you or I would.

    I’m not saying he didn’t do it. nor am I using this line of reasoning as an excuse for him if he did. I’m just being humble to admit that I don’t know, I don’t understand, and I probably never will.

    I’m not lionizing the man. but it seems wrong to throw bombs on his fresh corpse. It reminds me of the jerks who showed up at Kurt Cobain’s wake with the express intent of calling him an asshole. It just seems wrong. and sadder than the person in question’s decline/burnout. in both situations. and any other like them.

  34. T
    T June 29, 2009 at 3:14 pm |

    I agree with #30. Groovybroad, you seem like a jerk. I would say more but people like you are hard to be rational with and I’m not in the mood for it. I think Natalia and Dana already said everything anyway.

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