Michael Jackson was supposed to get creamed by Brit journalist Martin Bashir in his two-hour interview. But by end of the conversation, aired last Thursday on ABC's Prime Time and coming up on MuchMusic Friday (February 14) at 8 pm, I was convinced that he doesn't deserve the trashing. Given my rep for militancy on the child rape issue, I almost can't believe I'm writing this, but I'll say it: I don't think Jackson is the evil abuser Bashir thinks he is.
It's not that I think it's OK for geniuses to behave badly. I'm disgusted by Woody Allen. I hope Roman Polanski gets royally hassled if he tries to enter the U.S. for the Oscars ceremony.
And I don't think it's OK for adults to abuse kids just because they were damaged themselves early on in life. God knows Jackson is damaged goods. You can see it all over his twisted face, an obsession he's had since he suffered humilating acne as a teen. You can see it in his personal Peter Pan fantasy, a product of having had a career as a pop star instead of a real childhood.
But a fucked-up person doesn't automatically wind up in the most fucked-up place. In fact, people who were wounded as kids can turn into their fiercest protectors. I have a strong feeling watching this pixie explain his passion for children that he's not molesting his young friends. He seems a sexless, desperate, emotionally stunted creature who has a deep connection to kids. He says he sees God in their eyes. I believe him.
He's definitely not great dad material. Watch him with his masked toddlers or feeding his newest baby (the one he dangled over the hotel balcony in Berlin) and it's easy to get weirded out. But last time I looked, there was no such thing as a state-authorized parent test, and that's fine with me.
He is, in his relationship to his own children and his youthful visitors to Neverland, fulfilling his own needs -- but what parent isn't. Or daycare workers or teacher, for that matter, who talks about the personal rewards they get from kid energy.
"A 44-year-old adult in bed with an eight-year-old boy?" Bashir keeps carping. And I'm thinking, "Wait a sec. When friends leave their kids with us, they often wind up in the big bed. And if I'm a kid staying over at Neverland, would I want to sleep in the strange cottage next door by myself or in the big house with my friends?"
But we're so hyper-alert to sexual abuse -- a sensitivity not in itself a bad thing -- that we now assume an adult who wants to share his toys with kids must be diddling them.
Michael Jackson gives children a place to play.
Lay off the guy.
He's a freak. But he's not a creep. email@example.com