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June 26, 2009

King of Pop, R.I.P.


Andrew Sullivan is right on the money in his discussion of the tragic life and death of Michael Jackson:

There are two things to say about him. He was a musical genius; and he was an abused child. By abuse, I do not mean sexual abuse; I mean he was used brutally and callously for money, and clearly imprisoned by a tyrannical father. He had no real childhood and spent much of his later life struggling to get one. He was spiritually and psychologically raped at a very early age - and never recovered. Watching him change his race, his age, and almost his gender, you saw a tortured soul seeking what the rest of us take for granted: a normal life . . .

. . . Of course, he bears responsibility for his bizarre life. But the damage done to him by his own family and then by all those motivated more by money and power than by faith and love was irreparable in the end. He died a while ago. He remained for so long a walking human shell.

Read the entire thing. (As a bonus, Sullivan has embedded Jackson's legendary performance at the 25th anniversary celebration of Motown.)

I have nothing to add about Jackson save "God rest his soul." But I do want to say something about Roberto's Rule #6: no minor child should ever be the principal source of support for his family. Period. Parents are intended by God, natural selection, the Tao, etc., to provide for their children until they can take care of themselves and not the other way around. Departing from this standard inevitably distorts the parent-child relationship to the detriment of everyone.

In some cases, like Jackson's, the deleterious effects are obvious. In other cases, they're (a lot) more subtle but just as real. In every instance, it's a bad idea bordering on the abusive.

(Image courtesy of Wikipedia)

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Dan Gill

I'd agree with all of that except the "musical genius" part. Jackson's music was not genius. He managed to hit a chord with the pop music culture, but that had more to do with his use of video and his dance techniques than his music. He was simply a pop singer that managed to hit it big. That says more about our celebrity worship than it does about him.


Thriller really is one of the greatest albums of all time. It's a shame MJ was so creepy and weird. The really sad thing is he left kids behind. Who is going to care for them now? His whacked out family?

Catherine Larson

Sadly I think we can expect to see the same dysfunctionality manifest itself in the Gosselin children as they grow up. No one should have to live their childhood the way those kids have had to.

Diane Singer

This is another sad commentary on Jackson's life, from a Jewish rabbi who was trying to help him. It speaks volumes about what happens when someone must "perform" to be loved.


So has Farrah Fawcett become another example of the "Mother Teresa effect", where someone famous dies more-or-less as expected on the same day that someone more famous dies unexpectedly, pushing an otherwise notable obituary way off the front page?

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