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Black or White: The Michael Jackson Controversy

The debate about whether Michael Jackson was, or was not, a sexual abuser has gone viral. Is that truly what this debate should be about though?

Documentaries are supposed to reveal the truth, but the latest documentary about Michael Jackson is far from unbiased. It focuses on two alledged survivors of sexual abuse and their version of the story.  Possibly that it is the truth, possibly it is not. It has started a worldwide debate about who Michael Jackson truly was. It has made me contemplate what the debate is about and, possibly, what the debate should be about. 

I remember when I was still living in Los Angeles and had a hard time dealing with the tourist buses that drove up to me, stopped and had people take photos of me. When walking home from Trader Joe’s with your groceries, looking like hell, I didn’t always appreciate busloads of tourists snapping away. Who they thought I was, I don’t know. I think the presumption was: she lives in Hollywood, she must be famous. But sometimes, a bus puling up next to you and numerous cameras zooming in on you felt a bit weird. I felt pride too, vanity and all that, but I also felt awkward as hell.

One day, when I complained about it all, my best friend snapped at me, saying I could just wave at them and give them a nice memory. Even Michael Jackson would come out to wave when he was alive, so why couldn’t I get over myself and be nice to them, instead of cowering away? She had a point.

But if I felt awkward having busloads of tourists zoom in on me, how did Michael Jackson feel growing up as a child star? No doubt fame is addictive, but it’s also detrimental to many as their footing in reality becomes loosened. And if you think it’s hard having your friends judge your life on social media, imagine what it’s like having the paparazzi following your every step.

Michael Jackson was not a normal man. He didn’t know what it was like shopping for groceries, attending a children’s birthday party, or living a life without an entourage. He even opened a ranch called Neverland. He wanted his childhood back, so he created it as an adult.

We are all a product of our environment. If our environment doesn’t teach us how to deal with life properly, we don’t know how to deal with life. Look at people growing up in the midst of gang wars. Some realize there’s a life outside the gang and that’s all they ever dream of. Some never see that there is a life outside and grow up thinking life is a war zone and you have to fight to survive.

When we reach a certain age, we are told we are adults and therefore responsible for our actions. Yet many people, by the time they have reached adulthood, rather than being prepared to live happy lives, have no idea of how to make decisions that bring them happiness. To many people the idea of happiness isn’t even attainable.

Michael Jackson was a man who was rich enough to live out his fantasies, which in his case involved living life like a child in many ways. He also did a lot for charity and was obsessed with trying to make this world a better place. He got to live out that fantasy, too.

In view of the recent documentary about two men who accuse Michael Jackson of sexually abusing them, the world has gone completely crazy shouting out their opinions about him. During his lifetime he was accused of sexually abusing children and was acquitted. One of the two men in the recent documentary even testified in defense of him. He was in his twenties back then. More recently, the same man tried to get hired for the Cirque du Soleil show about Michael Jackson. And his mother called the Jackson family and asked if she shouldn’t raise Michael’s children after he died, even though she hadn’t had contact with the family for years. At least if you are to believe Brandi Jackson.

The two men who partook in the Jackson documentary are, according to the Jacksons, suing the Jackson estate for hundreds of millions of dollars. No small sums, in other words.

I don’t know if Michael Jackson abused children. I find it somewhat disturbing that people are ready to accuse him without a judge and jury. That people take the events expressed in the documentary as facts without questioning them. I find it equally disturbing that fans and people who weren’t there, defend him saying it couldn’t have happened because he was a great man. Many great men have committed crimes, because people aren’t black and white. People have many different sides to their personalities.

When there is an argument, people tend to latch onto one side or another, getting stuck on something that’s an opinion, as opposed to a fact. For example, people say things like: “Michael Jackson had children sleeping in his bed, therefore he must be an abuser.”

I help raise underprivileged kids and I’ve been around several people who do fostering, or part-time fostering, so I can definitively understand letting kids come stay with you. And kids are prone to want to sleep in your bed if they like you. As a child, I went to sleep in my parents’ bed because it was safe. Luring kids into your bed, on the other hand, is disturbing in so many ways I can’t even begin to think about it. It makes me sick. And I think that’s where most of us lose it — if we think someone abuses children we get furious.

I’m guessing that our willingness to judge without asking too many questions happens when we see something that moves us. And most of us get furious when we watch what we believe to be abuse of another person. But that same rage that’s meant to protect us can also blind us.

What I think is missing in this debate is also mental health services for people who have problems with their sexuality. You would think that an adult would have enough control over themselves not to act on their urges, but as is seen with anorexia, with overweight people, with OCD, and just the average adult who tells themselves they’ll go to the gym and then don’t, controlling our urges isn’t always as easy as it seems. There is a vast difference between controlling things that only affect you and things that affect others, but it’s important to point out that adults are not always as in control over their actions as they’d like to think they are. And I can imagine that while calling a psychologist to tell them that you’re having anorexia is fairly easy if you aren’t in denial, calling them to tell them you feel sexually attracted to children is a lot more difficult. It’s not socially acceptable to have that mental disease. It’s obvious why it’s not socially acceptable, but it’s also obvious that these people need to be able to seek help. Urgently.

Michael Jackson is gone, but around the world today there are thousands of people in need of mental health services who won’t receive them. As a result, some of them will end up criminals if they give in to their urges and delusions.

Isn't this where our attention should be? Future prevention of sexual crimes. 

From what little I’ve seen of Michael Jackson, he was a mentally ill man. He might have been the kindest man ever (and I've met people who worked with him who said he was amazing), but he still wanted to be Peter Pan. That alone should ring some warning bells. He died from an unintentional drug overdose. That too, should ring a warning bell. If he abused children, or just surrounded himself with them, I have no idea. I have not researched it properly, nor am I a crime investigator, I’m merely pointing out that people’s willingness to accept whatever is thrown at them is shocking no matter what camp they're in, in the Michael Jackson debate. Likewise, peoples' need to put things in black and white disturbs me. People are, for the most part, both black and white. We all need to learn to control our minds and act from our hearts, or we act out our own patterns, whatever they may be. In some people’s cases these patterns are clearly worse than others and these people need to be put behind bars until they’ve stopped acting out those patterns. If they can’t change their patterns, they need to stay behind bars.

I think it’s time we all stopped taking things at face value; started asking for facts and also let go of some of our own biases — just because someone is nice to you, doesn’t mean they’re not horrible to someone else. And just because they’re horrible to one person doesn’t mean they’re altogether rotten. It might, on the other hand, mean that they need help and if they can’t control themselves, be put in jail. I believe it's time we start thinking about mental health interventions before people reach a point where they commit crimes. I, for one, wish someone would have given Michael Jackson a childhood that didn't lead to him wanting to become Peter Pan. 


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Have you ever found yourself unable to move off your couch because your gorgeous, much-loved pet has curled up next to you or has settled themselves so firmly on your lap that you're loathe to disturb them? Are there times when your pet is languishing across your keyboard and you're praying that they don't press 'send' on a half-finished email, yet you're loving the fact that they're supervising your work!

- Being close to your pet helps keep you calmer, even if you do have a wry smile on your face due to their antics. When you've 'no choice' you can gradually allow yourself to relax in their company. It's a wonderful feeling to be so trusted by a creature that feels secure and is totally at ease with you. And after a busy day filled with a miscellany of sometimes stressful experiences dedicating attention to your pet can be a great way to manage stress.

- Pets have no agenda. When you walk through the door you may be greeted by exuberant paws, be expected to take them for a walk, replenish their food bowl and be completely there for them. Those moments of enforced pet-time can be a delicious opportunity to recharge your batteries and overcome the urgent mental prompts about what you should/ought/must be doing next. What's more precious than spending time going for a walk or settling down with a gently dozing creature who's totally at peace and curled up next to you?

- Sometimes we have to park our to do list for now and give in to those moments, accepting them as a good reason to stop running from one job to the next. Ignoring your pet is futile, so attending to them might as well become your main priority.

- Why not turn those moments into something even more special by allowing yourself to really celebrate the connection you have with your beautiful companion. When they are relaxing peacefully on your lap you may not even be able to reach your phone or the TV remote control. There's no real option but to simply sit it out.

- So, turn your attention away from external distractions. Stroke their coat and enjoy its feel and texture. Is it soft and silky or has it a more coarse feel to it? Tune in to their smell, their breathing, the little sounds they perhaps make. Smile at any tremors or movements - are they chasing or playing in their dreams?

- As your internal chatter calms and settles, become more mindful and tuned in to your own breathing, each breath becoming a calmer, more relaxed experience. Notice your body; is there any tension in your shoulders, chest, stomach, back? Allow it to subside.

You know that you're not going to be moving for a while so commit to enjoying those few meaningful moments and value the special gift that your beautiful pet is giving you. Appreciate some time out as quality time for yourself, a very precious present and way to manage stress.

About Author -

Susan Leigh, Altrincham, Cheshire, South Manchester counsellor, hypnotherapist, relationship counsellor, writer & media contributor. She works with individual clients, couples and provides corporate workshops and support. She's author of 3 books, 'Dealing with Stress, Managing its Impact', '101 Days of Inspiration #tipoftheday' and 'Dealing with Death, Coping with the Pain', all on Amazon. To order a copy or for more information, help and free articles visit 


In recent years, the mainstream media has spoken a lot about mental health. What this has done is created greater awareness around this important topic; something that might not have occurred otherwise.

There are at least two ways that this source has played a part. Firstly, it has spoken about this area directly and, secondly, it has provided certain public figures with a platform to share their own challenges.

Out of the Dark

There is then likely to have been plenty of people who have benefit from what this source has covered in recent years. For one thing, it may have allowed them to realise that they are not the only ones who are going through a tough time.

Their experience would have been normalised, allowing them to reach out for the support that they needed. Yet, even if there are people who haven’t taken this step, at least they will know that they are not the only ones in this position.

A New View

When it comes to the public figures that have opened up about their own struggles, some of these people may have changed how some people perceive mental health problems. One reason for this is that some these people will have been perceived as being strong and having it altogether.

Said another way, as these people have struggled it will have meant that having mental problems doesn’t mean that someone is weak or incapable, for instance. If anything, it simply shows that they are human.

An Important Step

Naturally, if something is seen as a weakness, it is going to be normal for someone to do what they can to cover it up. Opening up abut what they are going through will be seen as something that could cause them to be ostracised.

Taking this into account, the sports stars and actors/actresses that have come forward and opened up have played a key role in changing how mental health problems are viewed. These people are just expressing the truth: having mental problems doesn’t mean that someone is weak, worthless or incapable.

A Process

Sadly, there are people out there that won’t have been impacted by any of this, which will mean that they will continue to suffer in silence. For others, hearing about this in the media will have opened them up to reaching out, but they might not know what do to next.

And even for those that have reached out, they may have felt that the support that they did receive was inadequate. In each of these cases, it will be essential for them to think about the fact that they don’t deserve to experience life in this way and that they need to keep going until they receive the assistance that they need.

The Other Side

However, although the mainstream media has played a key role in redefining how some people view mental health problems, and are continuing to do so, it doesn’t mean that they haven’t also played a part in the challenges that some people have had, and still have. To get an idea of what is being spoken about here; one only needs to think about what this source of information typically focuses on.

For so long, this source has focused on stories that are fear-based and, in recent years, this source has given a lot of attention to stories that are designed to cause outrage. It is then as if this source is serving medicine with one hand and poison with the other.

The First Part

When it comes to the fear-based content, this could relate to the need to attack another country due to some made up reason, for instance. Not doing so will be presented as something that would put their very survival at risk.

Hearing stories like this, along with a host of others, can set someone up to experience a fair among of fear and anxiety. Thanks to this fake news - the very thing that this source accuses the alternative media of - so many people will be kept in a continual state of existential angst.

The Second Part

When it comes to the content designed to cause outrage, it could relate to what someone has said or their interpretation of what has been said. The intention will most likely be to get as many people as possible to react in a certain way.

This source will be saying jump and there will be plenty of people who are willing to jump. As a result of this, these people can end up being consumed by anger or rage, with their stress levels going through the roof in the process.

A Fine Line

Clearly, no longer paying attention to what is going in the world is not the answer; this would just cause someone to be uniformed. Nonetheless, there is a massive difference between paying attention to sources that exist to inform and sources that exist to brainwash.

Living in a place of fear or outrage is not going to benefit ones mental and emotional health. Thus, if someone is sucked into what the mainstream media is trying to sell them, it is not going to be a surprise if their inner world is not in a good way.

Conclusion

This is not to say that they will experience inner peace if they no longer pay attention to this source, as there may be other steps that they need to take. There are many things that have an effect on their inner world, including: what they eat, who they spend time with, their sleeping habits, what they do for a living, how long they spend in nature, and the amount of exercise they do, amongst other things.

Along with this, there is the effect that their early years may have had on their brain and body. Having good mental and emotional health is then not about doing one thing in particular; it is about living in the right way.

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