Thursday, July 9, 2009

Michael Jackson and us...

I see that people do have strong opinions to share about Michael and his passing.

I don't wish to repeat what I've already said, but I am sad he's gone and I'm even sadder about what people say at his expense, without truly knowing him or the truth behind the stories.

He made mistakes, like anyone but I don't believe they were deserving of the gross abuse he was subject to by the public and the media. The things he shared with the media were often his own undoing.

We were not there and he was legally vindicated, yet so many are willing to pretend they know enough intimate details that they are willing to malign the name of a man whose scales were constantly tipped towards the more positive side of human consideration, charity, dignity, art, discipline and, yes...even morality. For every misjudgment we gather with gossip, speculation & sensationalism, there are hundreds more acts of kindness and positive contribution that can be cited from genuine fact.

Watch him, listen to him...recently and when he was a kid...look at his fans... watch his videos, pull up past concert reviews... when was there ever any incident of violence, drugs or indignity that occurred in the vicinity of his performances?

People still pass judgment on stories they consider to be facts, when they're not. He was not found "not guity" due to technicalities. Though I believe he excercised poor judgment in sharing facts people would misinterpret, it was proven that he did nothing sexually wrong or illegal, the accusers were appropriately discredited, some even admitting it.

Nonetheless, it's easier to believe the juicy stuff...that a 135-pound guy in his 40's with no prior history of sexual misconduct, inviting thousands of sick children to his home, suddenly has the strength to overpower some teenagers to something obviously against his normal nature, while millions of teenagers have knocked at his door for years ready to go willingly.

I do believe it was poor judgment to lie anywhere near an unrelated child, even if it was for the childs emotional comfort, in this day and age when I can't even pat a kid's head without getting nabbed. Just for PR, telling the press was a dumb mistake, holding his child over the railing for display, even for a split second, was a dumb mistake, but he doesn't deserve this...especially after death. No one was harmed and everybody benefited from his time here on Earth.

Not everyone liked his style or his music. Not everyone believed that the makeup was to hide splotches developed on his face from an inherited condition that quite visibly exists with other family members. Many still believe that there is such a thing as bleaching your skin. And, though I wish he didn't fix his nose, it's not for me to condemn him for doing so.

The lies have been exposed in the courts & explanations have been given, but they don't sound as credible as "pedophilie" and "freak."

The imbalance of facts in the middle east have been exposed for all to see, yet, even after 9/11, the clear targeting of the state of Israel, the obvious non-existence of the Palestinian people before 1967, that doesn't sound as credible as the terms "Zionist oppressors," "settlers," or "Palestinian State."

I'll say it again...We, as Jews, should know better. And yes, it IS that deep. Michael Jackson's music affected millions of people, including me and my family...including my parents, who didn't identify with his music as much as fully recognize the enormity of his talent and influence.

Our willingness to malign him, mock him, make jokes about things that hurt him & his family and make fun of his death, exposes a cruel and undignified nature about us that I wish I hadn't seen and that none of us should have.

17 comments:

Arthur said...

Gershon

i used the whole idea as a talking point. I dont want to talk about the person. Michael Jackson's Art I think speaks for itself. To add anything to that takes away from what it is and what the contribution was and will continue to be.

However we as Jews treat the idea of death differently. After such a long time and some many trials and tribulations, the body or casket, is still not burried.

That is the biggest difference between Jews and everyone else. Only after the body in interned can people start to mourn!

Joule's Waterfall said...

I just want to say thank you for pointing me to this blog - you said the same thing I said about not being there and I had not even seen this blog! I'd felt as if I'm the only person who feels sadness at the recent MJ opinions. Thank you so much for not only your wonderful music (every bit a part of my youth as MJ's was - in a different way - Lehavdil) - but also for voicing the things I feel on this matter but can't articulate as well as you. Thank you too for this blog.

Anonymous said...

The talented Michael Jackson's career is over. Let him rest in peace. I am saddened by what he could and would have done to inspire the next generation. I mourn for us all. Music brings people together in countless ways. His lyrics were powerful. To be compared to the greatest of sermons told by the greatest of our beloved rabbis. You learn when you are listening.

Anonymous said...

The talented Michael Jackson's career is over. Let him rest in peace. I am saddened by what he could and would have done to inspire the next generation. I mourn for us all. Music brings people together in countless ways. His lyrics were powerful. To be compared to the greatest of sermons told by the greatest of our beloved rabbis. You learn when you are listening.

GV said...

Joule--

Thank you for the compliments. I hope this blog can be a healthy forum for everybody.

Please check out the past posts and bring them up to date by responding.

Tell your friends, too

Thanks for listening.

Ettie Avezov said...

I read your blog and felt like you had put all my thoughts and feelings into words (a very good quality as a singer and songwriter). A brilliant performer, larger than life and yet so down to earth, so caring. He gave millions to charity without looking for recognition just simply trying to "change the world" and make it a better place.

Since his death there have been many new facts that have come to light recently which I could not ignore causing me to stop blindly accepting things as truth and instead look at the facts.

As you said you have a man in his forties with no prior history of inapropriate conduct, violence or drug use. Why was it so easy for us to believe then that he did something so wrong? Because of his own ill-advised statements and media reports that replaced facts with crude opinions and observations. The very media that loved him as a child star and showcased him as an up and coming sensation were equally happy to help bring on his downfall. He was a beloved musical talent who had to deal with constant public attention and criticism all the while dealing with several surgeries to repair the damage to his burned scalp,a skin disorder that caused rapid loss of pigmentation and Lupus which made it worse. We need to keep an open mind.

Dana Friedman said...

Very well said, Gershon.

Anonymous said...

He was a giant in the pop music field, of course. But, would you want your child watching a guy who sings songs while suggestively grabbing his crotch? May he rest in peace.

GV said...

Grabbing his crotch actually never looked sexual to me, just odd at worst, but he did it well. Besides once we start going into the deeper roots of free-spirited modern dance, grabbing the crotch when your dancing is no worse than grabbing it when you have to go to the bathroom. It way be odd or even rude, but I don't see anything sexual in there.

Dare I compare it to Britney or Madonna? Why are we suddenly judging?

The answer, after all that, is that, while I don't think my kids notice the crotch thing more than his whole dance, I just hope they don't grab their crotch when they dance. What's the worst that'll happen? The kid will do it once, everybody reacts and he'll consider that reaction next time he feel like doing it. That's life.

My kids hear people cursing in the checkout lines, they see the dirty magazines hanging from the sales racks, they see kids their own age (as young as 8 or even less) spitting on the sidewalk like their big siblings or their parents. Do people make a big deal of those things? No, but they are much worse, in my book, than grabbing the crotch in the context of interpretive or modern free dance. He happened to have been the best crotch-grabber I ever saw.

Anyway, what does grabbing his crotch have to do with anything now anymore. Respect him for the good he did and stop trying to invent bad stuff just to knock his star down.

He was a human being with enormous talent and a big heart, who made mistakes that we love to pretend we know more about than we actually do.

Now, go listen to his albums and watch some videos to see how a real star performs. Loosen up, enjoy yourself and, for G-d sakes, keep your hands at your sides.

GV said...

I must add an alternative answer to that last question...

If you think that Michael Jackson's thing was all about singing songs while "suggestively" grabbing his crotch, then I submit that you don't get it.

What do you think he's suggesting and why is that the only thing you see? Even the kids don't. I don't see anyone doing it either, including other dancers, singers and fans that were influenced by him.

He only does it a few times at the most and only in certain songs, so why does it affect you so much?

While in Africa, I watched tribesman dance wildly in all sorts of ways, with all sorts of skin markings, piercings, loin cloths, smacking their chests, legs and arms, pulling their hair... They were amazing to watch and I understood that they were from different worlds and cultures. Stop being so selective.

We wish we could have accomplished the charity, adventure, talent and yes, even decency that this man exercised in his 50 years, avoiding drugs, alcohol and suicide on the way.

Some people just can't accept that he had what most of us didn't. I'd be jealous, except that he deserved it, worked hard for it and used it as best he could. He also shared it and he should be thanked for that.

Anonymous said...

Of course you're entitled to your opinion that Michael grabbed his crotch 'well'.

Was it a 'suggestive' grab or a more neutral kind of grab? I can't get into such a ridiculous discussion.


I disagree with your statement that people aren't effected by a superstar gyrating and grabbing his crotch to the beat of the music. Just check out the countless kids who would dress up like MJ and perform his dance routines throughout the years.

Also, the trove of pornography that the police removed from his home does not speak well for him as a role model. I'll expose my kids to Modzitz and Shlomo Carlebach and the like, thanks. When they get older, they'll make their own decisions.

I feel bad for MJ, he was an incredibly talented, and tormented soul.

GV said...

Your last statement is what says it all, no matter how we may disagree. That's the biggest reason I had in posting this thread.

I will say, though, that I'm willing to believe that the pornography he kept in his home was found hidden in a private place not accessible to any children...or perhaps even other adults. Police are given access to every spot in that house and, when arrested under suspicion, they are allowed to sieze anything from anywhere.

Nothing was said about his example to younger children. He was single and often alone, so having pornography is not only legal, it's even understandable (in most cultures). It's only criminal if he intentionally shares it with underage children.
Finally, I must say, since you are in a frum Jewish culture, with modesty codes, customs & lifestyles that are more stringent than most of the world, you would rather your children not choose to emulate his dancing. Otherwise, his dancing was quite acceptable. His form of dress was rarely if ever immodest, even by frum standards, and his performances, while very uninhibited, rarely promoted incorrect sexual conduct. I've seen that kind of dancing and I don't believe he had any need for it.

Within the non-religious traditions of ethics and decency, he was normal...even more so than others. In general, he deserves more credit for examples of decency than condemnation for mistakes or unfounded suspicion.

The TV announces the porno (do you even know which specific magazines or movies they were?), but they consider it boring to share the ledger sheet information on his charities, or letters of appreciation and success-through-inspiration from his fans (even I'VE gotten those...I can only imagine how many he got), the humanitarian awards, community contributions, millions in un-announced private (even anonymous) donations...

I could go on, but the point is: --The thousands of people who he directly impressed positively, versus the 4 or 5 accusers who were either dis proven or discredited, by others or by themselves.
--The "fun" things they tell you on TV or in print that sell air time & advertising, versus the good stuff that sells nothing. That's because the bad stuff is NEW. Something we're surprised about...shocked. That's because we don't expect it of him. Pay attention to that.

But it's fun to suspect a good guy, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

My "last comment" was actually "I feel bad for MJ, he was an incredibly talented, and tormented soul."

My last comment on my first post was "May he rest in peace."

We can agree to disagree, but I am offended by your last comment, which suggests that I'm having "fun" with Michael Jackson's death.

GV said...

If you read my comment, I said no such thing as that you were having fun with his death.

Many are, especially the rumor mill and TV, but your mistakes seem to be a matter of accepting half-truths and non-truths put out by the same sources.

Using your own example, you're willing to accept the faulty logic that, because he had adult men's magazines in his house, that it somehow validates the already-disproven suspicions of him being a sexual deviant or even simply immoral.

Perhaps, if this was a person who represented himself as a member of the clergy or a highly religious person with outspoken convictions against such materials, then he could be considered hypocritical and even immoral, within the sphere of his own beliefs, but that is not the case here.

Whether you approve of such material or not, MJ had every right morally and legally to have those materials in his home without being condemned as a criminal or worse.

Of course, as I said, if they were being shared with objecting guests or with children, then we'd have something to say. Since that is untrue and you have no way of knowing otherwise, you have no right to cite the presence of pornography in his house as being a reason to judge him negatively.

You're not "having fun" with his death, just accepting false facts from people who are. I'm not sure what's worse.

Anonymous said...

I quote your last comment to me again "But it's fun to suspect a good guy, isn't it?" I receive no pleasure reflecting on the death of Michael Jackson. His was a troubled soul.

GV said...

I'm not sure why you're still mis-interpreting this, but I'll try one last time to make myself as clear as possible:

I criticized those who seem to take pleasure in suspecting MJ of wrongdoing, not (G-d forbid) taking pleasure in his death.

I do believe, however, that his death brought this out even more in some cases. It should have prompted some sadness and sympathy with his struggles, rather than become an new occasion for cruel humor & false rumor.

I believe his death was more of a loss than people are willing to admit and believing the nasty helped them rationalize that denial... a trait that's common in our world.

Anonymous said...

This has to be the most intelligent and heartfelt article I have read concerning Michael Jackson since his death, and I've done a lot of research on him in the past few months. It's a shame that the man has been dead for over 3 months now, and the media continues to malign him. He made his mistakes just like any other human being; he never claimed to be perfect. Everything he did was scrutinzed and blown out of proportion because they were determined to label him a "weirdo". As for the adult magazines found in his home, that was a big disappointment to the police because they were looking for kiddie porn, and it turned out to be normal adult women he was looking at. Lots of men look at these types of magazines, so it seems that this points to MJ being more "normal" than people gave him credit for. In spite of what happaned in his life, the man was a genius, pure and simple. He revolutionized music, dancing, and videos. RIP to a true Legend.