While working on this project, I have in some ways lived and breathed "Michael Jackson" nearly 24 hours a day. It's part of my creative process. When I work on any project, I have to become consumed with it, I have to feel what they feel, immerse myself, in order to understand it and in order to be able to put forward the finished product.
During this process, I laughed, I pondered and I shed some tears. I sobbed at times. I had to ask....why?
Why did it appear his life was so successful and yet many times, also so painful and lonely? How did one person handle all of that criticism and betrayal? Immersing myself in the thought of it was enough to cause me great pain.
Why isn't it okay for a man (or a woman for that matter), a human being, to love and care about children and for that person to have a child-like wonderment about him? Couldn't we all use a little more of that? Why does that scare us so much?
Why do we immediately want to label or brand someone we don't know as strange, odd, eccentric? Why don't we care that, when we do that, we hurt the very person we're labeling?
Why don't we get to know others and look beyond the exterior, but instead criticize, tear down, ridicule and humiliate? Why can't we try to put ourselves in someone else's shoes and even for just a moment, try to understand that person better and understand where they're coming from?
Why is human nature such that we strive to tear apart those who give and sacrifice the very most?
We worship money and don't value honesty and a pure heart. We worship fame then rip apart the very people we ourselves put on a pedestal.
Those on the ride sometimes become so consumed that life takes over and fame leaves them empty. They want our love for who they are inside, not for their celebrity status.
A man can't care honestly and innocently about children and have a sensitivity to their pain, wanting to improve their world, without us immediately thinking something is wrong and accusing, despite that we now know (if you have spent time on this website) that those allegations were all about money and greed and not truth) and yet, we accept so many other things. Most things that the media has tried to feed us as "okay", without batting an eyelash, and without anywhere near the criticism that Michael faced day in and day out.
In every video clip I see of him, there seems to be a genuine sense of innocent joy he gets from being around kids, whom he has said are a big inspiration for the songs he writes. He kids around and appears more like a big brother or uncle to the kids rather than a scheming man intent on performing criminal acts with children. I see none of that evidence there. I know for a fact it wasn't there. The Sherrif's Department also was unable to find anything that said otherwise in the 1993 allegations when they viewed the videotapes he had shot of children at Neverland and all of them were "completely innocent." The 2005 trial had a unanymous jury give a "not guilty" verdict on all 14 counts. There was never any DNA found, anywhere.
Should he have allowed kids into his room to sleep? It may not have been a conventional choice and surely maybe not the best choice given how others perceived it, but I have a feeling that in some ways, though he seemed to fight his entire life against the perception the public had of him, that in things he felt were innocent and okay, he went with his gut. He knew in his heart he wasn't doing anything wrong. There is also a lot more to these "facts". You need to go and read the interviews with those who knew, which you will find on The Accusations portion of this website.
He loved and cared about kids with a pure and honest heart. As a child growing up in a very small home, he had shared a bed with his brothers and he had stated in interviews that he grew up sharing a bed with family members at different times. To him, this was a very natural, loving thing and had nothing to do with anything sexual.
Why do we make innocent acts of caring, dirty and vile? Why do we automatically think "dirty" when the motive is pure? I think we can't understand "pure" We don't think it's possible. We've never tried.
In order to understand it, you have to remove yourself from the sometimes twisted thinking of the world and instead, think with your heart. We are too busy thinking with our heads solely, buying in to everything we hear and are shown, and ignore our hearts. Our heads do a good job of reasoning, but our hearts, that is where understanding, love and caring come from, and Michael was very in tune with his heart.
So many things have crossed my mind while I worked diligently on this project. Not only as I have thought about and felt more connected to the life that Michael Jackson had, but also as I pondered many aspects of life in general.
I thought about a man who endured so much and at every opportunity, either the media or the public tore him apart. Despite that though, he maintained his integrity. He remained kind and humble. He didn't stop helping people. That shows that he had something inside of himself much deeper. I believe he had the love of God in his heart.
In an interview that Lisa Marie Presley (who was at the time divorced from Michael), did with a very well-known interviewer, this interviewer continued to press Presley more as to why she married Michael, saying in a demeaning, shocked, disgusted tone, a line of questioning made to paint him in a very bad light. "Yes, but Michael Jackson? Why Michael Jackson?" Sexual attraction? Were you really sexually attracted to Michael Jackson? The way he looked?
I had to ask myself at that moment why it was so important to judge a man by his appearance (and to try to make his appearance something that was disgusting when it wasn't) rather than concentrate on his good deeds and accomplishments. Why this interviewer found Michael Jackson so revolting, because, honestly, I didn't see it. I had never seen it, but especially not once I got to know him more through his poetry, his writings, the interviews he gave. Not when I saw all of the good he was doing in the world and how much of himself he put into his performances and his music. Not when I heard him laugh or saw his incredible dance moves or heard the amazing music he made. You could see him perform, read what he wrote or hear him speak, and you could see his heart and soul bared out.
I asked myself why a supposedly unbiased journalist and professional was so cuttingly blunt about her own opinions and why it was so very important for her to continually tear Michael Jackson down? Why was it so necessary for her and others to paint such a negative picture of him? Why do those with the purest, sensitive, most caring hearts always seem to be the ones who the world tries to tear down?
In my research I found that even some of the major publication tribute magazine articles seemed angled negatively on Michael's "strangeness", his image and other criticisms when the focus should have been on all that he gave to this world and the music business. They did cover those things, but it seemed tainted in some respects by adding the tabloid flavor to the tribute.
This man was awarded 197 awards and honors during his lifetime, was in the music business for 43 years! (despite that he was only 50 years old when he passed away), the Millenium issue of the Guiness Book of World Records named Michael as the pop star who supports the most charity organizations, he sold millions of records, was an inventor, an artist, gave of himself continually, and yet, the press continued to concentrate on what they felt were "strange eccentricities" about him.
When, honestly, did you hear the media talking about and showing Michael's unending humanitarian efforts? Instead, you heard stories of plastic surgery, accusations, perceived strangeness, rumors and speculation. As Michael himself pointed out, the media feels that good, positive news doesn't sell, so instead, we see a more negative, and sometimes, fabricated version of life. We see speculation being sold as facts. We see sensationalism spelled out as sensationalized tabloid news shows show small clips and put in their own damning commentary which has more to do with sensationalism than it does, truth.
To me, I feel you can see truth in someone's heartfelt words if you look deeply enough. Have you read and looked deeper?
Michael mentioned often that he was one of the loneliest people on the earth. According to friends, that was true until his kids came along, whom he loved deeply. Before that, fame and years in showbusiness had probably isolated him to levels that none of us can fully understand. Add to that the allegations in 1993 and then in 2003 and in my opinion, I feel that those horrible, vile things coming against a person with such a caring soul were just too much to bear.
I am sure, like all of us, he had his strengths and he had his weaknesses. I am sure he had parts of his personality, like we all do, that was not as pleasant as his best side. We all do. That's my point exactly. He was human.
Sometimes, when someone is in the spotlight, we can't see past the glare and heats of the light. We see and feel the mystery of the immense talent and the humanity escapes us. We forget that we are all human, even the greatest entertainers.
Some said he trusted too easily, some said he trusted almost noone. Each time he trusted and tried to get the truth out there, he was betrayed, even by people he had helped and to whom he had given of himself so selflessly.
Some say he was a contradiction. Sweet and gentle and painfully shy while being a very astute and shrewd businessman. Gentle and caring and yet internally tortured by his life experiences and all that he had been through.
Do we want sensationalism or do we want truth?
The only way that I feel that we can truly start to know someone is to hear from them, observe them, ask them. We can begin to do that with reading what he has written, which seems very much to come from his heart. Read and listen and honestly tell me that you don't come away with a new appreciation and a true understanding of who Michael Jackson really was, and for some, it's going to be a shock because it's nothing of what you expected, especially if what you expected was the picture that the media painted of Michael.
Everyone who has spoken about him in interviews has mentioned that he was an amazing father and that his kids came first in everything he did. They also mention how kind, generous and just plain, nice, he was. His personal chef, Kai Chase mentioned in an interview with the Associated Press recently that Michael ate both lunch and dinner with his children daily and before each meal, daughter Paris would say grace.
As much as I have researched and read, I also know that we can't take in everything we read and hear, especially from second-hand sources. None of us would want to be judged that way, and we shouldn't judge Michael or anyone else by second hand stories and sensationalized tabloid press. I am choosing to listen with my heart. I am choosing to hear what Michael says about himself.
When I look inside the man who was Michael Jackson and listen with my heart, I see a man who had immense talent, a huge heart, gave millions to charity, visited orphanages and sick children, helped people wherever he went and could dance like a sleek bolt of lightening across the ebony evening sky while singing with an angelic, harmonious voice. I see a man who was filled with the love of God in his heart and everything he did went forth from that very place of grace and love. That's how he was able to maintain being humble and kind, which every friend of his has shared continuously about him. His presence captivated and a light shone from his soul.
I see a man who always reminded people that he loved them and routinely said to people "God bless you," and really meant it (his sincerity was obvious just by how he said it).
I saw a man who spoke about God, Jesus and faith often. Rare in daily life and in today's world, much less in the music business.
A man who spoke about his desire to emulate God and to be more like Jesus, taking care of the children and who took to heart the words of the Bible, including those reminding us to be childlike. Someone whose faith and spirituality seemed an extremely important part of his personality and life.
I guess it's no wonder we would despise and turn our backs on that. The world isn't used to that and unfortunately, doesn't value it. How often do you hear those who are famous like Michael was, really talk about faith and God and try to live it out?
Can't we understand that desire? Why do we turn it into something evil? Did not Jesus himself love and welcome children? Would we do the same to him today? Sadly, the answer is, yes.
Michael saw his talent as a gift from God, and it most certainly was. He took that gift and used it as a platform to reach the world and to have as far-reaching an effect as possible. To try to change the world. And he did indeed change the world just by his being here. As his lawyer Tom Meseraeu stated, the world is definitely a better place for his having been here.
Though I didn't know Michael personally, what I speak of are my honest, gut feelings from having read his writings, hearing him speak, listening to his lyrics, observing his actions and watching him move, as well as talking to people who knew him closely and dearly. It is what I have felt as I took to heart the concept from Michael's 2007 Ebony interview of "let it speak to you." I have let Michael speak to me through his words, songs and actions and what I have found is a very beautiful soul that left this earth way too soon.
You can tell a lot about a person by what they share of their heart. The problem is, many times, people aren't listening. We judge instead on what we "think" we know from the soundbytes we hear. We don't really listen. Soundbytes are just that. Moments in time and not the whole story. We wouldn't want to be judged by soundbytes in our own life. We need to give Michael that same consideration.
Being a writer, I express myself the best through the written word, and yet, even though this is a way for people to really get to know me, so few actually take the time to read what I'm saying from my heart and soul when I decide to share. I think that for Michael, it was probably much the same.
I may not have known him, but we can all "know" him through what he shared with all of us. He put his heart and soul into his lyrics, on paper, and when he spoke and laughed. Just listen and read and you will see. It's all right there for you to see. You just need to put aside the garbage you've heard, and just look and read and see. Look into his eyes when he speaks, listen to his words, see how his actions come from a place of kindness, humbleness and faith.
I do know this. Love and acceptance breeds more of the same and the world definitely needs more of that. We need more caring and less criticism and hate.
This process, as I've mentioned before, made me wonder and think deeply on lots of issues. Being a sensitive person myself who also has a creative bent, I can put myself in his shoes a little and I can understand what I imagine is how he felt at times. It taught me not only a lot about Michael, but about the world, human nature, and, about myself. Some of Michael's essays and poems shone a mirror on my own longings, fears and doubts. Some of the things I have come against are so minor compared to what Michael, I'm sure, had to put up with on a daily basis, and if we would all put ourselves in his shoes, we'd realize just how difficult that all was.
I wonder and feel deep sadness as I saw the beautiful light and joy that shown in his eyes, seem to fade after he was accussed of the unthinkable. As he saw his trust betrayed in the Bashir documentary. As he was treated by some media and some of the public as some kind of oddity, some kind of freak, less than human. To hear crazy, hurtful, awful things being said about him with the public soaking it up like a sponge, without them ever really knowing or trying to get to know the human being behind the art, must have been a very sad experience for someone who gave so much. He put himself out there, but we didn't listen. We idolized his talent, and abandoned and shunned, the person, the human being.
We kept believing the steady diet of garbage we were being so regularly fed and made jokes and snide remarks at the cost of another human being. Did he not have feelings? Read "In His Own Words," and you will see that these things hurt him deeply.
When we saw Michael tell us he suffered from vitiligo, for instance, why would we capitalize on his pain or choose to ridicule and not believe, rather than lift up a fellow human being with love and compassion?
We loved to watch him sing and dance and then in our own dance of deception, we tore apart his very soul. We believed accusations and rumors because it was easier to do so than to search out and seek truth. God expects us to seek truth in all things. Are we really listening?
I have to ask myself where the honesty and the caring human spirit have gone? Have they ever been here?
I have to wonder what Michael thought and felt as his whole being was bombarded with criticism and accusations constantly when he was trying so desperately to use the talents he knew God had given him to entertain, show love and care for others, to make a real difference in this world? To give his soul. How he felt when others turned their backs on him.
When I was immersed in research for this project, I felt honestly overwhelmed by all that I saw, heard and read that people had said about him. I felt hurt and overwhelmed. I can only imagine how he must have felt.
I wonder how that felt to bare and give your soul so fully only to have your very person and that very soul, ripped apart? To have everything about your appearance criticized and analyzed down to the last minutae, day in and day out. I do know. Because I put myself in Michael's shoes through the course of this and it was utterly painful. I cried many tears for the pain he endured.
In some ways, Michael's life was not like ours. He attained levels of fame and notoriety that nobody else has achieved. He had immense talent and despite that, seemed incredibly humble about it. He had to grow up at a very early age and witnessed more at a tender age than he should have. We can't pretend to know what his very unique life experiences did to his perception.
Can you blame him for secluding himself at times, for feeling devestated by the betrayal? He gave us his soul, we gave back love on one hand, extreme criticism on the other. Can you imagine maybe why he couldn't sleep, why he suffered?
Could the very things we criticized him for.....could we be the cause? We bought the magazines, listened to the news broadcasts. Did we add to his pain?
Why, honestly, were we so intent on tearing apart a gentle, sensitive soul? Why did we see that open wound and continue to do things that made it fester and grow instead of looking towards healing it?
It's truly a shame because only now in his death can some see the error of their ways while others continue to demean and say vile and disgusting things about a person who can no longer defend himself. Can you see how wrong that is?
Did our ignorance and desire to tear down rather than build up, contribute to the downfall and pain of another human being?
Did greed and the desire for money by others threaten to steal this man's very soul and essence ?
Why, after he told us so many times and he tried to get us to understand, that he suffered from a skin disease, that he was shy, that he understandably needed his privacy. Why didn't we listen? Why didn't we open our hearts and reallly listen rather than getting out our daggers to hurt and scar someone deeper?
We need to look at a person as a whole and see the full picture and not just the snippets we are thrown that we used to form unsubstantiated opinions.
No doubt he was definitely driven and ambitious and worked very hard to achieve the success he had and it is no doubt that not only was he a very gifted person, but he used those gifts to help others. As soon as Michael would get off the plane in the city of his next concert, he would go visit an orphanage or children's hospital. He would make sure that the conditions of particular orphanages were cleaned up or he wouldn't go on stage.
We never heard much about those things though. The media felt it was more important to treat us to sensationalized stories that would raise their ratings. It was easier to believe the sensational stories and it gave us more to talk about at the office water cooler. Even now, these "news shows" are angling things about Michael to put him in a bad light, even after his death. Can't we all see how wrong that is? Can't we?
Putting others down somehow makes us feel bigger. But, at what cost? What expense?
The cost? The caring, sensitive heart of a fellow human who, at his best, only seemed to want to share with us his talent, who showed love and who gave of himself.
He wanted so badly for us to understand and to see the real Michael, but we instead listened to the stories that made him sound crazy and pointed out every perceived fault and flaw. It tore a man apart inside, but as long as it entertained us, we apparently were okay with that.
Why do we put others down and tear others apart to make ourselves feel better? What do we really gain?
True love comes from inside. We have to love ourselves first. But it becomes much more difficult to love ourselves when we are constantly ridiculed and criticized. Can you yourself imagine the kind of criticism that Michael had to put up with on a regular basis? Could you handle it? How would you feel? Were you one of the people who criticized? If so, maybe it's time to take a look in your mirror, vow to make a change and start anew, today.
Can you imagine not even being able to go to a grocery store or out to a restaurant or the park without being mobbed? Fame definitely has it's price. Did he plan to become as big as he did? Some say yes, he strategically planned success, but if that were true, I am sure he didn't know at the time the incredible price he would have to pay. I think deep down he was a person with the best of intentions and due to his celebrity and the untrue things that were constantly being said about him, he must have struggled immensely with all of the pressures he was under.
Whatever you thought of Michael, try to see past all that you have read and heard and instead, listen to what Michael shares of himself. This website provides you with the tools to do that. Then make a decision to treat others with the kind of love and respect that you would want for yourself. I think that alone, could change so much in this world. That seemed to be the major premise that Michael held near and dear to his heart. I hope he knew, that he was very much loved by so many.
Today is the time. It's time to make a change. Will you join me?