By Rosalie Tirella
How unnerving to be at the Massachusetts Symphony Orchestra concert at Institute Park this weekend and have to listen to, of all things, a musical tribute to Michael Jackson – Whacko Jacko! There we sat in the middle of Institute Park, in the middle of what was billed as a “Salute to Disney,” a concert especially for kids, listening to “Thriller” and “Billie Jean” set to trumpet, violins and possibly kettle drum. Let’s see the MSO celebrated the work of (most likely) a pedophile at a concert that was filled with dancing four-year olds!
Somehow, some way – I don’t know why – people have decided to lionize – no, make that deify – a drug addled/addicted, prima dona, weirdo, “entertainer” who didn’t even write his own songs.
First let me say this: I loved (still do) The Jackson Five. On our WCCA TV 13 show “Straight Talk” (which airs Mon. 11:30 p.m, Thurs. 7:30 p.m. and Fri. 11:30 A.M.) I talked of how, when I was a little kid, I used to cut out the Jackson Five 45’s that adorned certain cereal boxes. It was so much fun to get the Alphabits cereal and have my mom pour out the stuff into a big mixing bowl to give me the now empty cereal box. I would then run for my scissors and cut that “record” out – no bigger than a saucer, really. Then I would slap it on my Close and Play portable record player and dance all over the house!
Back then Michael Jackson looked so happy, healthy – and cool! He was adorable in his striped bell bottoms and cap! And he and his brothers sang such fun songs! “ABC – easy as one, two, three!” And then there were the sacharine (but pretty) ballads: “I’ll be There,” “Ben.” Just great stuff. Songs I still like to hear on the radio.
As I said on our TV show, you would never have guessed that Michael and his brothers were being physically and emotionally brutalized by their father/manager Joe Jackson. You would never have guessed that papa Jackson slammed Michael around (because he had the most talent and dad expected perfection from him), emotionally sodomized him and his bros. Who would have guessed that the sight of Papa Jackson made little Michael physically ill?
Then Michael grew up. Then “The Wall” happened – and everyone went nuts over him again. I don’t think he had a nose job back then, but I heard Jackson say during a 2003 TV interview that his dad made fun of him during those vulnerable pre-teen and teen years. Joe Jackson laughed at Michael’s nose all the time. Made fun of his looks. Then in the middle of puberty, with acne and hormones raging, some loser fan saw Jackson and basically asked him: What the hell happened?! You used to look so cute!
So a hyper sensitive teen becomes filled with self-loathing. And the self-flagellation never quite ended. And Whacko Jacko was born. Thank you, dad, mom and show biz.
I remember the songs from “Thriller,” the multi-gazillion selling album that introduced the world to Jackson’s sparkly gloved hand, streamlined nose, un-black hair, Neverland and chimpanzees galore. The songs did not sould happy like the old J5 songs. The songs were filled with angst, alienation … . And Jackson, to me, looked like some little alien/doll-man. It wasn’t reality – it was plastic surgery-ville, wig/extension ville, eventually skin-bleaching world.
How can any African American – and this is what the news stations and newspapers were reporting – say that jackson’s struggles were his/hers? How did jackson reflect African American’s struggles with, say, self-image, etc? I am not being racist when I say: I haven’t got a clue! A drug addled/doped out guy who lived in a bizarre Xanadu. A person who – and I saw this on TV – FRENCH KISSED a BABY chimpanzee! A man who “just slept” with little boys. A man who (and Jackson admitted this during a TV interview) after the birth of his thrid child, took the just delivered new born – still covered with placenta – and ran out of the hospital with him (with the doc’s blessing)! Why? So that he wouldn’t have to hear any bad news about the baby’s health.
Whacko Jacko was truly weird, disturbed and dangerous. To watch a bunch of Worcester kiddies gyrating to his tunes was chilling.