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No one else on Earth bears the pain of a Michael Jackson fan

This post is a combination of answers to recent letters from Michael Jackson fans. But it speaks to all the fans. In fact, this blog came about because I wrote a review of the film “This Is It,” that published, and fans began to contact me. They asked questions, they poured out their hearts; they told me tender and sensitive things I can’t repeat. It seemed at first as though their grief was disproportionate, and odd in some ways because I heard the same stories over and over about peoples’ newborn curiosity about Jackson– from people who were never fans. Many began to ask me to speak about my perceptions of the Jackson phenomenon that certainly took many forms.

There was Jackson himself, the enigma that nobody seemed to figure out, the icon that confused and bruised ingrained and culturally embedded sensibilities. His disarming seemed deliberate. His work carried a message that when decoded, revealed a man on fire– a man determined to change the world using his art, work, life and body to do it.

There was the phenomenon of the fans. They were not just grieving but they were inconsolable. They were showing signs of post trauma and of a spiritual emergency and it was not just a few individuals, it was a mass of them.

Then there was the compelling intrigue of it all and the curiosity of it. It beckoned in a way that was for more than simple curiosity or even compelling desire  to “figure this out.” What in the world was happening? How did this all come about? Why were fans so loyal, so intractably devoted and angry?

So began the study. The fans told me of their “Michaeling” which meant that they were watching his work on Youtube, reading his books, scanning the Internet for all things Michael Jackson. They were obsessed. When a well known figure dies, they become the center of focus for awhile because that’s natural but in time the intensity trails off… Not so with Michael Jackson. They were “Michaeling,” they told me– which they interpreted as compulsively seeking him out on the Internet– in videos and articles, buying his books, CDs and DVDs. They began collecting not just his work, but information. And it is still the case for many even 5 years later.

For me, the study has been an incredible journey with the discovery of all facets of an artist and from many viewpoints developed and honed over a lifetime; it’s been fascinating. “Michaeling,” though, has come to mean something else to me since I began to learn of it and through it 5 years ago. And I hope my definition goes viral like a scandal on fire because “Michaeling” has come to demonstrate to me, how fans have rallied to humanitarian causes in the name and memory of “Michael Jackson.” Schools have been funded, a children’s home been built, and a million trees planted– and that is only the beginning. That is true “Michaeling.” I hope someday the dictionary defines “Michaeling” as philanthropy in the name and honor of Michael Joe Jackson.

So many of the fans have turned their grief into action. And they have done it to honor a man who quietly did the same all his life. Something I’ve read over and over is “I am a different person. Michael Jackson changed me.”

I think the pain is so great for fans because the world is still so cruel to “Michael Jackson,” in name and in memory. It’s a bitter irony that it’s the fans who have taken the time and had the interest to research court records, studied what people said, looked into the backgrounds of those who accused and prosecuted him. They know that Michael was set up and that the first accusation of harming children came from a man who was mentally ill and wanted Michael to bankroll his career change from dentist to Hollywood screen writer. The second accusation came from a woman the jury saw as unglued, disjointed, with issues of entitlement and who had coached her children into assisting with other extortions where she received a payout. They know the scope of the corruption in this case and it takes their breath away. They have learned that Michael Jackson was seen as everybody’s benefactor and banker. The fans have studied and the fans know.

Nobody but fans have really researched this because the media saw a juicy story that could not be ignored and would not be challenged because it was so lucrative– the most famous and visible superstar in the world accused of sexual exploitation of children! It doesn’t get more juicy than that! Nothing sells like scandal! And the tabloids and tabloid journalists and tabloid TV milked it for all it was worth – bringing bags of cash and offering it to anyone who would tell them a salacious story for instant cash. Some of those offers were multiple times the target’s annual salary. So what’s more attractive– telling the truth or enough money to buy you a new house? In a sense, they are all victims too.

And the mainstream media jealous of the money the tabs were making followed in their path and did exactly the same thing. They learned that a “Michael Jackson” story sells. Any Michael Jackson story, whether true or not. When your editor realizes that a single individual can double and triple sales and circulation, reporters are going to be sent out to “get the story.” And what do they do when there is no story? Go back to their editor empty handed? No, they just take a piece of innocuous information and make something up. It’s evil. Pure and simple. No stuttering, no excuses. It was evil and the evil was rampant.

There’s even a name for it. When hysterical evil infects a society, it is like a virus that spreads to everyone involved or observing. The Indigenous people knew this phenomenon and even have a name for it– Windigo or Wetiko. It truly is a psychological madness that grips everyone downwind of it and in the case of Michael Jackson, because he was so famous and so beloved, that was the whole world because the world was downwind.

The pain that fans feel is not just the loss of “their idol” as the most guilty of those exploitive reporters has insisted and shouted and written in service to perpetuating it as a cultural meme. He’s not their idol, not in the way that slur toward the fans is meant. And not in the way most mean that or use that word.

Jackson fans do admire him for the way he retained dignity and strength in the face of an evil nobody else on earth has had to endure. And they feel the loss of a man who was tortured for no reason, who was innocent (confirmed by a jury that actually EXAMINED the evidence– or in this case lack of evidence,} and claimed by many who personally knew him, were close to him, and trusted him.) Jackson loved children but not in the way the virus of evil has captured imaginations and spread salacious and unfounded information. He championed children’s causes around the world, donated medical equipment in every city he toured, gave millions to charity (sometimes all the earnings from an entire tour,) quietly paid medical bills for parents who couldn’t afford them, found organ donors for some who would die without them, and even paid for funerals in cases where families didn’t have the money. He didn’t build Neverland for himself; he built it as a gift to the thousands of poor, sick and inner-city children who visited the ranch some attended by his staff in his absence because he was working elsewhere.

He’s not an “idol” but he is to be admired– a deeply religious and spiritual man who stood tall and faced unprecedented mocking and bullying as he found himself in the perfect storm at a time in human history where scandal was more attractive than integrity. Where humans were stuck in an evolutionary phase where it was more lucrative to behave as adolescents in a juvenile way and where scandal was raging in the body politic like hormones in puberty. The fans know that we humans are better than this and it was Michael himself who attempted to tell us all. They hurt because the world got it so wrong and has done nothing to correct it.

The pain is deep because it is all so unjust, the lies and unexamined assumptions and racism continue to this day, and they feel helpless to change it and find the whole situation sometimes just hopeless. It’s the virulent sting of powerlessness. The infection is too widespread, the wound too gaping. It is because their fellow humans (humanity) is consciously or not, caught up in it as well. And on top of that injury is the insult that Michael is gone.

It’s not that he is the fans’ “idol” or even their “angel” though some of the more sentimental individuals may feel that way (puberty and delayed puberty or addiction to drama and adrenalin will do that.) But it is more the archetype of the martyr– someone who dies for a cause. Someone who gives his life for a cause, for something noble and just and magnificent. Someone who throws down his body to serve his fellow man. It is that the martyrdom is not yet revealed nor is the cause clear. And therein lies the excruciating torment of incessant injustice heaped on grief.

In the midst of their sorrow is hidden the ghost of humanity and innocence lost for no reason that does not represent evil. The truth and reason live in the future while there are those who live now to suppress it, who insist on calling the fans “crazy” for the same reason they exploited Michael in the first place– for their own gain. Facing the truth of that is a living hell. Who would invite that? Admitting that to self is impossible because it would make clear one’s own complicity in the spread of evil upon humanity. So admitting it to the world is out of the question.

The truth of the matter is far greater than it first appears, far more vast than grasped in a glance, more archetypal than is realized. It is not just about Michael Jackson; it’s about many, many things that involve all humanity. Thus the size of the pain for fans of Michael Jackson. And no one else on this Earth bears it.

All Donations currently are being used to publish the “Words and Violence” Compendium, a project with more than 600 pages of resources about bullying with words– from the playground to the media. The Compendia will be shared with schools, childrens’ programs, educators and other supporters.

“Words and Violence” studies the impact of words when used as weapons to promote violence.

The work is dedicated to Michael Jackson and Lady Diana Spencer.


Singing Earth’s song on Earth Day

April 22 is Earth Day.

Singing Earth’s song is more urgent than ever.
If we don’t work together to make that change immediately, there will be no future for Earth.
It is that serious. It is that urgent.

1960s… Rachel Carson tried to warn us with “Silent Spring” in the sixties.
1970s… Green Peace tried to warn us in the seventies.
NASA’s Blue marble photo was released in 1972 and consciousness shifted from the human ego to the fragile and precious blue planet.
1980s… In the eighties, we saw the Earth Justice movement adding legislation to prevent smog, pollution and chemical disasters like the incident at Bhopal and the nuclear meltdown in Chernobyl.

1990s… And in 1995, Michael Jackson joined the chorus:

This is where we are now. We’ve had 60 years to fix it. Now it’s really broken.

We have to fix this NOW. Here’s the simple one minute cure:

Some ways you can sing along:


Charter for Compassion…
Pachamama Alliance…  See: “Awakening the Dreamer”
Green Peace…
Sierra Club…
Earth Justice
Animal Legal Defense Fund…
Union of Concerned Scientists…
World Wildlife Fund…
Humane Society…


Adding the “Sustainable World Coalition:
(Order the book- it’s a great resource)
Here’s another way you can help the planet: Help us create a more humane narrative (story)


The 3rd edition of “Words and Violence,” the first ever program dedicated to Michael Jackson and Lady Diana Spencer, founded in 2009 after Michael’s passing with contributions by fans and admirers, journalists and artists, released its 3rd edition August 29, 2013. The 3rd edition featured “Performance Arts as communicator and change agent.” It asks media, theater, film and television to “make that change” by closely examining their responsibility to the culture and to humanity in favor of its evolution, not devolution. It charges those who contribute to the performing arts to become stewards of a more humane narrative (story) on this planet.

Words and Violence features scores of contributors from all walks of life and this project examines bullying in all its incarnations from the playground to the tabloids to the mortuary.

The 4th edition, to be released August 29, 2014 will examine the bigger picture, in fact its focus is the biggest picture: How we “BULLY THE PLANET.”

If you would like to support the work of this body of work about bullying in all its forms that has grown to more than 600 pages of resources for 140 countries and is hosted at Voices Education Project, please make a generous donation. A donation made for “Earth Day” will go toward publishing a 40 page compendium of resources for schools, civic organizations, journalists and educators.

All Donations currently are being used to publish the “Words and Violence” Compendium, a project with more than 600 pages of resources about bullying with words– from the playground to the media. The Compendia will be shared with schools, childrens’ programs, educators and other supporters.

“Words and Violence” studies the impact of words when used as weapons to promote violence.

“Words and Violence” studies the impact of words and images when used as weapon or as healer. The work is dedicated to Michael Jackson and Lady Diana Spencer.


If you’re a Jackson, the Rules are Different

Why are the rules different when you’re a Jackson? They were different for Michael; they were different for Janet; they are different for Katherine; they are different for the Jackson brothers.

Why is that?

When you’re a Jackson and a piece of American history, American music royalty, an evolutionary and revolutionary for race relations, the first musicians to address social justice issues, the first child protégé and product of pride for African Americans– why are the ruled different for you?

If you’re a female celebrity why are the rules different for you than they are for males of your same genre?

And if you are female and black, and dare to be openly sexy or sexual, why is that the end of the world? Why does that so offend people?

Are you offended by female nudity?

Are you offended by breasts?

This is a photo of Lady Liberty by French painter Eugene De Lacroix








This was a little racy wasn’t it? Offended here?










Remember this? Offended?







Then why all this?




Just sayin’…


From the Huffington Post:


All Donations currently are being used to publish the “Words and Violence” Compendium, a project with more than 600 pages of resources about bullying with words– from the playground to the media. The Compendia will be shared with schools, childrens’ programs, educators and other supporters.

“Words and Violence” studies the impact of words when used as weapons to promote violence.

The work is dedicated to Michael Jackson and Lady Diana Spencer.


Still Healing the World again

“I read the other day some verses written by an eminent painter which were original and not conventional. Always the soul hears an admonition in such lines, let the subject be what it may. The sentiment they instill is of more value than any thought they may contain. To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men–that is genius. Speak your latent conviction, and it shall be universal sense; for always the inmost becomes the outmost-and our first thought is rendered back to us by the trumpets of the Last Judgment. Familiar as the voice of the mind is to each, the highest merit we ascribe to Moses, Plato and Milton is that they set at naught books and traditions, and spoke not what men, but what they thought. A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his.

“In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.

“Great works of art have no more affecting lesson for us than this. They teach us to abide by our spontaneous impression with good humored inflexibility then most when the whole cry of voices is on the other side. Else tomorrow a stranger will say with masterly good sense precisely what we have thought and felt all the time, and we shall be forced to take with shame our own opinion from another.

“There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better for worse as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried. Not for nothing one face, one character, one fact, makes much impression on him, and another none. It is not without pre-established harmony, this sculpture in the memory. The eye was placed where one ray should fall, that it might testify of that particular ray. Bravely let him speak the utmost syllable of his confession. We but half express ourselves, and are ashamed of that divine idea which each of us represents. It may be safely trusted as proportionate and of good issues, so it be faithfully imparted, but God will not have his work made manifest by cowards. It needs a divine man to exhibit anything divine. A man is relieved and gay [ joyful (original meaning) ] when he has put his heart into his work and done his best; but what he has said or done otherwise shall give him no peace. It is a deliverance which does not deliver. In the attempt his genius deserts him; no muse befriends; no invention, no hope.

“Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. Accept the place the divine providence has found for you, the society of your contemporaries, the connexion of events. Great men have always done so, and confided themselves childlike to the genius of their age, betraying their perception that the Eternal was stirring at their heart, working through their hands, predominating in all their being. And we are now men, and must accept in the highest mind the same transcendent destiny; and not pinched in a corner, not cowards fleeing before a revolution, but redeemers and benefactors, pious aspirants to be noble clay under the Almighty effort let us advance on Chaos and the Dark….

“These are the voices which we hear in solitude, but they grow faint and inaudible as we enter into the world. Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members. Society is a joint stock company, in which the members agree, for the better securing of his bread to each shareholder, to surrender the liberty and culture of the eater. The virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion. It loves not realities and creators, but names and customs.

“Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist. He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore if it be goodness. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of our own mind. Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world. I remember an answer which when quite young I was prompted to make to a valued adviser who was wont to importune me with the dear old doctrines of the church. On my saying, What have I to do with the sacredness of traditions, if I live wholly from within? My friend suggested,-“But these impulses may be from below, not from above.” I replied, “They do not seem to me to be such; but if I am the devil’s child, I will live then from the devil.” No law can be sacred to me but that of my nature. Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to that or this; the only right is what is after my constitution; the only wrong what is against it. A man is to carry himself in the presence of all opposition as if every thing were titular and ephemeral but he. I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names, to large societies and dead institutions. Every decent and well spoken individual affects and sways me more than is right. I ought to go upright and vital, and speak the rude truth in all ways….

“What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is the harder because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it. It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.

“The objection to conforming to usages that have become dead to you is that it scatters your force. It loses your time and blurs the impression of your character. If you maintain a dead church, contribute to a dead Bible Society, vote with a great party either for the Government or against it, spread your table like base housekeepers,-under all these screens I have difficulty to detect the precise man you are. And of course so much force is withdrawn from your proper life. But do your thing, and I shall know you. Do your work, and you shall reinforce yourself. A man must consider what a blindman’s buff is this game of conformity. If I know your sect I anticipate your argument. I hear a preacher announce for his text and topic the expediency of one of the institutions of his church. Do I not know beforehand that not possibly can he say a new and spontaneous word? . . . Well, most men have bound their eyes with one or another handkerchief, and attached themselves to some one of these communities of opinion. This conformity makes them not false in a few particulars, authors of a few lies, but false in all particulars. Their every truth is not quite true. Their two is not the real two, their four not the real four: so that every word they say chagrins us and we know not where to begin to set them right. Meantime nature is not slow to equip us in the prison uniform of the party to which we adhere. We come to wear one cut of face and figure, and acquire by degrees the gentlest asinine expression. There is a mortifying experience in particular, which does not fail to wreak itself also in the general history; I mean “the foolish face of praise,” the forced smile which we put on in company where we do not feel at ease, in answer to conversation which does not interest us. The muscles, not spontaneously moved but moved by a low usurping willfullness, grow tight about the outline of the face, and make the most disagreeable sensation; a sensation of rebuke and warning which no brave young man will suffer twice.

“For non conformity. the world whips you with its displeasure…. It is easy enough for a firm man who knows the world to brook the rage of the cultivated classes. Their rage is decorous and prudent, for they are timid, as being very vulnerable themselves. But when to their feminine rage the indignation of the people is added, when the ignorant and the poor are aroused, when the unintelligent brute force that lies at the bottom of society is made to growl and mow, it needs the habit of magnanimity and religion to treat it godlike as a trifle of no concernment.

“The other terror that scares us from self trust is our consistency; a reverence for our past act or word because the eyes of others have no other data for computing our orbit than our past acts, and we are loath to disappoint them.

“But why should you keep your head over your shoulder? Why drag about this monstrous corpse of your memory, lest you contradict somewhat you have stated in this or that public place? Suppose you should contradict yourself; what then?

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Out upon your guarded lips! Sew them up with packthread, do. Else if you would be a man speak what you think today in words as hard as cannon balls, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict everything you said today. Ah, then, exclaim the aged ladies, you shall be sure to be misunderstood! Misunderstood! It is a right fool’s word. Is it so bad then to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood…. ” 

~Ralph Waldo Emerson


 A little perspective….

Eric Dyson and Cornell West

Michael Jackson and Grandma

All Donations currently are being used to publish the “Words and Violence” Compendium, a project with more than 600 pages of resources about bullying with words– from the playground to the media. The Compendia will be shared with schools, childrens’ programs, educators and other supporters.

“Words and Violence” studies the impact of words when used as weapons to promote violence.

The work is dedicated to Michael Jackson and Lady Diana Spencer.


Still Healing the world

I watched a man today
on the street
dance for the sheer joy of it
all by himself,
with no embarrassment,
no restraint,
no holding back

and it was the most beautiful thing–
a thing to behold.
He danced because he could,
because the music would not censor him
nor allow hesitation;
nor did the world.

And I thought of Michael Jackson
how he danced with abandonment,
how he thrilled the world,
healed the world,
how he is still healing
a world that even though
he’s gone now
still won’t let him heal.

I watched another man today
dance with light,
and thought of one who came before
who also danced with light,
how he let it pour in and through–
a different kind of light,
the light within.

I remembered how he danced it,
shared it with abandonment,
and how fiercely he loved
to thrill the world
to heal the world
to dance with light
to LIGHT the world
all for LOVE.


Michael Jackson still healing the world:

Singers at the United Nations

All Donations currently are being used to publish the “Words and Violence” Compendium, a project with more than 600 pages of resources about bullying with words– from the playground to the media. The Compendia will be shared with schools, childrens’ programs, educators and other supporters.

“Words and Violence” studies the impact of words when used as weapons to promote violence.

The work is dedicated to Michael Jackson and Lady Diana Spencer.


Heal the World: March 22 is World Water Day

Thirteen million years ago the earth began to form this sacred place. Subterranean springs replenish this well in the earth in the amount of a million and a half gallons per day. The water maintains a year round temperature of 76 degrees.

This is Montezuma Well in Arizona. If you look closely, you will see Montezuma’s fortress high up in the canyon wall.

As we speak, the 13 Indigenous Grandmothers are holding ceremony at Montezuma’s well in the desert. They are accompanied by 300 women who are “Titans ” interested in healing this planet.

World Water Day is Saturday, March 22 and on that day many elders, tribes and Earth stewards will gather and hold ceremony that includes setting intention for clearing the waters and will include praying over and for the waters.

The United Nations has declared this day World Water Day in hopes of bringing attention to the state of the waters of Earth and their part in energy and sustainability. Without water, human life can not continue.

Wherever you are on Earth on this day, please take a few moments to do ceremony and pray for all the waters of the Earth and for more awareness of human stewardship of this precious resource. You might want to play Earthsong or smudge or send a prayer to the heavens with drumming. However you choose to participate, the Earth thanks you.

While not everyone agrees with Dr. Emoto’s work with water, we know that intention and energy affects the ecosystem. Water, it seems, reacts to human intention. All is energy. The highest form of energy is LOVE.

Please do it all for LOVE.

Here is some information on water, the 13 grandmothers and on World Water Day.

How thoughts affect water:

United Nations World Water Day:

Thirteen Grandmothers:

Earth Song:

The New Newsweek (almost)

I knew that Newsweek was going to publish a tribute issue to Michael Jackson and I got the word that it had been released. I had hopes for the reporter obviously new to the “Michael Jackson story.” After a rocky and schizophrenic confusing moment, it seemed there was an authentic interest in what was “important for his legacy.” I cheered and held my breath hoping the real Jackson, as I had come to know, would finally be revealed.

I got a message it was published and on its way to the stands and I went out with great anticipation to get my copy. I began reading a piece from the reporter who seemed momentarily anyway, a convert from the usual tabloid-informed brain to a reasonable and open mind and mindset about Jackson.

The story I read was accurate and laudable. I then began reading the magazine from the beginning… I was encouraged by the accolades published by those people who actually knew Michael Jackson– the people who count in re-counting his personality, generosity and genius. Some of the material was truly inspiring.

This magazine was turning out to be a worthy tribute– finally. And it was until– alas– the last entry.

It seemed that despite a few minor misinformation glitches, there was to be no snarky commentary about his appearance, race, skin color or the tabloid myth of his other-than-paternal-and-mentoring interest in children.  (What sick child in a hospital or anywhere for that matter wouldn’t be excited and inspired by the most famous man and entertainer in the world coming to see him or her?) They all seem to forget the man was found innocent on charges 14 times– 14 times “not guilty” rang out. Nobody gets off on 14 charges if truly guilty unless they are empty charges and there is no case as many have said of Jackson’s trial. The charges were piled on by a district attorney known to pile on charges hoping something will stick and who had a vendetta against Jackson and who didn’t like minorities in his elite, premiere and very white city. And he certainly didn’t like a black entertainer owning property that he and his real estate cohorts wanted for a vineyard in the winery-peppered foothills of the Santa Ynez Mountaings. Hurray, I thought and congratulations to Newsweek for a very close to completely unbiased issue of Newsweek featuring a man about whom nobody seems to know the truth or care to know it.

But as I read the very last article, this stellar story and publication of the real Michael Jackson was not to be. It seems they can’t help themselves– they just have to go there despite profusely documented extortion, exoneration, and media malfeasance. “Finding Neverland” made snarky references to Jackson and his life citing his journey “from the most adorable of kiddie performers to the most ‘sinister superstar.'”

And “as a singer, Jackson was too much of a chameleon”(instead of versatile and widely talented) which reduced him to simply just a ‘giant’ in the shadow of great ‘demigods’ like Sinatra and Ray Charles,” say the authors of the final article. Is one a competing musician and singer?

Before I continue, let me inform you that the writer who assisted David Gates (is this the same David Ashworth Gates who formed the band “Bread?”) was Raina Kelley, a black woman who is so outraged about race and racial bias that she has written about it everywhere she has worked or contributed. It’s not that the outrage isn’t warranted given the history of racism in America and its mythology about black men (actually mentioned in the story.) It’s that she has a half white-half black son whom when he was born, she initially wished he would get darker and look black instead of Caucasian like her husband so he wouldn’t be mistaken as white. She feared the eventual scenario of a white young man kindly helping an elderly black woman across the street– that everybody would think a stranger rather than his mother.

But why the outrage against Jackson and the racial hate in this article? Is it the same sentiment that once swept the black population when Jackson began to look more white than black that labeled him a traitor to his race? Is it the mythology of the “bleaching cream” that was supposed to make him more attractive to whites? (His attractiveness to whites is even mentioned in this article and is viewed as “contrived.”) Nobody apparently researched his fans and their history and certainly nobody asked the well behaved and articulate ones. Nobody bothered to see the documentary about his trial or speak to its filmmakers about how the fans felt about Jackson.

Between them, authors Ms. Kelley and Mr. Gates managed to Make Jackson a hermaphrodite or asexual: “when he was a grown man his apparent lack of adult sexuality;” and “sexually unassertive;” and “never had the sexual credibility of a James Brown or a Wilson Pickett, in part because of his high-pitched voice, in part because he never seemed to fully inhabit himself– whoever that was.”

Jackson fans all over the world might disagree with those words as they found his sexuality thrilling. It was the kind of sexuality that was bold at times, hinted at others, was often sexually aggressive and was mixed with a bold tenderness that thrilled women. It worked with his wife Lisa Marie Presley who called him proficient in bed (though not in those words) and who loved him very much and stood by him until the concierge doctors showed up. And there was his second wife, Debbie Rowe, with whom he had children. Neither of those women complained about his “lack of sexuality.” In fact, Donald Trump observed when Lisa Marie and Michael were married, they spend a great deal of their time inside in their hotel room and emerged with the glow of newlyweds that couldn’t keep their hands off each other.

They write that much of what Jackson achieved seems now “baldly symbolic” and “acts of appropriation and mastery if not outright aggression– growing up in the Midwest to marry Elvis’ daughter, and acquire the Beatles Catalogue.” (Would those comments be made about an extremely successful white man?)

And of course, they referenced his displaying Prince II from the balcony of the German hotel (“dangled to the horror and fascination of fans”) as once again, the tabloid meme makes it into a “legitimate” magazine like Newsweek. And that act that was supposed to be a private moment between him and fans begging to get a glimpse of his new baby was also symbolic to the writers: “seemed like a ritual attempt to dispose of his younger self.”

Journalists can’t have it both ways– you can’t “dispose of your younger self” and live a Peter Pan existence! Which is it oh great media gods?

The magazine cites Nelson George as his biographer. While it could have been worse, George is not the ultimate authority and his book is not unbiased. Michael did not like him. In a meeting in a hotel room with Janet, Michael came to pick up his sister for an event and George was in the room. George introduced himself and Michael replied “I know who you are.” Michael proceeded to dismiss him as royalty would dismiss a commoner, and collected his sister. (There is a question raised whether this meeting was with George or Bego.) At any rate, Michael respected people who told the truth. No one at Newsweek bothered to seek out Joe Vogel, the latest professional author and biographer, nor director Spike Lee who just put together a biographical film.

And there is this– allowed to leak into this article in part by a black woman: “he performed his dance of death as a central figure in America’s long racial horror show.” “A messianic superstar” (Jackson never saw himself that way nor has anyone who ever personally knew him or worked with him called him “messianic,” but quite the opposite– as polite, respectful, generous and gracious to everyone he ever worked with.)

But it gets worse: “he neutered himself racially too: His hair went from kinky to straight (whose didn’t in those days?) his lips from full to thin, his nose from broad to pinched and his skin from dark to a ghastly pallor.” And nowhere in this article is his Vitiligo or Lupus Erythematosus mentioned as the cause of his skin pigment and scarring problems.

While citing the quote by Anna Kisselgoff that he was a “virtuoso” and called a genius and a “natural talent” by everyone who worked closely with him, this article calls him an “artificer” or someone who is contrived, constructed or made up.

Am I the only one who reads more than a little Shadenfreude and projected shadow in this article? A black women who is upset that her son isn’t black enough and if it is the same David Ashworth Gates, singer and songwriter with the band “Bread” and it seems likely, for one of the authors of an actually truthful and complimentary article is Jeff Ashworth. Are they related? Why are there no bios of these authors?

At the end of the article, the authors wonder if Jackson was excited about re-mythologizing himself in “This Is It.” And end with a weird “Ask him sometime if you see him” remark.

This article isn’t all bad, but it’s definitely schizophrenic and full of unexamined assumptions by the authors.

It’s really too bad because the rest of the magazine is more truthful, factual and objective and avoids speculation, personal projections and tabloid-informed opinions. It does, however rehash old stuff published long ago instead of talking with those now, who worked with Michael then. There are a couple of exceptions and the magazine while reduced to mediocrity by the final article filled with innuendo and speculation that reflects the authors instead of Jackson, it is worth grudgingly collecting because of some of the other accurate and interesting entries.

Artist David Nordahl, interviewed by Jeff Ashworth who isn’t completely without previous tabloid taint but who looks to have made an honest attempt at neutrality in writing this work, tells of Michael Jackson’s great dream of a museum of his life and work– for the real story of Michael Jackson is hidden in plain sight and Michael knew that one day it would become visible in a museum as mass consciousness evolved to understand and decode it.

It seems a museum was really important to him and he saw a museum as his true legacy. It apparently meant so much to him that as he tried to navigate the demands on him in preparations for “This Is It” and even with all that angst, he found the time and energy to call Nate Giorgio and David Nordahl to tell them he thought he found the perfect location for his museum. Hopefully the right ears are listening to that, his fondest, long-term and apparently last wish. A friend of more than 20 years would know.

But no magazine yet has nailed the real Michael Jackson. And nobody has bothered to talk with knowledgeable fans and biographers who might enlighten a researcher but that might take real work instead of cobbled together halfhearted attempts with intentions to sell magazines more than intentions of truth. That work is yet to be released.

Too bad your last story couldn’t have been something other than a tabloid rehash. How very, very sad. But how naive to hope for something lofty when Newsweek merged with The Daily Beast and is now the Newsweek Daily Beast Company.

Nice try Newsweek. Close but not quite.



If you decide to write to Newsweek, please be factual and polite and congratulate them on what they did right as well as what they didn’t do correctly.

Newsweek Magazine:



Today is Int’l Women’s Day: MJ and Mean Girls

Today is International Women’s Day. The Dalai Lama and I agree that “the Western woman can save the world.” So, let’s join the movement that empowers women to change the world. But first, we may have to change the “Woman in the Mirror.”

What does Michael Jackson have to do with the “Mean Girl Syndrome?” Everything. The syndrome is actually “relational aggression.” Michael Jackson was the most visible target on Earth of social and relational aggression. A meanness madness that infected a whole culture. Hyper-viral malicious malfeasance.

There are new studies about the nature of relational aggression and what is its impact on society. It’s relational aggression that foments bullying, meanness, lack of empathy and compassion and ultimately threatens life. It is relational aggression turned toward the planet itself that is the manifestation of this meanness on steroids. I believe it’s women who can make the changes warranted to save the world.

Here are some things to ponder on this International Day for Women…

Newest Miss Representation Trailer (2011 Sundance Film Festival Official Selection) from The Representation Project on Vimeo.


The History of the United Nations’ International Women’s Day:

This is from “Thought Catalog” a new media experiment.
Mean Girl Syndrome (“Dog-piling”)

“First of all, what is a Mean Girl? It’s hard to pinpoint an exact definition, but I think most of us can agree on the idea of “Women who use passive-aggressive or outright aggressive tactics to shame, humiliate, ostracize, or hurt other women, often with the intention of making herself look better by comparison.” Mean girls are, in short, bullies who target other women. While it can be difficult to come up with a definition that is both concise and apt for a variety of attitudes and actions, most of us know Mean Girl behavior when we see it — and it would be disingenuous to pretend that we don’t. (Hell, we even have an entire film of the same name for reference, should we need a refresher.)

And though this kind of behavior would often be expected to taper off after the constant, forced proximity of high school is over, there is no secret about its continuation well into adulthood. Hell, there are entire careers forged in being snarky and judgmental about other women — usually celebrity women, who some will argue have agreed to such treatment by choosing to be in the public eye. We are entertained in a visceral, almost WWE-like way by the spectacle of women going after one another, especially in a public forum. To put another woman down, aside from providing the high of righteous indignation and moral superiority, is often very lucrative. Just as in high school, being derisive or outright aggressive towards your fellow woman can bring the kind of social currency that places you atop a hierarchy. When other women fear you because they know that you are to be treaded lightly around, you are deferred to.

There is also, lest we forget, a great social pressure to make ourselves look better in comparison with one another. We are in competition for so many opportunities that are still somewhat limited to us by our gender — whether professional, personal, or social — and it brings out in even the most reasonable person a sense of cutthroat urgency. To put another woman down, to push her farther down one of any number of ladders in life, only makes your climb just that much easier. In the eyes of those in power, in the eyes of other women watching the spectacle, to deride and shame another woman is a palpable positive.

While this occurs every day on a more individual level, it’s hard not to notice the great social waves it can come in on a more broad scale. Look, for example, at the internet (most notably parts of the internet which proudly self-identify as “feminist”) and its recent decision to hate — and I wish there were a word stronger than hate to use here, because it would apply — Taylor Swift. There is no secret about the disdain people feel towards her and her inoffensive brand of wide-eyed girl pop. She doesn’t identify as a feminist, she has played into Madonna/Whore dichotomies in her songs, she is family-friendly, she centers the vast majority of her persona around men and the approval they do or do not give her — she is everything that many women believe you should not be. And while, yes, some of her comments or lyrics have been egregious (such as the ode to slut shaming that is “You Belong With Me”), most of her offenses ostensibly involve living a life that other women do not approve of.

Yet the conversation cannot consist of “Here is what she said that is wrong or uncool, here is why it is wrong or uncool, here is why we should not say those things.” It never can. It has to extend to every minute aspect of her personal life, manner of dress, personal labels, and dating habits. The dogpiling on her has to be extensive, and it has to be petty. We have to show — in articles, in comments, in funny GIFs — just how much we hate her and everything she stands for and exactly why we are not like her and never will be. We must accuse her of setting women back, of making laughable decisions, of being everything she is not supposed to be.

Honestly? I don’t really care for Taylor Swift. I’ve never really enjoyed her music, and I don’t think her obsession with talking about relationships is very interesting after a certain point. Yes, I am open to a discussion about the unethical nature of some of her lyrics, but I don’t think that justifies engaging in what is undeniably Mean Girl behavior towards her on the internet. I don’t think that any woman deserves to be put in the “bad” column and have open season declared on her. I don’t feel that, simply because she has transgressed any number of rules I may have drawn in the sand about the way another person (or, let’s be honest, another woman) should behave, I have the right to bash her ad nauseam to prove my point and remind everyone just how much moral ground I have on her. Most importantly, I don’t see the petty, cruel bashing of aspects of her life unrelated to her tangible misdeeds as somehow totally justifiable or not-Mean Girl simply because they are being performed against Taylor Swift.

To be fair, though, I — like almost every woman, if we’re being honest — have engaged in Mean Girl behavior in my own life. I have been more hard on another woman than I would have been on a man in the same scenario, or have gone too far with my criticisms to drive home a point about how unacceptable I believe her behavior to be. Because within all of us exists a voice (entirely planted by society, but watered nonetheless by us on a regular basis) which tells us that we must be tit-for-tat, that we must prove our superiority, that we must retaliate against perceived offenses by any means necessary. It is the voice which deems it okay to attack another woman repeatedly if we believe she has checked off enough points on a list of behaviors to become “deserving.” It is the voice that says that such a list exists in the first place, or that anyone besides each individual woman gets to decide it for herself.

When I look at the way people talk about Taylor Swift, I see clear Mean Girl actions put under a thin, politicized veil of “doing it for the good of women as a whole.” Hell, I even see men who identify as feminists using some of her commentary to launch dig after dig about every aspect of her life. I can identify it and do my best to distance myself from the kind of behaviors or rhetoric I see used to put her down for any number of reasons. But when it comes to my own life, I often have trouble seeing that I am engaging in these kinds of childish games until it is over, until I have time to look back at the severity I used with a woman that I may not have with a man. Perhaps it would be best, then, before we go after another woman or make a derisive comment about her because we believe — at least on some level — that she is responsible for or indicative of her gender as a whole, to ask ourselves: Are we being Mean Girls?”

What’s the Antidote for “Relational Aggression” (Mean Girl Syndrome)?
Find An accomplished Woman Mentor.

George Washington University School of Business’ Kathy Korman Frey founded the “Hot Mamas” Project
The school has the largest women’s case study library in the country. (I am a case author and was one of the founding case authors.)

Here’s the case you’ll want to read:

The Mean Girl Syndrome has to end and the Confident, Professional and Engaging Woman who can change the world must take her place.

What does the “woman in the mirror” have to say about that?

Media:Toward hope and a more humane narrative? Part II

Halle Barry is applauding a new paparazzi law that will protect the children of celebrities in California.

The 47-year-old actress, who is expecting her second child with husband Olivier Martinez, testified in support of the new legislation that was signed into law by California Gov. Jerry Brown Tuesday.

In a statement released to ABC News, she said, “I started this fight with a great deal of hope and a bit of uncertainty so I cannot express my immense gratitude that Gov. Brown has recognized, and acted to remedy, the plight of children who are tormented because of the identity or prominence of their parents. On behalf of my children, it is my hope that this is the beginning of the end for those overly aggressive paparazzi whose outrageous conduct has caused so much trauma and emotional distress.”

“This started as just a hope and a wish for my daughter,” said Berry, mother to 6-year-old Nahla.

In her statement, the Oscar-winning actress thanked Calif. Sen. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, who sponsored the anti-harassment legislation, which changes the definition of harassment to include photographing or recording a child without the permission of a legal guardian by following the child or guardian’s activities or by lying in wait.

The New Law

The new law allows for $10,000 fines and civil law suits to be filed if paparazzi harass children to grab a shot purely because of who their parents are. Anyone convicted of a first offense could spend between 10 days and a year in jail.

Berry also thanked her fellow artists who lobbied alongside her.

“I am forever in awe of the support I got within my community, from the enormously talented musician Adele to fellow actor, Jennifer Garner, who traveled with me to Sacramento to share her children’s stories, experience and her desire to give them a better life,” she said in her statement. “I’m grateful to Nia Vardalos and the numerous parents who work as actors, musicians, as well as professionals in medicine, mental health, lawyers, judges and cops who have experienced their children being harassed, tormented or otherwise put in dangerous situations due to their parent’s profession and therefore lent their support.

“It is for all of us that I rejoice today and hope that this fight will continue and that the proper enforcement of this law will truly make a positive impact on the daily lives of all children,” she said.

I was struck by the arrogance and attitude of entitlement of some characters in this clip. It’s appalling.  “They don’t have to live in New York;” they don’t have to…” blah blah blah. As if these strangers have the right to invade someone’s (another stranger’s) privacy, frighten children and take photographs without their permission in order to write headlines that excoriate or ridicule the very target of their interest. It is an individual’s CIVIL RIGHT to live anywhere they choose. As if a journalist or magazine has the right to dictate where someone should live, what they should do, where they should go, what they should be subjected to and tolerate and all manner of other limitations to another person’s life? Isn’t that the very definition of slavery?


Garner, who has three children with actor-director Ben Affleck, said in a statement to ABC News, “I’m elated that this bill has passed and that all kids will now be protected from harassment by the paparazzi. Halle Berry is my hero for leading this charge. I’m truly grateful to everyone involved in making this happen.”

In June, Berry gave emotional testimony at the California state capitol in Sacramento.

“My daughter doesn’t want to go to school because she knows ‘the men’ are watching for her,” the “Monster’s Ball” actress told the Assembly Committee on Public Safety. “They jump out of the bushes and from behind cars and who knows where else, besieging these children just to get a photo.”

She added: “I have to yell, ‘She’s a child. Leave my child alone. Leave my child alone.’ We get into the car, and my daughter is now sobbing, and she says to me, ‘Are they going to kill us? Are they going to kill us?’”

The legislation had been opposed on First Amendment grounds by the California Newspaper Publishers Association, the Motion Picture Association of America and the California Broadcasters Association.

Los Angeles (CNN) — Ben Affleck’s children are “freaked out” by photographers who camp near their home and follow them in public, the actor said.

 Affleck and his wife, Jennifer Garner, hope a beefed-up California law with keep the paparazzi at a distance when it takes effect on New Year’s Day.

 “My kids aren’t celebrities,” Affleck said in a wide-ranging Playboy interview. “They never made that bargain.”

 The law, which Garner joined Halle Berry to lobby for, doubles to a year the jail time a photographer can get for harassment that “seriously alarms, annoys, torments, or terrorizes” children. The law applies to children under 16 who are photographed because of their parent’s occupation.

 “The tragic thing is, people who see those pictures naturally think it’s sweet,” Affleck said. “They don’t see the gigantic former gang member with a huge lens standing over a 4-year-old and screaming to get the kid’s attention.”

 Affleck and Garner have three children: Violet, 8, Serafina, 5 next month, and Samuel, who turns 2 in February.

 “The kids are always looking down because they’re freaked out and scared of these people,” Affleck said. “And so they yell. Which is fine if you’re Lindsay Lohan coming out of a club, or me, or any adult. With kids, it’s tasteless at best.”

 Affleck recounted a case five years ago when a man was charged with stalking his family after hiding among the pack of paparazzi that followed his children to nursery school. The stalker “who had threatened to kill me, my wife and our kids showed up at the school and got arrested,” he said. “I mean, there are real practical dangers to this.”

 A Los Angeles judge ruled the man was mentally incompetent to stand trial. He was committed to a mental health institution and ordered to stay away from the family for 10 years.

 The California law does not punish websites, newspapers or magazines for publishing photos of children taken in violation of the law.

“A lot of these photographs are being bought by legitimate magazines,” Affleck said. “In the UK, they have a good system: If you take a kid’s picture, you have to blur out the face. It protects the privacy of children, any child. I wish we would do that here, though I don’t expect it.”

 He wants a “bubble of safety” around his children, with cameras staying at least 100 feet away, he said. “They all have 300-millimeter lenses. I’m a photographer myself, and I can tell you with complete confidence that you can get a fine picture.”

 Ben Affleck is no stranger to ridicule by the media.

Ben Speaks to Playboy Magazine in an Interview 


PLAYBOY: Your relationship with Jennifer Garner came after a very public engagement to Jennifer Lopez. Both your relationships were tabloid fodder.

AFFLECK: The crucible by flashbulb. It was magazines then, and those days are more or less gone. Now it’s online, but it’s the same thing. At the nadir of that I felt I was being treated worse than Scott Peterson, who at least got the benefit of the word alleged when they talked about him.

PLAYBOY: He’s the guy who——

AFFLECK: Murdered his wife and tossed her over the side of a boat. The point is I felt like I was at the bottom. I became the guy people could kick around, even if they hadn’t seen the movie, because they saw other people taking shots. I thought it was unfair. But some of those people later wrote nice things about my work. I’ve learned not to take it personally.

PLAYBOY: But often it is personal.

AFFLECK: Once I saw my way out of it, I said, You know what? I don’t even care anymore. I’m going to focus on my job. I don’t give a shit. Take my picture. Write what you want to write. At the end of the day, what you write in a gossip column doesn’t matter. What matters is how the movie works. I found out it doesn’t kill you. But once I thought I had that figured out, I started having kids. And that is when I drew the line.

PLAYBOY: What is the line?

AFFLECK: You can say what you want about me. You can yell at me with a video camera and be TMZ. You can follow me around and take pictures all you want. I don’t care. There are a couple of guys outside right now. Terrific. That’s part of the deal. But it’s wrong and disgusting to follow children around and take their picture and sell it for money. It makes the kids less safe. They used to take pictures of our children coming out of preschool, and so this stalker who had threatened to kill me, my wife and our kids showed up at the school and got arrested. I mean, there are real practical dangers to this.

PLAYBOY: How close did he get?

AFFLECK: He was in the pack of paparazzi. They didn’t know he was a guy who was threatening to murder our family. That makes me angry. It’s a safety thing, and there’s also a sanity thing. My kids aren’t celebrities. They never made that bargain. We were offered a lot of money to sell pictures of our kids when they were born. You’ll notice there aren’t any. I make no judgment about people who decide differently; a lot of them give the money to charity. For me it was a matter of principle. I didn’t want someone to be able to come back and say I was complicit, that it wasn’t a question of principle as much as price.

PLAYBOY: You didn’t want to be a hypocrite.

AFFLECK: As their father it’s my job to protect them from that stuff. I try my very best, and sometimes I’m successful. The tragic thing is, people who see those pictures naturally think it’s sweet. They don’t see the gigantic former gang member with a huge lens standing over a four-year-old and screaming to get the kid’s attention. The kids are always looking down because they’re freaked out and scared of these people. And so they yell. Which is fine if you’re Lindsay Lohan coming out of a club, or me or any adult. With kids it’s tasteless at best. A lot of these photographs are being bought by legitimate magazines. In the U.K. they have a good system: If you take a kid’s picture, you have to blur out the face. It protects the privacy of children, any child. I wish we would do that here, though I don’t expect it. When my wife met with California lawmakers to get legislation passed to establish a certain distance between paparazzi and children and also to prevent the stalking behavior on the part of the paparazzi, she was opposed by the association of magazine and newspaper folks. They said it would have a chilling effect on the way the news was covered. You couldn’t chill the internet coverage of celebrities if you tried.

PLAYBOY: But do you understand why the press would worry about infringements on the First Amendment?

AFFLECK: I think the First Amendment and the public’s right to know are adequately served by photographers who are at least 100 feet away. They all have 300-millimeter lenses. I’m a photographer myself, and I can tell you with complete confidence that you can get a fine picture. I understand we won’t be able to prevent them from taking photos of children or get them to blur the faces, even though I think that would be preferable. But at the very least there should be a bubble of safety. We do that at football games: You can’t just come on the field. We do that with politicians: You can’t photograph the president from any distance you want.


The president is someone who is elected to serve the public. Don’t we elect celebrities via popularity? By consuming their art and work? Isn’t “serving the public” their job description too?

The press demands access to celebrities at any and all times because they are famous? The media insists that terrorizing children is part of their first amendment rights?

We insist that animals be treated humanely “No animals were harmed in the making of this film.” But children should not have the same rights? What?

Celebrities who take steps to protect their children from harm and from being terrorized by the media shouldn’t have the same civil rights as the rest of us? Is that sentiment because the media manages to somehow make them caricatures and not quite as human as the rest of us?

Celebrities voluntarily share a form of art with us, “the public.” An artist with talent must hone that art form and that is hard work. Some are compensated well for that art as it should be. They are not our friends or our possessions. We don’t have the right to dictate their lives. We don’t have the right to demand anything from them. We rate their performance by buying tickets or consuming their craft in some way. We shouldn’t have the right to ridicule, beat up, insult or injure them. We don’t OWN them. We don’t OWN their talent or craft. And we certainly don’t OWN their children. That is the definition of slavery.

And another thing… Celebrities can go to court and ask a judge to grant them the right to protect their children and that is seen as exercising your civil rights as a citizen by changing the law. And that is viewed as an infringement upon the media’s claimed and arrogant “ownership” of all of the celebrity’s rights (their privacy, where they may live, what they may do for a living, how they parent their children, and their right to protect their children.)

But if a celebrity parent, in order to avoid all this ruckus and protect his children, puts masks on them whenever they go out in public with him, he is “wacko” that is “weird,” how he parents is “bizarre” and the public should find it maddening that “his children are made to suffer.”

When the masks come off and they go out to a public park or event with a bodyguard or caretaker– (because sadly they can’t go with their father because for they wouldn’t be safe from the crush of the paparazzi and media) they are not recognized and are therefore, left alone to be normal kids without being terrorized– that is “abnormal” and he is still a poor parent.

If he relents to a persistent call from his fans (who truly love him and his children) and attempts to show his fans (not the paparazzi) a glimpse of his new baby while tightly holding him on a balcony (that has a ledge underneath, by the way, it is OK for the media, (deprived of their first amendment “right” to photograph his children” thus far) to take advantage and punish him by playing that moment over and over from an angle that makes it look unsafe and call him a “terrible parent” and hype it to the degree where uninvolved parties looking for media attention themselves, ask for an intervention from child protective services. And that is not viewed as intentional ridicule, retaliation, and self-serving exploitation by a media so “deprived of its rights.” It is seen as “bizarre” behavior by a “freak.” And since he has been culturally exploited, damned, demonized, dismembered and made into a cartoon like caricature non-human over time, nobody thinks it outrageous. Nobody sees it as abuse.

OK, now I see how that works.

Media: Toward hope and a more humane narrative? Part I

Seriously? The media can’t tell the difference between respectful human decency and the first amendment? Between purposeful indignity and deliberately employed honor? Between “news” and exploitation? There is no moral compass to accompany the “statement of ethics” that every media outlet claims to have but rarely exercises?

See: “Ethics Codes” at the bottom of the page (from “Words and Violence” Project Dedicated to Michael Jackson and Lady Diana Spencer.) The “Ethics” section is eye-opening.

The media doesn’t understand the power of words to do harm? Really? The industry depends on words and their power. So do we assume that when stories are invented to sell copy, peddle more papers, get more hits on a website, the media doesn’t see where their morals depart in favor of a cannibalistic business model? They don’t see the specter of actual slavery in the unwilling conscription of celebrities’ ridicule for “entertainment?” And apparently they think: the children of celebrities should be servants of that same bondage?

Celebrities in California, championed by Halle Berry and Jennifer Garner and supported by other actors and famous faces, won a recent victory against the violence and aggression of paparazzi who have no regard for the humanity of their subjects.

One columnist, a journalist who writes about law said: “The most troubling aspect of the law at issue is that it treats First Amendment-protected speech as if it had no constitutional protection at all, and can be treated as if it were solely conduct, and not conduct mixed with speech.”

My response? “When the conduct fits…”

The first amendment was never intended to trump human decency and civility. And privacy is at the forefront of everyone’s mind in the revelations of Edward Snowden and the National Security Administration. Only allow the invasion of others’ privacy if you are willing to have your own privacy invaded.

Hmmmm, I didn’t think so. As Bob Dylan would say, perhaps… “The Times They Are A Changin'”

Perhaps a more humane human narrative is on its way? If words and images begin to have civility, might humanity follow down that same path? A narrative is a story. The human narrative or story on this planet is one of the predominance of violence.

How’s that workin’ for ya?

Time for a change? What’s the antidote to a violent and inhumane narrative? Perhaps compassion? Maybe it’s time to try it on and see…

How’s that workin’ for ya?

The clip is Courtesy of NBC News

Dax Shephard took on this subject in the Huffington Post and not only is the article enlightening, the comments are informative. It seems that most of the public supports the right to privacy for everyone.

Those who use the tired argument “You signed up to be famous, so suck it up.” Or “Stop whining; it’s part of the deal.” Or, “If you’re so worried about exposing your kids leave Hollywood or get another job” are oblivious to their own Schadenfreude or jealousy. It’s the “Tall Poppy Syndrome.” They would not be pleased if they were stalked and exposed because of their God-given-talent, hard work and choice of career. Those are also the ones who carp about the entitlement lifestyle as if someone else is responsible for their own lack of creativity and celebrities should forfeit all their rights. The argument just doesn’t wash and it reveals a deadly sin in the mind of the complainer– envy.

If the envious whose jealousy precludes their humanity  has ever attended a movie, watched TV, read a magazine featuring celebrities, they are hypocrites. You can’t have it both ways. Its cause for celebration how many (via comments) empathize with the dark nature of stalking and paparazzi invasion of privacy.

I admit though, that I wondered how many of the commenters thought the cultural abuse of Michael Jackson was acceptable. I wondered how many thought an autopsy program that carved him up one last time was an acceptable form of entertainment. I was curious how many repeated the cultural meme of “monster” when there was no evidence of his guilt in a trial that was a mockery of justice and racism at its ugliest in a town that prided itself on its “exclusivity” and “sophistication” as ‘Queen of the West Coast’ (read rich ‘whiteness’.) I wondered too, how many of them just repeated the tabloid invented caricature and dark reputation without giving it another thought and certainly without questioning or investigating its truth.

Jackson’s kids were stalked while he was alive and he was mocked for putting them in masks so that the paparazzi and public wouldn’t know them when they were without him and attended a park or children’s entertainment venue in the company of his bodyguards because he certainly couldn’t be with his children. It’s now being recognized how clever that was and what a great father he was. I wondered if any of the people who commented on the side of the celebrities reflected on how Jackson was treated, how his children were stalked and how his daughter attempted suicide because of the media’s treatment of her father’s latest accuser– one of a long string who saw a way to cash in on the Jackson fame, name and fortune. The paparazzi stalked and chased the Jackson children almost causing an accident.

The Jackson children have been fodder for tabloids from the day they were born. Every tabloid and tabloid reporter speculated on whether “those children were really Michael Jackson’s children?” Were they the product of artificial insemination? How could they be his biological children when they had blue/green eyes? (Joseph Jackson has hazel-colored eyes) Were they from Jackson’ sperm or someone else’s? Who talks about these kinds of things? Who thinks it is alright to discuss someone’s sperm publicly on a website or in an article? Has humanity sunk that low? Or was it just Jackson who was under constant attack and ridicule? The facts point to a media bias when it came to all things Jackson.

The “Man Behind the Myth Documentary takes on the question of prejudice directly:

Man Behind the Myth from Walking Moon Studios on Vimeo.

Many of the commenters beneath articles about celebrities introducing the bill to protect their children recalled Lady Diana’s death while being chased by paparazzi. Whether drinking or not, the driver of her car didn’t speed up because of the alcohol, he sped up to avoid the paparazzi. Alcohol was a contributing factor but a reasonable speed might have been maintained without the harassment that Diana had to endure every day of her life.

It seems that lots of people think it’s enough already.

I believe Jackson fans might see the bitter irony in that at the same time they applaud.