Inner Michael » The Flavor, the Force, the Fan

The Flavor, the Force, the Fan

Just like any other slice of the population, Michael Jackson fans come in assorted flavors. There are the fans who just go ga ga (not the ‘Lady’ kind) and there are those who genuinely see Mr. Jackson’s work for what it is: epic spiritual artistry and message.

And just like the general population, some have an internal locus of control and for some that control is external. Those who are driven by external forces are likely to knee-jerk in situations in their personal lives so their passions are no different. Anything MJ is a passion; anything about MJ can cause a knee-jerk reaction. Unfortunately, this is not a very effective way to live one’s life nor is it effective when trying to create change or trying to get people to examine alternative opinions to the ones they hold dear. Tangents and tantrums are rarely taken seriously. And those who rant about MJ are usually dismissed by serious journalism as untreated mental health cases and recruited by yellow journalism through its deliberate baiting of them.

Reasonable, rational and diplomatic dialogue makes headway because those who employ it are taken seriously. Whether legitimate or not, rants and groupie chants are usually dismissed as frenzy—and one step away from the inpatient ward. Who is going to listen when they have dismissed you as obsessive or crazy? You may have some intelligent things to say but that content is lost in the context. If your content is sane but you are coming across in a context that compels them to call you “nuts,” how is that effective for getting your point across?

That same general population also contains a segment with a taste and love for another flavor—the flavor of drama. Michael fans are also divided into those camps. There are those who prefer to be in a state of drama or trauma and relish the idea of racing around or running amok over the last MJ perceived “insult.” These are the “cry wolf” people and we all know that too many “red alerts” about wolves desensitize people enough so that when the real wolf is at the door, they see just another dog. The field of Neuroscience has identified that this kind of person craves the rush that accompanies hysterics and hysterical reactionary behavior. This kind of transaction with one’s environment is an artificial stimulant and counterfeit way to establish identity. It is a way to inflate reality in order to feel alive. So that behavior has more to do with feeling insignificant and in need of stimulation and confirmation than with actual righteous indignation.

Until they learn to stimulate their brains differently, there are people who will perpetually need the rush of those chemicals. They especially favor the opportunity to “stir it up” and frenzy stimulates the hormone of choice. These are the ones who rush to stand outside every venue where Michael is mentioned and cause journalists to use the phraseology of “crazed,” “dazed” or permanently “amazed” which means, blind to any flaws or missteps. Some journalists have, rightly so, said that Michael Jackson fans do not tolerate any negativity surrounding their idol. I have encountered that.

Michael Jackson did things in his life that – in the context of Michael Jackson and the world of Michael Jackson, make perfect sense. They are typically “so very Michael.” In that context and to a person who knows him or knows of him because they have taken time to research or follow his career, they are endearing. To the rest of the world, some of them can appear bizarre.

I understand, for example, why Michael would have stood on the roof of a car to wave to his fans as a way of acknowledging their loyalty and to reciprocate their love. I understand that because I have spent almost a year researching the man. More than once, Michael was surrounded by adoring fans so excited to be near him that they, lost in the excitement, almost crushed him. He took to jumping on the roof of vehicles to avoid being crushed initially and then to let them see him, get a clear look and to wave at them. Since Michael was a film buff, he often had a camera crew filming his public encounters.

But not everyone has spent months learning ‘who was this Michael Jackson, anyway?’ and for them, the idea of jumping on the roof of a car to wave to people seems a little strange. And jumping on the roof of a car during a legal procedure where you are being arraigned for a horrendous crime against a child, seems not only arrogant, but a flippant insult to the laws of the land and the justice system. When you’re arrested and brought into the case wearing handcuffs and you leave before your trial dancing on a car roof, that might inflame some people. Especially people who don’t know you. Like it or not—and it is grossly unfair, but especially with that type of crime, people assume your guilt the minute the accusation is uttered. Just hearing of the possibility that someone harmed a child in that way brings out the fierce internal animal in every parent and most adults. That kind of flash anger isn’t rational. But it’s human. And when you are wealthy, the average Joe figures you have the money to buy your way out of any legal hassle. The point is that in any situation, it is wise to look at and from all perspectives and all angles of a situation—before going off the deep end. How many of us can claim to do that? How many of us withhold judgment until all the facts are in—in everything we do?

Michael Jackson was a consummate businessman and performer who knew how to create a powerful stage image, but seems naïve at times about creating his personal one. And I’m sure that being surrounded by ‘yes’ people didn’t help. Otherwise, why did no one tell him that holding hands with a male child when you are a grown man, especially while they are filming you for a TV special, is probably not wise and may look a little odd? Those who know Michael, know that it was because Michael believed in openly and generously showing affection for children. All children. And by all adults. Michael believed it was everybody’s responsibility to embrace and show unconditional love to all children.

Hillary Clinton in her book It Takes a Village, promotes the idea that regardless of who a child’s biological parents, the entire community is beholden to that child and responsible for their upbringing. That “community” today, is the whole world. For example, it is truly unfair to bring a child into a world where war is still used as a means for settling differences. War is nothing short of global child abuse. And that is how Michael Jackson saw it. He lived that: “it takes a village” philosophy with children, all the children in his life. Because he was Michael Jackson and a larger than life figure, he was a hero to many kids—especially inner city kids; he was beloved by children of all ages. He also had an aura about him that was like a magnet to children; he had not allowed the “adult world” to capture his innocence and children could sense that invisible energy. Unlike an adult who would prey on children and whom children recognize because they feel creeped out, he was beloved and followed much like the pied piper. It was a genuine and constant phenomenon about Michael. Lots of people felt it. And that invisible aura was the very thing that got Michael access into some of the most closed places in the world. It got him behind the iron curtain and into audiences with national leaders. It allowed him access to children’s orphanages anywhere in the world where he gifted children with toys and joys and donated medical equipment to hospitals in cities where he toured. Michael believed in healing. He was himself, a healer. In every concert, he had children brought in who were in every kind of condition—in wheelchairs and beds and walkers. Michael Jackson had a huge heart and nobody ever said no to Michael.

So even though that is the spirit in which Michael Jackson ministered to children, most people either do not know that side of Michael or do not understand that kind of innocent generosity. It is hard to remember that place where innocence once lived. For some of us it was s a long, long time ago. And yes, we are conditioned by: the seriousness and consistent insults and demands of adulthood; the cynical nature of humans who have learned that in order to get what you want, you have to strategize; a culture that is estranged from its inner child and an innocent belief in goodness.

It is true that many people do not know Michael Jackson. The influence of tabloids who used this gentle man and humanitarian in sensational headlines and photos simply to sell their products, was a factor that contributed to the widespread misconceptions about him. Their deliberate seeking out of people who were willing to say anything about Michael for the money which they gladly paid, made the tabloids a fortune while they left his reputation and image in wreckage. This battering of him and his reputation escalated through the years because it had to in order to sell more copy. A public desensitized to all things Michael, they were primed to believe anything, especially anything out of the ordinary because that is the caricature they had come to expect. Lots of people still believe the tabloid caricature.

So it is easy to see why Michael Jackson fans would be upset about any “new” or “previously uncovered” information about the life of Michael Jackson. Or why they would be upset when the same old tabloid version hits the screen once again. It’s easy to understand how they would gang up on somebody who conscripts or exploits his name for their own agenda, especially when that agenda is dark and sinister, or to make a buck off his notoriety. Or why their grief and anger is resurrected by yet one more person who believed the tabloid portrait and wants just one more pound of flesh even when that flesh is no longer alive. It’s because they have seen treachery toward Michael rewarded again and again with money, promotions and publicity made by siphoning life from the man, his fame or fortune. It is because they know the real man, not the caricature.

Yes, they are very fatigued by the constant onslaught. They are disheartened by the indifference of the press to the true portrait and character of Michael Jackson. They are mortified that the tabloid industry continues its underhanded practices without remorse or abatement and that it now targets others also unable to fight back effectively against an unstoppable greedy monster that will continue to use and abuse them only to sell more copy. They fight against this injustice but they don’t make enough headway for it is extensive, invasive and pervasive. So they hurt. And they grow weary of hurting.

They forget sometimes that it doesn’t help people to know Michael Jackson when you constantly scream “foul” at them. They lose their cool occasionally and call names and say things their parents would blush at. Sometimes they get involved in things that are beneath them. Sometimes they get fierce when the purposes of the Michael “hangers on” are devious or downright evil; so in those cases, expect it. Sometimes they are easily led by those who would have used Michael had it suited their purposes but since he no longer is here, they’ll use the fans. They will sometimes get misguided information and be recruited for others’ agendas as is happening right now with someone who has political agenda and will use them for his own purposes. And they will fall for it because they have big hearts; Michael taught them that. Sometimes they will forget their manners or forget that Michael himself said that aggression is not the best way and that what the world needs (and these shadow users presumably) is a little more love. So try to understand that yes, sometimes they are crazed or crazy because that is in their nature, but most times it’s because they have had enough.

What people don’t know is what a humanitarian and global activist Michael Jackson was; they forget or they don’t know that he was innocent of the crime he was accused of and found not guilty on 14 counts. Not guilty on even one count! They don’t think long enough to question what was really going on there? And they get sidetracked by the mental images painted for them instead of by them. Tabloids hand-feed their constituents because they assume these are uneducated people who cannot think for themselves. I hope they are wrong but don’t ask me to prove it.

Do you doubt for one minute that if tabloids had hunted and haunted Gandhi the way they did Michael Jackson that his legacy would have been sullied? That we would have a different picture of the man? That he would have been awarded the Nobel Prize? That he would be considered hero for the world? A global peacemaker? Are you kidding me—a man who wandered around the planet half naked wearing a diaper or a robe holding a staff and looking very much like Jesus? The tabloids would have had a field day with him. Lucky for Gandhi the Globe or Hard Copy’s heyday was not in his time.

There are other Michael Jackson fans who are not as visible and maybe even more dedicated. They don’t hang out at forums or launch headlong into the fray. They don’t gush. They are not addicted to it nor are they into the drama. They admire the man; they love his message; they marvel at his dancing; they appreciate his voice; they find beauty in his face and form; they miss his presence on the planet and they feel intensely the loss- not just for themselves personally, but also for what the world lost. They genuinely mourn the undiscovered Michael but they are thoughtful and reasonable and measured in how they go about the business of being an admirer or advocate for Michael Jackson. They want to see the media behave more charitably toward not just Michael, but others whose only “crime” is their celebrity. They tend to not get swayed and recruited by the unscrupulous but remain steadfast in the loyalty and dignity of their mission. They understand and accept the human flaws in a flawed human being but they also do not underestimate the spiritual attainment that Mr. Jackson reached in his lifetime. They get the full magnitude of what it means to be a Michael Jackson fan and what being Michael’s legacy means. Michael often said his fans were his legacy and these people take that role seriously. And above all, they reflect the grace and dignity Michael demonstrated to the world in the face of the unthinkable and unbearable. They bear their pain with this same dignity and they channel their energies into change in Michael’s name.

They hold admiration for Michael Jackson, his life and work and they hold space for change by beginning that change within. They take on the shadow that held Michael Jackson hostage and they take on the world’s shadow that holds us all in its grip now. They work toward making Michael’s dream a reality on Earth: Heal the World. These people mean it. They intend to do it. That is not just a fan; it’s a force. And a Force.

These are people I want to hang out with. These are the people whom I will address in my next post.


  1. lmt said . . .

    Thank you, Barbara. Very well said, and said with love.
    I know Michael would agree–actually, I think he would use
    the same tone and thought process.

    Posted June 13, 2010 at 2:51 am | Permalink
  2. Kim said . . .

    Barbara, thank you so very much for your wise and insightful words. It’s not often that Michael’s fans are depicted in a positive light. Since Michael left this Earth on June 25, 2009, many people found themselves in the midst of a very deep grief. As you pointed out on one of your other posts, Michael left a significant impact on many people; current fans and non-fans alike. Since it is near the one year anniversary, I see many of the scenarios which you describe as playing out One of the things that you mentioned is that if one should take the time to get to know the real Michael Jackson, they would understand everything he did. While I was reading your words, I was brought to tears, because I really took a step back and acknowledged the society which we live in. When did all this happen? How did we get to this point where human or any life has no value? It pains me because I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s and even though it wasn’t that long ago, things seemed a little less insensitive. I would really would love to know that answer. That would be an interesting research project. As we all know every action has a reaction. What one does, there is a reaction and then there is a reaction that and so on. It’s like it’s a runaway train or something. When did we find it necessary to have 24 x 7 news coverage or any coverage for that matter? Is technology to blame or is it that humanity itself got lost along the way of progress?

    I was working last night and had my epiphany about what I needed to do to live into Michael’s mission. I don’t believe I should continue to do what I’m doing now. It doesn’t feel right. Funny thing is that I worked many years because this is what I thought I wanted. I believe I need to make more changes in my life. Somehow what I do now for a living seems so insignificant. I know that my job is to help people indirectly, but I feel that I can do more. Michael’s message is so very important. I believe that many people are truly inspired to make that change as you stated above. I believe that this movement will cause a ripple effect all over the world if it hasn’t already. So as a fan of Michael’s, but more importantly as a advocate to carry on with Michael’s mission of “Heal the World”, I will do my best to initiate change in Michael’s name with the utmost respect and integrity. One more thing, being a human being, I too will get angry at times, but I try to shift that shadow into the light as you have suggested. I think that we can be allowed to be angry if those are our emotions, because its that anger that drives our passion to be advocates for making that change in the name of Michael. We have to channel that anger into something positive. It’s all for L.O.V.E.

    Posted June 13, 2010 at 3:03 am | Permalink
  3. Dalia said . . .

    We could say we are very fortunate to have been touched by Michael especially. If we are here discussing his work, his legacy, then his life was not in vain because the seed he planted in each of us, will certainly be worthy for it is bearing fruit. I feel within me a feeling of sympathy more alive than ever, Michael motivates me to be a better person but not only that, the pain of his loss has made me much more compassionate than before, made me take action, I have been waking up and that I owe it to him.

    Some fans lose the ability to reason while they feel that there are not other valid viewpoints than their own and they are capable of hurting. I was verbally assaulted by this kind of person. Michael was afraid of the fans who do not use reason and are carried away by emotions. As with all the excesses, this will always end badly. It is best to appreciate the wonders of the world with serenity and impartiality… Michael took the hand of that child to show the world that had nothing to hide, he lived all the suffering that this child had endured and wanted to prove that he loved him and was with him … not knowing that he was contributing material that could be easily edited by a man with evil intentions.

    Posted June 13, 2010 at 5:43 am | Permalink
  4. Jeanne said . . .

    Michael never lost his innocence. That is the reason for holding the hand of the child in public. Maybe he thought that the filth is in the mind of the man or the accuser, meaning it takes one to know one. The innocence that he could relate to is what children possess and is why children were drawn to him as him to them. There is nothing there that is threatening or harmful yet the total opposite, filled with joyful noise and simplicities and love for beauty. Love is simple and easy, hatred is difficult and takes more energy and emotion and wears out the body. Love nourishes. Michael also was brought up on beliefs from the life of Jesus where he says, if someone slaps you on the cheek, turn the other cheek. Jesus was crucified for commiting no crime. I believe Michael was as well. As far as the fans go, their many emotions are truly all over the place and like many stages of grief, will be expressed but I am with you Barbara, that after the fever is gone, what will remain are those who have seen the reason and meaning for this life and GOT IT.

    The people left speaking of Michael after the years have passed will be myself and those like me who know that this is not a life wasted but a life that lived with purpose. My respect for that life will not fade like the fever or like a fad. Michaels life held a great meaning and purpose and I will hold his life as dear to me as I do the people who love me. Michael loved me too. I am grateful for that love. He fought for YOU and I to have a better life. He knew how to make that happen. I know when Michael left God said ‘good job son’ and embraced him with all the love that he so unselfishly gave reguardless of who did not give that back to him while he was here. That love is not wasted. Look who all love him now, even people who never knew him before he passe. They now speak of Michael with love. He was gathering his troops during and after his life like Jesus gathered his disciples during and after his life for the same reasons. Wheather there is a belief in Jesus or other religions the meaning and purpose for the life is the same: LOVE.

    Posted June 13, 2010 at 4:40 pm | Permalink
  5. Anne Mette Jepsen said . . .

    Thank you Rev. Kaufmann!

    Posted June 13, 2010 at 8:57 pm | Permalink
  6. Jan said . . .

    I agree that Michael never lost his innocence. But there is another reason behind his holding the child’s hand. We all know that as a boy Michael was abused physically and psychologically by his father. Joseph, too, was an emotionally-stunted, physically abused youngster. Back in those days, it wasn’t called abuse. It was called ‘ruling your roost’ or ‘a man’s home is his castle’ or ‘being a responsible parent.’ Michael was always extremely sensitive. The pain Michael felt at his father’s rejection was acute and ever-present. He recounted a time as a child when he had wanted affection from his father – a soft word, or a hug, or for him to tell him that he was proud of him – but Joseph turned him away. As a rejected child, he swore that he would never turn away his or any other child’s love, that he would never reject that innocent search for a pat on the back or a hug or a hand held in innocent affection.

    Our society has restricted that kind of innocent affection. A teacher can’t comfort a child’s pain at the uncaring words of another child. A neighbor can’t hold a child’s hand as he accompanies that child home in the dark without it raising someone’s suspicion. We are damaging our children by not allowing them to be touched, to be comforted, to be held. Michael was all about restoring the bond between us and by his example showed us how to heal our own and society’s wounds. He was keeping the vow he had made to himself as a youth while, at the same time, leading the way toward a more unified and bonded humanity. Of course, like in everything else, his actions were misinterpreted by a society which is so suspicious of anything even remotely suggesting a man being affectionate with a child not his own. Once again, a beautiful and true piece of writing, Rev. Barbara

    Posted June 14, 2010 at 4:26 am | Permalink
  7. Sandra said . . .

    The greatest gift to Michael is to live by his example. It is our turn to continue to fight the battle for the poor and the sick men, women and children around the world and spread his message of LOVE. He gave us the tools. All we have to do is ACT! Only we can show the world that Michael fans, are more than screaming star-struck crazy people.

    Posted June 14, 2010 at 8:53 pm | Permalink
  8. silvia diez said . . .

    Thank you Barbara. You are getting the CHANGE! Thank you for your support and kindness, also for your generosity writing this blog. It’s wonderful. I am sure that Michael is absolutely proud of you. Let’s do Michaeling. We can! We have to make the world a better place, this is the way, we just need much L.O.V.E, energy and patience. Let’s make the change. Mine has begun! THANK YOU VERY MUCH! GOD BLESS YOU. I LOVE YOU! Kisses form Spain and from the bottom of my heart and soul.

    Posted June 15, 2010 at 10:53 pm | Permalink
  9. gertrude said . . .

    I find it sad that an adult male holding the hand of a child is immediately suspect. There is a reverse double standard here – females can take the hand of a child and perversity is rarely read into it – its seen as a protective, caring gesture. The hysteria surrounding pedophilia has been and remains so out of hand that children are now robbed of male affection which is as crucial to their development as any other. Physical affection is so validating, comforting and nurturing. I find this state of affairs dismaying, and am struck by the fact that this is another very important, albeit overlooked, side of the damage pedophilia has inflicted and this fear of male nurturing can’t be good for the human psyche of either child or adult.
    I love that you pointed out that Michael lived the “it takes a village” philosophy with all the children in his life. That is probably one of the most succinct observations Ive read about him.
    Another thing that struck me after reading your article, is the very intriguing way the media’s rabid attack on celebrities is the mirror image of the ‘crazed, gaga, screaming, drama-addicted, knee-jerk, frenzied, red-alerting’ fans who refuse to see a solitary flaw in their idol. Its fascinating to realize the disparaging, bullying, lying media is the other side of this star-crazed-fan coin – that they are ostensibly the same beast in a way. I would love to see an analysis of how they correlate to each other. This is such a good article – so rich! Thank you Barbara.

    Posted June 20, 2010 at 12:03 am | Permalink
  10. gertrude said . . .

    Hi Barbara – I wanted to mention too that tomorrow, on Sunday, Father’s Day TLC at 8 central, 9 eastern will air “Michael Jackson’s Children: Hidden Lives.” One of the commentators is going to be Maureen Orth, who as you may know has been very vicious to Michael over the years, and also told outright lies about him – not unusual , I know. But she’s awful enough that a whole chapter was devoted to her in the book “Snark” by David Denby. I’m afraid of what will come out of her. Another “commentator” will be Rabbi Shmuley Botaech – you probably know all about him – he wrote a book using tapes of private counselling sessions Michael had with him that he did not have Michael’s permission to publish (but Michael was dead when he put the book together). This Rabbi was caught misappropriating funds from a charity event he worked on with Michael, and afterward MJ distanced himself from the Rabbi. In his book Shmuley makes every effort to present Michael in a terrible light by presenting his bitter opinions as if they were fact, and not allowing the reader to just read what MJ said and make up their own mind. So I feel trepiditious about him as well. The whole special looks like it could be a hornets nest of falsehood and innuendo – but of course I hope it isnt! Another person who is going to be commentating is a ‘godfather’ of 2 of Mj’s children who has made claims, along with others of course, to be the real father of these children, although his ex-wife says he’s completely blowing smoke about that. So, so far, to me, this “special” does not look promising.

    Posted June 20, 2010 at 2:45 am | Permalink

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