Inner Michael » Low Life in the Revolution

Low Life in the Revolution

What do you think would happen if you or I got a camera with a telephoto lens, hid in the bushes and took pictures of our nude neighbor and then splashed them all over the front pages of a magazine? And what if we copied them to the Internet?

How long do you think it would take for the police to show up on our doorstep? Would we be arrested? Would we be considered a peeping Tom? Would we be called “bullies?” Might we be prosecuted for cyber-bullying? For harassment? Would we be considered traffickers in pornography?

Yet, this is precisely what happened to Kate Middleton, Prince William’s wife and Dutchess of Cambridge. She is a royal now and apparently fair game for paparazzi. Does anyone remember this is what they did to Diana? Does anyone remember how Diana was killed? Being chased through  Paris by paparazzi!

The invasion of privacy here is shameful. Yet, many people are blaming Kate for taking her top off! It seems that we have become so accustomed to the tabloids that we forget who is the culprit. It appears that yellow journalism has become so much a part of our culture that we don’t even notice that we allow it and even invite it!

We were all groomed for this culture that allows invasion of privacy, exploitation, and public bullying– for profit! Have we lost our senses? Our sensibilities? This depravity will continue until the public outcry is loud enough or the money dries up because people stop BUYING this trash! In researching this story, the constant response by the tabloids was “It’s our job to do this. We are only doing our job!”

That itself is an outrage! Their “job” is to stalk people, hunt them, invade their privacy, take something valuable from them and then, humiliate them, strip them of any dignity and sell it all for profit? And if the subject gets killed in the process (Diana) that is the “cost of doing business?”

Michael Jackson fans know this game better than anybody. They know the damage. They have seen what it can do! Why aren’t Michael Jackson fans ALL OVER THIS? They should have set Twitter on fire, raided Facebook proclaiming their disgust! If the paps and the tabloids will do this to Kate Middleton, what do you think Paris Jackson is in for?

Instead of all the infighting and slamming other fans and Jackson family, why aren’t Michael Jackson fans taking apart this industry?


Take a look at how far away this paparazzi was. It would seem reasonable that one could expect some privacy in this isolated place. This is just pure shadow. Making a profit off someone else’s image that you don’t own, don’t have a right to and having that stolen image plastered across the world front page and chronicled forever on the Internet. Peddlers of humiliation, sorrow, depravity and human shadow. This needs to STOP!

Pictures of Kate topless are published by a French “Entertainment” and “Celebrity” Magazine

The editor of the magazine defends the decision to publish the magazine and she doesn’t understand why anyone would think it in poor taste to publish them.

Why? Because it is voyeurism and poor taste and the TARGET of the photos does NOT WANT THEM TO BE SHARED WITH THE WORLD. What part of dignity and civility don’t you understand?


Here’s a little morsel of karma come ’round for Jackson fans:

Kelvin MacKenzie is a former editor of the Sun Magazine who while being interviewed on ITV said that Michael Jackson’s children were better off without him. MacKenzie admits to writing made up stories that were later proven false. He says his greatest talent was in writing headlines for tabloids. He is acredited with inventing the “Wacko Jacko” moniker…

This received this week from a reader:

“Kelvin MacKenzie was well aware of the fact that he was printing lies about the Hillsborough victims – this tragedy occured 23 years ago when 96 football fans died in a crush of people being let into the football grounds. The full documents have just been released to the public and families of those involved after all this time. The families believed there had been a cover up of the facts as to why and how their relatives died and they have been campaigning since then for these documents to be made public. The Sun published an article by Kelvin MacKenzie at the time which partly blamed the fans and made accusations about their behaviour which was blatantly untrue.

“Many people in Liverpool will still not buy The Sun to this day.

“I thought you might be interested in this link from the Guardian: Hillsborough: MacKenzie offers ‘profuse apologies’ for Sun front page”

In this piece of investigative journalism by Alex Thomson MacKenzie, the hunter becomes the hunted.
(When Kelvin begs Alex to be “reasonable,” Alex responds with “That’s rich coming from you!”)

Kelvin MacKenzie wrote about the Hillsborough incident (a trampling of fans at a football game that left 96 people dead and 766 people injured) in the Sun. The story was fabricated (the crush actually occurred) about what happened in the aftermath and how people behaved. Imagine if your loved one was one of the casualties. Imagine the nightmares you’d have. MacKenzie also published a story that was completely false about Elton John having sex with underage boys. Where have we heard that story repeated? MacKenzie is allegedly a homophobe and bigot with contempt for celebrity who has many times said he has no regrets about anything he has done.


And then there’s this little news item sent me from a confidential source:




A Michael Jackson vindicator wrote to an ABC affiliate to complain about their use of the racist and derogatory moniker “Jacko” in reference to Michael Jackson.  She says: Whenever I see the term “Jacko”, I comment on its racist origin. I commented on an article:

This is what I wrote:

“Whoever is writing your headline is using a racist moniker referencing Mr. Jackson. Should you question the history of that term, read this: According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word “Jacko” dates back to the mid-1600s, as a Flemish approximation of the Bantu word for monkey in the Congo and southern Gabon. The word migrated north, taking on all the racist connotations that followed African colonization. By the early 1800s, Jacko Maccacco, a famous fighting monkey, could be found on display in Westminster Pit, a notorious London arena for dog fights.The word had entered the common vernacular, and it eventually became a racist shorthand for blacks. His name is Jackson, Michael Jackson. Please correct the insulting, demeaning headline.

[Here’s the response:]

Dear sir or ma’am,

Thank you very much for contacting us with your concern. However, I can assure you that our production assistant Jenn Zellers is not racist and did not mean this word with the connotations you attached to it. “Jacko” is a nickname that media source gave and have used when referring to Michael Jackson. It has been used since the 1980s, because it is a shorter version of “Jackson”. When the star first began exhibiting strange behavior, some news outlets referred to him as “Wacko Jacko”. This was because the nickname rhymed, and was not chosen for its connection to implied slanders from the 1600s. ABC News’ GMA has used this nickname is past web articles. We are an affiliate of ABC News.

I have attached several web links showing that this nickname is commonplace, and that what you stated is not the case:

Many other media outlets continue to use this nickname, including FOX News, MSNBC, CBS and CNN.
I invite you to Google it and confirm this information.
We hope this puts your mind at ease.

Thank you again for contacting ABC 57 News.

J. D.

(I am being kind by not publishing her name because many wrote to correct her. Any more contact would be harassment.)

Honestly, I can’t make this stuff up. People have been writing and complaining about the use of “Jacko” and calling out editors because of its racist connotations. This is an initiative that has been going on since this Inner Michael post:

Even professor and author Joe Vogel has been spreading the word about the use of “Jacko” in his Atlantic article:


And I’ve wondered if this had something to do with the Jackson epithet:
It was released in 1977 by Devo “Jocko Homo”

Songwriters: Mothersbaugh, Mark Allen

They tell us that
We lost our tails
Evolving up
From little snails
I say it’s all
Just wind in sails
Are we not men?
We are DEVO!
We’re pinheads now
We are not whole
We’re pinheads all
Jocko homo
Are we not men?
Monkey men all
In business suit
Teachers and critics
All dance the poot
Are we not men?
We are DEVO!
Are we not men?
god made man
but he used the monkey to do it
apes in the plan
we’re all here to prove it
i can walk like an ape
talk like an ape
do what a monkey do
god made man
but a monkey supplied the glue
We must repeat
O.k. let’s go!


Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?



  1. Katie Weisz said . . .


    This gutted me. The anger I feel is so unexplainable to me as I have said countless times. NO other celebrity has affected me the way this man has. I feel so protective over his legacy. I just feel helpless, as so many fans, as to what to do to stop this madness. I know you are angry at a lot of fans, but what I think they-we feel is that there is just no end to this. Prince, Paris and Blanket are the next generation of the madness just continuing. I know you are angry at the way I and others re-acted to the Jackson family feud. Yes, we pointed fingers because mostly we are protective over those precious children and I for one feel that they are being allowed too many freedoms. As if no one is in charge. Paris is growing up too fast and the media is chomping at the bit waiting for her to make mistakes and she will as most people do. So tell me, what are we to do when a YouTube poster spreads vitriolic hate and changes monikers going from video to video spreading hate? How am I to respond to someone like that? I cannot just let it pass. I know others respond with hate but that is NOT the answer.

    Would love your guidance as to whom to write to. I just feel so helpless as I have stated. I love this man so much. I love his heart, his vulnerability, his L.O.V.E messages, his gentle nature, his chutzpah, his warrior spirit. Yes he was flawed, but my God, what a gift he was. Too bad I discovered this way too late after his death. I cannot bear to read negative comments about him because most people haven’t done their homework as I and you yourself did.

    Please keep up the difficult but I hope rewarding work. It is priceless. I only wish your site had more hits and was more prominent so everyone can have access to it. The truth must prevail. For him and for his children.

    One more thing. I watched the Oprah interview with Paris Jackson. Paris said she is being cyberbullied and Oprah seemed so shocked and asked Paris why she thought it was? Is she that dense? Does she not realize that they called her father “whacko Jacko”, “wanna be white”, calling Paris “white” and that Michael wasn’t her biological father…This poor girl She also has this strength in her eyes. She has this powerful persona but I worry about her being in the public eye too much. She is intoxicated with the publicity as she is a teen and was sheltered for 11 years. Anyway, I am rambling. Just my thoughts.

    Love to you, Barbara
    Katie, NYC

    Posted September 21, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Permalink
  2. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    Let me clarify something and go on record with this… I am angry with how many fans behaved during the Jackson family upset. I am not angry with the fans. I understand their frustration, i understand their anger, I understand that the frustration and insult builds up over time and must come out somewhere. But targeting the Jackson family was not the way to handle one’s own anger. The Jackson family has suffered enough over the years. They were pioneers and trailblazers and they contributed priceless talent to fans, the music industry and the evolution of civil and human rights in America in particular and around the world. They have more than paid their dues and the price of fame. And they have lost Michael. If one takes just a moment to reflect on that fact and the fact that they think his death was not accidental and it was avoidable and that he was a target of big money and big power all his life, and no one can imagine what that feels like. Nor what it feels like to come to terms with one’s own neediness, selfishness and indifference, not to mention one’s second guessing– I didn’t care enough, didn’t do enough, should have loved more, should have intervened… while forgetting that Michael made his own decisions many times and when it was not in his best interest. The second guessing includes– if only we had intervened more… Then along comes the genuine fear of losing another loved one– mother. What would anyone expect in those circumstances? It was the estate that mentioned the siblings who were left out of the will; the Jacksons said their concerns were about management, not distribution. Both of those entities are trying to do right by Michael who is no longer here. (At least we hope and would like to believe so.)

    If you care (“you” as in the collective) about Michael Jackson’s legacy, then learn to BE THAT LEGACY. Michael said many times that revenge and retribution held no meaning for him. He modeled wisdom and restraint his whole life. There was no wisdom and certainly no restraint in the behavior during that fiasco. He also said “don’t judge.” He knew that we (whoever that is) alway have incomplete information. He asked that those who judge walk in someone else’s moccasins first. He also said “I don’t know anything for sure; I am still learning.” Fans, instead of demonstrating the maturity, restraint and wisdom that Michael role modeled and encouraged and that would have honored him, many fans behaved in an infantile manner. No, he would not be proud.

    At the same time I know that these very fans are hurting and feel helpless to make changes. I get it. And I also know that they are primed by the media, manipulated and then laughed at. Fans actually believed a program that reported that Janet had slapped Paris. But instead of considering the source, and considering their interests and motives, fans reacted. The media has been trying to nullify the Jackson family for years, decades really. If you doubt racism as the motive, look at what is swirling around President Obama– someone put up a rope from their tree with a chair on it– that is a direct reference to lynching a black president who occupies that seat. The person even put an American flag on the chair so there would be no question as to the intent.

    I know the media manipulates. I know fans are baited. The built up anger makes restraint difficult. But to make real change, the action must be non-violent direct action. Martin Luther King used it successfully, Gandhi used it successfully as has Mandela, Desmond Tutu, His Holiness the Dalia Lama and of course, Michael. What Michael did in “Beat It” is the truth. It is not a sign of weakness to show restraint, it is a sign of great power. Without it fans do more damage to Michael and his reputation.

    As for Inner Michael, there are many readers. There is a large mailing list. And yes, some fans have opted out entirely because they are tired of trying to reason with fans who prefer to discharge their anger and massage their own egos rather than listen to more seasoned and wise activists. We just lost another huge presence and voice who wrote to me about vindication fatigue from trying to deal with all of it. When fans look ugly, Michael looks ugly to the world by association.

    The media is to blame and the media is the cause. Not the Jacksons, not the estate, and the fans are conditioned by the media and in particular by entertainment media– so I understand them but I don’t excuse them. The approach is not working, not helpful and it needs to change. Violence invites more of itself. Non-violent protest is the way to accomplish this. It means prolonged work and specific strategies and tactics. In order to provide leadership, those who would incite change must listen. That doesn’t look possible to me now.

    I hear what you are saying about more people need to hear the message. Inner Michael has grown from nothing into a 3 year project organically. In other words, I have never marketed or aggressively promoted Inner Michael. If people find it valuable, then it is up to them to promote it. Readership increases because people find value; I do not deliberately go after more constituents. I am not in this for glory or recognition. I saw a grave injustice and there is a lesson waiting for humanity and I want to see truth and justice prevail. I want to see more humanity and more dignity in and for the human race. I have never wanted to be accused of using Michael or the fans for personal gain. I guess I have stubbornly believed in humanity my whole life– that’s why the work in international diplomacy and decommissioning weapons of mass destruction and “art in the service of humanity.” I saw people hurting, they wrote to me and asked for guidance and I responded. That is a gift freely given. When the expenses got too overwhelming I put up a button to allow people to contribute- but not until 2 and a half years had passed. Yet some have accused me of self interest. No, it’s in the interest of humanity and the planet. Always has been.

    Very early on at Inner Michael I wrote about how to deal with the Youtube bullies. Theirs is a chess game. It is baiting. Those disparaging comments come from someone who is impotent and jealous of the accomplishments of Jackson. The goal is to upset the females who see Michael as an Alpha male. The gratification is sexual. So if you (again the collective) want to be metaphorically raped, go ahead and engage with them. They know that Jackson fans are mostly female and many are enamored of his attraction/attractiveness/sensuality. The (impotent) male thing is a rivalry and territoral game that males who want an Alpha position play. It’s a male display for attention from females. (Animals do it all the time– they pee and defecate to mark their territory.) When you stop giving them attention, and they can no longer get a “rise” (yes pun intended) they will stop. The best way to deal with trolls like that it to ignore them. Stop giving them attention = nobody to play with. Game over.

    There are fans who will tell you that Oprah herself bullied Michael which makes her shock at Paris’ statement all the more ironic. Bullying Michael Jackson seemed the national and worldwide pastime for a long time. And therein lies the lesson which is in reality a gift. But if the fans turn everybody off with their behavior, the world will write them off and not listen. So essentially the fans have nullified themselves. Can that be repaired? Not if the nastiness and violence continues.

    There are a number of assumptions (unexamined assumptions) and projections in your comment. This is where we get into trouble. Can you identify where you have done that? Because that is where the truth lies and that is where this kind of activism works. We have to be willing to examine ourselves. (I’m starting with the man in the mirror.”) Can we learn to be our own mirror while at the same time being a mirror to the world.? The fans, if they got their act together could absolutely do exactly that. Michael did.

    I can give some guidelines on non-violent direct action and how to deal with media. I will if I am asked. But tell you what– I don’t want to be wasting my time because nobody is listening because it isn’t violent enough. Non-violent direct action works. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” ~Margaret Meade

    Posted September 22, 2012 at 12:55 am | Permalink
  3. gertrude said . . .

    “I can give some guidelines on non-violent direct action and how to deal with media. I will if I am asked. But tell you what– I don’t want to be wasting my time because nobody is listening because it isn’t violent enough. Non-violent direct action works.”

    I’m listening and asking.

    Posted September 22, 2012 at 2:12 am | Permalink
  4. Nina said . . .

    Thank you for your thoughts here, Barbara; people will be made aware of the underlying connotations of the “Wacko Jacko” reference, through efforts like yours and Joe Vogel’s. And while we may be dumbfounded to hear the rebuttal that those who use “Wacko Jacko” never “intended” it that way, I’m sure it makes perfect sense TO THEM, and to their marketing needs.

    Thanks, also, for the “Devo” clip of “Jocko Homo”; the “Jocko Homo” term itself seems to be the band’s imaginary term for what “homo sapiens” will have become in this world of the future they depict. As the song’s lyrics show, it’s about the reality lingering behind the façade. I remember hearing this song when it was popular (late ‘70s), and I heard some people mention the particular line from the song, “Are we not men?” as a direct reference to the 1932 film, “Island of Lost Souls,” starring Charles Laughton.

    In this film, the evil “Dr. Moreau” (the film underwent a remake more recently, called “The Island of Dr. Moreau”) has been conducting experiments in hybridity, by crossing captive animals with humans. At length, these chimerical creatures revolt against their master, led in a chant of “Are We Not Men?” by their leader, Bela Lugosi, demanding a fully human status.

    Of course, there are racial subtexts going on throughout this movie, and the story may easily be read as an allegory about the “dangers” of interracial coupling. Throughout his music and short films, we can see how Michael Jackson stood these tropes of interspecies transformation and mutation on their head. In “Thriller” especially, but also in “Ghosts,” “Leave Me Alone,” and “Black and White” (notably through the visual technology of “morphing”), Michael created metaphors of human/animal commingling as anti-racist allegories, where racial mixing, musically and otherwise, produce hybrid identities as a future norm. So, for the present moment, these “monsters” would be regarded with revulsion and disgust by the various Normal Valley Mayors, tabloid writers and publishers, Tom Sneddons, etc. of this world—-but these archaic attitudes eventually give way to a more inclusive and tolerant vision of humankind.

    Devo’s vision (also somewhat like Michael’s, when he’s working on the more futuristic and cyborgian end of the spectrum) looks more toward the human-machine hybrid as a figure of repulsion/attraction. We now see this in many Science Fiction texts; and even Michael’s “robot” dance from the ‘70s can be seen as an early progenitor of this idea. As can his stage costumes for the HIStory tour, etc.

    It’s very gratifying to see so much positive recognition for the “Bad 25” set, and praise, even belatedly, for the wonderful songs on that album. It would seem that the tide has really turned recently when it comes to reporting about Michael.

    I wish the same could be said for the culture more generally. Paparazzi are still hiding in the bushes, waiting for the next “weirdo” they can stigmatize. Sadly, I’m not sure what lasting lessons have been learned.

    Posted September 22, 2012 at 8:35 pm | Permalink
  5. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    Yes, N– some journalists have actually replied that “Jacko” was actually a term of endearment. That left me scratching my head. How can a term be endearing when the one labeled despised it?

    Jocko homo is a reference to devloution of the species back into apes as the “monkey men” and “apes” references suggest. A hybrid devolved from homo sapiens? Or just a reference to the race going backwards? The one letter difference is curious. The video and its theme is a critique of humanity.

    Michael’s message was entirely counter-devolutionary. A covert (and sometimes not) freedom fighter, Michael’s tongue was in his cheek through many of his works. Inner Michael hosts the shamanic deconstruction of “Ghosts” and “Black or White” where he coaxes humanity to evolve not devolve. Thriller represents much more than just the dance of the non-human to me and the rant “leave me alone” is Michael tongue-in-cheek at his most hilarious and satrircal. Michael disturbing and unearthing all the archetypes would earn him the Sacre` Monstre throne. And I doubt his detractors had any idea what they were actually battling.

    BAD’s reviews are positive and Spike Lee’s film is receiving accolades. Yes, I too believe the tide is turning. The tabloids will self extinguish when we reach the evolution Michael encouraged but they can be helped along I think.

    I don’t see a cyborg theme in Michael’s work and I don’t see devo but revolution. The “Robot” was a popular street dance, the HIStory costume was a space suit for travelling through history and to the future, and the most telling of his archetypes: “light man” from “This Is It” is a reference to the future human that is not devolutionary but evolutionary. In “Island of the Lost Souls” references are made to bullying because of odd looks, surgical alteration of animals and plastic surgery.

    Posted September 22, 2012 at 9:27 pm | Permalink
  6. Nina said . . .

    Thanks, Barbara. I’m sure all these expressions, as well as so many more of Michael’s, can be read on multiple levels, and disagreement in interpretation is inevitable, even (especially!) among the most sympathetic analysts. That’s why, to our delight, people will probably still be talking about him (and sometimes debating the meaning of his work) for many years to come.

    The tongue-in-cheek aspect of Michael’s work is unmistakable to me; and, of course, Thriller represents much more than the dance of the human and the non-human.

    There is one inescapable element of artistic expression —which goes to the problem of representing a complex, abstract concept through very concrete images: an artist cannot conceive of how to communicate their deepest aspirations or desires (in Michael’s case, for ennoblement, for forward-movement through revolution, evolution, etc.) without at some point having to reference these things’ opposite: the deeply backward and atavistic nature of a “civilization” which expends much of its effort and resources in the vanquishing and denial of “difference” of all kinds.

    So, much of the brilliance of Michael’s ideas—which show us the way he visualized the themes and stories of his songs— is to set up these tongue-in-cheek moments—-with the werewolf and zombie figures, for instance, or with the many satiric elements of “Leave Me Alone,” and of course with the Mayor in “Ghosts.”

    And of course the Light Man and HIStory costume probably constitute (in Michael’s vision) a more utopian set of ideas about possible futures.

    Posted September 22, 2012 at 10:06 pm | Permalink
  7. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    Thanks, N. I think not so much disagreement but a deepening for there are layers and layers to the work. If forced to distill the message down to its simplest essence, I would likely say: “wake up!” and perhaps “see to be or be to see.” And the conundrum of squeezing the abstract into the concrete is easy when the artist is an inspired and intuitive artist and responding to a higher… shall we call it… voice, Self, mission, calling, Presence, High Art. Michael’s experience was numinous and his loyalty was to the transcendent., his task to pluck it. It doesn’t really live in this realm. Since it can’t be accurately translated from a language that doesn’t exist to a language that doesn’t exist, one must invent new language. a new perhaps, synesthetic language. And that he did and that he was.

    Posted September 23, 2012 at 5:24 am | Permalink
  8. Nina said . . .

    Yes, Barbara…. I agree, layers and layers.

    A higher calling of work, inspired, seized by inspiration. But still, Michael—like every other artist—had to put in all those hours and hours of work, wearing an indentation in the floor of his dance studio.

    And he still had to ponder the meaning of his lyrics, edit them, re-work them, try many different versions of his melodies, add on the instrumental parts (which he would vocalize into a tape recorder), rehearse his moves time and again. (Vincent Patterson, the choreographer for “Smooth Criminal,” stated that he gave Michael one move; and Michael practiced it over and over for hours, making sure he got it the way he wanted it.)

    A number of romantic myths have arisen about artists, of course, and especially about prodigies and geniuses like Michael Jackson. It’s often thought that for such people, the process and work come easily—the words simply roll off the tongue as it were.

    As a writer, you probably know that many of us who are artists work intuitively, and have moments of the greatest inspiration…. as well as fallow moments when it seems nothing will come to us, try as we might. Some—in fact many—artists rely on a process that is *both* intuitive and deliberate, spiritual *and* intellectual. Yet I’ve found that in any medium, squeezing the abstract into the concrete remains among the greatest of challenges—inspired and intuitive as we may be, and whether we are responding to a higher voice or not.

    Posted September 23, 2012 at 6:46 am | Permalink
  9. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    Yes Nina, nothing about it is easy– the gift itself, the crafting, the honing and and the requisite and compulsory loyalty to it– the practice, work, rehearsal, false starts, failures, first or hundredth incarnation– is never easy– quite the opposite.. And yes, as a writer, a studio artist (oils, watercolors, pastels, acrylics,) sculptor, singer, stage performer and impressario, I have said more than once it’s akin to slavery. One can have the “gift” but the honing of the craft is very hard work and to say “no” to it is impossible. There is nothing romantic about slavery. There is a cost. For numinous and high art, the cost is a life. ~B

    Posted September 23, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Permalink
  10. gertrude said . . .

    What a wonderful and thought sparking conversation- thank-you. It’s this kind of commenting I find so edifying, such fuel for thought, soaring of the imagination and inspiration. It has me stoked to delve head-long into the blood, sweat and tears of my passions. I know this makes Michael’s heart glad.

    Posted September 23, 2012 at 8:53 pm | Permalink
  11. Sandra said . . .

    Rev. Kaufmann,

    Though I agree with your grievances about the tabloid industry as expressed at this excellent and morally upright blog, I do also have another take on the tabloids. The public is so used to seeing scandalized stories about celebrities (on an almost daily basis nowadays) that most people probably don’t give too much credence to any of it. In a way maybe these stories offer an (exaggerated) version of the flaws and warts and skeletons in the closet that most people have. When the public reads of so and such about famous figures, could it be that it makes it more acceptable for the rest of us to have failings too?

    Topless photos of the Duchess are indeed a sorry invasion of her privacy. Nude pics of other celebs have also been leaked in recent times. But maybe a positive fallout of all this could be that nudity itself won’t hold such a stigma or embarrassment anymore for ordinary people? When nothing is no more so shocking because the public is used to it, then maybe things previously considered scandalous get humanized for the rest of us?

    This is not to undermine the “shadow” inherent in what tabloids do. But I am hoping that maybe there is some silver lining to any of this. Would love to hear your thoughts on my viewpoint.

    Posted September 27, 2012 at 7:44 am | Permalink
  12. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    Your argument about making human failings more acceptable is the defense the tabloids use to justify themselves and their tactics. “We are only giving people what they want.” I once overheard a mother say to her daughter, as she tossed the tabloid into her shopping cart: “Reading about these people makes me feel better about my own life.” So if that is true, the tabloid provides relief from a tension and preempts her motivation to actually CHANGE her life for the better instead of settling and teaching her daughter by example to settle too? Tabloids make skeletons more acceptable? Is that in place of changing behavior toward improvement or toward a cleaner and better internal ecosystem?

    Tabloids deliberately desensitize people to humanity. It’s numbing, not redemptive. That’s like saying “murder is part of human nature so let’s have more of it so we can get used to it and it won’t seem so bad.”

    The tabloids memes did not help Michael Jackson when he was facing prison and likely the ending of his life if incarcerated. The “evidence” and “witness list” reflects what the prosecution believed about him which was based on his “reputation” in the tabloids, his “questionable” gender identity and sexuality (he must be a homosexual!) his looks, and how “weird” he was and how he must use Neverland and his fame to attract victims. This mindset is a direct result of a deliberately created meme.

    Diana suffered and was killed because of tabloids. Fergie was relentlessly bullied by a whole nation. Elizabeth Taylor was vilified in the tabloids.

    The desensitization is deliberate and is created to make mocking humans more acceptable. The beauty in nudity question might be better served by the art of the great masters or modern artists in museums and galleries, don’t you think? And where would you like to bathe the minds of humans: an art gallery or a tabloid? Either way you pay with your mind. Where do you want to immerse your mind for the most benefit? There is an unconscious component to continual exposure to a toxic element and an unconscious component to exposure to beauty. Which would you prefer? Which do you prefer for your children?

    The logic of your argument is the same logic that says “guns make the world safer” and “weapons are a deterrent.” Human beings invented guns to kill. Weapons kill more efficiently. They were invented to make the dispatching of humans to the permanent stae of death more efficient. It’s the same logic that created war which is not a struggle between who is right and wrong but between beliefs that make people “other.”

    Tabloid journalism promotes propaganda, is mind manipulation and it’s toxic to humans. How is that a good thing again?

    If you are seaching for a redeeming quality and insist on one here’s the only one I can think of– maybe if humans get manipulated enough, fed toxic material enough, get lied to enough, get their minds used as trash bins enough, maybe someday they will rebel and say “enough!” That should have happened when Diana died. It didn’t. What is it going to take?

    Posted September 27, 2012 at 11:38 am | Permalink
  13. Sandra said . . .

    To be very clear, I did not say yellow journalism is a good thing nor was I trying to condone it. Undoubtedly the human cost to its targets for example Diana or Michael has been tragic and can be very tragic, and the world was a much better place without this type of manipulation. I was simply, and only for the sake of discussion, trying to point out perhaps yet one more way in which society processes this type of media input. Owing to the complexity and duality of human nature, society and civilization may perhaps have not one but many different types of reactions to this industry. Some will exult in the misery of others, some will ignore and be indifferent, whereas others will turn away in disgust. Yet others might identify with the travails of these public figures.
    Tabloids started this game but the public has also bought into it and they continue to support it with their consumption.

    I think the entire history of humanity is witness to man’s enduring ability to be brutal. I do not know what it will take for the public to say they have had enough. There are so many exploitative and abusive industries across the spectrum. It is a matter of great curiosity to me as I ponder what it would take for the human race to tip the balance in favor or Light since as of now both Light and Dark seem equal opponents in their tug of war. Our job I suppose is to firmly decide which side we chose to be on.

    Posted September 27, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Permalink
  14. Sandra said . . .

    I had more to say. Even while my original comment itself I have been in agreement of your indictment of tabloids and of their sheer corrosiveness. Maybe there just has not been enough recognition or awareness of this amongst the public at large. Could be that people are unable to put themselves in the shoes of celebrities. (The celebrity facade is based on the presumption that celebrities are the glittery “they”, a class distinct from the pedestrian “we”.)
    Just one more question. Besides the lure of profits and greed, have tabloids had any other agenda in deliberately desensitizing the masses?

    Posted September 27, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Permalink
  15. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    In studying public (mostly anonymous) commentary it becomes evident that people are not only unable to see celebrities as human, they are unable to feel any empathy or sympathy for them. Celebrities are either not real to people or they are a privileged and pampered elite entitled to all kinds of things the “average Joe” imagines but can’t achieve. They are generally not subject to nor entitled– to any feelings of compassion. They are an example of the tribal thinking: “other” and are “plastic people” not considered real flesh and blood, are not to be taken seriously and deserve whatever happens to them. They are not viewed as gifted or “a gift” but spoiled.

    The commenting audience sentiment is that “these people” have inflated egos (some do and that reinforces the meme) and their wealth somehow insulates them from tragedy. It is widely believed that they seek fame above all and therefore are not entitled to empathy or compassion. It is a comparmentalized humanity. It’s as if everybody wants to BE them (envy) but can’t see them as human (tribalism that “otherizes,”) resents their success and delights in their missteps (Shadenfreude.) Many just refuse to see any humanity and if something bad happens it is deserved. There is an inability to connect celebrities’ talent with the hard work that it takes to develop that talent. There is a great deal of curiostiy but any humanity is tempered by the resentment that comes from envy.

    In a conversation with Hugh Grant, Paul McMullen verbalized this disconnect:

    Tabloid agenda is profit and market share and power to influence. Rupert Murdoch had access to the back door of the prime ministers. His daily mandates for Fox channels on how to spin the news, what buzz words to use and to avoid is clearly to propagandize the audience. Prime ministers realized that it was essential to curry favor with Murdoch in order to get elected and be seen as favorable in holding the office. Diana realized her reputation in the media was precariously held in the hands of the tabloids. She tried to play the game promising tidbits in exchange for coverage of her pet humanitarian projects. It’s the consummate hostage situation with the celebrity being at the mercy of a rabid press. The debate Hugh Grant raises is legitimate– what serves the public interest? For the regulations (in America at least) mandates that media serves the public interest. In truth, Murdoch and his tabloid cronies found a niche in a market that panders to human failings and taboo desires in a language that speaks to the lowest common denominator. Yet they find a market, don’t they? Consumers buy it don’t they? That’s the sad “relish the shadow” factor. But it isn’t exactly an equal opportunity medium for it panders to the more uneducated, poor and miserable factions of society. Unfortunately its’ visibility gives the general impression that the world is mostly cynical, corrupt and miserable. That worldview is skewed and reinforces resignation, bitterness, hopelessness, apathy and in particular powerlessness. (If the world is already doomed, why try to fix it? Just grab what you can while you can. Hoard what you have and keep those “others” out, away, in their place, beholden, dependent, or in shame.)

    So I will answer your question with more questions: How is bathing minds (consciousness) in that constant toxic ecosystem helpful to humanity? How does the focus on human depravity and darkness serve the public interest? What does it breed? What does it call forth? Speak to? Enliven? Is it death-dealing or life affirming?

    In the greatest irony I have encountered in recent times, Rupert Mucdoch actually views himself as a champion of truth and democracy. He claimjs exactly that in his Mac Taggart speech at the Edinburgh Internaitonal Festival.

    Posted September 28, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Permalink
  16. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    Your (that) premise was not misunderstood, Sandra. And indeed it is the public’s choice. But when “they” are rendered powerless via deliberate manipulation, absolved of any personal responsibility by those with huge public influence who are wiling to offer up targets for our own projection and failings (blame “THEM!” or “those people” for our troubles– so we aren’t expected to act to solve it) while the world goes on being hungry, sick, blind, deaf, indifferent, and apathetic to the masses that share this planet.

    Claim your powerlessness and you get to keep it! I don’t claim to be anyone’s “authority.” I lay claim to asking the questions in order for all of you to be your own.

    Posted September 28, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Permalink
  17. Sandra said . . .

    Thank you for asking questions that really do need asking. I want to add that I truly feel sorry for the Duchess. It’s too much, just gross having one’s privacy breached this way.

    Posted September 29, 2012 at 11:13 pm | Permalink
  18. Lina said . . .

    “Celebrity culture” overall seems to be whirling rapidly out of control. Now with the internet and social media, there is an even greater third dimensional interactive component to it. Is this not Too Much Information by way of this mighty information highway we have upon us. I fear for the possibility of roadkill.

    Stories of debauched behavior by celebrities can negatively influence youth. When image is prized over substance, society is in danger of losing its bearings.

    Posted September 30, 2012 at 1:47 am | Permalink
  19. Nina Hamilton said . . .

    It has been quite a while since I commented on any issue although I regularly visit Inner Michael quite often, but, this time, when I saw your ‘Low Life in the Revolution’ piece about the paparazzi news , I had to say that I was enraged, sickened, as it brings it all back, regarding Diana and Michael.

    I wondered how it is still happening despite a affect, an energy of him I can sense, I can feel, slowly infiltrating and taking hold in the world. But then there was a moral outcry, a prosecution of the magazine, and strong questioning of the photographer’s behaviour. Action! Something has changed.

    Then William took out an injunction to stop further publication. He was probably thinking, ‘Not again. First my mother, now my wife. Nooooo!’ It is just horrendous and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge is Britain’s future Queen. No respect; what were they thinking of? I don’t remember intimate photographs ever taken of the current Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh. Why is it allowed to happen today? I suppose it says a lot about the decline of public morals and the state of society.

    I was delighted when Kelvin MacKenzie was taken to task over the lying Sun headline concerning the Hillsborough disaster, when he tried to blame inaccurate police reports. He still wrote the headline! Great when he had to grovel and profusely apologise. Ha. Ha. Yes! He is getting his comeuppance at last. Horrible man! There was a boycott of Nivea products after his cruel comments on an early morning ITV chat show. They were the sponsors of the programme.

    I was one of the advocates who sent a rational polite comment to ABC57 about the use of ‘Jacko’ in the family birthday celebration headline. I received ‘that’ email response to which I replied in defence in no uncertain terms. I referred to the unwelcome historical aspect as quite unnecessary, and that most of the world were aware of it.

    The ‘Jocko Homo’ epithet is a new one, I had not heard of. I suppose, at times, remarks in society have had a cute amusing affectionate meaning, like ‘You little monkey’, ‘Monkey Business’, or The Monkees pop group, for example, but not often. It is easy to use such ideas, as an excuse to cover up the darker meaning.

    Posted October 6, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Permalink
  20. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    There is a recent campaign fundraising for a documentary of the group “Devo. It was rumored but unconfirmed that of its members claimed that he coined the “Jacko” epithet because of “Jocko Homo.” “Jocko Homo” was released in 1977 as the B side of “Mongoloid” a hit in the charts at that time. Devo is a punk rock/metal band with a cult following. One member, an art student created several satirical art pieces that depicted human de-volution in stead of evolution– a philosophy he held at the time. What began as satire and a joke became serious when the member witnessed the Kent State shootings where students were killed by the national guard.

    The turbulence of the sixties and seventies are fused in the band’s music. when Jackson’s music and message is studied in its historical context, a new layer of understanding emerges. The phrase ‘sign of the times’ hardly covers it. Devo intended their music as satire and protest– a kind of ‘the darkness of man’ theme and commentary. It is interesting in contrast to Michael Jackson who was showcasing and inviting just the opposite.

    I have said that there has been a concerted effort to nullify Jackson, his family and the power and influence of black music. The question that intrigues is this one: “was this implied marginalization in conscious or unconscious?”

    I see a similar trend in America today with the election of a black president. The Souther Poverty Law Center reports the formation of more than a thousand new hate groups in the U.S. Factor in: the relative apathy, or at least nurtrality of the public and the media toward outright lies by politicians in contemporary culture; the rise of the ultra conservative “tea party”; the rampant and runaway epidemic of bullying; the focus on fear and doom, and you have a very cynical ecosystem in which to live.

    It is a ‘perfect storm’ prescription for what is called “holy unrest” that I and many others interpret as a silent scream for change in humanity and a new focus. If only all Jackson fans were on board there might be that crescendo or critical mass of humans demanding a better world. The formula is still 1 tenth of 1 percent of the world’s population. Fans exceed that number. Others have predicted critical mass in consciousness would take 777,000. Michael had a fascination with the number 7 and 777. His work illustrates that he may have been aware of the need for a critical mass in consciousness and he deliberately tried to create it in his fans. That is all speculation of course, for he is not here in body to confirm it but it’s worth considering in light of his statement to fans “you are my legacy.”

    The kind of outrage and a cry for the return to decency (not the pseudo-puritanical values of America during his lifetime- that was obviously picked up by Devo and author James Baldwin) that occurred with the invasion of privacy of the next generation royal family is needed to turn the tide. A sincere and protracted protest and non-violent direct action by enough people while at the same time introducing a conscious technology on the planet that contradicts it should, in theory, succeed in change.

    Posted October 6, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

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