Inner Michael » What Didn’t Happen

What Didn’t Happen

I left “OZ, The Great and Powerful” and stopped into the supermarket for a couple of things on my way home. I needed OZ. I needed some lightness of being. The last few weeks have been extremely stressful for lots of reasons. Personal reasons and the universal reasons. You all feel it. You know it. You too are holding your metaphorical breath.

I know you’re weary. I know you have had it. And I know many of you are fatigued too with the uncivil and intolerable behavior you have witnessed among fans. Your letters make that clear. Thanks for writing. There’s a frustration and an anger in your tone. I get it; it’s there in my voice too. You are telling me your tolerance is fading. Mine too. And the bad and very rude behavior is everywhere. Even my Buddhist friends are agitated and that tells you something.

This irritability is, I think, a blessed anger, blessed unrest. Something is swelling, roiling, soon to be erupting into consciousness. In the quantum field, I sense we’re already done. Michael Jackson used to talk about how his songs and work and how “it’s created in space” before it’s downloaded into the 3 dimensional world of matter. He was talking about “manifestation” or taking ideas and fleshing them out and creating them to be real in the 3 dimensions of the physical world– being, thinking doing, making creating. Everything was once an idea– see that chair you’re sitting in? It existed in mind and one or two dimensional space before it was manifest as an actual physical thing come into existence. When it exists “out there” it is energy. When it comes down here, it is matter. Energy into matter. When it exists only in “Michael Jackson space” it is called an “energetic” as it has not undergone the condensation process to become matter. (Condensed thoughts are matter in becoming.)

On the energetic level, or MJ space, I think we have used up our tolerance. We are disgusted already and grasping for something new, something better. We all feel it. We are filled up on/with this paradigm. This is not a kind paradigm. It values money over people, profit over prudence. A new world is needed and on its way. She is breathing around the corner and we can all hear her breath.

To get some balance, restore some perspective, I went to see OZ at the cheap seats theater. It is a better place to absorb a movie and its message than the crowd in the frantic race to consume the newest film. OZ has so many messages, so many parallels, so much metaphor and more than a little irony. But I enjoyed my vacation from reality.

Until I got to the supermarket and the checkout line. There was Paris Jackson splashed all over the tabloids. There were the sardonic headlines: “Michael Jackson’s Troubled Teenage Daughter.” She will forever be that now; the caricature construction of the third generation of the Jackson family has begun. Never mind what drove her to the breaking point. Nothing is sacred to those who shovel and peddle slime. Not Lady Diana’s life. Not MJ’s life. And apparently not even a suffering child’s life.

So how is this virtual slaughter of youth and celebrity kids different than Newtown? Maybe someone could enlighten me how either of those is acceptable?

Here’s a sample of the letters and notes that came from around the world:

“Barbara, you are so right about the behavior of certain fans, new or old, who seem to forget our place as admirers, not his family or friends, although Michael might have thought of us as one big l.o.v.e. family.

It is very important when you point out that we don’t actually KNOW a lot of things that happened, and we most certainly don’t know thought, feeling and true motivations of other people. Ultimately, it is not our call. I see fans questioning and criticizing every move made by the Jackson family and others who were close to Michael and acting like they, the fans, are the ones who ultimately know how to deal with everything including the death of your super-star relative, raising his minor children, managing his estate, and now also dealing with complex issues of Paris’ breakdown. And one thing is to discuss it among ourselves, although the superior attitudes are still misplaced, but to contact these people through social media and lash out at them?

I don’t agree nor disagree with all of the decisions of Michael’s family, but the point is that they don’t need our permission nor our approval, it is simply not our place. I wish certain things were not displayed in public, but it is this family’s right to seek justice how they see fit. Besides, it is not the Jackson who tweet every single detail of the trial, that would be the media.

I think some of us are so caught up in our own grief, our need for justice and our emotions in general that we just dismiss the pain of his family. Like you wrote, Barbara, we get to get back to our lives and move on. As much as we love him and feel connected to him, Michael the man had not been a part of our lives, we were not used to seeing him, talking to him, sharing our days with him. I could never even imagine comparing the loss of Michael, to losing my mother or my brother (hypothetically). From my own experience, I would imagine every time something happens, good or bad or funny, the first thought is to tell daddy, followed by a reminder that they can never tell him anything again.

I don’t know if our pain makes us arrogant and insensitive to the pain of others, but it is very disturbing.”

Here’s another:

“Just read your story “Once upon a girl there was a time” and I’m very thankful for this opportunity. Someone did the translation in German, therefore it was easier for me to understand. My thoughts and feelings are very similar with yours, thank you!”

Bad and rude behavior is epidemic. Where is our integrity? What happened to civility? People have been expressing to me their own WIFS (well informed futility syndrome) describing their own anger, intolerance and irritability and it parallels my own. My anger too, is simmering just under the surface. It happens to those sensitive to energies. My patience is already gone. I’m not into mincing words these days or sugarcoating anything, so I’m going to paint a scenario for you about what might have been:

How would the AEG trial, and Murray’s earlier trial have gone if fans had taken seriously the request from the man himself to be his legacy and had created solidarity, written codes for their own conduct and then went out to act en force to change things?

What would have happened if, instead of all the back stabbing, jealousy, infighting, territorial, turf and Twitter wars, Michael Jackson fans had professionally and maturely, come together in the spirit of LOVE and then taken on the media and the world?

What if the media, each time they reported Jackson stories, had to acknowledge how civil, kind and level headed Michael Jackson fans are? What if that story had gotten out and fans, over time had gotten the reputation for holding integrity, civility, politeness and diplomacy? What if they came across as stewards of the message employing diplomatic intelligent, informed, and stable, SOLIDARITY and over time they replaced the label of “crazy,” “delusional,” and “unglued?” What if the media had to contend with and acknowledge the solidarity of the fans in demanding integrity from themselves, from each other and from the media?

What if in SOLIDARITY they employed integrity in every interaction with other fans, the media and Michael’s family? What if, when there were/are questionable things written, they addressed that professionally? What if they valued the scholars or credentialed fans? What if they took a deep breath before acting on impulse? What if they made it clear that this is what Michael Jackson stood for? What if they, in their SOLIDARITY kept saying over and over, “no; that is unacceptable, false and unsustainable; that is not the world that Michael Jackson was calling for in his lyrics, and it’s not the world we stand for. Instead, this is the world Michael Jackson asked his fans to build…” and you described it. What if over and over and over in actions of non-violence, that message was repeated everywhere in SOLIDARITY?

What if, instead of all the infighting and jockeying for position, the fans had, in solidarity, and as students of the stewardship philosophy, presented a different Jackson to the world? What if they had made themselves truly stewards of and for his message? How might they, and by proxy, he– have been observed? Remembered? What of the legacy then? Some fans are actually living this legacy now.

Before the AEG trial started, fans wrote to me hysterically calling for me and others who have researched and written about Jackson to contact the media, become spokespersons for Jackson, go on TV, spread the word because the media was salivating on this new Michael Jackson feast to gorge on.

Nobody would take that on. Let me tell you why…

Nobody wants to go out there and represent nasty, vitriolic, rude and just plain bad behavior. People who have tried to reasonably take it on have been slammed– by fans. Jealousy has inspired fans to deliberately sabotage the work of advocates who have a credible voice, were respected and even held licenses, credentials or resumes that gave them credibility. Every single one of those reasonable voices or respected forums have had to deflect attacks– mostly by fans.

Step into their shoes for just a moment. Would you keep putting yourself out there? Only to be handed your head? Just uttering or writing “Michael Jackson” is enough to create a firestorm of controversy. And those who dared take it on didn’t get SOLIDARITY from fans.

Did the message slip by? Were the lyrics not explicit enough? The videos not clear enough? They are a roadmap to another kind of world– the one that is breathing round the corner.

What if fans had coalesced, what if in SOLIDARITY they had taken on the violence done to Jackson? The media? The deviation from truth?

The whole thing was done with words. It was effectively done with words made weapons. What if these same people who complained about the abysmal treatment of Jackson stopped doing the same thing– using their words as weapons? What if the friendly fire stopped? What if they cared more for the issues, justice, cooperation, the message and not so much for their own ego?

I once spoke to an attorney who was close to the Jackson case and asked about the possibility of fans filing a class action suit to challenge what fans and the world lost out on because Michael Jackson was culturally abused, hamstrung in his work, mocked, demonized and eventually killed. There is a price for what the world lost because of the global bullying of Michael Jackson and of Lady Diana Spencer killed by paparazzi chasing her for the latest celebrity gossip. I also talked with an attorney about representing the fans. These things were being seriously considered. That is until fans began to represent something other than what Michael Jackson stood for.

It didn’t happen and it won’t happen. Some have no learned how to conduct themselves with integrity. No professional is going to associate themselves with conduct unbecoming….

But if it had happened. If there had been SOLIDARITY and it was “all for love” because the intention was to change the world, what might have happened if a circle of seasoned activists had called for action. That’s what activist organizations do– they have a circle of directors and legal advice and representation. I’ve been an activist and watched activists my whole life. They change the world.

When I walked out of that supermarket, I so wanted to make a phone call and activate a campaign of those who saw the value and power in SOLIDARITY. I wanted to coach them, every one of them to go to their supermarket– the young, the old, the moms, the fathers, the teachers, ministers and educators and every human being who stand for decency and integrity, for civil rights and human rights to go– and I wanted them to complain about the tabloids in the checkout aisles in supermarkets all over the world.

I wanted them to speak to the manager, to write a letter and to say: “I want you to take this trash down. I am trying to teach values to my children. I am trying to role model compassion and human rights. I am trying to teach my children that bullying is wrong. I don’t want my children exposed to adults who produce these newspapers to role model the effective, actual and de facto bullying of children. Paris Jackson just tried to end her own life and these people are trading on her pain and suffering to sell this stuff. She is a child. She is grieving the loss of her beloved father. And she is being bullied in school. I do not want my child exposed to this stuff as we check out our food. If you continue to place these things in full view of my children, I will find another place to shop for our families groceries.”

The one thing that was feared the most and the one quavering voice went a few octaves higher and hysterically bellowed a warning: “OMG they’re ORGANIZING!” Yes, that was the fear and that was the major motivation for the deconstruction of the reputation yet again.

Something didn’t happen. Again. “Make that change” became secondary to individual egos and illusory “turf wars” by people who think they own something they don’t. Michael Jackson’s “Change the world” didn’t happen. And his daughter was splattered all over the front pages of the tabloids.

I don’t think that’s what he meant when he said “you are my legacy.”



  1. victoria said . . .

    Barbara…..I can feel your pain in the words you write as I too have become more and more frustrated and angered by the situation at hand. No one presents the case for Michael Jackson and his legacy better than you do. Where we find ourselves now is just so sad, so disturbing. I can only think of the quote by John Greenleaf Whittier ….”Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, it might have been.” It might have been possible to come together as a cohesive group and become a force for change. It might have been possible to wage an “All for Love Campaign” and stand for decency, human rights and integrity. It might have been possible to do great and wonderful things if the legacy of those who would call themselves Michael Jackson fans really cared or understood what the man was about. But I am certain now that those who would call themselves fans really were not. And they were certainly not a part of his legacy. They are just part of the drama that to this day still continues….And now on the backs of his children…… On the eve of the 4th anniversary of the death of the greatest entertainer and humanitarian that ever lived we find ourselves at a crossroads….

    What to do next?

    Legacy. I have been pondering this notion over the past year, not only as it relates to myself, but as it relates to all of us here at Inner Michael. The dictionary would define legacy as a gift or bequest that is handed down, endowed or conveyed from one person to another. But for many of us legacy is more about disseminating the knowledge that you have obtained in this life, offering all of yourself, making an indelible imprint in the hearts of others. Michael was hopeful that he would be the seed that would germinate a “Unity Consciousness Movement”. He desired to live beyond himself and he did it by focusing on making a difference in the lives of others by continually giving back whenever he could. This perspective required tremendous dedication, a lifelong passion and the tireless development of his own unique gifts. He crafted them to perfection and in total surrender to the Creator as he immersed his whole being into his life’s work in the hope that his gift would ensure him a place beyond his physical existence and would outlive his time here on Earth.

    Can we become the Legacy?

    I think all of us here at Inner Michael are already there. We have decided to be the Legacy. We have taken an oath to be his Legacy. And Legacy fans are an entirely different breed. We have the conviction and the ability to do the work under the radar. To be the change that we want to see in the world. To hold the center when necessary. And to deflect the anger and the despair and carry on. The way I see it, for those who cannot operate at this level of solidarity, unity and higher consciousness there is no place for them. They are not welcome.

    Thank you Barbara for everything. You help me keep the faith.


    Posted June 24, 2013 at 2:38 am | Permalink
  2. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    Thank you. This pain belongs to us all. It is the planet’s pain as well. The world needs those who would stand and fight for civil rights and human rights– the right to live without the constant threat of harm; the right to be free from perpetual fear; the right to claim stewardship for the planet against the cynical and greedy who would take the land from the Indigenous and the weak and rape its resources for profit; the right to own the art that you create that comes from your body, sweat and talent and is a gift bound in the soul; the right of children to live free from fear war and hunger; the right of women to live without war, rape, strife and terrorism; the right of peoples to determine their own futures against the tyranny of power when abused; the right to not be bullied on playground or front page. Children are killing themselves; they are dying from this disease spread by the cynical and narcissistic adults that are supposed to be guides and stewards of their futures. This is not about one man. This is about evolution. This is about humanity growing up. This is about your family. your family is everybody. There is so much to do.

    Our souls hold a mission. We come to this planet for a reason and with a mission. Michael Jackson came to capture hearts and he left so that hearts could break, could crack open, could be hewn by grief and become softer in order to hold love. That is why heartbreak visits a life. Poet Gerri says it better than I can She says he came to replace this raggedy old thing we call a heart.

    So either he failed or his fans did. What “other” is there? And it’s not that those who would continue the dissolution of a legacy or who promote nullification win. It’s that everybody loses.

    Posted June 24, 2013 at 4:33 am | Permalink
  3. Nina Y F said . . .

    I appreciate the thought experiment you’ve proposed here, Barbara. The legacy is all those values you speak about.

    And—for better or worse— the legacy is ALSO the often bumptious, contentious, and messy entanglements that occur when a constituency of tens of thousands of fans—or even millions—cannot agree on exactly what the “legacy” is, or exactly what Michael REALLY stood for.

    Some believe in the power of his music and dance. Others admire him as a financial juggernaut. Still others are convinced that he is a kind of shaman, or savior, sent from the heavens to deliver a powerful message to humanity. And, sadly, part of his legacy will likely remain those elements that people refer to as the “troubled genius.”

    And, as we all know, throughout history the artists whose reputations have proven the most enduring have not escaped any number of labels that some people find negative (“weird” or “monstrous” or “freak” or “troubled genius”) come immediately to mind.

    As I mentioned on another blog, Vincent van Gogh famously cut off his ear. Mozart defied the mores of his time by becoming a debtor. Oscar Wilde stood trial for sodomy, and his life was ruined by imprisonment—still and yet, he is regarded as a creative genius. In some measure, the romantic ideal persists: a genius MUST be troubled in some profound way. Conversely, a person’s difficulties must be seen as a measure of their genius.

    There’s no way to expunge all of this, I’m afraid: and I also don’t believe the kind of solidarity and unity you call for is necessarily the best idea, after all. I think the best we can do is to keep the dialogue going, knowing full well that we will not all agree on the best set of principles, much less the most effective course of action, for this simple reason: in modern democratic societies, not everyone can be persuaded to adhere to the same moral codes, or social values. What one person (or group) considers a value—the free market system that produces the tabloids, for instance—is abhorrent to another person or group.

    Posted June 24, 2013 at 7:31 am | Permalink
  4. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    Nina, I appreciate your position and know what you mean by messy humanity. And yes, it’s beautiful in its messiness. But the stakes are high now and given a yet bigger picture and the urgency, we disagree on the necessity and power of solidarity. At the MREA (Midwest Renewable Energy Association) I listened to filmmaker Josh Fox (documentary filmmaker) speak and exchanged ideas and information with him afterward. Not only is the world in peril but democracy itself is. Those with great wealth and power are perpetrating great theft upon the masses with the exploitation of finite resources. Land is a resource that is being stolen from the indigenous and from the meek (Earthsong.) Children are a resource (Have you seen my Childhood; For the Lost Children) Animals are a resource (Earthsong) The next generation is being groomed as we speak for exploitation. Without people coming together and creating community, the people are expendable and will lose their civil and human rights.

    Jackson, of all people understood the manipulation of great wealth and power concentrated. He was a product of the music industry and it was Jackson himself who spoke of exploitation and abuse of artists at the hands of big power. He warned of the dangers to the planet should this corporate exploitation continue. People are expendable to the morally corrupt. Jackson was expendable. WE are expendable. We face a corrupt political system and media here in America and elsewhere. Jackson chose to use the resources he amassed for the good of humankind, not the exploitation of it for profit. The exploitation and manipulation is going on all around us; all one has to do is look.

    As a lifelong activist, I can tell you that to stand up to that kind of power, it takes solidarity. It takes many voices becoming one and threatening to withdraw support- financially, morally or spiritually. We are in crisis. A giant with centralized power has no reason to listen to a few scattered voices. But when the roar of the crowd threatens to overpower that same giant, suddenly the will of the crowd becomes important. Nothing changes without raising consciousness and the concentrated and clearly communicated will of the people created by unity and community. (“Jam;” “We are the World;” Heal the World;” “They Don’t Care about Us;” “Cry…”) It works; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.

    Posted June 24, 2013 at 4:16 pm | Permalink
  5. BGG said . . .

    Oh my. Yes, exactly, Barbara. All the things that could be accomplished. It tears at my soul. I’ve considered all these same thoughts in regard to Paris and the media. Ouch. And the vitriol that exists in the fan community … the need to take a “side” AGAINST someone, like your hate for someone (the Jacksons, AEG, other fans, someone) proves your love for Michael. If you really love, him you’ll hate so-and-so! Sigh. You don’t have to agree with everything Katherine does (and we only know a smidgen anyway) to still be civil and seek understanding. And meanwhile, everyone is so busy fighting about things we have no say in, that we’re not able to cooperate in the things we can. Not everyone is an activist, and people are busy with their own lives, but we have choices about where we put our energy. There’s a wonderful quote that I can’t search the source for on mobile right now, but it was about war. Probably paraphrased in my memory: “If only we’re created all this energy for something good.” Trying to Keep the Faith ♥ Love

    Posted June 24, 2013 at 8:58 pm | Permalink
  6. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    Hi hon. A daily prayer is activism. A monthly prayer is activism. An annual action is activism. True, not everybody has time to be a full time activist but I write letters to my congressperson, my governor (yikes, Wisconsin!) or leave comments on media sites when there is danger or a need for knowledge. That is activism.

    The previous weekend I stood on a busy corner for an hour with a sign that said :Remember Newtown” and spoke to a reporter. That’s activism. This weekend I went to the statewide alternative energy fair to learn what more I could do to save my planet. That’s activism. I went to a Juneteenth celebration that honors African American heritage and signed a few petitions and thanked the vendors and organizations for being there. That’s activism.

    I wanted someone to rise from the center of the fan community, someone with maturity, with training in law, with media savvy. And every one who qualified cited the same reason for saying “no thanks.” You know. You’ve heard it.

    Activism is calling or speaking with the manager of your local supermarket and saying that the in-your-face tabloid magazines in the checkout aisle are instruments of bullying, you find them offensive and you want them removed so that your minor child is not exposed to them. Michael Jackson organized fan activism is every fan making that phone call to their market. THAT is an impossibility? A group gathering outside the market with signs about Tabloids role modeling bullying to youth is activism.

    Activism is writing to the CNN website and asking why Anderson Cooper who abhors bullying of children and who has had two programs on it to raise awareness, nightly chooses someone somewhere to mock or ridicule on his “Ridiculist.” Isn’t that hypocrisy? Ask why Anderson Cooper who is gay and has taken the painful and frightening journey to “come out” is ridiculing anyone. And activism is writing or commenting to Judge Judy and asking why she is so caustic, mean-spirited, condescending and verbally violent in court to people who of course, don’t know the law– that’s why they’re there.

    Activism is inviting your neighbors, a few people from church and watching Josh Fox’s “Gasland” when it is aired on HBO July 7 and then asking the group what they think can be done. Activism is saving the rainforest by demonstrating how one paper towel in the bathroom folded in half before drying your hands is all you need and doing that in every gathering you go to. “Hey! want to know how you can save a thousand trees? Watch this!” (One IS all you need.)

    Paris Jackson is a minor child. A minor child is being bullied all over the tabloids. A community that is already organized in so many useful ways missed an opportunity to REALLY change the world by acting on what her father demonstrated and taught the world and asked them to steward. Why? They were too busy bullying each other and her family. Perfect.

    Posted June 24, 2013 at 9:45 pm | Permalink
  7. Poca said . . .

    I feel the pain, Barbara. I am very sad as well with everything that has happened, especially with Paris being labeled “Troubled Michael Jackson’s daughter”. I don’t like labels. Michael Jackson was labeled “Wacko Jacko” which hurt him deeply and I can imagine his daughter’s label would’ve hurt him even deeper. He is not here, but we fans that love Michael can feel it.

    However, I have been focusing on other things and I think Michael would’ve approved. I like to focus on the positive side even though all you see is troubled headlines. I am in the process of sponsoring a child from Liberia in Michael’ s name from this website:

    There are other ways we can honor Michael as well, like helping with donation in building Everland Children Home in Africa, or adopt an acre of protected living woodland in the UK, in Michael’s memory. We may not be able to get rid of the so called professional journalist that just wants to push Michael under the bus, but we can put our energy into something positive that can actually help others and make this world a better place. I have to confess that being Michael Jackson fan has certainly been burdensome because you can feel helpless but I’ve learned the best way to honor him, is by continuing to love those that persecute you. This is how they will lose at the end. Remember the good always wins at the end. I truly believe this. Let’s not lose hope and keep fighting for dear and humble Michael.

    Posted June 25, 2013 at 12:37 am | Permalink
  8. Nina Y F said . . .

    Activism is many different things, certainly, Barbara—including the recent protests in Turkey, and even the Occupy movement in the US, as well as the gestures you mention. And I, too, believe in the need for solidarity in the face of the many struggles we have keeping our bodies and souls together, collectively and individually, on all these fronts.

    Whoever serves as a lynchpin or a role model for this kind of activity—(Michael Jackson, or another public figure) is indeed doing a great service.

    But at the same time, there’s widespread disagreement as to what *effective* strategy and meaningful action would look like. In many ways, Michael’s politics were naiive—and some of the symbolic actions he took are rife with contradictions. (Notably, despite his humanitarian leanings, he visited the Reagan and the Bush Sr. White Houses. (These presidents, in my view, weren’t known for creating policies that helped anyone except rich Western men. Everyone else, as far as they were concerned, was…. *expendable*, in your words.)

    I don’t mean to minimize Michael’s commitment or contribution to worldwide philanthropies, nor to impugn his his singular brilliance as an artist. But I have to say that the lyrics of the songs you cite might have been written by any number of concerned and socially engaged songwriters, and are not, I believe, the work of a UNIQUELY enlightened soul. Many have felt a spiritual connection with Michael, so it stands to reason that some of his themes and lyrics contribute to the idea that his songs have particular resonance in this way. But in reality, a lot of artists, from Bob Dylan to hip-hop musicians, have written songs that serve equally as calls for collective enlightenment.

    Moreover, I’m not at all convinced that removing tabloids from our supermarket aisles will necessarily result in a better world for children, who have access to SO MANY sources of (dis)information. Any measures that could be taken to change the laws in this regard (for example, the CADEFLAW effort) run the risk of eliminating SO MANY “legitimate” forms of expression that, in my view, they would do more harm than good to society as a whole. And while I’ll try to be sure to see Josh Fox’s film “Gasland” (I don’t have HBO, unfortunately), documentary filmmakers of all political persuasions have been debating the most effective methods—short and long-term—for bringing about change by illuminating a particular issue.

    One has to start somewhere, it’s true, with however small a gesture. But I’m just not sure what kind of change can be brought about when one person—in this case, Michael Jackson—is highlighted as a kind of martyr to the cause of universal justice and peace—-I find this idea not just here, but throughout the MJ fan community.

    On one MJ fan site, Barbara, I have read the opinion of people who believe that those who do not give themselves over to a belief in Jesus Christ as their personal savior will rot in hell for all eternity. Another person said that all modern art is the work of the devil. Yet another stated that their fear of flying was exacerbated by the prospect of sitting next to someone who might be speaking Arabic into a cell phone. The list goes on

    To be quite honest, Barbara, my jaw has dropped as I’ve read statement after statement that can easily be read as sexist, racist, homophobic, anti-semitic, Islamophobic, and xenophobic—and all in the name of “defending” Michael Jackson. And my advice to other fans fans— that they might look at their issues in these ways—are, unsurprisingly, met with much resistance.

    Is this what you mean by vitriol and sabotage on the part of Michael Jackson’s fans? “Well, you know we all want to change the world,” in the indelible words of John Lennon. But when we are talking about someone who is a celebrity, and one who has such a HUGE and diverse following as Michael had the world over, then of course we can expect a motley and heterogenous horde, really, where people are ALL OVER the map, politically and in many other ways. We can expect there to be much dissension. Michael is an icon, and his legacy is formed by collective myth as much as anything. Everyone wants their say in forging his myth, and in stating (definitively!) “who he REALLY was.” Realistically, I don’t think this is possible, and I don’t believe he will EVER come into as clear a focus as many fans would like.

    Posted June 25, 2013 at 4:54 am | Permalink
  9. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    To learn who Jackson “truly” was only takes looking and listening to his art. He said that’s where “I bind my soul.” Not a messiah but a visionary, Jackson used his popularity and fame in pop culture to leverage his power of art in the service of humanity. His message was simple. Love. Love one another. That brand of unselfish sacrifice and philanthropy is rare. It is noble for it literally means laying down your life for it. He could have instead played the “Hollywood” game and selfishly hoarded his resources. He didn’t owe the world his life. But it can’t be argued that he gave it. Willingly and generously. He still gives only in new and unusual ways.

    While I appreciate your argument about the Reagan White House et al, had I applied it literally, that would have prevented me from “fraternizing with the enemy” and I would not have been a citizen diplomat in Russia working on the joint decommissioning of chemical weapons in Siberia. Diplomacy is a courtesy to your friends; for your enemies it is essential strategy. And every human being is conflicted, contradictory and incongruent– that is the common lament of biographers.

    Jackson’s message was timely and arises from a movement many neither know nor understand. It’s not intellectual and the intellectual mind cannot grasp it; it’s metaphysical and is intuitively touched and felt if the ego is suspended. Many wise souls tried to convey it and asked for order and reasonableness while begging to be listened to in order to gain credibility for Michael Jackson fans, and thereby and therefore, what they might have to teach and share with the world. These were people who were there from the first holding space and holding hands for fans and more than a few suffered attack in return for their loyalty. When pushed to the breaking point they had no choice but to vote for their own sanity and walk. And they were true stewards.

    Jackson’s reach was uncommon. When there are millions in a constituency who can, with solidarity, change the world particularly when their benefactor has clearly asked for their help in doing so, and that is wasted– everyone loses. Many of the great activists were idealistic and naive: They succeeded because they naively believed they could. Gandhi, Martin Luther King, James Brown, Mother Theresa, Diana, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Bob Dylan, Elton John, Malcolm X… to name a few. It was their lack of cynicism and resignation that allowed them to change the world. Art, more than anything, holds that power and potential. Jackson was one of the most significant artists of the twentieth century and his art was visionary. He gave it in service to a greater plan of human evolution that can be glimpsed or guided to. Once Jackson glimpsed it he devoted his life to it and with lyrics and images using every performance trick from sensuality to prayer he conveyed it

    In the beginning the fan community had solidarity but lacked diplomacy. No one could argue it meant well. But it has shifted and has drifted off center and has gotten meaner. Many, many had hope that the power in that collective could be harnessed in service of critical mass to change the world not in honor of his legacy but AS HIS LEGACY. Some have done exactly that but they are drowned out by a new tone that serves no one well.

    Each fan who has ever written or spoken to me has expressed dismay over Jackson’s treatment by those who exploited him and particularly how he was treated in the press. Jackson is the global poster boy for bullying. So yes, he is a kind of “martyr for the cause” because bullying is epidemic and children are dying because of it. There is no excusing fans who bully for it is the very thing they, themselves complain of for it is Jackson’s greatest and most public wounding inflicting permanent damage to him and to his legacy. I hear how deeply wounded, saddened and disillusioned some are because of what is happening for they confide it. And I am careful and respectful of their confidence. Many feel mortified because they have had to back away because of that pain: “it could have been otherwise.” Michael was one voice and as Macaulay Culkin said, he wasn’t always good in explaining himself. His fans’ voice at one time numbered in the millions. “All for Love” was repeated at least that many times. Now THAT is a voice. Harnessed, that is a movement that changes the world. The sadness is warranted.

    Posted June 25, 2013 at 7:01 am | Permalink
  10. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    What you are describing is true activism and action in the service of humanity. This is what changes the world. Brava! ~B

    Posted June 25, 2013 at 7:05 am | Permalink
  11. Nina Y F said . . .

    We all love in different ways, Barbara, and we know it can take many different forms.

    For some, offering love takes the form of analysis, which is something that we can offer and share. If done well, analysis—which you are doing on this blog, in fact— can be as uplifting and powerful as any artists’ gift. And, *at the same time,* I believe that a deeply felt soul-connection, or an emotional catharsis, or an intuitive experience can occur in the process of analysis. You say that what Michael gave is “not intellectual and the intellectual mind cannot grasp it; it’s metaphysical and is intuitively touched and felt if the ego is suspended.”

    But all the same, the figures you mention here—Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Lennon, Malcolm X, and the rest—weren’t idealistic and naive, in my view. NOR were they cynical and resigned, of course…. (or maybe they were ALL those things, at various times). But whatever the case, it wasn’t by virtue of their naiveté that they became influential and inspiring. They were well-informed, analytical, and realistic about what they were dealing with—plus, the time was right for what they had to say: popular sentiment was on the side of what they espoused. They harnessed some energies, to be sure.

    But whatever else they believed in, and whatever other intuitions comprised their approach to living and action, they didn’t disparage the the intellect that supports analysis and critical thinking as they went about changing themselves and the world. On the contrary: they embraced it.

    Nonetheless, I’ve had my say, and I feel I’ve spoken enough. I don’t mean to hog the floor, so I’ll simply reflect on my four-year journey and try my best to synthesize what I’ve learned in the process of learning about Michael.

    Posted June 25, 2013 at 7:45 am | Permalink
  12. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    Analysis serves thoughtful dialogue; “intellectual” arguments for the sake of argument serves ego. It has been labeled “naive” to believe you can change the world. If so, then yes, these giants while grasping the metaphysical, were naive while sophisticated concurrently. In a deeper exploration and analysis, Jackson is revealed as anything but naive but rather absolutely calculating and savvy in his ability to hide the obvious in plain sight while obfuscating code and disguising the unconscious delivered in subliminals all at the same time. Yes, that was deliberate.

    Posted June 25, 2013 at 8:45 am | Permalink
  13. Karen said . . .

    I feel so extremely fortunate that I am fairly unaware of the in-fighting that goes on in the fan community. I’ve definitely seen instances and heard of more in which fans voices were anything but reflective of the legacy they wished to be a part of, but as an introvert who doesn’t often feel comfortable identifying within a group or being part of group activities or communities, much of the vitriol and gossip and slander has, thankfully, escaped me. Those who are part of my “MJ world” are lovely, open-minded, love-driven people who truly are living from their hearts and in the spirit of the legacy they wish to uphold( as with this community here, where I have been more involved than I usually ever am).

    However, I have keenly felt the transition from Hope and unity to a degradation back into individuation, into protecting territory, into ego, and into what I can only term small-mindedness– a return to the daily grind that we’ve been told is important, a return to the status quo that Michael and many other visionaries have risen such greats heights above to show us what we CAN be. I’ve felt my incredibly strong faith and energy dwindle as I see movement after movement– Occupy, uprisings across the globe, activism against specific political and social issues– rise up, ignite…and them either fizzle out or get snuffed out to keep the corrupt order that pretends to be democracy in this world.

    I’ve felt loss of hope seeping in, battling with the sensation and intuition that Change is Here..that the tides must truly be turning, everywhere I look there are signs, there are currents and there are swells. I want good to win, i want liberty and equality to win, I want LOVE to win…but I am afraid, afraid that we as humans have gone too far, have become too corrupted in our values — have learned only to survive instead of thrive, to manage individually instead of communally because we are herded into that mentality from such an early age that we don’t know how to break free of the bondage ‘to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery’ in the words of another visionary artist. I want so badly to rise up, and yet I know intimately what a deep, long, and wearying battle it is going to be, to ward off all my pre-programmed thinking and ways of being and be able to truly walk in the light of love, even when faced with opposition, with hatred, with anger and fear.

    Michael lit the way, he still does, and daily a deeper understanding dawns on me about what incredible strength of spirit and will he must have had his entire life, to withstand the bullying and malevolence of this world. Thank you for your words…they have lighted a spark of anger in me again, which I hope to use to galvanize myself to do more, to bring myself closer to the flame and BE that flame uncompromisingly. Thank you.

    Posted June 26, 2013 at 7:53 am | Permalink
  14. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    Beautifully expressed. I empathize. Perhaps we have a spark here. Thank you.

    Posted June 26, 2013 at 10:03 am | Permalink
  15. HEIDI said . . .

    I too am fortunate in that I am not that exposed to the bickering and in-fighting amongst the “fans”. I am not that exposed because I AVOID IT ON PURPOSE.

    Who ever said Twitter, Facebook, or other forms of social cattle drive drivel were important or mandatory? You BECOME whatever you give your thoughts to. GIVE UP? COULD HAVE BEEN? WHAT????? All because of a few infants??? Isn’t it time for the ADULTS to take the helm?

    Every family has it’s brats, and unfortunately, it’s always the brats that get all the attention. What ever happened to Michael’s words…..”I don’t care how many times you fail…..get up and do it again until it’s done right.”


    WHAT DO YOU SUPPOSE HE MUST THINK? ALL THE PAIN AND SUFFERING HE WAS FORCED TO ENDURE FOR US, THIS IS HOW WE THANK HIM??? He wants us to get to work! One day you might actually stand before him, you who proclaim to love him. Will you be proud NOW IT’S COMING FROM HIS OWN LEGACY??? By claiming to “love him” and then proceeding to behave just like the rest of the world? Well, I think that is the ultimate disrespect towards him. But cheer up. The misbehaved are the few. WE are the many.

    Posted June 29, 2013 at 5:27 am | Permalink
  16. Greet Boete Belgium said . . .

    Thank you Rev. Barbara. Yes,I have seen it too, from the fans. I don’t like it, but they have to be willing to realize that what they do is not what Michael was talking about. We are all blind in certain areas I think. Today I read another tabloid piece in the Mirror, so again millions of fans and the general public will be exposed to “Michael buying off victims of molestation”.

    It is a pity, when I try to “change” something, that I cannot even mention who’s inspiring me for making that change. I have to keep silent and not mention Michael, because then indeed, I am not taken seriously. But these people don’t even know how fans react, they only see the headlines. So whatever happens in the fan base, the tabloids are still the worst and first source for the character assassination of Michael (and his “decent” fans- which he has in great numbers).

    And some years ago I wrote letters to several newspapers, in form and style like you mentioned in your article, with respect and dignity. One journalist answered, that he would still use “W…J…cko” in future publications. He argued, that this was one way of referring to MJ and that it was inevitable that it would be used in the future. I don’t know Rev. Barbara what kind of people some of these “journalists” are. If they would be decent, would they write such garbage anyway ? Do they “see”, “Notice”, or “Understand” decently written letters or comments ? Or do they simply “ignore them” and only focus on the badly written ? Sometimes I really doubt some of them.

    Posted June 30, 2013 at 5:06 pm | Permalink
  17. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    Just yesterday I met yet another person in Michael Jackson’s life who was close to him in the orbit of the music industry. And yet again, I heard what an incredibly kind and generous person he was. The tabloids are on their way out and they know it. And don’t forget the AEG trial attorneys’ threat: “This will get ugly.” Who do you suppose it behind this latest foray of character assassination? Keep reminding the public that the “powers that be” are being sued for billions. This is all about money.

    Let them know in your supermarket that this stuff offends you and you refuse to bring your children through an aisle or spend money in a store that exposes your minor child to child abuse (Paris Jackson on the cover) and intellectual pornography. Use the terminology: “Abuse” and “pornography.” Make it clear not only will you not consume it, but you do not want your children exposed. More about this later.

    Posted June 30, 2013 at 11:44 pm | Permalink
  18. Nina Y F said . . .

    Thanks, Barbara. There are many ways to address these problems, and protesting the supermarket’s peddling of these wares may be one of them. I want you to know that I share your disgust at these tabloids, and I shudder to think that there are people who actually probably believe what they read in them. They are abusive on many levels.

    That said, I think that describing this material (to supermarket staff or anyone else) as “pornography” would be ineffective and/or misleading. While the “pornography” may function as a powerful metaphor, the term has *specific* meanings in specific historical contexts, and I think it’s important to attend to these and respect them. As a term, “pornography” is itself somewhat sensational and overdetermined. The word is most often associated with obscenity. Wikipedia defines it this way:
    “ […] the explicit portrayal of sexual subject matter for the purpose of sexual gratification. Pornography may use a variety of media, including books, magazines, postcards, photos, sculpture, drawing, painting, animation, sound recording, film, video, and video games.”

    Language, of course, is a lot more mutable than what the dictionary definition provides. In recent decades, “pornography” has become a label that gets attached—usually for polemical purposes—to many different kinds of material, by a whole variety of different interest groups and movements. From the banning of certain books (like D.H. Lawrence’s “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”) to Supreme Court cases where these bans have been challenged, to the polemics of some feminist groups who have proposed city ordinances to ban pornography on the grounds that it encourages violence towards women, “pornography” remains an highly laden term that often elicits a strong emotional reaction. Like other such terms (“rape,” for example, used to cover a multitude of abuses), I think it’s essential that we use this word WISELY, or not at all.

    For those who care about Michael Jackson’s legacy and, more broadly, about creating a better world in his spirit, I think the most effective forms of redress will not be to create structures of prohibition, but rather to make music, write poems, make films, write books, and create dances that in a collective way will make it possible for more and more better speech, images, and stories can come to the surface. It takes a long time for these changes to be known; but eventually, I believe these efforts will replace one meme with another.

    At Forest Lawn Cemetery on June 25, the fourth anniversary of Michael’s death, there was a beautiful and heartfelt quilt displayed. (There’s a video of it on YouTube). It had been made by a group of Japanese fans, and sent to the US to express love and honor Michael’s memory. This is one example among many. There’s more writing and blogging (of which Inner Michael”is a part) than ever before about Michael’s extraordinary legacy as an artist and a human being.

    To take heart, we can acknowledge that a whole generation of kids is growing up without that absurd “Wacko” meme. They are being turned on to his music, his dancing, and stories of his kindness and generosity. Some elements of the old tropes will persist, but they’ll fade more and more into the background as the other elements of Michael’s story take their place.

    Posted July 1, 2013 at 1:21 am | Permalink
  19. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    Nina, I think this is not the time for debate and splitting hairs or intellectual calisthenics. In fact I have had complaints about this very thing. It is nothing but air and takes all the air from the room. This tabloid nonsense is indeed pornography- mind pornography. It pollutes the mind and encourages violence. And it is completely obscene. Anyone who exposes a child to this and all the children who must witness it is introducing toxic waste into the mindstream of mass consciousness. We deserve better. Our children deserve better. It is not time for argument. It is time for action.

    Posted July 1, 2013 at 8:05 am | Permalink
  20. Nina said . . .

    Um……. okay, Barbara.

    Posted July 1, 2013 at 9:20 am | Permalink
  21. Nina said . . .

    You have spoken and written about education projects, Barbara; and as a teacher myself, I find engaged and sometimes passionate discussion essential to the learning process.

    But from what you are saying—about “intellectual calisthenics,” “hairsplitting,” and so forth—it seems clear that what most interests you is not conversation, but a handful of loyal adherents who are prepared to hang upon your every word.

    So I’ll refrain from producing or consuming any more (hot) air in your precious room…. which, without taking risks, without encouraging an atmosphere of spirited discussion (and, yes, even debate) can only be a vacuous and suffocating space anyway.

    Posted July 1, 2013 at 9:36 am | Permalink
  22. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    Nina, the complaints about this are real. People are tired of the infighting. This is my blog, Nina and no, it is not necessary to ‘hang on my every word’- that’s not a requirement. Send me a link to your work and I will post it. I am interested in meeting contemporary needs if I can. That is my agenda; those needs are immediate.

    The collective voice is already well informed and weary with futility. There are deep needs and requests right now and it’s not for “conversation” or argument. There are complaints about infighting, friendly fire among fans, territorial grandstanding, bullying, divisiveness and the lack of civility. People are weary. There is fear that goes far beyond Michael Jackson and that tries to grapple wide issues that concern already thoughtful people. They’ve had the debates; they understand the issues; they know what’s at stake. They want to move forward not discuss it. And they want to change the world. I say ‘God Bless ’em.”

    Posted July 1, 2013 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

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