Have You Seen His Childhood?
Michael openly expressed to the public the pain he felt from having no childhood. Though some in his family, such as his father, have said Michael did have time to "play", I have to say I do not think it was quite enough. I would love to know if child labor laws existed for children in the music business as they did for children in motion pictures back in the 1970s. I am not sure and since that is not my point of topic, I will just let it be. Back on topic, not only did Michael perform and record with his brothers but he juggled a solo career at the same time--he was a businessman beginning at the age of 10 when he signed a contract with Motown. Michael recorded numerous songs as a child. The following albums were recorded before he was 18 years old:
Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5 (1969)
Third Album (1970)
The Jackson 5 Christmas Album (1970)
Maybe Tomorrow (1971)
Lookin' Through the Windows (1972)
G.I.T.: Get It Together (1973)
Dancing Machine (1974)
Moving Violation (1975)
The Jacksons (1976)
Got to Be There (1971)
Music and Me (1973)
Farewell My Summer Love (1973)
Forever, Michael (1975)
Keep in mind that each album contained so many songs (10-15 I would guess roughly) and each song would have been recorded more than once. Michael also recorded numerous songs that were never released. J. Randy Taraborrelli estimated how many songs Michael and his brother recorded, somewhere in the 400+ range, though I do not have my book with me to quote this or recall the actual time span for these 400 songs but he seemed to stress that Michael was recording (working) at an astronomical pace (if someone can provide that quote I would appreciate it, BTW). Michael and his brothers recorded, rehearsed, interviewed, did TV specials and toured while juggling school (usually only 3 hours a day) and social lives. I do not know how Michael (or his brothers) would have found much time for a social life, to be honest.
It is painful to hear Michael discuss, in the horrid Martin Bashir documentary no less, that while recording at Motown at about 11 or 12 years of age he would see children playing at the park across the street. He wanted to play, too, but he had to record--he had a job at 12 years old and was bound by contract to record. I know Michael enjoyed performing but when it came to him wanting to play, why did he not get a break from show business and just get to be a kid for a couple years? Did Michael ever ask for this or did he shun such a thought? I think it would have been good for him to not only try and be "normal" but to have also left the adult world behind for a bit that he was catapulted into when he was five years old (performing in clubs). Taking a break from the business may have cost him his adult career but I kind of doubt it--the talent and drive he possessed were second to none.
Michael has said "Childhood" is his most autobiographical song. Please listen to the song to feel his plea to be understood--and not harshly judged. Below are some of the lyrics:
"No one understands me,
They view it as such strange eccentricities,
'Cause I keep kidding around,
Like a child, but pardon me,
People say I'm not okay,
'Cause I love such elementary things,
It's been my fate to compensate,
for the Childhood I've never known."
Michael also is quoted as saying he wrote "Speechless" after a water balloon fight with some children. This, too, is a beautiful and emotional song. Below are some of the lyrics that point to me why he enjoyed the company of children so much:
"Though I'm with you I am far away and nothing is for real,
When I'm with you I am lost for words, I don't know what to say,
My head's spinning like a carousel, so silently I pray,
Helpless and hopeless, that's how I feel inside,
Nothing's real, but all is possible if God is on my side,
When I'm with you I am in the light where I cannot be found,
It's as though I am standing in the place called Hallowed Ground."
My point here (and for this entire blog more over) is Michael's love for children and child-like things is multi-faceted. He always said it was because he had no childhood, and in my opinion, that is only part of the reason. I do not think he realized other facets came into play, though, just like I do not think he explained his affliction with vitiligo very clearly. Perhaps if he (or moreover others) had understood what I am about to say maybe people would have understood him better and not been so quick to harass and judge him. There is such a thing as innocence and purity even with grown men. Perhaps if Michael had been a religious figure instead of an entertainer his innocence would have been more likely to have been accepted.
Children and their innocence was a refuge for Michael, which I can see in the lyrics to "Speechless". Throwing water balloons, chasing people around with Super Soakers and jumping on trampolines were a way for Michael to escape the pressures that had bound him since he was a child. Death threats, law suits and eventually abuse allegations later came and slowly began to destroy his life. Instead of wasting away, destroying himself or becoming hardened and mean--he played. Instead of giving up on a life that he admitted at times depressed him, he fought to keep closest to him what made him happy and he always loved--children, their innocence and most importantly their unconditional love. It is evident in photos and video footage from when he was a child that he loved children. One of my personal favorites is a old video of him pestering his niece Stacey (available on YouTube). Michael adored his nieces and nephews as he adored all children--including his own. That innocent love was a part of him, a part of his soul--not a ploy nor was there anything fake about it. He was as open about his love for children as you can get--he hid nothing back because he had nothing to be ashamed of because he did nothing wrong. Him being open and honest ended up costing him heavily, though, when it should not have. Michael was gullible, naive and sensitive--like a child. These characteristics inadvertently destroyed him--with the worst example of such manipulation of the aforementioned traits airing on our television screens in 2003.
I recommend listening to Michael's speech given at Oxford University (it is available on YouTube). He speaks about his childhood and things related to it for almost 40 minutes. I will list some of the most profound quotes from Michael below:
"You probably weren’t surprised to hear that I did not have an idyllic childhood. The strain and tension that exists in my relationship with my own father is well documented. My father is a tough man and he pushed my brothers and me hard, really hard, from the earliest age, to be the best, he wanted us to be the performers we could be."
"He had great difficulty showing affection. He never really told me he loved me. And he never really complimented me either. If I did a great show, he would tell me it was a good show. If I did an okay show, he would say nothing."
"He seemed intent, above all else, on making us a commercial success. And that, he was more than adept. My father was a managerial genius and my brothers and I owe our professional success, in no small measure, to the forceful way that he pushed us. He trained me as a showman and under his guidance I couldn’t miss a step."
"But what I really wanted was a Dad. I wanted a father--who showed me love, and my father never did that. He never said I love you while looking me straight in the eye, he never played a game with me. He never gave me a piggyback ride, he never threw a pillow at me, or a water balloon."
"But I remember once when I was about four years old, there was a little carnival and he picked me up and put me on a pony. It was a tiny gesture, probably something he forgot five minutes later. But because of that one moment I have this special place in my heart for him. Because that’s how kids are, the little things mean so much to them and for me, that one moment meant everything. I only experienced it that one time, but that one time made me feel really good, about him and the world."
From this you can see why Michael would go out of his way to make children feel loved. I was actually shocked to hear that Michael was an assertive parent. I figured he had no rules with his own children. That was not the case, however, and he did a great job of both setting firm, respectful foundations in this children while at the same time making them feel loved. I think Michael was able to do this because he wanted a "Dad" and learned from his father's mistakes. There is a big different between being a "father" and being a "Dad". A father physically creates another being, a "Dad" raises that child, loves them, protects them. Michael had a father, someone there who did want better for his children, but that is not the same as being a "Dad". The Jackson children do not even call Joseph "Dad"; to this day they call him "Joseph" by his own preference.
Michael vividly expressed his lack of feeling loved by his father while speaking at Oxford. He cried while talking about this. I think this lack of love made Michael easy prey, even by children though most children would never intentionally abuse this fault in Michael's character. However, I have to disagree with Michael and say that not all children, at least not older children, are innocent and loving. I think children like the Arvizo children were able to manipulate Michael. I do not think it was them who wanted to concoct the molestation charges but their demands to sleep in Michael's room were allowed by Michael because Michael did not want to hurt, especially a supposedly dying child's, feelings. He did not want to be hated by anyone, especially not children for telling them, "no", especially not a dying or orphaned child (which may be why he was able to lay down rules for his own children as they did not fit either of the two categories). I do not think Michael could have lived with himself if he even remotely thought he had hurt a child in any form, be it physical, verbal or emotional, especially not a sick or orphaned child. After all, he said he would rather slit his own wrists than to hurt a child. I firmly believe that statement.
I think the pressures of childhood fame, when everyone loves you for being "cute", and the lack of having a "Dad" created a strong desire for unconditional love in Michael. Michael even admitted in taped conversations how badly he just wanted to be loved:
"I am going to say something I have never said before and this is the truth. I have no reason to lie to you and God knows I am telling the truth. I think all my success and fame, and I have wanted it, I have wanted it because I wanted to be loved. That's all. That's the real truth. I wanted people to love me, truly love me, because I never really felt loved. I said I know I have an ability. Maybe if I sharpened my craft, maybe people will love me more. I just wanted to be loved because I think it is very important to be loved and to tell people that you love them and to look in their eyes and say it."
Michael knew in the adult world people could be mean, cruel, and certainly from him being a celebrity--adults loving him would love him conditionally. Michael was constantly manipulated by snakes who happened to be adults. They betrayed him over and over again. What could they gain from him? What benefit was it for them to be associated with him? These are questions some who associated themselves with Michael probably asked themselves. So many people misunderstand Michael. He really was not that complex. He actually very simple, very elementary. People made his life, from the outside, so complicated. Actually, his life was indeed complicated but his personality, his character on the other hand, was not. This is partly why he was played so easily as the fool.
Look at all the hospitals and orphanages Michael visited. Do not take my word for it--look at all the photographs, many of which are available at http://www.mjjpictures.com . Michael had mentioned he visited old people, too, sometimes while at hospitals. He just wanted to try and help people. Pedophiles would NOT be visiting orphanages especially while juggling a music tour--that kind of compassion is real and from the heart.
Michael also never wanted to look or be old. This was not from vanity, as I will explain shortly. I am still almost brought to tears every time I think of Michael saying he "looked like a lizard". What a cruel remark to make about one's self. He not only had to battle acne as a teen but later developed vitiligo and discoid lupus which affected his appearance. People, including his own father, insulted him about his nose. People choose to make fun of Michael because he had plastic surgery instead of looking at why he had it done and what lay beneath the reasons for the surgeries in the first place. He did NOT change his looks to change his sex or race. That is pathetic and ignorant to think such. He really thought he was ugly and obviously some doctors took advantage of this form of self-hatred. But then, to battle a disease like vitiligo (which was confirmed in the autopsy report--it is NOT a lie), what else could go wrong? I know Michael said he did not bleach his skin but he had to bleach his skin to prevent from being two-toned even though his vitiligo seemed to be very wide-spread. How would you feel if you were an African-American, or ANY race and you witnessed your own body erasing your own pigment and skin tone? People would have still made fun of Michael even if he had not had plastic surgery simply based on him having vitiligo. I can only imagine how I would react if I was born with certain features attributed with certain skin tones and then saw my skin tone erased, but still had those features. I would be confused, too, about how I should deal with it and look. I know many who are albinos struggle to be accepted by others simply from their skin tone. This is sad as I find albinos to be some of the most uniquely beautiful individuals on the planet. I feel for them, though, because I know with their condition comes some health problems.
I think above and beyond the pain of Michael not getting to be a child and not wanting to grow old lie something much, much deeper--Michael grew up. I cannot recall how many times Michael stated that people would be looking for "little Michael" only to realize that he was not so little anymore. People would "ewww" and make horribly rude remarks to him, publicly (in airports) and privately (at his Encino home). People called him ugly--right to his face, FOR GROWING UP. He was ridiculed and basically harassed for going through puberty--as every other child eventually does. This likely furthered his issues with plastic surgery, too, as he struggled to cope with aging. Aging is a normal part of life but for Michael it could have, and was predicted to, cost him his career, especially as a teen. I have seen an interview where he was asked what he would do when his voice changed. It should not have been a big deal or cost him his career--the talent was still there. People often say Michael spoke effeminately. No, he did not. He spoke like a child sometimes, masking his normal, deep voice at times, but not all the time. As much as people taunted him about his looks, I am sure he did not want to be taunted about his voice, too, with people commenting about how much it had changed. Puberty can be embarrassing--it was devastating for Michael. In fact, Michael's mother said that when his voice began to change at age 14 he simply ignored it as if it were not happening even though it was. For all the idiots that try to claim his voice did not change or he used female hormones to keep it high, go listen to Seth Riggs' vocal exercises tapes with Michael and listen for yourself (available on YouTube). Yes, Michael could actually sing bass. Michael's voice transitioned beautifully into one of the most sensual and soothing voices ever to be possessed by a man.
Statements from Robert Hilburn's article further point out my sentiments regarding Michael and his struggle with growing up (and his desire for unconditional love which is rarely provided by adults):
"I learned that he was so traumatized by events during his late teens--notably the rejection by fans who missed the "little" Michael of the Jackson 5 days--that he relied desperately on fame to protect him from further pain."
"Michael explained that his face was so covered with acne and his nose so large at that time that visitors to the family home in Encino sometimes wouldn't recognize him. 'They would come up, look me straight in the eye and ask if I knew where that "cute little Michael" was." It was as if the "whole world was saying, 'How dare you grow up on us.'"
"Michael said he started looking down at the floor when people approached or would stay in his room when visitors came to the house."
"Michael vowed to do whatever it took to make people 'love me again.' The rejection fueled his ambition to be the biggest pop star in the world and to try to make his face beautiful. Unfortunately, Michael's need was so great that no amount of love seemed to be enough."
"The stage was his sanctuary. There, he was larger than life and no one could threaten him. Every time he left the stage, he said, he felt vulnerable again."
The stage was not love, though. Michael was love.
I have also observed that children, unlike most adults, treated Michael more like a peer than a star or god. Michael commented many times on how he was normal, just like you and me. He was normal, he was not a god nor Christ. Michael simply had talents, like many of us, but he worked harder than most of us to perfect those talents. Some of that drive may have been innate, but I think a lot of it was fueled, as Michael said himself, to simply be loved, to fill a void he had in his heart that has been there for quite some time.
I have never understood the fanatical culture that seems to seize people's sanity, sometimes temporarily, sometimes permanently. I will admit when I hear certain artists' music I jump for joy and get chills from good guitar solos--but it is from the music--not the person. People, especially women, many times if not almost all times, wanted Michael all to themselves. Michael did not like this behavior as he stated it himself on tape. No one would, really. No one wants to feel "owned". I guess some people are like this regardless--not just with Michael. Many people are very possessive in relationships. That kind of behavior is not okay and eventually it destroys a relationship, or keeps it from ever forming. Michael did not like being isolated and reclusive and this kind of behavior around him caused problems for him--bigger than I think anyone realized--except for Michael. It depressed him. He made the statement above in his own autobiography. Even in his death I see so much jealousy and hatred surrounding Michael's name and a lot of it is reminiscent of this "ownership" behavior I just spoke about. Why are people, no, adults still doing this to him? Michael belongs to all of us who love him now and deserved to be shared with all that will grow to love him someday. This behavior also forced Michael to be closer to children. They did not own him--they were more willing to share him and simply be his friend. They wanted unconditional love from him, not romantic love and he did not want romantic love from a child either--he wanted innocent and unconditional love that asked for nothing in return, no money, no fame, no contracts and certainly no romance. His relationship with children was as minimal as one could be because it was not clouded by anything--it was just based off of caring for someone other than yourself and having simple fun.
So many of the problems I have just discussed above, in my firm opinion, help explain why Michael was the way he was, why he is so confusing to some and how he found himself accused of sexual molestation in 1993 and 2005. People need to understand all of Michael to understand his life.
Michael's life was put in grave danger from the baseless allegations brought against him for child abuse. As Charles Thomson wrote in his blog entitled, "Preview: True Crime with Aphrodite Jones - The Michael Jackson Trial" (http://charlesthomsonjournalist.blogspot.com/2010/04/preview-true-crime-with-aphrodite-jones.html), "Tom Sneddon had so little evidence to support his case in 1993 that two separate grand juries refused to allow him to bring charges against Jackson." Most people do not know that. Know it now. Why was this not made vibrantly public? Because it would not generate stories and revenue for the media if people knew it. A good place to start educating yourself about Michael, if you have not begun so already, is by reading Charles Thomson's blog and Aphrodite Jones' "Conspiracy". Geraldine Hughes' authored a book about the 1993 entitled "Redemption" though I have not had a chance to read her book, yet.
Michael did not ask for his life to play out the way it did—he did not bring most of this upon himself, at least, not intentionally or rightfully so. Michael did not ask for Evan Chandler to coerce his son to say he was inappropriate with him. Michael did not ask for the media to lie about him, twist and turn stories about him and even bold-face lie about him. He did not ask to be stalked day and night by the paparazzi. He did not ask for people to stalk him trying to become his romantic partner. Stalking, by the way, is one of the most intimidating of all actions a person can commit—that is why people get restraining orders against their stalkers though Michael did not do such because he did not want to hurt adults, either. He did not want to hurt anyone and in the end it only hurt him. Michael did not ask for the Arvizos to hurt him and to lie about him. He was trying to help a child he thought was dying. He did not ask to be lied to by people, especially people claiming to care about him. Even “good” people can become bad when they feel they can get something out of someone (this is why Michael had such a strong relationship with Elizabeth Taylor especially, but others child stars as well like Shirley Temple-Black). Michael did not ask to lose trust in everyone from other people's actions. He did not ask to be financially ruined and to have his career and life permanently disfigured by others who changed public thinking from him being strange to being a pedophile. There is no comparison between someone being strange and someone being a criminal. Can you not feel his misery after all I have said? Can you not feel his pain, the pain he felt all the time? What kind of person could face this every day and every night and be able to continue living? It never went away. His problems never went away.
People should not wonder why Michael liked being with children now--I just laid it out for you. He was more apt to trust children, to be unconditionally loved by them, to be able to be a person instead of a deity with them. He loved children from an early age and loved to be carefree like a child so he could escape the pressures of the world that never left him behind. Children did not fall to the ground in tears from touching his hand as some adults did--they just smiled and threw a water balloon at him. You can get close to a smile--you cannot get close to someone who does not see them, or you, as you.
What I want from this blog is for people to stop hurting Michael, even if he is not here anymore. I know there are some people that will always be mean and hateful and will not even attempt to understand him but most people are not cruel, they are just uninformed, confused and have been fed crap by the media that can rarely get any newsfeed correct. People need to analyze Michael with unbiased, but open-minded sympathy. I am not asking you to blindly believe me but to at least think about all I have said and will continue to say about Michael. Maybe then the world at large will finally think with their heart, like Michael did, and realize finally who he really was and accept him as a unique person with a very unique life who learned how to adapt peacefully the best way he could during his too-short life.