Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson

I have listened to about six obituaries, and seen about two hundred Facebook postings. I have seen extraordinary YouTube videos; reminders of a great talent. I've heard "King of Pop" and "great talent" and "genius" and "savvy investments." And I've seen maybe two or three oblique references to "controversy" or being "troubled" from individuals (not on the news). Even a feminist blog referred gently to "shortcomings."

On So You Think You Can Dance last night, Nigel Lithgow celebrated Jackson as an artist; given the nature of the show, that's appropriate, but then he said something about "a great life." No. A great art, yes, but not a great life.

Can we please, and I know I'm interrupting the great national outpouring of grief, but can we please remember that this man was almost certainly a child molester? Of multiple children on multiple occasions? Can we please just notice that?

Can we remember: This man was tried for this crime, and afterwards the jurors said they really felt like he'd done it, but that the prosecution hadn't proved their case and they had no choice but to acquit despite feeling he was guilty.

I get that people are complicated. I'm not a great believer in (you should pardon the expression) black or white. Everyone has good and bad within them. But how is it that in this barrage of information I am the first person I've heard mention this kind of important thing?

You want an answer? It's because this culture has already decided it's not important. If we just ignore child abuse and pretend it's not there, minimize it when forced to confront it and put it back undercover as soon as possible, everything runs so much more smoothly. If we just forget the little part about the children suffering horrifically, everything is so much better. If we forget that part.

I don't want to forget that part.

But hey, this isn't exceptional. It's not like we usually condemn child molesters but Michael was so special that in this one case we're giving it a pass. This is the normal functioning of Western patriarchy. This is how it's done.

I don't know that I have a lot more to say about that. I don't think I need to amass evidence, here, that we ignore child abuse wherever possible. I don't think I need to point to the many newspaper articles, for example, about men in their forties "having sex with" twelve year old nieces or whatever. Not abusing, raping, attacking, assaulting, or molesting, mind you; "having sex." That's even prettier than "controversy."

I'm not interested in prettying it up. I'm not here to make nice. An extraordinarily talented child molester died yesterday. Some people are not grieving the loss of talent. Let's remember them, too.