Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: Macroinformation.org & Knatz.com / Teaching / Society / NoHier / Justice /
from IonaArc, a pk blog
2005 05 22 (and all this is still going on, MJ trials, 2013 05 30)
The Trial of Michael Jackson
What’s on trial? Can humans ever get all the wax into one ball? Do the missing pieces point outward? (at god?) Or Inward? (at us?)
Michael Jackson is on trial. Again. It’s for messing with little boys. Again. At least I think it is. I don’t follow these things very closely. For me, my culture missed the boat in music: again, and again, and again. Starting in the late ’40s I tried as valiantly as I could (for a ten year old, then a teen, then a college kid …) to make my fellow Americans aware of the jewels they spurned beneath their feet (as they gadded after false Grails: again, and again, and again: all to little avail. No. We were waiting for Elvis: the white boy who could sort of do it: a WASP whose inhibitions could swivel.
I vividly remember Michael Jackson on TV when he was five. Best kid we’d seen since Sammy Davis Junior was about the same size (though a little older). (Arnold, iconic as he is, irreplaceable as he is, should take a lesson from the rhythmic shrimps. Bigger is not better.)
Is Michael getting a fair trial? Can he get a fair trial? (Can any celebrity get a fair trial?)
First, among a host of “firsts,” notice: “fair trial” is an oxymoron! Second, among a host of seconds: if pk isn’t even sure what the charges are, why is he talking about it at all? I’ll answer that “second” before any of the firsts because it’s simple: trivial, easily gotten out of the way. I’m not talking about the charges, about whether or not they’re “true.” I’m talking about celebrity trials. Implicitly, I’m talking about what’s fair and what’s trial. I’m talking about a complex welter of things parading before the public as though it were a simple thing.
But let’s consider for a moment my idea of the charges: messing with little boys. Can such charges get a fair trial in this culture? no matter who the accused is? Murder we’re familiar with. Rape, we understand, after a fashion: a male does something to a female without her consent (or she’s too young to be allowed consent in this culture). Boys with boys? Men with boys? (Women with boys?) Boy-men with boys? What do we know about any of that?
Let me focus every so briefly on that last image: boy-men. What is Michael Jackson’s gender? What is Michael Jackson’s age? Never mind official facts, so misleadingly checkable. Forty years ago, Michael Jackson was a boy. Even I’ll accept that. We can look up when he was born. I’ll accept that too. I’m not challenging the municipalities’ ability to keep records of births: at least not at this moment. Michael Jackson was a boy such as might have been seen in front of many of barber shop or shoe shine parlor in many a decade in Harlem or Memphis or New Orleans throughout the last couple of centuries. His like would have appeared in many a marketplace throughout the eons: from Istanbul to Bagdad … to any of the west African cities that the slavers burned. He could sing and dance for his supper: very well. Very very well. He’s not the first, he’s not the last. He is though the first to gain so very much TV, tape, and digital exposure. He is the first to have budgets of such magnitude. Not even Sammy Davis could polish what he did the way Michael could, or hire such glittering choreographers to offer additional ideas. Wait though. Both those luminaries were typical in another vein: they performed with families! Brother and sister acts, brothers and sister, boy and uncles … every combination has been seen on this street corner and in that marketplace.
What also isn’t new is what a performing family may be willing to do for or to the babe who becomes the center of their bread and butter. Chemical castration is new; castration is not. Neither are diets concocted to retard growth, maturity. The skinny, short, immature kid has the advantage. The kid with the kid’s voice has the advantage. Buster Keaton’s parents threw him around the stage wearing a handle they could catch and relay him by. (Where were the social workers? Where was Families and Children?) Little Abdul sang so sweetly. Abdul’s parents knew how to postpone puberty: forever. If the Russians wanted a bass who could sing so low he was beneath audibility, they knew what to do: the opposite of what you do for the little boy soprano: feed him beef, see to his vitamins. The caliph knew, from experience all around him, what happened to the boys whose manhood had been nipped once they aged without puberty: they got fat. Gore Vidal tells us that eunuchs could get erections; they just couldn’t sire. So the caliph didn’t care how many of his girls rode how many of the eunuchs: the children born would be his (and the eunuch would know better than to get mounted by one of the little girls with a hymen still intact! That cherry was for the caliph’s picking.) The harem of the caliph was a paradise for the caliph. Michael Jackson built a paradise to which children, especially little boys, could be invited. How many mothers have marched their blond virgins to the doors of the mogul’s mansion or the king’s palace and then not heard the child’s screams as they were served tea with silver spoons? (How many of them turned around and tried to sue the king a decade later?) (None. Unless the king got deposed. Then there was no point, nothing to sue for.)
Well, however well or ill this first draft has raised those related considerations, I hope you see some of the territory gestured at. Michael Jackson was not a normal boy. He was not let alone to grow up normally. If he had danced in front of the OTB parlor until his voice changed, then took his place in the chorus with the “uncles” while his younger brother or younger cousin or younger nephew took over the cute kid solos, who knows what his sexual preferences would have come to be? 92% probably heterosexual, 8% probably homosexual isn’t a bad guess. And of course there are infinite variations within that: one partner? hundreds? a dozen? …
Now along comes, again, the same society, the same society that flocked to hear Benny Goodman in the hall but still wouldn’t let Lionel Hampton walk in the front door and spurned Benny at the social gathering, the same society that limited Muddy Water’s audience to a few thousand till some white kids from across the pond started crediting him (then, suddenly, we all knew how great Muddy Waters had always been), girds its loins to believe it can know, can learn, can figure out, what happened at Neverland.
The hoopla serves me. I saw Michael Jackson as a kid. Thereafter I didn’t see him or hear him. A couple of decades ago I became aware that his work topped the charts, but I had no idea what the work sounded like. Not one song registered on me. I could have heard them a hundred times as I passed in and our of elevators holding my ears closed. It was only a few years ago, after bk gave me a video-player, that I rented an Michael Jackson video. Ay, caramba. Suddenly I understood what the fuss was about, why even Miles Davis was impressed. Forget the sound; you had to see it. Michael Jackson, always a good dancer (who could also carry a tune, knew where they rhythm was), had become Fred Astaire’s peer!
If Hal conquers at Agincourt, should we worry what virgins are brought up the back stairs? If Einstein’s despised invention suddenly shows us how to smear the Japs into the Pacific, should we continue worrying about how many candles he lit at Christmas? If Michael Jackson can show me moves, perfectly executed, that I, a dancer myself (once upon a time) couldn’t have conceived of, I’ll bring a little boy up the back stairs for him myself: if that’s what he wants. (Hell, Kit Marlowe said that a little boy was the best fuck of all. Doesn’t tempt me, so what do I know?) (And what does the public know?) (Nothing. Nothing. Again, and again, and again.)
As I go over this later, if I find time, I’ll know what to expand, what to reorder, what rephrase … For the moment I’ll merely add a thread begun but not stitched. I don’t trust a bunch of citizens to discover in a kleptocratic court managed by lawyers who’ve proved their orthodoxy whether it was Rocco or Vito who hit Chauncey over the head. I certainly don’t believe that that same society (or a different) (or a better) can discover whether or not OJ did the murders, what Kobe and the concierge did in his room … And even if we get some central fact right, I don’t believe we can be wise in figuring out peripherals — why — and absolutely not then also put a dollar value on it. (If the Jews really did kill Jesus, what should they “pay”? If it was really Rome, what should Rome pay?) I don’t mean that we won’t come to a judgment. Humans, pk conspicuously, are always ready with judgments. (Meantime, whoever suffered before, there’s lots of new suffering, lots of new sufferers, at a trial: any trial.) No, the question is: will the judgment be worth anything? in a better court?
PS One thing I do get a kick out of is how closely some of the editorials parallel reviews that preceded the release of Gibson’s Passion, Stone’s Alexander … It’s like the papers printing up the results of the election before the votes have been voted, let alone gathered, let alone counted. PPS A quick glance shows me that I haven’t done well yet with more than one of the implicit themes. This is a complex complex. Complexity misrepresented as simplicity is prime here. I’m glad I’ve so much as started it. I’ll be back.
2014 10 29 Recently a couple of the music providers at the dance have sung Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean: nice, I like to lindy to it.
at my door
saying You are the one …
But the kid is not my son …
And I said to Carole, my alternate but still loved partner, “You mean someone would actually sue Michael Jackson for paternity!!!? Michael Jackson?!?!
And Carole said, “He was married, wasn’t he?”
And I said, “Yeah, but does anyone actually believe the marriage could be consummated?”
Everybody knows what he looked like: at a whole diapason of ages. But I sure hope I soon get a scan of Carole: Life Magazine, full page, Carole in 1953 in her high school cheer leader outfit! The dear girl is dying, age 79, she’s been worried about Lupus but it’s leukemia that’s sneaked from behind and felled. Those who don’t know her don’t even know to weep.