One of the greatest evils in Michael’s life was the tabloid press and, even more so, the vultures who posed as ethical and balanced journalists, only to stab him in the back.
When Michael did the first of two Madison Square Garden concerts in New York in September 2001, my bff at the time (who was the same girl who I went on the HIStory tour with – she stopped following in 2003 to pursue her studies) and I made it into the press area by the red carpet. We waited for hours as photographers and reporters crowded in around us. Finally, celebrity guests and performers began arriving, each stopping to pose for photographs and answer questions.
As the concert start-time grew closer, the press members began to speculate about whether Michael would walk the red carpet. (We had gone there in the hopes that he would of course but nobody knew for sure.) Many of them spoke with an air of cynicism and some made snide remarks, which we countered with positive comments. I remember worrying that if he did come, they would behave apathetically towards him because that’s certainly how they were acting now.
Well he turned up. And it was utter chaos. The same people who’d been so arrogant a few moments ago were now clawing each other aside, scrambling to get to him, screaming his name and pleading for his attention. He, of course, responded as he always did with politeness, humility and respect, so much more than they deserved.
This was my first taste of the media hypocrisy that I would experience firsthand again at the trial in 2005.
Ignoring the truth
“I have a skin disorder that destroys the pigmentation of the skin. It's something that I cannot help. okay. But when people make up stories that I don't want to be who I am it hurts me.”
Michael Jackson, in an interview he did with Oprah Winfrey at Neverland Valley in February 1993
After years of being accused of bleaching his skin and being ashamed of his race, he finally (and very painfully) revealed that he had a skin disorder that destroys the pigmentation of his skin. I remember feeling such relief that finally the media would have to stop fixating on his skin colour and apologize for their groundless accusations. Of course that didn’t happen.
He faced ridicule again in the early 2000s for covering the faces of his children while in public. Here’s what he said about that in an interview with Martin Bashir – which Bashir omitted from his attempt at a sleazy documentary but was included in the rebuttal video, called Take Two: The Footage You Were Never Meant to See:
“I don’t want people seeing them. The press can be very mean. I don’t want them to grow up psychologically crazy because of the evil things they can say to them. I want them to be normal. That makes sense, doesn’t it?”
Michael later came close to tears as he admitted that he was terrified that if people could recognize his children, they would be kidnapped and tortured. Surely any parent in the world – any person in the world – can understand that.
Harsh and cruel
Again, nothing changed. Whenever Michael explained the reason behind behavior that had been labeled as bizarre, the media just ignored his explanation and went on printing their harsh criticisms and groundless lies. Every celebrity faces some level of scrutiny but in Michael’s case, it seemed particularly harsh and cruel. No matter what he did or said, it would be reported in a negative way.
Speaking about the media one time, Michael asked me why they say such horrible things about him. I told him it was because he was beyond their understanding, that his light shines too brightly for some to see. While I stand by this statement, I have learned since then that even some who do see – who is truly is at heart – will still sell him out for the right price.
Lies may have tainted Michael’s name and tarnished his image. But nothing in this world could dim the light that shines from his soul. The truth of who he is will always remain perceptible to those with open minds and open hearts.