|Jacko: A picture of normalacy|
By Jason Whitlock
Page 2 columnist
Yes, I'm man enough to admit that I'm a huge Michael Jackson fan. I'm tired of his name being dragged through the mud. I'm tired of having to hide my enduring admiration of Jackson and his unmatched singing and entertainment skills.
The Jackson Family used to be black royalty in my childhood. They were bigger than the Kennedys and damn near more revered than the Kings. The Jacksons were the Cosbys before Bill ever birthed Theo or married Claire.
Now the Jacksons have been turned into a punchline, fodder for late-night TV monologues and spoofs on "Saturday Night Live." Joe Jackson was an abusive father. Tito ate too much. Jermaine had no talent. Janet is a tramp. And Michael is a child-molesting, skin-bleaching, face-lift-addicted whacko who is the singing-and-dancing version of Mike Tyson.
That's what we're supposed to believe about the Jacksons. I don't buy it, except the fact that Janet is a tramp, which has a definite upside.
I quit buying all the Jackson garbage after watching Michael conduct himself masterfully in the TV interview that rebutted the slam-job documentary on his life that aired the week before. Call me a naive fool, but I believed Michael on just about every issue. I thought Jacko scored a more decisive, more impressive knockout in his rebuttal interview than Tyson did in his prove-nothing, 49-second victory over the Black Rhino.
You ask: Why would Michael pay a family $20 million to not pursue criminal child-molestation charges?
I ask: Why would any parent accept money in exchange for really punishing the adult who molested his/her child?
Look, $20 million to Michael Jackson is like a thousand bucks to you or me. Michael probably has $20 million stashed in a shoe box in his closet. If someone had molested my child, there is no amount of money that could've stopped me from wanting the perpetrator to spend 10 years playing hide the soap with Simon Adebisi of "Oz." I'd have sued Jackson in civil court after he was incarcerated.
Are Jackson's social habits weird and inappropriate by my standards? Absolutely. A grown man shouldn't want to have slumber parties with children.
But you know what? I don't have more money than I could spend in 10 lifetimes. I didn't have my childhood damaged by starting to work as a five-year-old boy. Michael just wants to be 12 again.
I can relate to that. I want to be 21 again. None of us wants to get old. It's just that most of us don't have hundreds of millions of dollars to build a fantasy complex, Neverland, to escape the reality of getting old.
Trust me on this, if I won the lottery tomorrow and collected $10 million, you'd probably never hear from me again. I would quit all of my jobs and move back to Ball State University's campus and spend the next 10 years trying to be 21 all over again. I would. I'd build a big house on the parking lot next to Ball State's duck pond, and I would throw parties every weekend. My family and friends would think I was crazy. But I would be content and perfectly happy.
I don't blame Michael for using his money to create a fantasy world for himself where he never grows out of the most carefree time in a person's life. Michael wants to be 12 and host slumber parties. I want to be 21 and be on location for the next collegegirlsgonewild video shoot. Is there really that much difference?
As for his plastic surgery? So what? That's overblown. Everybody in Hollywood gets some sort of plastic surgery. Yes, Michael's nose looks ridiculous. But I don't care that Michael lies about how many times he's had surgery on his face. And I believe Michael's explanation that a skin disease has caused him to lose pigmentation over his entire body. He's not ashamed of his African-American heritage. It's just that Michael has travelled the world so extensively that he has evolved beyond racial limitations.
I know I sound silly defending Michael Jackson. His celebrity has made him eccentric and a little nuts. But he's no Mike Tyson. He's never been convicted of a crime. He doesn't deserve to be villified.
Jason Whitlock is a regular columnist for the Kansas City Star (kcstar.com), the host of a morning-drive talk show, "Jason Whitlock's Neighborhood" on Sports Radio 810 WHB (810whb.com) and a regular contributor on ESPN The Magazine's Sunday morning edition of The Sports Reporters. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.