There’s a documentary playing at Sundance right now that explores the account of two men who claim they were molested by Michael Jackson. Based on reading the interview with the filmmaker, I believe them. It doesn’t bother me that one had previously stated publicly that the molestation did not occur, or that another attended Michael Jackson’s funeral and wept. I believe that that kind of reality must take years to digest.
But to be honest with you, I was kind of hoping the allegations were false. My children love Michael Jackson, I love his music. Diana Ross, who by all accounts seems like a decent human, and her exceptional daughter Tracee Ellis Ross allude to their love for Michael Jackson. He’s not just a first-rate musician and singer, he is the most incredible dancer. God, that man can move. When First Son was obsessed with MJ, Becca gave him an MJ bio for kids, and it’s a series that does not back away from ugly. The author reviewed the charges and stated that legally, nothing came of the charges, so I felt like, phew! It’s safe to love him!
In documentary, one of them men shares a collection of jewelry, gifted to him by Michael Jackson. Each piece was a gift after a sexual favor. The man’s hands are literally shaking as he brings it to show the camera. (Look, I have not seen the movie, nor plan to. These are the details that emerge from the interview.) But it’s not just a portrait of pain, which is the confusing part. These men are genuinely conflicted: on one hand, they received affection and mentorship from Michael Jackson when no one other adult was giving them attention, and they love MJ for it. On the other hand, he manipulated them into having sex with him repeatedly when they were kids. That is like the description of feelings of war in one body. I don’t know if I could take — I can’t even take it as a fan. I love his music but he destroyed children. How do people who were close to him feel? Do they rationalize that it couldn’t be true because they never saw evidence of it? It’s not just them though. None of us want to believe it of our heroes. We want them all to be good, so it’s heartbreaking when the truth is so different than what you see on the surface.
I was going to write about this weird condition about being asked to contain duality before I read about this film. As I get older, I feel like I meet people who have some wonderful and awful qualities, and because of circumstances, we are in each other’s orbit. I am asked to hold both — and it’s really hard, even though it’s so much less extreme than what I just described above. It makes me feel quite divided and gives me such a headache that I still struggle to accurately describe it.