YOU close your eyes to do time travel. The year is 1983 or any other after that. What do you see? The white sequined glove. The three quarter black pants. The Florsheim Imperial leather shoes together with the white socks. The slide across the stage and a subsequent burst of unbridled ecstasy in the crowd. Moonwalk and the crowning of a king. A moment in pop music history sealed forever at Motown’s 25th anniversary celebrations live telecast.
By Admire Kudita
There will be several more moments of incandescence, several more of pure fantasy served up by The Machine as the years go by. Stories of weirdness abound about an androgynous African American man who holds a voracious media in thrall to his exploits from keeping a pet chimpanzee to sleeping in an oxygen tank.
Hell, I even saw him hand his awards to the king of Monaco at the World Music Awards whilst he spoke. I chuckled because hereditary kings do not become other people’s baggage carriers. But there was Michael, softly spoken and lapping up the audience’s adulation whilst whipping it up with near whispers of “I love you”. Screams galore . . .
Live in Bucharest
Bucharest. The year is 1992. Along with millions of viewers across the world, I watch as magic is being conjured on a stage so grand it cost a fortune to put together.
The corporate muscle of the operation is self-evident. It is a huge spectacle and approximates, it seems, the stuff of a mass church. Live on television we see young women tearing off their own hair, wailing and fainting. He stands there for what seems an eternity just soaking it all up, while what appears as gold dust is raining on him.
Michael, Michael, Michael is the crowd’s incantation. What is the gold g-string he is wearing on top of his black pants for? The ridiculous and the sublime put together. Then when he removes his spectacles another gust of noise sweeps across the giant stadium. Then the music begins. It is the insistent and heady groove of the song Jam and Michael dances alone at first. Interspersed with crotch grabs, his dancers come on. This is Michael Jackson in full cry. Michael, the self-styled king of pop.
The show goes on
You Wanna be Starting Something is the second song. It was one of many global hits churned out by The Gloved One. No one knew or would have cared that parts of the song had been ripped off Manu Dibango’s Soul Makossa record. Thankfully, they settled out of court and Dibango did get his dues from his original work which Jackson had taken liberties with by infringing his copyright. Jackson had been luckier with Billy Jean, whose bass line is straight out of Greek musician Vangelis’ State of Independence. He got away with that one. He would get away with other infractions in his career.
Jackson may have also gotten away, as it now seems to be the case, with one of the biggest cons in popular culture: his overt interest in children.
He may have loved them a little too much. The sharing of his bed with children was not proper. He always had a kid on his lap or in his hands in public. Later his career suffered a huge fallout with court cases and allegations of abuse of children. He was found not guilty, but he would never be the same again.
The shimmer was gone from his crown and even an Oprah Winfrey interview could not sanitise him. Neverland was no longer the idyllic child theme park of the past which drew thousands of kids to its surroundings. Jackson moved out. In a sense we all moved out of Neverland and ambled downhill to grapple with the reality of showbiz’s murky waters. The honeymoon was over for a business which celebrates youthfulness and even attempts to bottle its essence. Jackson understood this fact. After all, he started out as a child prodigy who had the world eating of his palm as part of the Jackson Five.
The fall of the fallen
Jackson’s alleged abuse of children is in a sense late because the pop star is late. Why did the documentary not come out while he yet breathed? Jackson’s camp has slammed the doccie as a hatchet job or even an attempt to cash in and is suing Home Box Office for US$100 million.
They say Michael is not around to defend himself. More intriguing is the fact that people who formerly defended him such as James Safechuck and Wade Robson appear in the documentary as the principal accusers of Michael Jackson.
But what is on public record are the massive pay offs to accusers’ families by Michael Jackson and his handlers. Why did Jackson feel he had to do that ? Career ? So many questions in this case. What I have found in this and the case of another musician Robert Sylvester Kelly better known as R Kelly, is a disturbing pattern of parental collusion in the abuse of the children.
The desire for money appears to have been a motivating factor in the “handing” over of the children to the two stars. The parents literally seemed to throw caution to the wind and allowed both Jackson and Kelly free reign over their children in exchange for their vain appetite for the largesse of the stars and musical careers (in Kelly’s case) R Kelly’s current girlfriends have claimed as much.
I watched the interviews as 21-year-old Azriel Clary and Jocelyn Savage defended Kelly, alleging that their parents tried in vain to use them to extort money from Kelly. I would listen to these young women without prejudice insofar as I would pay attention to the parental claims of brainwashing of their children by R Kelly. The man is a known child abuser, having married 14-year-old Aaliyah. No other way to put it.
Hopefully the world now sees that showbiz is really a house of cards and paedophilia is staple. Do not be seduced. One can go back as far as Elvis Presley, the so-called king of rock and his inappropriate relationship at the age of 24 years of age with a then 14 year Priscilla Presley. Yes, he later married her. Had he not groomed her? The outrage today is over long-standing societal scourge. Children are not safe in a world in which the love of money supersedes the need to care for and protect minors.