What with his having been the most famous man on the planet, the ripples of Michael’s crash-landing on Earth over fifty-five years ago continue to ruffle the leaves and pique the libido of tabloid media editors worldwide, and will long persist in doing so. Just as a murder of media crows circled our martyred Michael whilst he lay on his deathbed in hospital, so they continue to do so now – perched like vultures around their tabloid junkyard, perpetually alert to the possibility of picking at any scraps thrown from a carcass being ravaged by shameless opportunists. To whom, it has suddenly dawned upon that work opportunities have dried up, and financing the upbringing of their own children – who have become accustomed to a particular standard of living – is going to prove expensive. Now that Michael is dead, these parasites feel no guilt in cashing in on their friendship with him, regardless of whatever nefarious means they are forced to employ. In the process, they put Michael’s children through hell.
All of us.
Michael understood that history is a weapon in the battle for objectivity. Indeed, this is precisely why he conceived the Remember The Time video – in an attempt to remind the world that there was a time when those in power were black.
Tempering the persistent attempts at undermining Michael’s importance as a culturally historical figure is an omnipresent motivational factor in the daily lives of fans.
The fable of Beauty and the Beast tells the tale of how decency is perennially ostracised by the cynicism of a society obsessed with superficiality. How scapegoating, promoted by the insecurity of bullies fearful of deviants, manifests in the Beast as his becoming more and more isolated. The love story in the fable demonstrates how two people find solace in each other after this rejection from society. This is the same as between Michael and his fans. Michael would not give up because he had the love from his fans. And we would not, and will not, give up because we had his.
With the increasing brutality Michael endured, the more we were drawn to him. The poor black boy born as a single permutation of the infinity of fate into – to borrow Janet’s phrase – “a world sick with racism”, who went on to defy the odds by escaping poverty and using his sacrifice of self to influence and help transform the world into a better place.
Michael’s mission stalled when, after perceived provocations, he was arrested, and his character assassinated. How Michael’s message is interpreted is vitally important to humanity, considering the unique stature that lends itself to the totemic.
Michael always said it was his stature that made him such an easy target for the sheer volume and size of rocks that were thrown at him. But it is also this stature that enables his utilisation as a global symbol for love and peace. The attacks continue, of course. They will never let him rest in peace, which is why the fan community is so important. He rescued so many of our childhoods, and it’s our duty to protect and defend him in his death. It is us, the fans, who must defend against the apparently compulsory attacks undertaken by those happy to be pseudo-educated by sensationalist tabloid headlines and clickbait links.
Now. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all get along in the fight against that?
The loyalty of Michael’s fans is akin to that within a family. A family such as the Jacksons themselves. Any large community is not only a reflection, but a macrocosm of the family condition, with the identifiable stereotypes that that contains: stoic matriarchs, scapegoated sons, reliable aunts, reclusive uncles, embarrassing patriarchs and vulnerable teenagers.
Out of this quagmire of inextricably linked characters and personality disorders emerges the ubiquitous backstabbing, name-calling and oneupmanship of human beings that know precisely which buttons to press in order to garner a reaction from their kin. What also emerges, however, is the unparalleled capacity for forgiveness, understanding and unwavering support in the face of cruel adversity. Such as being at your brother’s side throughout a gruelling trial in which he is accused of molesting children.
The Michael Jackson fan community is much less divided, as it is obliterated into smithereens; comprised, as it is, of as many factions as to rival the Christian church, with each cohort manipulating the belief system in a way to suit their specific requirements. And within a fanbase as vast as an artist such as Michael’s is, it is right and inevitable that these variations will exist.
One of the reasons it’s so hard to consider the idea that fans in the opposing corner might be motivated by love, is because that would suggest that their opinions must therefore have credence. Yet, those two issues are entirely unrelated. A great deal of arguing just assumes the hate-based motivations of the other side as standard. The strategy in such opining is rarely to change enemies’ perceptions. A project for change would surely be better advantaged by accepting the idea that those fans with opposing views also think of themselves as decent, loving people. When you believe your enemies are also galvanised by love, it must be more likely that a compromise can be reached. You don’t need to like your opponent – let alone acquiesce to their argument – in order to understand that they really like themselves, and that this liking of themselves probably means more to them than does their disliking of you.
Progress in resolving conflicts within the fan community will only come about when we all understand that the love each and every one of has for Michael is sincere, regardless of which pane of the prism we peer at him through. Michael effortlessly inspires sincerity.
As Michael sang, “This is our mission, to see it through / This is our planet, you’re one of us / “You’re just another part of me” – we’re just another part of each other, with Michael as a conduit.
Michael holds up a mirror to humanity. His fans were given the opportunity to perceive the world through his own particular pane of the prism: one painful, yet privileged. Each of us fans as individuals is in some way a reflection of the man himself, with his common goal: to help heal the world. Those who project themselves onto Michael and see a monster are merely construing themselves. The only monster is the one interpreted. There is no evidential basis whatsoever for a belief in Michael as a monster. It was envy and extortionists that did that. As Michael sang, “The heart reveals the proof / Like a mirror reveals the truth.”
If I could wish for anything, it would be that everyone could perceive Michael the way we do, regardless of our political stance.
The perpetuation of the lie of Michael being a child molester undermines his life’s work, his message and his mission. This is the single issue, above all others, which is the most crucial with regards Michael’s legacy. To fight against this, we can disregard our other differences. This is the true cause that unites the Michael Jackson fan community.
Indeed, if the success of a leader is measured by the loyalty of his followers, there is none stronger than Michael, regardless of which faction of fans you might represent. Michael refused to change direction with his beliefs. And we must remain just as unwavering in our defence of him. We must remain fortitudinous in the fulfilling of his mission: each of us taking pride in our position as a requisite speck of light on the peacock’s coalescent coat, in order that we contribute to its immortality. And that we do so – in triumph.
Love survives. It is forever. From the physical ecstasy married with the discovery of true love, to the spiritual repercussions found in a steadfast love that has matured, fortified and been vindicated by faith.
As Michael mused,
“Hope is such a beautiful word, but it often seems very fragile. Life is still being needlessly hurt and destroyed. Because I believe the answer to be faith; not hope.”
Yet, our stance on Michael’s message and his innocence is not about mere angles of moral perspective. It is about defending the reputation of an inordinately good man – in light of the facts, not faith.
We must incorporate arguments such as those contained within my book into Michael’s legacy. So that the truth and the love survives, regardless of the level of nefarious bombardment it has to endure. One of the main motivations for writing my book was to assist in ensuring that there is something out there, somewhere, that exposes not only the extent of Michael’s genius, but how he chose to utilise the success resulting from it with an intent of such purity. Michael’s legacy will endure to legend. The only question is what the myths entwined within that legend will entail. My book is an effort to balance the legend in Michael’s favour: ballast that counters the attempted promulgation of him as a monster, and promotes him as a prophet.
This article is comprised of edited extracts from The First Book of Michael by Syl Mortilla, available in paperback and on Kindle at http://amzn.to/1GycUw1 and for all other eBook devices at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/511371