Twenty years ago, Michael released the single ‘Scream’, which contains the line “You’re sellin’ out souls / But I care about mine”.
Michael bought Neverland in 1988, aged thirty years old. He would inhabit it for fifteen years. During which time, it would serve as both his utopia and refuge. Michael transformed his home into something of substance and importance. He elevated Neverland into “a place called Hallowed Ground” – Michael wrote ‘Speechless’ whilst watching children play there. It was a place nothing short of outrageous in its pure expression of self and freedom. It was an oasis of solace and innocence. Truly, Neverland was Michael’s soul made manifest.
And now it’s being sold off to the highest bidder. By men whose methods in attaining such a position of authority have been dubious at best.
In the Estate’s latest damage-limitation statement, they stress how their focus is on “maintaining Michael’s family home in Encino” rather than Neverland. Naturally, they fail to mention that they have already started proceedings to sell this, too.
The Estate’s capacity for mendacity is not limited to the omitting of facts, either. In 2013, the Estate trumpeted how they were the co-owners of Neverland. Then in 2014, upon the reveal that Neverland was to be put up for sale, they claimed the property was actually owned by Colony Capital, and the decision was therefore out of their hands.
One thing is for sure. Whatever the agreement at the time, there was a distinct lack of transparency. A situation that arose due to Michael having to remortgage his home in order to buy out John Branca’s 5% stake in Sony/ATV.
Needless to say, they neglected to mention that bit, too.
It doesn’t take great feats of self-awareness to recognise how entertaining the idea of selling Neverland is not conducive with a loyalty towards Michael Jackson. Even less to consider its sale to celebrities such as Justin Bieber as being a positive move.
The impetus behind the idea of a fan-funded attempt to buy Neverland is admirable and encouraging. Yet any chance of the successful accomplishment of such a gargantuan task would require the unity of Michael’s fans – all of them. And it puzzles me how Estate-supporters can reconcile advocating such an ambitious plan with their fawning perspective on the activities of John Branca et al.
Estate-sympathisers are in a right jam.
Regardless, I fear raising the capital to buy Neverland is an intrinsically insurmountable feat; and one that merely serves as a distraction. After all, surely energies would be better spent petitioning the Estate against their ongoing mismanagement of Michael’s legacy? Except that Estate-supporters are loathe to paint those at the helm in a bad light, having so vehemently invested in them in the past. Pride is a bitter pill to swallow.
Still. One of my favourite quotes is, “The man who never changed his mind, never had a mind to change.”
It’s a sentiment that carries with it the power of catharsis, and after the hubris and pathos of the actions of some Estate-sympathisers, a chance for catharsis is certainly overdue. Indeed, the guilt of having turned a blind eye to the will anomaly (see the video below) as well as stubbornly defending the Cascio fiasco (amongst many other examples) must surely be taking its toll.
In spite of the horror that Michael endured at being ran out of his home by the lynch-mob, he remained forceful in his iteration that he would “never sell Neverland.” In ten months’ time, both Paris and Prince will be eighteen years’ old. The decision as to what happens to their childhood home should be theirs, and theirs alone.
And I doubt very much they want it to become Casa La Gaga. Or Bieber’s debauched bachelor pad.
That would be nothing less than the tragic prostitution of Michael Jackson’s soul.