Monday November 24, 2003

Open letter to the International Media

Category: Michael Jackson | 3 Comments | Posted 12:50

OK here's a wonderful essay written by the incomparable Superjay and posted on MJJF. It's kinda long, but I absolutely loved it so I asked her if I could post it here. :P

We need more people like her. :x

An admirer of Michael Jackson and a graduate student, I implore you to set aside all other thoughts and give me the benefit of an earnest hearing, however trivial this might seem at the outset.

There was an anonymous, well-written reflection of the age we live in, doing the round on the internet a few years back entitled ‘The Paradox of our times. I quote, “we have more degrees, but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgement.. We talk too much, love too seldom and hate too often”

It is surely not impossible for us, in the midst of meetings, grilling assignments, deadlines, ‘to do’ lists, shopping, haggling, cooking, traveling, working out, partying and endlessly talking, to pause for a moment and take a breath in silence. To contemplate. The paradox in contemplation is that it requires undivided time.

There are those who deride contemplation, those who steer clear of it, those who fancy it and those have never contemplated. I stress now on contemplation because it is a forgotten activity - I ask you to kindly accept the idea of contemplation with no strings attached, as a premise to hearing my thoughts on the issue at hand.

Even though I have been following the events of the last few days with a clouding fervor, I have also been in constant contemplation. This letter is not intended to either question others’ or proclaim my opinion on the veracity or plausibility of the accusations that have been linked with Mr.Jackson’s name. I trust that I echo thousands if not millions of voices when I say, that as an admirer of the man in question, Convinced, I do not seek to convince. What I would rather like to address here is the mind-numbing barrage of untruth and spin-offs propagated by the media that are shockingly going unnoticed, unquestioned and is even being expected.

The presumption of guilt in Mr.Jackson’s case has gone so far, that his supporters’ moral integrity is now being questioned. I have grown up hearing that America is the ‘Land of the Free’. The recent spectacle however has hammered the last nail in the coffin that the American concept of ‘Freedom’ in my opinion, has been resting in, for a while now. Again, the derisive stigma attached to Mr.Jackson’s image is so strong that his supporters have been constantly questioned, ridiculed and engaged in a process of justification. A questioning of our faith, and identity.

Just as Mr.Jackson himself is held up to a different set of standards for judging his work, his supporters are judged by special standards to ‘prove’ their loyalty - for a supporter of Mr.Jackson’s, living through the nineties with little or no contact with others who shared the admiration, was a trying experience because of the above-mentioned derision and questioning. Instanced as recently as with the media interest in the spate of peaceful public vigils that were held across the world - these were not born from thoughts of numbers and strategies - supporters, many of them previously strangers, were out on the streets to simply gather together to share their grief, send positive messages of love and strength, and provide some opposition to the biased media. As with Mr.Jackson, our sincere expression of steadfast support was manipulated by the lens and voice-overs of the media to render the opposite image. Ultimately, this has led to a strengthened resolve. We understand such realities, but we were not given a chance in their construction. We do not embrace this.

I would like to point out an important fact by way of introducing our motley group - we are as human as we have been made, we have sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews. Fact is, being conscience-driven like most human beings, we do not support or admire criminals or disturbed individuals including those who harm children. Therefore it struck me as highly oppressive for the media to gauge the value of our collective moral integrity on the assumption of Mr.Jackson’s guilt. On this vein, I ask, when the last time was, in history, where one erring individual was venerated by millions in spite of the wrong doing, and what the situation was then? Are there any parallels? Again, in keeping with what is doled out to Mr.Jackson, our identities are being constructed without our being given a chance to correct them. We do not embrace this.

Given this background, I would like to set forth certain factors that unite Mr.Jackson’s supporters. I would like to de-mystify this relationship we share with Mr.Jackson. I would like to make completely unambiguous the reason why we are holding private and public candle-light vigils, group prayer and fasting sessions, why we have experienced anxiety attacks, why tribute songs are being composed, artwork being created, poetry being written, why we have not eaten or slept enough since the beginning of this terrible ordeal. I would like to explain why we hurt for Michael Jackson.

As a group, we cover the widest range of humans varying in age, color, gender, sexual orientation, religion, country, size, language, what have you. While we are not as a group, we can be quite unidentifiable in that we venerate other leaders, bond with other groups. This may be more professionally explained by a media critic, psychologist or a cultural analyst, but I would like to grab this chance to construct the exclusive scoop here, only because it involves my identity.

What brings us together? - Michael Jackson. What about Michael Jackson? - He brings us together! It is important to pause here and understand the significance of being ‘together’. The dual-sided missing piece that completes the story is the most vital - what it is about Michael Jackson that brings us together, and what is it about us together, that puts him in front of us? Unlike what is widely believed, Mr.Jackson’s supporters are not in a one-way relationship with him, and while we can speak of the two-way relationship being based on commerce, the vouch fully true ‘give and take’ exists in something natural and very human.

On the one side, Mr.Jackson visibly derives energy from seeing people energized as he expounds energy in creating tangible, passionate and artistic expressions. Such purity and raw passion cannot be affected - hence it was subconsciously assumed and rightly so - that even in his normal state of action, Mr.Jackson’s reflects this joy of simply being alive and ‘using that joy to bring alive what is not’- this he finds in abundance by being around nature, animals and children whose inherent nature is to simply be spontaneously alive. While the media and critics alike stop at the fascinating but capitalist twist of that observation, “everything Jackson touches turns to gold”, we, his supporters experience something quite different - an infusion of spice into the mundane. Our interest in Mr.Jackson’s non-professional life raunchily forays into, but most certainly goes beyond how he chooses to present himself. The simple goodness of Mr.Jackson’s being is part of the ‘Magic’, as is his wild wit and adamantly trusting nature.

On the other side of the piece that completes the story are his supporters, who find in Mr.Jackson a voice where one was lost, words where there were none, joy when there was little, embrace where there was sorrow, awe where there was boredom and hope when there can be none. He teaches by example - living with integrity, moral dignity, practicing chivalry and tolerance. At the end of the day, Mr.Jackson’s position as a world leader, or as an ambassador of universal concerns cannot be discounted by any means. One simply needs to examine his rich legacy - of awards and honors - to find that his (willing or unwilling) role as a socio-cultural/political icon is reflected in endorsements such as: his nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize, coronation as King of an African village, V.I.P. level status in foreign countries and entry into the Guinness World Records for most humanitarian efforts, to name a few.

Surely, the trivialization of this iconic status prompted the symbolic handcuffs and mugshot release! The older Mr.Jackson was not entirely right in proclaiming that ‘cuffing his sibling was akin to ‘cuffing them all. To add to that, by ‘cuffing the person who is our very voice for the injustice and inequality we witness in the world, we have all felt the suppression, we have been violated. Our idea of freedom was fixed. We do not embrace this.

After stating as much, I expect my views to be called in question for their apparent extremity -hence, I considered pushing for the credibility factor, by trying to add a few perceived ‘human’ faults of Mr.Jackson, but on this black 23rd day of November, 2003, I am personally much too burdened by the level of character assassination and spiteful judgement that has been thrown his way in the last five days, that it would outrun multiple-platinum times, the derision we care to direct towards the proven criminals of our society.

All the above, I have laid down for your contemplation.

I now make a heartfelt, crying appeal to those it may concern to speak out and express your views, and if they somewhat mirror mine, it is plain that we do not merely speak for a talented stranger.. We speak to arrest this self-erosion of humanity. Yes, having a belief in all possibilities, I do not contend that Mr.Jackson is incapable of wrong-doing. My opinions on that matter are personal and irrelevant to the need of the hour - which is, to draw an end to this ongoing derision of human values in the name of celebrity fetish, or what have you.Our resolve strengthened manifold by Mr.Jackson’s typically dignified and peaceful demeanor as he left the Santa Barbara facility, his supporters have reconciled to the reality of having to see such a respectable man being taken through a process wholly disrespectful.

We do not embrace this, and this time, neither do we understand it. In trying to understand - and while this will not be the outcome for everyone in the group - some of us draw consolation from learning, as one of my fellow supporters opined, how vulnerable powerful leaders like Mr.Jackson can be, to destruction, reminding us of our own powerlessness and vulnerability and it re-iterates that in order to keep our sanity in check, true faith should not be misplaced. It re-connects us to the only unchanging, all empowered, mysterious entity that we like to call our Creator.

Therefore, as we, Mr.Jackson’s supporters pray, hope and act in unison for a speedy, humane end to this inhuman ordeal, I ask - if there exists one - the international media monitoring council/body to weigh-in on the issue, and if there isn’t one, I implore the last bastions of journalistic institutions everywhere to jointly set up one. Once again, rules have to be formed and laws need to be made, because human nature allows us to get giddy with our free powers that can be used without compassion.

As Mr.Jackson’s supporters, lately, our hopes and expectations have been tangibly quashed not once, not twice, but thrice - by mysterious forces at work that rob us of the joy of experiencing Mr.Jackson’s art, that steal us of our source of inspiration. To constantly have to deal with this disappointment is no frivolity, especially considering the dire times we live in. I am surprised by the lack of interest among journalists to investigate this strange phenomenon that is working against Mr.Jackson - one that involves a good degree of sensationalism merely because of the unprecedented implications.

For instance, Dick Gregory’s views, not surprisingly gone unnoticed, are worth a read, as is the holy grail of Mr.Jackson’s fans in battling his tarnished image, Mary Fischer’s ‘slam-dunk’ article in G.Q Magazine: ‘Was Michael Jackson framed?’

The paradox of our times then is that we allow our fate to be controlled by masterminds who routinely order killings, while we will not allow ourselves to be confronted by an individual who presents the possibility of a loving world. In Michael Jackson’s words, “Lies run sprints. Truth runs marathons. Truth will win this marathon in court.” To Truth. God speed!


thanks, i'm so kicked about being mentioned here and in such kind words..
ever heard the saying "those who are unabashed in speaking in kind words of others are really Swell people"? cuz i just made it up )

Posted by: superjay at November 24, 2003 01:03 PM

we love Superjay! woooooooo!!!

Posted by: squiZZ at November 24, 2003 02:30 PM

LOL you're making it sound like my blog is this prestigious place! I'm just a humble fan of yours!
Cute saying!

Posted by: Clarissa at November 24, 2003 03:00 PM