Never underestimate the power of childhood abuse

From Rolling Stone’s archives:

In the year[s] since Michael Jackson made his first national television appearance with his brothers at age 11, he has evolved from a singing and dancing soul music prodigy to the self-proclaimed but widely acknowledged “King of Pop” to one of the most widely ridiculed of all public figures.

That is a literally tragic transition.  The so promising start:

And behind that:

From a young age Jackson was physically and mentally abused by his father, enduring incessant rehearsals, whippings and name-calling. Jackson’s abuse as a child affected him throughout his grown life. In one altercation — later recalled by Marlon Jackson — Joseph held Michael upside down by one leg and “pummeled him over and over again with his hand, hitting him on his back and buttocks”. Joseph would often trip up, or push the male children into walls. One night while Jackson was asleep, Joseph climbed into his room through the bedroom window. Wearing a fright mask, he entered the room screaming and shouting. Joseph said he wanted to teach his children not to leave the window open when they went to sleep. For years afterward, Jackson suffered nightmares about being kidnapped from his bedroom.

Jackson first spoke openly about his childhood abuse in a 1993 interview with Oprah Winfrey. He said that during his childhood he often cried from loneliness and would sometimes get sick or start to regurgitate upon seeing his father. In Jackson’s other high profile interview, Living with Michael Jackson (2003), the singer covered his face with his hand and began crying when talking about his childhood abuse. Jackson recalled that Joseph sat in a chair with a belt in his hand as he and his siblings rehearsed and that “if you didn’t do it the right way, he would tear you up, really get you.”

(From Wikipedia, via Obsidian Wings.)

And  how should we see the later parts of his life?  An evil pedophile?  An obsessed person who had altered his body past reasonable boundaries?  Someone of immense talent about to undertake a wildly success tour?  I don’t know.   What do you think?


7 thoughts on “Never underestimate the power of childhood abuse

  1. Ahh that poor man. I really loved his music.
    My first reaction was one of some sort of sad relief, that at least he doesn’t have to get any crazier and unhappier, which seemed to be what he was doing all the time.
    I always wondered what those parents who let their kids sleep over at his place were thinking of. Would I let my kids (which I don’t have) sleep over at some stranger? I don’t think so. And he was a stranger to everyone, wasn’t he?
    Which is not to say that he shouldn’t have done what he was accused of doing (but was acquitted of), but heck.

    *patiently awaiting the first Elvis and Jacko spottings*

  2. People with money, power,very needy and who have psychiatric problems are, I think, especially vulnerable to being used. The FACT that Jackson was acquitted may suggest that this happened. Even if some would prefer to believe the worst about anyone, there really are people out there who would use their children, even in this way, to try to pilfer money.
    And even if Jackson did do some inappropriate touching, this is not rape or something that is LIKELY to cause serious, long-term harm. It’s very different from sexual violence.
    I like the comment Bill Maher made about this saying he was beat up terribly by a bunch of boys when he was young and he would have much preferred some touchy feely stuff under the covers by a strange boy/man that he could pull away from.

    It is really a sad thing that after such a horrendous childhood, he should never recover as an adult and have the kind of extraordinary talent he had and be ruined by the kind of accusations that brought his reputation down. (Probably the ONLY kind of accusation that had the power to do this.)
    This is especially true since there are truly a certain number of these claims of sexual abuse that are false, that are instigated by adults with ulterior motives. (money, revenge)
    Michael as a man/boy was too naive to protect himself. It seems he never grew up and considering he was raised by a monster, isn’t it understandable?

  3. Hi suetiggers, I have to say I’m conflicted about molestation charges in general. On the one hand, there are all sorts of cases where innocent people get falsely accused. On the other hand, there seem to be a lot of cases where genuine victims get villified.

    I wonder if in his large family of abused children, mostly boys, there wasn’t some fairly asexual comforting going on some nights that in a different context might look sexual. Perhaps that’s what lead to his problematic defense (which was spoken somewhere) to the effect that wouldn’t you take a very sad broken child to bed with you to comfort them?

  4. I never read all of that but it is interesting. His story, though, is a good look at how far the public wants to dig into someone’s life. To some extent, it looks to me like buzzards ravenously tearing apart and killing off someone who rose to such heights. I bet the ones who really admired, loved him just pulled back rather than jump into the feeding frenzy.
    The fact that there are too many false accusations (this happened to my mentally ill son….the 8 yr. old recanted years later, very strongly too. But he’s still on the registry) should make people hesitate. But many many people go with the flow of tabloid media and opportunistic politicians, lawyers,etc.
    Even if you are innocent in the U.S., money, which usually works, may not protect you with this charge.

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