This is based on something that I just posted on Wargamer.com, in response to the reactions to the death of Michael Jackson, the King of Pop.

Michael Jackson was not a genius on a par with Elvis, the Beatles, Frank Sinatra, or a whole host of legends built on talent. He was a fine dancer, a good showman, and a passable singer. The rest was a testament to the power of hype and celebrity. After all, who gave Michael Jackson the title of The King of Pop? Michael Jackson.

True, his father was a brutal, exploitive piece of crap, and Jacko had no real childhood. Although that can start to explain certain issues, too often it's an excuse. Lots of people have even worse childhoods (including people whom I know personally) and grow up to be a lot more functional. Some are terribly scarred, but they're functional, giving, and caring people.

By contrast, Michael Jackson's business dealings reveal a pronounced willingness to chisel partners and welch on deals. How many charity songs were planned, projects announced, that came to nothing because he backed out? He skipped across the world, leaving a trail of broken contracts and bad debt. Michael Jackson lacked essential integrity as a man and as a businessman, and for that alone he loses my respect.

As for the children... Yuck.

Look at the way he raised the ones purported to be his: Baby-dangling in Berlin, wrapping their faces in red shrouds everywhere. They've never been to real schools, nor socialized. He clutched them to his world of weirdness, and just as he lacked a normal childhood, so he deprived them of theirs.

Then too, were they even his, or did just buy them like so many fashion accessories?

Regarding the molestation, he was acquitted by a jury of his peers in the California criminal justice system. So was OJ Simpson. That verdict was just as much a statement of how acting like a spoiled prince, harnessing the power of one's celebrity to secure a not guilty verdict.

Judging the evidence for myself, from this and the civil trials, and after discussions with police officers specializing in crimes against children, I am personally, firmly convinced that Michael Jackson was a serial child predator of the worst variety, whose appearance of wealth and celebrity gave him a pass.

Not that there was much wealth left, after all the extravagant living and broken deals, and that celebrity had noticeably faded.

So therefore I'm not especially moved, no much more than I would be if that strange kid-loving guy on the state Megan's Law site dropped dead.

Indeed, I remember my first thought when I heard he'd gone into cardiac arrest. I was certain that it was another scam to get out of a commitment due to "illness." Then when I heard he was dead, I didn't believe it, because he lied about so much else. Then when I got confirmation that he really was, I breathed a sigh of relief for the children now safe from this abomination.

There are celebrities whose passing I can mourn. Farah Fawcett passed with grace and dignity, and she was the icon of a generation. Ed McMahon served the United States with distinction as a Marine officer and aviator.

But Michael Jackson is a different story. One might argue that he was the product of a dark upbringing, or that he was a self-made man. Both have their truths. When it comes to the latter though, what he made was a monster.

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Comment by Jim Werbaneth on July 1, 2009 at 12:42pm
She could pay someone else to take her exams for her.
Comment by Andreas Ludwig on July 1, 2009 at 11:37am
I can imagine Paris Hilton studying literature, or anything else that she wanted, as she has the money and the freedom to do so.

Yes, but she wouldn't pass the exams... ;-)
Comment by Jim Werbaneth on July 1, 2009 at 8:55am
"Evil advisers" are certainly a factor, but you're right, personal responsibility is a bigger matter. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, a former friend of Michael Jackson, has a really good take on it, on the CNN web site: http://www.cnn.com/2009/SHOWBIZ/Music/06/30/jackson.rabbi/index.html. Admittedly, Rabbi Boteach might not be always above reproach, but this is a good piece on the power of celebrity and the attractions of being strange.

Actually too, I can imagine Paris Hilton studying literature, or anything else that she wanted, as she has the money and the freedom to do so. But instead she chooses the life of being a professional ornament.
Comment by Gerald-Markus Zabos on July 1, 2009 at 6:59am
I think you forgot about a very important point. I've been listening to a german radio show, where the host talked a guy who followed and lived (on tours, etc.) with Michael Jackson for several years. He pictured a somewhat different Michael Jackson with a lot of insights, i didn't know about. One of his points was Michael Jackson's management beeing the evil plot on all front. His management planned in minute detail about his day and so on. I guess over years, this can make you a "spoiled prince" as you said. You just get lazy.

Now, on the other hand, i am imaging the evil management thing on other celebrities. Did the management spoil Paris Hilton ? She's brutally forced into this celebrity live - instead of allowing her do things she would really like ? Imagine her studying "English Literature of the 18th Century". I can't. Everyone self controls his life. I guess Michael Jackson and Paris Hilton are no exclusion...
Comment by Chuang Shyue Chou on June 28, 2009 at 9:32pm
I am not sorry to see Wacko Jacko go. Good riddance. His out of court settlement the first time round was quite indicative of his guilt. It was loud and clear. Granted that there were predators of the monetary kind out there after his money (and there still are), well, he was not as innocent and childlike as often portrayed. He was the centre of a vast musical machinery that operated based on his whims and instructions. People do not get to where he was being innocent and childlike. (re-typed for typo and grammar).
Comment by Chuang Shyue Chou on June 28, 2009 at 8:43pm
Good riddance to crap music too.
Comment by Jim Werbaneth on June 28, 2009 at 9:06am
One of his brothers is a Muslim, and Jacko was under the influence of Nation of Islam elements for a while. Plus, when he lived in Bahrain and was freeloading from a member of the royal family, he made some indications that he would convert, apparently for business reasons, but never did.
Comment by Katie on June 28, 2009 at 6:20am
After the 80's were over he had nothing to really contribute....
Comment by Chuang Shyue Chou on June 28, 2009 at 3:18am
Didn't he convert to Islam and adopted a Muslim name some time back?

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