“Anyway, I imagine Michael would save me.”
This was my elder daughter’s argument in the battle against wearing her seatbelt in the car.
Her tactics worked momentarily. I was taken aback. She’s a genius. They all are. She knows my Achilles Heel.
I hid my smile and feigned firmness.
“Put the seatbelt on before I’ve counted to three, or else you lose your turn to choose the music.”
That’s a superpower of sorts, right?
My daughter’s argument has stayed with me – the sheer beauty of a five-year-old in 2015 evoking Michael Jackson as a superhero. How does she know? Yes, both my daughters have seen some of his short films, heard some of his songs. But how does that make him a hero to them? Why do they perceive him as such? They haven’t seen Moonwalker. Nor Earth Song, even.
Michael’s on a lot, of course. But nearly always at their behest. I consciously don’t push my fandom on them, in the belief that children always rebel against their parents’ tastes.
Perhaps the answer lies in my own arrested development. Maybe all children intrinsically see Michael as a hero, and I’m merely stunted in my maturity. Regardless, where does that specific idea of him as a superbeing come from? Besides, Michael at his peak was the epitomic intergenerational leveller, mutually loved by adults and children alike. Michael’s overriding desire was to use his art to appeal to everyone’s inner child, which he undeniably achieved with aplomb.
But, still – why is he construed this way? The humanitarianism? The talent? The mutability? The uniqueness?
The answer is intangible. Whereas Michael’s power is anything but. Which is what makes the potential in his legacy so immense. Which is why it must be curated with nothing less than absolute care and respect.
Michael famously had a great love for comic superheroes, citing Batman and Morph as his favourites during an Internet chat with fans in 1995. Morph’s abilities include shapeshifting, a power Michael bestowed upon the protagonist in his short films as often as was remotely plausible; whilst personality traits of Morph’s include his being opaquely enigmatic and a highly adept prankster. It’s not hard to see why Morph was Michael’s favourite.
Indeed, before his passing, and prior to the onset of the current comic book movie boom, due to Michael’s keen business acumen and his being a cultural visionary, he spoke about investing in Marvel Comics,
“I really feel in my heart we must move as fast as we can because, on the film side of it… I don’t know if you’ve been reading the paper, but Marvel already have sold off their Internet rights and the stock is so low now. I mean, they put out Spider-Man, now they got Incredible Hulk coming, they got X-Men 2 coming, they also got Spider-Man 2 coming, it’s going to jump, it’s gonna change, I mean, you know, and this huge frenzy for superheroes and all the things that we can do… you know it’s… I want to get in it before the stock… we need to jump in now. The timing is perfect. Nobody’s talking much about it, you know… it’s still, it’s still a good time.”
Michael’s interest in such things was typically undermined by the media, who, rather than extolling Michael’s virtues as a businessman, dismissed his involvement in said projects with headlines like, “Jacko begged Lucas to play the part of Jar Jar Binks.”
Jar Jar Binks being perhaps the most hated cinematic creation of all time.
As well as his capacity for predicting cultural trends (or igniting them) and his being an erudite, diehard comic book fanboy, Michael also had the fortune of moving in the right circles (naturally). Special effects guru Stan Winston, who worked on Iron Man, was a long and close friend of Michael’s, with him directing the Ghosts short film. Michael was well-aware of the imminent cinematic superhero explosion.
He was also known to be a huge fan of Spider-Man. Whose mantra, “With great power comes great responsibility” he heroically adopted.
The inherent appreciation that my daughters have for Michael and his art bodes well. So long as the adult fans of today live up to their responsibility of defending his integrity.
Who won the seatbelt battle?
Well. Needless to say, a tantrum ensued.
As did a defiant and seething ‘clunk click’.
She chose Black Or White.
Anyway, I knew Michael would save me.
We all deal with the week of the 25th June in our own way. In the past, the sheer injustice of Michael’s death has inspired such absolute rage in me that it has helped mask my despair. This year was different. I was overcome with an all-encompassing sorrow and sat depressed in the dark for days, unable to engage with the physical world, never mind the saturated sadness of social media as our community poured out heartbreaking, bereft tributes.
A couple of days ago, the fog began to lift and I managed to distil the devastation of the previous days into a poem for Michael (see below).
Due to holing myself up, I missed out on some incredible fan output, which I’m now trying to catch up with. And The MJCast interview with Darren Hayes has proven to be the highlight (see link below).
The total professionalism with which Q and J (or ‘The MJ Cats’, as I like to call them), conduct themselves means their show is a delight to behold. A factor that indubitably enables them to achieve such coups as acquiring Thomas Mesereau and Darren Hayes as special guests. The latter of whom was involved in their 25th June podcast.
And Darren doesn’t disappoint. He answers candidly, knowledgably and with tangible sincerity in his love for Michael. His recollections of being bullied at school and abused at home, before being rescued by finding a role model and escapism through Michael are profoundly recognisable. They cut deep.
I’m glad I didn’t listen to it on the day, as I’d have missed most of it through sobbing. I’m welling up now just writing about it. I had a cathartic cry with Q as he choked back tears. Although ten-thousand miles apart, it felt as if we were consoling each other in the same room.
But I’ve started getting angry again.
This year marked the twentieth anniversary of the release of the HIStory album. The first single from which was Scream. Jimmy Jam recently reminisced on how Michael’s pedantry in achieving the perfect handclap sound for Scream was nothing less than exasperating.
During the podcast, Darren touches on the subject of the Estate’s decision to profit off Michael’s unreleased music – revealing how this undermining of Michael’s work moved him enough to modify his will to ensure that similar atrocities can’t be carried out on his own art after his death.
The HIStory album was a multi-pronged protest against unjust treatment. Scream was an aggressive riposte. Childhood a search for empathy. Both the peaceable Martin Luther King and the militant Malcolm X are referenced on the record.
Images of peaceful protest become totemic – pictures such as the photograph of Jan Rose Kasmir during a 1967 anti-Vietnam war rally, in which she holds a flower to a bayonet. Michael incorporated the emblem during the denouement of HIStory tour performances of Earth song.
Yet Vietnamese children continued to be napalmed for a further eight years.
Brute force is wantonly executed by those in positions of power, in the belief that most people are so disengaged from the truth they will heedlessly buy into such placatory propaganda as the Kasmir image, rather than becoming enraged enough to utilise more aggressive methods of protest.
The ignored revolt because a sense of justice is intrinsic to the notion of humanity. It is patronising to dismiss disgruntled minorities as either alarmists or zealots when they feel impelled to utilise aggressive means. The Estate are in charge after fraudulently gaining control of Michael’s will. And they are now revelling in their avarice.
Protesting passively against the ruination of Michael’s artistic legacy is impotent in its capacity to change things. Yes, rage alone can only achieve so much. But in the multi-pronged efforts to demand quality from the Estate, it is a crucial element
Aggression can be catalytic. Change requires both flowers and fire.
As part of my catching up, I inevitably encountered the flipside to the loving tributes – the annual rearing of the BeLIEver monster’s head.
Not content with illegally hijacking Harrison Funk’s photographs of those who congregated at Michael’s grave on the 25th, this insidious group of twisted degenerates then used said images to promulgate their warped ideology.
The BeLIEver monster needs decapitating.
Aggression does have its place.
Listen to The MJCast here: The MJCast
He knew her intimately for nearly thirty years. During this time, she was his confidante, his protector, and his advisor. She rubbed cream into the piebald patchwork that was his back and shoulders: a torso that no-one else got to view, unless she had applied concealing make-up beforehand. He was very insecure about his vitiligo. He was very insecure about his overall physique. During times of stress, he would often fast to feel better about himself – often miss meals, try to concentrate instead on making his work as perfect as possible. Fasting and exhaustion landed him in hospital on numerous occasions. Stress exacerbates the effects of vitiligo. She tried to ensure he was fed.
His face was pocked with acne scars. He believed his nostrils were vast, his chin not clearly defined – that it seemed to get swallowed up by his neck. He was self-conscious about his smile. But he liked his eyes. He would ask her to accentuate them. He had his eyebrows tattooed on. And his lipstick. It saved a lot of time. And meant that when she wasn’t around, they remained there – indelible swooshes of self-esteem reassuring him from the mirror. A lifetime in the public eye had taken its toll. The camera was his nemesis. He would wear a surgical mask, or hide behind strategically straggled curls and a fedora – unless she had primed his confidence first. She did this by combining her artistic skill with a unique, nuanced knowledge of the intricacies of his face, as well as an inimitable understanding of how he liked to look – though she also knew that he was capricious in these matters. Such is the nature of insecurity. He was changeable in his choice of hairstyle – sometimes preferring more curls or body in his hair, which gave him a sense of having his face covered, like when he wore the mask. She created and fixed his wigs for him. For nearly thirty years.
Still. Since they had known each other for nearly a third of a century, she would have usually intuited his mood before he had even sat down in the chair. The chair in which they talked. The chair in which they cried together; laughed together. The chair in which they would put the world to rights. For nearly thirty years. Some are jealous of the intimacy they shared. After all, their relationship was both as open and as close as any can be. She knew and understood his secrets, his intentions, his vices, his desires.
He trusted her. Implicitly. She prepared him for his final corporeal resting place. His deathbed.
He was Michael Jackson. And she was Karen Faye.
This article is the Preface from The First Book of Michael by Syl Mortilla, which Karen Faye contributed the Foreword to. The book is 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
Ten years ago today, I ran alone into the deserted streets of a small coastal town in the south of England, whereupon I tore off my shirt, fell to my knees, and wailed incoherently with primeval, ecstatic joy. Because a woman had just released fourteen white doves: one to represent each of Michael’s acquittals in his 2005 trial for child molestation.
And, admittedly, that sounds like somewhat melodramatic behaviour. But it was an instinctive response. Such was Michael’s touch.
I never met Michael. The closest I came to realising that oft-recurring dream was when I desperately clung onto the back of a car he’d just got in. Attached by mere fingertips, I bounced along behind the vehicle, with all the joy and manic apprehension of paraphernalia attached to the rear of a wedding car.
I can also lay claim to being the recipient of the gift of pizza and blankets from Michael, which he had sent to us whilst we waited outside a concert arena in sub-zero temperatures. It was acts of caring such as this delivery that became the reason why a teenage boy from the north of England covered his bedroom window with the words: MJ IS INNOCENT.
As well, having been a regular front-row concert attendee, I’m convinced I did once lock eyes with him: in Dublin, where it had still been daylight when the show started. I was certainly doing my bit to be noticed, anyway. To the extent where I imagine Michael might have been thinking, “Well, that’s one I’m definitely staying away from.” I also once caught the hat when it was thrown out during ‘Billie Jean’. Before losing my grip in the ensuing ruckus.
It’s easy to judge those of us that did things like that. But the euphoric frenzy the man inspired – the piquing of anticipation – was like nothing else. Michael’s presence had a unique property: it osmotically transformed the atmosphere in a room – a change sensed by fan and non-fan alike (at least – you used to be a non-fan.) That very particular sense of butterflies in the stomach being simultaneously shared by thousands of people; with everyone feeling the experience as a reciprocated love for each other. It was inimitable.
How does one explain the magnetism of Michael? How so many are so heartbroken and mournful at the death of someone they never met – to the same extent of sadness that accompanies losing a close family member?
There are many reasons: Michael was an engine of pure prolificity in providing the world with quality, unique, timeless rhythms and melodies divined with the purpose of healing the world; he was the plausible, flesh-and-blood superhero; he was a surrogate parent; he filled the vacuum of self for so many people confused by the tragedy of loss; he was the Unknown Soldier, with millions of identities willed onto him by the bereft.
The world talks about Michael Jackson as an unbreakable enigma. But he wasn’t. Not to us. Not to those of us that walked through hell with him, its raging fires starkly illuminating the man’s vulnerabilities and faults – for anyone that cared to see. What he gave us in return is this: he gave us musical flags to plant as life milestones – points of reference galvanized by the soul orgasm of zeitgeist; he was our support system; he was an indicator for our identities – our very souls; he was our moral paradigm, a totem for our tried-and-tested, stoic-and-steadfast belief in the power of the truth – in the indefatigable advocating of it when confronted by egregious, audacious and unrelenting slander.
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.
And in this is where the most significant answer to the conundrum of the world’s sense of grief at his death lies: simply, that the world is mourning en masse at the instinctive tragedy of our losing an opportunity for peace.
What kind of man inspires such depth of devotion where, in the absence of any official Mecca for their martyred hero, fans organise pilgrimages to the impenetrable gates of his house? What kind of man generates a loyalty entirely unfazed, infinite and unwavering, despite daily ad hominem attacks on him and his supporters? What kind of man invokes rapture at the slightest sight of his twitching a curtain? What kind of man enkindles vigils?
It is the kind of man who transformed the curse of a disease into a totem of equality; who – singlehandedly, using his unparalleled level of fame – attempted to undo centuries of blackface minstrel mockery of his race, yet not with a sense of vengeance, but with a motive for human unity; it is the kind of man who made a concerted effort to be Christ-like, who poured his wealth on the poor and emulated the children; it is the kind of man that taught us that perception is merely a reflection of oneself, that love is truth, and that sacrifice is something to aspire to.
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.”
Gaunt as the ordeal had made him, ten years ago today, Michael walked tall on his way out of court; a paradigm of persistence and innocence.
Michael Jackson fans are honoured. We have been dealt an ace by the cards of destiny. Our hero is peerless in his example of humanity.
We love you, Michael. And we will never forget.
In celebration of the tenth anniversary of Vindication Day, Voice As One Anti-Defamation Group have organised a Twitter Thunderclap to raise awareness. Let’s get Michael’s innocence trending! Sign up here: https://www.thunderclap.it/…/26490-michael-jackson-innocent…
This article is comprised of 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
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.
In Michael’s autobiography, Moonwalk, he recalls an incident when the Jackson 5 were being interviewed, with their answers being scrutinised by Motown coaches sensitive to subjects that could be considered controversial. A black interviewer attempted to garner their views on the civil rights movement, but the Motown public relations representatives refused to let the Jackson 5 respond. Michael remembers how he and his brothers threw up the black power salute as they left the interview.
Michael grew up immersed in the social tumult generated by the assassinations of both Dr Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. His mentor was Stevie Wonder, of whom he said,
“That’s why I love Stevie Wonder’s biggest-selling album called Songs in the Key of Life. He has a song on that album called ‘Black Man’… I just jumped up screaming when I heard that record because he’s showing the world what the black man has done and what other races have done, and he balanced it beautifully by putting other races in there, what they have done. Then he brings out what the black man has done. Instead of naming it another thing, he named it ‘Black Man’. That’s what I loved about it….And that’s the best way to bring about the truth, through song. And that’s what I love about it.”
A sixteen-year-old Michael, in 1974, even performed backing vocals on Stevie Wonder’s anti-Nixon track, ‘You Haven’t Done Nothing’.
In the introduction to the dance sequence of the ‘Black Or White’ video, a background statue of notorious slaver US President George Washington, is poised as if guiding the black panther (which takes a moment to growl at the statue) into the pantheon where it shapeshifts into Michael, who is clad primarily in black – though sporting a white arm brace and a chain belt around his waist.
The ensuing dance in which Michael destroys racist graffiti sprayed on car and shop windows was construed as gratuitously violent by some. This led to Michael having to issue a statement in which he apologised for any upset caused and explained that he had merely been interpreting the instinct of a black panther. The dance sequence is shot in a street illuminated by hues on a spectrum from black to light blue. The black panther is the universally recognised symbol for the liberation of the black race. The official colours for the Black Panther Party (the original peaceful protest incarnation of the group, as opposed to the later militant offshoot), are black and light blue.
After the dance, Michael morphs back into a black panther, whereupon the final shot of the sequence is of the panther poised in an identical representation of the Black Panther Party logo. Michael would later incorporate the tail from this logo into his own ‘MJ’ emblem.
The political message in the ‘Black Or White’ short film is teased from the beginning. We start immersed in a point-of-view shot of some entity soaring through a night sky of black and blue, before it plunges through the clouds into a middle-America suburbia that has white-rock as its soundtrack. The entity seems to be searching for something to possess. It stalls for a double take on one particular house, before inviting itself in.
The perspective then alters to become a standard view. A fat, white American man and his blonde, petite wife sit in the lounge; the man is trying to watch a baseball game, though is evidently irritated by the noise of the loud music emanating from his son’s bedroom upstairs. The man is eventually compelled to stomp upstairs and chastise the boy, demanding he “Turn that noise off!” On his way out, the man slams the door behind him, and a framed poster of Michael with his fist in the air during a Bad tour rendition of ‘Beat It’ falls to the floor with a smash. Out of vengeance, the boy then proceeds to construct an enormous speaker system in the living room. Once assembled, his distracted parents finally notice what their son’s been doing (at which point – just to tantalise the next chapter – is it just me, or does the man commentating on the baseball match in the background really say “Satan”?). Having gotten his father’s attention, the boy exclaims, “Eat this!” and plays a chord on his electric guitar – the noise from which blasts his portly father through the roof, and up into the moonlit black and blue sky. The fat, white man and his armchair then land in sub-Saharan Africa with a thud. Just in time to witness tribesmen hunting down a pack of imperious lions.
The ensuing ‘pop’ segment deconstructs the world’s myriad ethnic dance stereotypes by pulling the camera away and exposing the artifice of each scene. It emphasises the delineation between the cultures of the world, yet simultaneously celebrates the possibilities of unifying the world through the medium of song and dance.
The upbeat melodies in ‘Black Or White’ (bar the bridge in which Michael furiously spits, “I ain’t scared of no sheets” and where, in the short film, Ku Klux Klan imagery is engulfed by the flames he is bursting through (Michael had also incorporated Ku Klux Klan imagery in the video for ‘Man In The Mirror’, three years previously), are deceptive in the same manner that Michael’s first self-penned track, ‘Blues Away’ (1976) also are – in which the lyrics concern heartbreak. The narrative of ‘Black or White’ tells the story of a mixed-race couple being questioned, with the black male protagonist being derogatorily labelled as “boy”.
‘Black Or White’ was not the first time Michael had employed the term “boy” in such a way. The short film for the song ‘Speed Demon’ shows the black-voiced protagonist “heading for the border” before being told to “pull over, boy and get your ticket right” by a white cop. A cop who then instructs Michael that it’s against the rules to dance (but demands an autograph from him anyway).
(As an aside supporting the idea of Michael always striving for precision in his art, it’s interesting to note that the grammatically erroneous lyric from the ‘Black Or White’ rap, “I’ve seen the bright get duller” was corrected for live performances to “I’ve seen the sharp get duller”.)
In response to the controversy evoked by the panther segment, one news anchor mused, “My guess is that it’s Michael’s childlike playfulness that got him into this problem, and his childlike openness that solved it.”
It is a musing that takes on far greater gravitas when considered in the context of what was to happen in the ensuing months.
Michael understood that in order to fight bigotry and prejudice, he had to use his elevated position to capture the minds of children and turn them against the ingrained views of their parents. Which is why “Black Or White” begins with a boy standing up to his father.
The philosopher Friedrich Engels claimed the patriarchal family structure as the basic building block of capitalism: the father as owner, the wife as the means of production, and the offspring as the product. Both the means of production and product were the property of the patriarch. Michael, being black and belonging to the slave class of “the owned”, was daring to steal their most precious of property – their children. As well as also hijacking the hearts of white women.
Another esteemed philosopher, Noam Chomsky, suggests the media’s function is to “…amuse, entertain and inform, and to inculcate individuals with the values, beliefs and codes of behaviour that will integrate them into the institutional structures of the larger society.”
Similarly, the film and music critic Armond White described the media as being “the superego of the status quo”.
And this was another factor that generated the inordinate rage directed towards Michael during the 1993 allegations: the feeling that he was undermining the security of the patriarchal system; that he was somehow “stealing” children away from their fathers. Evan Chandler, the father of the 1993 accuser, even admits in his book that he was jealous of his son wanting to spend more time with Michael than him. Evan Chandler was an estranged father insecure in his role, and felt threatened by the possibility of Michael replacing him.
Which is a natural reaction, albeit one borne of the more bestial elements of human nature – as all jealousy is. The more sinister and premeditated part of Evan Chandler’s scheme, however, was the ruthless extortion attempt in which he was content with the idea of annihilating an innocent man. In truth, Michael did indeed steal the children from the orthodox patriarchy, and provided a new, non-patriarchal model; one exemplified by his later becoming both father and mother to his three children. Michael’s reimagining of the family construct is often viewed as pathological, due to its non-conformity. As Michael said, “They don’t understand it so it makes them feel very uncomfortable”.
The traditional “loving family” does not need to be biological. As humanity is becoming more individualised, there is an evident increase in “tailored families” – tailored to maximise the potential for love.
It may have taken twenty-five years for the minutiae of an event witnessed simultaneously by half a billion people – as well countless hundreds of millions since – to start being deciphered (as starkly obvious as they now seem), but with the ‘Black Or White’ short film, Michael further solidified his position as an artistic visionary. It was not merely that Michael had no other option but to convey his messages subtly, due to an awareness of the pitfalls he was doomed to succumb to; it was also that he remained fully cognisant of humanity’s ongoing evolution of consciousness, and thus prepared his art within this context.
Much of Michael’s art will take time to unravel and reveal its true significance; the messages will crystallise over time. The process of change is so often invisible to the naked eye: the weathering of a rock; the growth of a tree. Noticeable catalytic leaps are few and far between.
The distance of hindsight is necessary.
Originally posted on The Dad Delusion:
I know every family has its creepy story. But mine does seem to possess a surfeit of them.
Our childhood holidays were often taken in a seaside town in Devon. The laborious four-hundred mile car journey southwards tests the patience of anyone. Then throw four squabbling children into the mix, and you have a melting-pot of certain insanity. However, our mother had a trick up her sleeve. Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls would always be at hand – the unfortunately appellated hard-boiled sweets made in our hometown. Traditionally taken down with us as a gift for our nostalgic aunty.
There are two main memories I have from those holidays.
In the first, I am swimming in the sea on my own. I remember having plunged into the waves, the water metamorphosing my clumsy, lumbering landlubber into something resembling grace. Or so I liked to imagine, anyway. I recall peeping my head through the surface…
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Originally posted on The Dad Delusion:
The first nursing home I ever worked in was an ostensibly cosy affair. It housed a mere eighteen residents, and was run by a middle-aged man suffering a breakdown. Due to his having been kicked out of his family home by his wife, he now also lived in the building. His name was Jeff and he slept on the floor of the converted attic room. Encircled by three decrepit elderly women that neither moved nor spluttered a syllable, but stubbornly refused to die. They were nicknamed The Flowers in the Attic.
Like I say. It was cosy.
One night shift, at around three o’ clock in the morning, a resident named Lilith rang her buzzer. This was not unusual; indeed, this was at least the sixth time Lilith had rang her buzzer since I had commenced my shift at ten o’ clock. I instinctively boiled the kettle and made my way up the stairs…
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