Saturday, September 16, 2006

Sunday Scribblings: #25 - Research (hmm now says google magic)

Today after spending a lot of time on you tube and downloading a lot of footage that I’m getting together to create my own videos, I felt inspired to write about something I have been passionate about for as long as I can remember. It is something that I was forced to research and know more about over the past three years. When I first read the Sunday scribbling topic, I didn’t think I would participate and I promised myself I wouldn’t write about the subject that I’ve chosen because of the way people generally react, but I’m gonna go out on a limb anyway…

Disclaimer, this is really long and I apologize, but I didn’t really want to condense it, so don’t read it if you don’t want to, but this is one of my most personal and honest entry yet. Also, the original topic at Sunday Scribblings said "research" and now it says google, well I've already done my entry, so research it is! haha.

Michael Jackson

I became a huge Michael Jackson fan when I was probably in 5th grade. He was my first celebrity crush. He was my first favorite singer, he was the first song I ever remember hearing and seeing a video to (The Bad video is the first video if you’re interested) I remember the allegations that came up in 1993. I remembered being informed by my best friend that her Dad had told them it was just people wanting money from him. Of course, I never believed anything different. I was only 9 or 10. I remember the “come back” album, HIStory. The nuts MJ obsession that ensued from then on was pretty full on.

I talked, walked, lived, breathed drank anything and everything Michael Jackson. I collected tiny pictures, articles, second hand vinyls, albums, Jackson 5, The Jackson’s, MJ magazines, videos, footage, anything you can imagine. I wrote him letter after letter after letter that my Mum always promised to send to him. (I could never figure out why he didn’t write me back.) I kept writing letters until I was about 18 or 19, but I kept them to myself after and shared them with no one.

I became heavily involved in the Michael Jackson online fan community in 1997 and never looked back. I met people from all around the world and at one stage had more than 30 Michael Jackson penpals from Sweden, Holland, UK, Israel, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Turkey, Lithuania, Denmark, Slovenia and so many more. I loved those people like they were my best friends. Some of them, I am still in contact with. I met fans from Australia (and other countries), five of whom I consider like my best friends (people that comment/read here, Caro, Val, Anna, Dorinny, Vicky) With these friends, I learned about different backgrounds, I learned survival talk in a lot of languages (French, Dutch, German and Slovenian.) I learned about the way their countries work, the traditions, backgrounds and all sorts of interesting things. Many of these friends I used to speak regularly to by telephone (especially one very special Israeli friend, Sharona.)

When I turned 18, I traveled to New York to see Michael Jackson by myself. It is something that I never ever would have considered had I not been a fan. I always wanted to travel, I always wanted to do something independent and so many people told me I was crazy and that it was a waste of my money and time. But I met two wonderful, wonderful fans, one of whom was from the UK who took me under her wing and befriended me. It is not often that I am completely honest about my intentions for traveling to New York. I usually tell people that I was “in the neighbourhood” that I didn’t go solely for MJ, but honestly? I did. I wanted to see him and I knew that there was no chance of him coming back to Australia. Some people call it groupie behavior, but I had never felt about another single person the way I felt about MJ. I didn’t expect I would marry him, I didn’t expect I would become his friend till the end. I just wanted to shake his hand and say, “Hi Michael, I love you and thank you for everything you’ve given to me.”

By that I mean inspiration. I hate the typical, “Michael saved me!” fan stories – but it’s the truth. I spent a lot of time in my early teen years in and out of hospital with an illness that I wouldn’t ever let on the severity to anyone except my family. At school I got ridiculed beyond belief, I really believed a lot of that time I was about to die. I didn’t really have an abundance of friends or anyone who I felt cared too much except my parents and grandparents, so I looked to music and to other things for consolement. Cheesily enough, Michael Jackson’s music always spoke to me. The footage I’d watched endlessly of him visiting sick kids, donating money, always being a voice for the voiceless, that really made me feel like he cared. His writings, his words, his poetry, his thoughts and open sentiments, they always touched my heart even from my younger days. He didn’t save me, but he gave me inspiration to keep the faith and never give up hope.

Because of the help of the insistent UK fan, that dream of meeting Michael Jackson came true. I got to talk to Michael Jackson in his car. I got to tell him thank you. I was able to stay calm enough to say that he was my biggest inspiration and that I loved him for everything. I was able to hold his hand. I was able to tell the world that Michael Jackson caressed my hand, talked to me, told me he also loved me and appreciated me, that it was his honor to meet me. He asked me if I was okay, how I enjoyed my trip, how I liked Australia, my name, he touched my face. And despite the fact that he tells all the fans he loves them? Well, for that moment in time, he told me, directly to me that he loved me. It was enough to inspire me for almost another decade and he helped me create the happiest and most exciting day of my life.

In 2003 almost exactly 10 years to the day of the 1993 allegations, new ones broke. Now, I had spent a lot of time researching the first Michael Jackson case. I know lots of things that the general public wouldn’t know. Like for instance, Michael Jackson never wanted to settle the case civilly. I had to research American Law. I found that you couldn’t have a criminal suit before a civil suit. I found out that Michael Jackson fought to have this reversed. He wanted it to be tried in a criminal suit (for those who don’t understand, this means he would never have paid Jordan Chandler, but rather would have went before a jury just like he did in 2005 and had it tried properly) but the judge denied the motion. He was given bogus advice and was in the prime of his success and so he was basically forced to settle for the price they agreed upon civilly. Additionally, David Schwartz, the stepfather of the accuser, secretly taped a conversation with Evan Chandler (the accusers father) to later use to help Michael Jackson (but later Schwartz jumped ships and decided to join in the extortion).


“There are other people involved that are waiting for my phone call that are in certain positions. I’ve paid them to do it. Everything’s going according to a certain plan that isn’t just mine. Once I make that phone call, this guy [his attorney, Barry K. Rothman, presumably] is going to destroy everybody in sight in any devious, nasty, cruel way that he can do it. And I’ve given him full authority to do that” (Chandler to Shwartz)

Chandler then predicted what would, in fact, transpire six weeks later: “And if I go through with this, I win big-time. There’s no way I lose. I’ve checked that inside out. I will get everything I want, and they will be destroyed forever. June will lose [custody of the son]...and Michael’s career will be over.”

“Does that help [the boy]?” Schwartz asked.

“That’s irrelevant to me,” Chandler replied.

“It’s going to be bigger than all of us put together. The whole thing is going
to crash down on everybody and destroy everybody in sight. It will be a massacre
if I don’t get what I want.”

(GQ “Was Michael Jackson Framed?” October, 1994 )

Of course the above never really made it to press because the world was too busy tripping over themselves to see their own Peter Pan turned pervert. And while the world always asked, “If he was innocent, why did he settle?” I always wondered, “If you were any sort of parent, wouldn’t you have wanted justice to prevail so the “predator” doesn’t strike again?)

The 2003 allegations seemed more serious, people ran with the idea that since he was accused once and “got off” (even though he was actually never charged with anything at all in 1993/1994) it must of course be a silent admission of guilt. The accusers were predictable and ridiculous this time around though, and unlike Evan Chandler, Janet Arviso (the mother of the 2003 accuser) wasn’t very bright.

I was forced to research this one to the high heavens and learn about U.S Law faster than I could blink. It blew up very quickly and before I knew it, my hero had been arrested, handcuffed and charged with 14 counts of misconduct with a minor known from the disgusting Martin Bashir interview (February 6, 2003) as Gavin Arviso.

It surprised no one that Tom Sneddon, the District Attorney who was in charge of the 1993 investigation, was also heading the 2003 investigation. Furthermore, the same media mogul, Diane Dimond who broke the 1993 case was also allowed special access to “break” the 2003 case (her Court TV crew was at Neverland the day both raids occurred before any other journalists new). During 1993 Michael Jackson was forced to submit to “investigative” photographs of his genitalia to “prove” that the accusations Jordan Chandler had made about particular scarring in that area was the case. Later most media outlets failed to report, was not actually the case (there was no match to the child’s description) Despite the fact that these photos were supposed to be sealed, a former friend of Sneddon’s had recounted that he had, in fact, passed them around and “shared a laugh”.

In a press conference just after Michael Jackson’s 2003 arrest Sneddon was critisised for referring to Michael as “Wacko Jacko”, and also for speaking prematurely having been quoted saying, “we got him!” (ha)

I felt from the get-go that the case was a witch-hunt. I supported Michael Jackson whole-heartedly until I had red-handed evidence to prove otherwise. (I’m one of those very few people who believe in innocent until proven guilty, not guilty until proven guilty.) I am a very independent thinking person; I am also a very intelligent person and became offended when people would brand me a “naïve fan”. I did my research, and I did it very well. I knew what I believed and why I believed it and unlike the people who accused me of being blinded by my admiration, I didn’t just rely on the news vendors to feed me their idea of “balanced information”. I decided that after all Michael had done to enrich my life indirectly, I would also like to help bring him support, even if it was also indirect.

I did a lot of radio interviews within Australia sharing my knowledge. I was interviewed by newspapers and I helped organize some information distribution within Sydney along with a group of Australian Michael Jackson fans. Then my lovely friend Dorinny and I, decided in April 2005 that we wanted to go to Santa Maria to support him.

We didn’t expect to meet him, we just wanted to be another face in the supporting crowd. One more banner, one more voice shouting support, we knew that it gave him the strength to get up and go to court every morning and to keep his head held high. He was looking at a jail term of up to 26 yrs. Of course each time I had a fleeting thought of this, tears would well up in my eyes and I couldn’t even begin to grasp any sort of reality of it.

We read transcripts of what was going on in the courtroom on a daily basis (and let me tell you now, unless you read those transcripts, you really didn’t learn anything about what kind of people screwed Michael Jackson over). 45 seats were raffled off every morning to the public and so fans would also come back each afternoon and give their reports. We read the backlash media reports making Michael Jackson out to sound like some kind of sinister freak who created Neverland to reel in the children.

I’m sorry though, 2 victims in ten years? Wow, he really knows what he wants doesn’t he? A very particular man who is amongst a smorgasbord of children and has been for the past 25 years – erm, really that makes no sense. The other “accusers” that popped up during the trial, were pretty much heckled out by the media as well.

Dorin and I got to California and hoped that perhaps we might get in to the courtroom and observe just once, but we were not expecting it. Low and behold, the very first day there we got our ticket and got to sit in, just meters away from our hero. We sat through a day of court, hearing witnesses testify for the prosecution, and then cross-examined by Thomas Mesereau, Michael’s champion lawyer who would cut down the witnesses and show us just how laughable their testimonies were.

I had the good fortune of watching Janet Arviso (the mother of the accuser) and I found myself along with media, and jurors laughing at her ridiculous claims. (Michael Jackson was evil and wanted to make them disappear by putting them on a hot air balloon. No, seriously. – Apparently they’d disappear in to thin air and no one would hear of them again? Wow Michael, you’re such a genius.) The entire time Michael just watched on, sometimes shaking his head, sometimes looking at the desk he was sitting at.

We would go to Neverland every day after court. (We got in to the court room 3 times on my 4th day I left early because I was sick.), on the way out-racing Michael Jackson’s car, winding down our windows screaming our support to his car window and waving frantically, showing our banners and trying to avoid car accidents.

It humbled my heart to see just how many fans were there from all over the world in support for him. We met fans from France, Sweden, UK, Spain, other U.S cities, Poland, etc.

In my time I had put together a special book for Michael that I had hoped that I could give to one of his security or someone working for him to give to him. It was a book of all the letters I had ever written him (the ones that I mentioned earlier that my Mum had promised to send had been found in a drawer when I moved away at about 16 yrs old, plus the ones I had kept writing). I also included photos of my friends and other Aussie fans, things I’d written about him in the past, and special little Michael Jackson projects I’d put together… The thing is, as a Michael Jackson fan you’ll know that he loves to receive personally made gifts more than material ones. He loves to collect banners and letters and cards and things, so I really felt like my idea would be original. You can see some of my book here.

At Neverland after the first day in Santa Maria, I managed to give him my book personally. It was heavy and he took it from me as I passed it through his car window, someone else helped him take it (his Mother) as I told him that we were there from Australia and he said thank you and God Bless Australia. Of course, the added bonus was him holding out his hand to me. I gave it a little squeeze and said “I love you.” And I felt him squeeze my hand back.

I stayed in Santa Maria for 12 days (Dorin could only stay for five) and had another chance to speak to him on my second last day. It was very brief but I got to hold his hand again and tell him, I was always supporting him no matter what. He said, “Thank you, God bless you.” And held my hand again. There were moments where we held banners for him just kms from his home where he slowed his car and had his father film us while he waved and smiled. (And gosh, how brilliant was it to see him still being able to find joy at a time like that.) and I never regretted a second of my trip, despite being told by others that I would.

The trial ended on June 13, 2005. As it loomed closer, my friends and I became more scared. It was around the time that I traveled overseas (but must I stress, not for this reason) that I began to find solace in God. I had been praying a lot over 2004 and 2005 for Michael Jackson, but I had begun praying then not for what I wanted, but for what God willed. I prayed not for him to be vindicated, but for the right result. It would be a lie to say that I wasn’t depressed. I thought about the outcome of the verdict constantly. I was stressed about it and felt really ridiculous for becoming engrossed in someone else’s life, but actually, I feel the same sickness for anyone who is about to lose their life for nothing. It just felt more personal because Michael has been like my best mate for the past 14 or so years, someone who’d make me smile; who’d help me escape just so I could bask in the bliss of his music and dance.

On the morning of June 13, at 5am I had a phone call from a friend telling me that the verdict was about to be read. We had a phone pool going. Guy called me, I called Anna, I called Val. We all got online. We waited. I prayed. I don’t know that I’ve ever prayed with such fervor in my entire life. I cried. I couldn’t feel my palms through the tingling. I felt like they would “get” him on something since the whole trial had seemed like such a set-up. Even the Judge seemed so ridiculously biased and throughout the duration of the trial, he had not granted one single motion that MJ’s team had made.

So, I prayed. With each count read out one by one, I thought about how Michael must have felt. I thought mostly about his children – what would they do without a father? Who would take them? How could they ever have a normal life? I cried and prayed for them. With each "not guilty” read, a flood of tears escaped my eyes and I prayed until I waited for the next one.

“Not guilty.” I praised God and prayed until all the counts had been read and found innocent. He was cleared of all 14 charges. Vindicated, proven innocent. We celebrated. We went out for dinner, we cried, we hung out it was just so brilliant that it was all over.

Of course there were many who said that just because he “got off” didn’t mean he was innocent – however, I always wondered that if he had been found guilty and sentenced to 26 yrs (or life) in prison, if anyone would have ever turned around and said, “Well that doesn’t really mean he’s guilty!” … The answer is a resounding no. And here’s why;

Michael Jackson isn’t your average Joe. He suffers from vitiligo, he has had plastic surgery, he doesn’t look “normal” like you or I, and apparently eccentricities and all those things are requisites of a guilty man. If Michael Jackson was a very normal looking man who did all the same humanitarian things he has done, if he was masculine looking and had striking good looks, the case would have been heckled out of court. It only went on as long and as dramatically as it did, because it was Michael Jackson and because of the stigma that has been attached to his name since day one.

I used to put Michael Jackson on pedestal and I idolized him, but I’ve realized that he is also human. He is a man, a very human one, with human feelings and emotions just like you or I. He isn’t a robot, there is only so much a man can take without being broken. He inspires me because he still to this day can walk with his chin held high and hasn’t changed one little bit despite the wicked words and continual ridicule.

To some people he might be just a weirdo, an eccentric freak who is now “washed-up” but my own; almost lifetime research has shown me (and thankfully lots of people who have been willing to listen to me) otherwise.

During the trial, at one point when I bought my very first bible, I opened it up looking for words of comfort and it was this passage that was the first one I looked at and it stayed with me until the end of the trial.
“But Look! God will not reject a person of integrity, nor will he make evildoers prosper. He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. Those who hate you will be clothed in shame and the tent of the wicked shall be destroyed.” – Job 8:20
Michael Jackson, to the world you might just be one person, but to this one person you mean the world. Thank you for everything you’ve given me – both directly and indirectly.

7 comments:

Michelle said...

It is great to hear another side to this story. You have certainly done your homework. Impressive!

Autrice DelDrago said...

I'm not a Michael fan, but your work is excellent! Job well done. Thanks for a good Sunday Scribble.

paris parfait said...

Wow! You ARE a big fan! I'm not, except of his early music. But you've done your research, resulting in a nice post.

Jessy said...

Honestly? Thank you guys for taking the time to read it :) I know not everyone is the Michael Jackson fan to say the least but it's really nice to have people at least listen without being rude about him =)

antonia said...

Hi Jess! Wow! What an honest post! You certainly have done a lot of research on him!! To tell the truth, I know nothing about MJ at all, so I can't comment!
God Bless
-x-

dorinny said...

This brought back some memories :) thanks for sharing babe. **hugs**

chrissy said...

abso-fucking-lutely.

That made tears come to my eyes.. it really did.
I haven't really thought about that for some time now, and you perfectly described all the emotions, worries and frustrations.

Wonderful writing, Jess :)