The Corner

The Michael Jackson Story Revisited

Over at the Wall Street Journal, Bill Wyman, formely of NPR, tells a different Michael Jackson story than the one we have heard and read about the last three weeks. The story that’s usually told is one of victimhood and unfair treatment. Take his memorial ceremony, for instance:

Marlon Jackson, one of the original members of the Jackson Five, gave this version of his late brother’s life at the memorial service: “Being judged, ridiculed — how much pain can one take? Maybe now, Michael, they will leave you alone.” The Rev. Al Sharpton got the crowd cheering with his litany: “He outsang his cynics, he outdanced his doubters, he outperformed the pessimists. Every time he got knocked down he got back up!”

But Wyman sees it differently:

People who care about Jackson and loved his music — I’m one of them — should acknowledge that Michael Jackson had exactly one mortal enemy on earth, and that was Michael Jackson. He apparently had some mildly embarrassing medical afflictions like vitiligo. But, far more significantly, he apparently suffered from a psychological condition that made him want to alter himself physically — ultimately beyond repair.


In the transfixing 2003 documentary “Living with Michael Jackson,” the star looks like nothing more than a latter-day Blanche DuBois, denying a sordid past and ultimately reality with a shake of his hair and a deranged titter. Jackson’s tragedy was almost entirely self-made. Even his complaints about the press ring hollow. It’s hardly sporting to complain about the dogs he unleashed for nosing around the spectacle he quickly became.

All of these realities are ignored by the victim talk. It’s a cover for a terrible waste, and a lost chance to reflect on how not to live one’s life. Michael Jackson was older than Elvis when he died, but he died the same way: alone with the one person who could have saved him.

The whole article is here.

Veronique de Rugy is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

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