by a guest contributor
Annette* sits at her computer, staring intently at the screen. She is searching through her database of pages from the Wayback Machine, an Internet database of defunct and past web pages, to find a piece of information that will definitively prove the vast conspiracy against Michael Jackson which continues even after his death.
While I am waiting for this earth shattering information which will change the way we look at Jackson forever, exonerating all thoughts of his alleged child molesting, I look around the trailer Annette shares with her husband, her adult daughter, and a rather yappy Newfoundland puppy. If the rather unique combination of musty bric-a-brac, human body odor and puppy shit bothers Annette she certainly doesn’t show it, but I need some fresh fresh air so I excuse myself.
I step outside, leaving the trailer filled with it’s jumble of clothes, musty papers, books and Michael Jackson paraphernalia. It is a fine North Dakota evening, the air laden with summer smells of freshly mown grass and distant barbeques, and I take a moment to consider how I ended up listening to a very earnest 58 year old woman blaming everybody but Jackson himself for his own foibles, indiscretions and downfall.
For years I noticed that every time I read an even slightly negative story on the web about Jackson, the comments below the story started off quite normal, people discussing the story at hand, but shortly after being punctuated with dramatic comments from Jackson fans berating the media for lying about Michael Jackson, or saying the source for the article was lying for money, was jealous of Michael Jackson, or that the website in question was a tabloid. I decided I wanted to find out why these four themes kept reoccurring as they did.
Igo back inside. Unfortunately the smell has not improved. Annette triumphantly shows me a long forgotten web page about Jordan Chandler, Jackson’s first accuser who was paid over fifteen million dollars by Jackson for agreeing to withdraw a civil suit over molestation. See, Annette says, see that? I read the page, a purported interview between Jordan and his psychologist, and fail to see anything remarkable that would make anybody less suspicious of Jackson. I ask which part specifically, and Annette jabs her finger at the screen, there, there!
I still don’t see it, but I just mumble uh huh, uh huh so I don’t get another 10 minute diatribe about yet another person slash group who is part of this conspiracy against Jackson, (so far Annette has implicated the Santa Barbara Police, the former Santa Barbara District Attorney Tom Sneddon, the media in general and several reporters in particular, the Sony Corporation, disgruntled ex employees, an obscure Chilean author, a shadowy group of organised pedophiles without a name – as well as the North American Man Boy Love Association – NAMBLA, several people who have brought lawsuits against Jackson for plagiarism, the parents of boys (who she says were never molested by Jackson) who were extortionists – with a heavy, loathe ridden emphasis on the last word, as well as several more names I wasn’t quite quick enough to write down on this alarmingly lengthy roster of conspirators.
Instead, I ask why do you need to use the Wayback Machine? Annette answers because THEY are removing pages from the Internet which prove Michael Jackson is innocent. I dare not ask who they are.
Once my interest was piqued about all those strident comments and where they were coming from, I discovered many very active websites in support of Jackson. Ranging from blogs to forums to normal websites , they all serve a single minded purpose – to rehabilitate the image of Jackson and to prevent further sullying of his name. For the first target they rewrite negative stories about Jackson and attempt to put a positive spin forward. For instance, to counter the common view (supported by the evidence) that Jackson was never really interested in sexual relationships with women, they contend that Jackson kept his dozens of amorous affairs and assignations with attractive and available women a secret out of respect for their privacy; stories fans support by cobbling together rumors and random posts on message boards from people in the know.
For the second part there is a two pronged process, which surprised me. The first prong is the mobilization of the troops – which occurs as soon as a negative story is published. On Michael Jackson blogs and websites, as well as the Twitter and Facebook timelines of influential Jackson fan community members, there will be a brief outline of the article, a statement of outrage, and a call to arms. Fans are directed to invade the comments section of the article with missives such as those discussed earlier – the lies and money retorts – to shout down the haters posting in the comments. Not only that, they also direct complaints to the editors of the site or publication in question, the executives of the media company that posted the story and any organizations such as the Media Council responsible for the reporters or media company. To make things helpful, the Jackson fan community organizers even supply a handy list of email contacts so that fans can contact the offenders against Jackson’s memory directly.
The second prong is the immediate publication of blog posts or web pages discrediting the source of the story, the reporter who wrote the story, and the media company who published the story. If there is no information available which will help with the process to discredit, some minor fact is embellished, taken out of context or worse, something terrible is invented in order to make the attack.
This behavior puzzled me greatly – after all, we are talking about a dead pop star – until I did some research into cults. It was interesting to compare the Jackson fan base to what has has been written about cults, and the startling similarities. At the end, you will agree Jackson’s fan base is more than a harmless fan club.
One of the hallmarks of cults is the infallibility of the the figurehead or leader. Their words, whether written or spoken, are considered gospel, and anybody who disagrees with them either does not understand or is trying to undermine the group or leader. Let’s look for a moment at what Janja and Tobias Lalich say about cult leaders (in bold).
Cult leaders have an outstanding ability to charm and win over followers. They beguile and seduce. They enter a room and garner all the attention. They command the utmost respect and obedience.
Every Michael Jackson fan I spoke to emphasized Jackson’s charisma, how all eyes went to him as soon as he entered a room (or indeed, appeared on stage). Fans spoke of Jackson as if they loved him – not just some kind of distant, oh I love him kind of thing, but an intense I would do anything for him, he deserves all of me kind of love. (Yes, it was creepy to hear that). They respect Jackson totally, and find it somewhat weird or crazy that everybody doesn’t feel the same way.
These are “individuals whose narcissism is so extreme and grandiose that they exist in a kind of splendid isolation in which the creation of the grandiose self takes precedence over legal, moral or interpersonal commitments.”
It’s well known that Jackson cared naught for societal mores or morals when he spent the night alone with children, evaded debts, broke contracts and disconnected from his family. Fans themselves will admit that Jackson continued sharing his bed with young boys, even when it had nearly ruined his reputation and cost him over twenty five million dollars, because he saw nothing wrong with the practice. Jackson’s narcissism was evident in the paintings, statues and photos of himself that were a prominent feature of his home – many pieces depicted him as royalty, some showed him being knighted, or wearing a crown. Yet fan doublespeak insists Jackson was a humble man.
Paranoia may be evident in simple or elaborate delusions of persecution. Highly suspicious, they may feel conspired against, spied upon or cheated, or maligned by a person, group, or governmental agency.
Jackson’s paranoia against the press and law enforcement was legend, displayed clearly on his songs such as D.S. and Tabloid Junkie and in his disdain for the media in general. In a recorded telephone conversation presented to the court Jackson also railed against Jewish people over them supposedly controlling his career (far from the truth), and was generally hostile to anybody who criticized him (especially staff who spoke the truth to him). He contended that people didn’t understand him. Of course what he meant when he said he was misunderstood was that people disagreed with his point of view, which in his mind was an attack – leading to the next point:
Any real or suspected unfavorable reaction may be interpreted as a deliberate attack upon them or the group.
Applying especially to Jackson. Jackson did not take criticism well, rejecting it outright or maligning the person criticizing him, as fans continue to do in his name to this day.
I‘m starting to see a pattern. This is kind of strange – could I be seeing a Cult of Michael Jackson? I need to dig further. After more research, I discover questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged in cults. That makes sense to me. Many of our questions on some of the fan forums were deleted within minutes of posting. Some Jackson forums are explicit in their censorship, banning all mention of particular topics on their boards (the DNA of his children, the molestation allegations, certain people’s names). A large group of fan blogs merely reference one independent source and each other to build stories, rather than several independent sources. One fan lieutenant suggests fans only read approved fan sites, rather than established media, so that they aren’t exposed to lies. Anyone who suggests Jackson was not infallible is harassed and ostracized – even those who personally knew Jackson and spent a considerable amount of time with him. It is quite clear that there is a story and that story must be stuck to at all costs.
After another hour with Annette, I feel exhausted, and to be honest my brain feels like it has been attacked with a sledgehammer. In order to drive home her many (many!) points she has gotten very close to me, and it seems as if my aura is heavily damaged – if I believed in auras that is. As it is, I have felt her breath heavily on my face as she tried to close the deal of convincing me of the massive conspiracy against Jackson, which is just sitting and waiting to be disseminated so that his reputation can be exonerated. The media won’t tell the truth because they can’t make money off it. I hope you can help us publicize the truth and finally vindicate Michael, Annette implores me. I tell her I will try try and do my best (while I try to unremember her mild halitosis), and as I put the car in reverse to leave, she grabs my arm through the car window, and pleads Michael was such a good man, he could never be guilty of those things they say he was.
I want to believe her. I really do. I really, really do. I’m just having a hard time believing a man of great power and resources, like Jackson, couldn’t have stopped something like this in it’s tracks if it weren’t true. I have to consider that Jackson had the same lawyer as Tom Cruise, Bert Fields, who sued and won against any media company that even hinted Cruise had homosexual tendencies. Jackson could have killed all this very, very quickly.
I’m now on my way south to see Robin, who Annette has suggested I visit in my quest to understand what I was now beginning to believe to be The Cult Of Michael Jackson.
When you ask most fans why they are fans, it is rarely just about the music. All of them say they love his music, but there is always something more. He was the best entertainer. Maybe he was such a humanitarian, or he was such a kind person. Sometimes he saved my life. Most say they love him. What about the allegations? I ask. Every fan insists he was innocent. It’s strange to hear those words from a group of people who believe either that the United States court system is infallible (he was found Not Guilty!), or that there is no concrete proof that Jackson ever did anything (a sure telltale sign of those who have been exposed to too many CSI shows on television, and believe that if there is no DNA or other forensic evidence then a crime never happened). Some even insist there is evidence that proves Michael Jackson is innocent! Unless it is closed circuit footage of Jackson exhibiting exemplary behavior while sharing a bed with a succession of prepubescent boys, quite frankly that is bullshit and nobody with an ounce of intelligence is going to buy that.
Who should we believe? Those who stand to make a lot of money if they can successfully bury Jackson’s misdemeanors, or those who are simply speaking the truth but have nothing to gain? Like members of other cults, the dedicated fans can’t even see they are being used to make money.
Itravel all the way to Georgia to meet Robin. She lives alone in a small house, with surprisingly little Michael Jackson memorabilia in her living room. She appears quiet and intelligent and has quite an expansive knowledge about Jackson. After reading her blog and talking to her in person though, it doesn’t take long to find out that she is also a believer of the conspiracy against Michael Jackson. As she explains this vast conspiracy to me she becomes more and more animated, making strange staccato hand movements to emphasize this point or that while her eyes start shining brightly as she explains all the connections between those behind the plan to bring Jackson down and the actions that they took. It is very convoluted, so I needed to refer to my notes and recording of the conversation later in order to accurately bring this conspiracy to you. The conspiracy had three plans of attack – firstly to unfairly paint Michael Jackson as a pedophile using young boys to lie about Jackson molesting them, (with disgruntled former employees and associates and the boys’ parents contributing), so that Jackson could be held up by pedophiles as a positive public face for child molesters; secondly to steal Michael Jackson’s fortune, or to hobble his attempts to earn money; and lastly for the media to make money using Michael Jackson’s name in invented stories.
It starts with Jackson suffering a horrific childhood, being forced to sing, dance, practice and perform, day in and day out, receiving regular beatings from his father if he didn’t toe the line. He missed out on all the normal childhood activities such as ball games, playing with friends and, because of his mother’s religion, even birthdays and Christmas.
When he became an adult, he wanted to recapture his childhood, so he started befriending young boys. There was no sexual interest on Jackson’s part, he just wanted to play games, eat candy and have fun. To further his quest he purchased Neverland and filled it with amusement rides, arcade games, an Indian teepee village, a water park and all manner of things to keep his young guests happy. He had two kinds of visitors, hundreds if not thousands of underprivileged children who were bussed in for fun days at Neverland, and families he would invite to spend days or even weeks at his home. The former he had very little contact with, the latter he enjoyed many intimate moments with. Usually the children in the families that visited his home asked if they could sleep with Jackson and the parents usually acquiesced while Jackson reluctantly agreed.
Then one day, a Chilean journalist, who was a secret member of the North American Man Boy Love Association (NAMBLA), Victor Guiterrez, heard about Jackson’s sleepovers with children and decided he would capitalize on the situation. He heard that a young boy, Jordan Chandler – then Michael Jackson’s favorite – spent a lot of time alone with Jackson. Guiterrez approached the boy’s father and they formulated a story that would further Guiterrez’s aims of making pedophilia while making the father rich. The father, using information from Guiterrez, would teach Jordan to lie about Jackson abusing him, and they would sue Jackson for child abuse.
The father was successful, in spite of the accusations being carefully crafted lies, and the family received over twenty million dollars. Jackson’s insurance company paid the claim because they didn’t want to fight the case. Jackson had no control over the outcome.
Guiterrez then approached more parents of other boys to try to get them to attempt the same scam on Michael Jackson. He was successful with a maid who had worked at Neverland, and whose son spent time alone with Jackson. She approached Jackson’s lawyers, said her son had been fondled, and Jackson paid her two million dollars not to go forward with a civil suit.
Jackson’s current accusers, Wade Robson and James Safechuck Junior, also have a secret cabal of pedophiles backing them, teaching them what to say to make their abuse claims more believable. Not only that, Robson and Safechuck’s attorneys are working closely with the media so that particular websites and publications can profit from clicks on their pages or sales of their newspapers or magazines by planting stories about Jackson.
Secondly, Michael Jackson was constantly surrounded by leeches and shady characters who tried to involve themselves in his life so that they could take money that was rightfully his. Jackson was naive and trusting, a babe in the woods who didn’t realize people were trying to steal from him, and he trusted all those who crossed his path.
Lastly, the media. They specifically target Jackson, and no other celebrity, with false stories and gross invasions of privacy so that they might profit from using his name. Robin gave me several subjects – the bias against Jackson during the 2005 trial, their reporting regarding his friendships with young boys, and his drug abuse – and many examples of negative stories about Jackson from tabloids. Some of them were indeed very biased and inaccurate.
Afew weeks later I email Robin with what I wrote above, asking if that is an accurate representation of what she told me. In a lengthy reply she agreed that it was, but also asked me to include that several items were planted at Neverland by them so it would look like Jackson enjoyed looking at the bodies of naked boys. Them who? I replied. The people who wanted to take Michael Jackson down of course. He was the real victim in all of this.
Yes, you read that correctly. A powerful figure in the entertainment industry, with virtually unlimited financial resources and the best security, attorneys and advisers that money could buy, was one-upped by a dentist, a poor Chilean reporter, and a maid who could barely speak English.
You aren’t the only one, I was stunned too.
Naturally there are a few more holes in this story. Michael Jackson’s brothers suffered equally, yet never felt the need to share their bed with young boys. You also need to ask yourself, did Jackson really miss out? In a book by his childhood friend, Jackson appears to have led a carefree and fun time, at least up until the age of eleven when his family moved away from Gary Indiana. After that, even Jackson himself has spoken how awesome it was to see his heroes – such as James Brown – up close and performing, and traveling the world experiencing many magic moments. Jackson seemed to be so impressed with his boyhood experiences that he replicated them for his young friends decades later, taking boys such as Brett Barnes and Frank Cascio on tour with him. The truth is that the lost childhood excuse was just that, an excuse to make his behavior with young boys seem plausible – and only appeared once he was taken to task for that behavior.
As for the media’s role in supposedly attacking Michael Jackson, one major news publisher I spoke to summed up what many other journalists told me – It’s ridiculous. No matter how many positive stories we have about Michael Jackson, no matter how careful we are to be balanced, as soon as we post a story which reflects negatively on him we receive a torrent of abuse. Our reporters personally, and our publication generally, receive all kinds of threats, are accused of being a tabloid and being unreliable, and the most laughable accusation of all, that we are profiting from Jackson’s name. The honest truth is that stories about Jackson aren’t that popular – people are more interested in current artists – so we receive very few clicks on these stories. They are only there to add to the breadth of our publication.
In all honesty, any objective analysis of contemporary, and even past, news reports about Jackson present a mixed bag – much like his life. There are stories lauding his achievements and stories decrying his failures in equal volumes – and in both cases there are fabricated stories and real stories. Stories from reputable news sources are fair and balanced overall, stories from less reputable publications less so. Sure, if you want to look at salacious news sources there are some terrible stories about Michael Jackson – but if you form your whole view based on those publications, chances are you believe Saddam Hussein owned WMDs, and that the Twin Towers attack was an inside job too. You are welcome to your opinions.
Why would the media wish to attack Michael Jackson specifically? There aren’t many concrete answers from the Cult. Various forms of jealousy and racism is often proffered as reasons, but the evidence just doesn’t support those theories. More likely is that Jackson was a celebrity, and was dragged into that cesspool of low class tabloid reporting for that reason alone. Every other celebrity was, so why would Jackson be exempt? Once again the Cult imagines that Jackson is somehow special or should be excluded from the same treatment as every other celebrity. It borders on irrational, and shows that for many Jackson fans, Michael should be held up as a deity.
The final hole is the accusation that Jackson would be held up as some kind of poster boy for pedophilia. Once again, the implied deification continues. Are fans so deluded to think that while proven charges of pedophilia surely destroy every celebrity and non-celebrity in their path would, as soon as they reached Jackson, suddenly turn into some kind of recommendation or endorsement just because it’s Michael Jackson? Whilst most can see the breathtaking arrogance in that stance, Jackson fans continue to push the idea as some kind of motive to show Michael Jackson was a pedophile. More on the pedophilia thing later.
If the Cult of Jackson members can really entertain that there was a conspiracy to destroy Michael, and they were being honest, they should equally consider that there was a conspiracy of silence that surrounded him. It’s no secret that journalists investigating Jackson over the years were threatened. One journalist had a dead fish with a threatening note attached to her smashed windscreen after starting research on a story about Jackson. Another received threatening emails after writing an unfavorable story about Jackson.
Today attacks on social media are rampant against any reporter who dares write an unflattering story on Michael Jackson. These attacks come from frightening fans, some of whom even threaten death. They are reported and removed from social media, only to pop up again under a different guise to threaten again. As one journalist said You can’t talk sense to Jackson fans. I used to try but it didn’t work – now I just block and report them straight away. Sometimes this just makes them even madder, and they up their threats, so I have to contact law enforcement. One was local so they were dealt with by the police, but most of them get away with it. I’m expecting one of these rabids to show up at my door one day – but I’ll be ready for them. I hate saying it like that, but I’ve had enough.
The effect of this harassment is clear – journalists are becoming reluctant to write honest stories and articles about Michael Jackson, not necessarily out of fear but because they are becoming weary from the torrents of abuse directed at them by fans. Those journalists that do continue, in spite of the vitriol directed at them, deserve to be lauded.
This vile harassment isn’t just limited to journalists, it is directed at anyone who speaks negatively (in fans’ eyes) about Jackson or his followers. Forum contributors, opinion writers and blog owners are constantly berated and belittled by an army of Jackson fans, where it gets to the point that very few people are willing to give an opposing view of Jackson. Bombarded with fan site links, ridiculed for their opinions, and having their motives constantly questioned takes it’s toll to the point that these people just give up. Fans take the view that this is a game of winners and losers, so if they achieve their goal of subduing a critic of Jackson, they have won. Rather, they have contributed to silencing a differing point of view on Jackson by foul means – and when we once again look at one of the hallmarks of cults we see: The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify whatever means it deems necessary. This may result in members’ participating in behaviors or activities they would have considered reprehensible or unethical before joining the group. It’s quite obvious that fans would not normally attack someone for having a different opinion over anything but Jackson, so we can add that to our evidence of there being a Michael Jackson cult.
Worse still is the hysterical hatred directed at Jackson’s six accusers. Death threats, stalking, invasions of privacy, and constant attacks over social media are the weapons of choice for Jackson fans. They are relentless, yet Jackson fans show how disingenuous they are when they ask, without any hint of irony, why don’t more accusers come forward? It’s quite clear that Jackson fans are attempting to silence anybody who doesn’t share their view that Jackson was some kind of god, who could never do anything wrong, through harassment.
One of the enduring themes from talking to the strident Jackson defenders, and even casual fans, was their emphasis on the motives of the prosecution witnesses in Jackson’s 2005 molestation trial, which also implied similar motives for those involved in Jackson’s other 2 payouts in 1993 and 1994. It was, up to a point, interesting that they had minutely studied the testimony and actions of the prosecution witnesses that had appeared. What surprised me was their lack of scrutiny of the defense witnesses. In almost every case, these were people who were either employed by Jackson, were friends of Jackson, had gained financially from Jackson, or had a heightened sense of loyalty towards Jackson because he had helped them significantly in some way. If one wants to attribute negative attributes to witnesses because of their connections, in all fairness it should be applied equally to all witnesses for their connections. Naturally witnesses for the defense had a personal stake in keeping the status quo – where Jackson was a free man, found not guilty, and could continue contributing to their well being. This point was never addressed on any of the fan sites I visited. Needless to say, forum posts or blog comments raising the issue were quickly deleted.
It does show that there is evidence of a conspiracy of silence related to Jackson that could be further explored. There may be a later article on that – the theory is merely presented here to once again show that the Cult Of Michael Jackson discourages questioning, doubt and dissent.
Another thing is certain too – like many other cults, the Cult of Michael Jackson has a polarized us versus them mentality. Jackson fans have their own name for anyone who questions Jackson in any way – they are an MJ Hater. It’s not hard to become an MJ Hater – merely question any aspect of Jackson’s behavior (such as sharing his bed with prepubescent boys) and that’s it, you are in the club. In fact, I expect to be a fully paid up member merely through the publication of this article.
On the other hand, if you praise Jackson profusely, admire and respect him totally, and speak good things about him often enough, you become a member of the opposite extreme – the MJ Fam (short for Michael Jackson Family). Once you are an member, you are recognized as a Soldier for MJ and you’ll be granted exclusive access to hidden forums, password sealed websites and protected Twitter accounts of the Jackson fan elite.
Someone who has been there, just to see if they could, said It’s not very exciting. You get to see even crazier theories about MJ, and if you question any of it you are thrown out, as I was. I didn’t last long!
As we have seen, being a part of MJ Fam also means being ready to attack those who question Jackson in forums, comments, and on social media. At all costs, the haters must be kept at bay. A common tactic in cults, it is called demonizing the other, where those who disagree with the group’s goals and ideology are made to look somehow evil, they are somehow different, immoral, inhuman.
By dehumanizing others, an entire group can be viewed as less than human, as lacking any moral standards, as having no conscience. We see this demonizing, directed at various groups, constantly in the media, and it is common in wars and territorial or political disputes to make the other side appear subhuman – but until now it’s never happened on such a large scale over the reputation of a deceased celebrity. However, demonizing of those who question Jackson seems the only way that Jackson fans seem, in their minds, to take the higher moral ground. They are, after all, defending a man who slept with young boys, so the best defense against attacks on this doubtful morality is to make it seem that those opposed to them are even morally lower. Thus the nasty attacks and attribution of questionable motives on others. This is how the pedophile conspiracy was posited.
For those who say they are vehemently opposed to pedophiles, there is heavy irony displayed when cult members are attempting to defend Michael Jackson. The terms used could be out of a pedophile defense guidebook:
- Why can’t adults and children be friends?
- If the child says it’s OK, why can’t they share an adult’s bed?
- Just because an adult and a child slept together doesn’t mean the child was molested.
- If the child says nothing happened, even after they’ve grown up, that means nothing happened.
- It’s not against the law to take a child to bed.
- It’s OK because there was no sexual interest.
- If someone was abused they would never have any praise for their abuser.
- You have a dirty mind if you believe anything untoward about a man sharing his bed with unrelated children.
To any objective outsider, Jackson fans are giving succor to those who wish to harm our children, making it clear that Jackson’s behavior is to be condoned. There are others that will engage in identical behavior and go on to molest children yet use these same defenses, if not to a court of law then to parents or other concerned people, and point out that they are just like Michael Jackson and it’s all innocent, so it is perfectly acceptable.
This is the greatest danger if the Cult of Michael Jackson were allowed to flourish -giving a veneer of credence and acceptability to behavior that will lead to child molestation. We can’t allow that for our children, the most vulnerable members of our society.
While people like Annette, Robin and their cohorts may in turn seem comical, pathetic, desperate or just plain silly, they are in actual fact promoting inappropriate adult to child relationships.
Your point of action is clear. Don’t allow Jackson fans to discourage you from speaking out about child safety issues, and ignore their attacks. If it were someone other than Michael Jackson, they would be aghast at his behavior. Remind them of that.
*Names have been changed in this article