Thursday, July 9, 2009

Michael Jackson as a Daddy

Michael Jackson “King of Pop” died June 25 after an apparent heart attack. He was 50 years old. Through much of his life—and mine—Jackson was a world-wide phenomenon touching opposite ends of the spectrum: A musical genius, and a freak.

In the early 80s he had it all. Amazing dance moved, more chart-toping records than you could count and music adored by millions of fans around the word. I was a fan. A big fan.

Much speculation of child molestation in 2002 took over casting a shadow on the levels of fame he was able to accomplish for the 30 years prior. I personally have a zero-tolerance for that kind of sickening activity, but also am a true believer in the American justice system and so when Jackson was acquitted of any wrongdoing (even if a $20 million settlement had been paid to the family…more on that in a minute) I believed he was innocent.

In my opinion as a parent, I would not want one dirty red cent from someone who ruined the lives of my children. I would want revenge—suffering in prison, or worse. So when the accuser family settled for the millions, in my opinion, they also just settled and I do not believe any parent would just settle. The truth will lay with the two parties involved, and God.

So when Jackson died late last month, I was saddened but celebrated his life by sharing with my kids stories of Michael Jackson and even dancing to a number of favorites as his music was played for a 24-hour stint following his shocking death. I must say, I was shocked. An icon was dead. Part of my childhood was dead. Not to mention that Farrah Fawcett also died, another 70s icon for whom my two cousins and sister would mimic, reciting lines from the TV show Charlie’s Angels, and making our own “guns” from sturdy cardboard wrapped in aluminum foil.

At the end of the day, whatever people choose to believe, Michael Jackson was a musical genius. Someone who broke barriers to allow black artists music to be played on MTV, and someone who also was a humanitarian, opening his home and Neverland Ranch to thousands of ill and disadvantaged children who would otherwise not have a chance to have a childhood. These are the stories that are not told widely, and overshadowed by the evil speculations.

And now Jackson is gone and has left behind three children. The article below is probably the best article I’ve read thus far about Jackson as a father. And as parents, we can relate and all have a connection—like it or not.

Jackson's kids emerge from behind the veil
AP, Jul 7, 2009 8:00 pm PDT
For all the hasty preparations, hand-wringing over security, breathless media competition to scoop details and soul-wrenching performances, the essence of Michael Jackson's memorial service came down to 20 poignant, powerful seconds: the moment when 11-year-old Paris-Michael Jackson inched up to the microphone and, in a statement no one saw coming, referred to the late pop superstar as "Daddy."

It was a remarkably humanizing moment. Then again, it was remarkable just to see Jackson's three children in public to begin with.

A fiercely protective father, Jackson rarely brought his brood out into public, covering their faces in veils and party masks to protect their identity when he did.

Now here they were, unveiled, before an audience of thousands at Staples Center and millions more around the globe. Starting out seated in the front row, the three youngest Jacksons eventually joined the rest family onstage as the two-hour service wound to a close.
Dressed in the same dark suits and yellow ties as the rest of the Jackson men, 12-year-old Michael Joseph Jr., known as Prince Michael, chewed gum and toted the memorial service program; 7-year-old Prince Michael II, known as Blanket, held his program and clutched a Michael Jackson doll.

Paris, wearing a black dress with white trim, turned a small patent-leather purse over in her hands as other family members spoke. And then a dramatic hush fell over the crowd as family members whispered that the little girl, whose lifetime of public exposure amounted to a small handful of paparazzi photographs, Paris-Michael wanted to say something.
She furtively emerged from the tight circle of family members, who rushed to lower the microphone to her level. And with her uncle Randy on one side and aunt Janet on the other, Jackson's little girl stood center stage.

"I just wanted to say," Paris began weakly.

"Speak up, sweetheart, speak up," Janet encouraged, sweeping the girl's long hair back. "And get close."

Paris put one hand behind her neck, another on the microphone, and began again.
"Ever since I was born, Daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine," she said, her tiny voice cracking.

Rebbie and Marlon Jackson moved in closer to comfort their niece. She shut her eyes tight.
Then she wrapped her hands — little fingernails painted red — around the microphone and fought back tears as she continued: "And I just wanted to say I love him — so much."
She collapsed in tears into her aunt's arms.

"It's OK, baby. It's OK," Janet Jackson said as she held Paris close. Prince joined in on the hug.

And all at once, Jackson wasn't the larger-than-life King of Pop, or Wacko Jacko the tabloid freak. He was a doting father who had left three adoring young children behind.

He was "Daddy."