The news of Michael Jackson's death yesterday was met with shock and sadness. Of course, so much of the discussion became about his eccentricies in the later half of his life and the legal charges of child molestation brought against him twice. And he was, well, wierd. Was he guilty of those charges? I don't know. There are cases to be made both that he was and he wasn't. Only MJ, the boys and God know for sure. Sad either way. But another sad subplot to this story was MJ's physical abuse that he suffered at the hands of his father, Joe.
Joe was a retired steelworker who pushed his sons to perfection, often, apparently by threats of physical punishment. Many stations last night were reshowing previous interviews with MJ where he discussed the abuse. He was visibly effected by just discussing it. I have been reading some more reports today giving examples of that abuse. It just has me wondering just how much of that abuse caused his "wierdness". He obviously always longed for his missed childhood, and seemed to want to help other children have better lives. He always held a lot of resentment, anger and hostility towards Joe. Maybe it was the invisible scars of this abuse that led MJ down such a long, strange road in life.
How many men out there are dealing with similar trauma from their childhoods? Thankfully, my dad rarely laid a hand on me (maybe not enough) in discipline, but so many others had dads who took discipline well over the line into abuse. Time and again, without every comprehending the damage they were really doing. Just sad.
Michael Jackson, for all your quirks and the questions about your relationships with children, you did contribute so much art and talent to our cultural fabric and collective generational identity that you will be greatly missed. RIP Thriller.