He was a genius when it came to music and entertainment, but he was also human, like we all are. Unfortunately for him, Michael Jackson didn’t have the privacy or the space to work on his flaws and subsequently to grow with each lesson learned. Throughout the years, we have seen and read countless interviews that spoke of Michael’s kindness and caring. Watching This Is It, we saw how kind and gentle he was with those who worked with him, even when under intense stress, never treating them as inferiors but rather as collaborators.
This book can serve multiple purposes. For those who are avid tabloid readers, this book will definitely be a rich source of information you will be able to inject in future conversations about Michael Jackson. For intense fans, this book is an amazing look into who their idol was.
But for those of us who are concerned with the bigger picture of how a fairy tale can go so wrong, this book provides us with great insight into the relationship between an entertainer and his public, and how the two can feed each other negatively until both collapse.
Michael Jackson collapsed in an obvious way; and, upon reflection, it’s easy to see how the American and Canadian cultures have also collapsed. When more teenagers know about the relationship status of their favourite actors and singers than they do about the status of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, you know something is wrong.
It is largely due to Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s strong hand that this book doesn’t read as a tabloid, but rather as an exploration of how Michael Jackson’s relationship with his family, with fame, and with his fans affected him. While Boteach does express admiration for Jackson and acknowledges his massive contribution to pop culture and music, Rabbi Boteach never slips into a sappy form of adoration, neither elevating Michael Jackson to a deity nor abasing him as Satan’s minion.
By the same token, Rabbi Boteach doesn’t speak of Michael Jackson as only a victim or an evil manipulator; but rather he talks about Michael Jackson as someone stuck in an unhealthy system where artists are elevated to deities and thus considered more important than governance issues and war.
This book is definitely not for the faint of heart. If you can’t handle the truth (as seen by Rabbi Boteach, of course), then don’t pick it up. This book is certainly not for the adoring fan in self-denial, intent on seeing Michael Jackson as a saint. Nor is it for the hateful enemy, intent on seeing him as a sinner and nothing but. For like all humans, which was what Michael Jackson was, he had a good side and a bad one. We tend to only see Michael Jackson the star. This book is about Michael Jackson the man. We tend to classify people as bad or good; this book explores the shades of grey that defines all humans.