Once the dramatic moment passed when the jury announced that Michael Jackson was not guilty of the charges against him, the curious — I among them — have been waiting to see what clues he and his would be give as to his future.
What tone would MJ take on this, the first day of the rest of his life? to quote a phrase from the era when he stood astride the world of entertainment. We now have a couple of clues, one semi-positive, one appalling.
First the positive, downgraded to a notch because the words came from Jackson’s attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr., rather than from Jackson himself: On NBC’s Today Show this morning Mesereau stated that Jackson will not sleep with boys anymore. “He’s not going to do that anymore because of the false charges that were brought here. He’s not going to make himself vulnerable to this anymore.”
In a follow-up interview with AP, Mesereau added he is convinced Jackson “has never molested any child,” and he he believes that Jackson will continue to be “a convenient target for people who want to extract money or build careers at his expense.” As a result, the attorney said, Jackson will have to change his lifestyle and “not easily allow people to enter his life.”
That’s a reassuring (if totally Jacko-centric) statement, but would have been better coming directly from the subject himself. If Jackson wants to begin resurrecting his image, if he has any hopes of rebuilding a career in the United States, he has to accept responsibility for — at minimum — stupendously poor judgment and state that he has learned from his mistakes and will not repeat them.
Jury foreman Paul Rodriguez agrees that changes in behavior are critical. “We would hope first of all that he doesn’t sleep with children anymore and that he learns that they have to stay with their families or stay in the guest rooms or the houses or whatever they’re called down there. And he just has to be careful how he conducts himself around children.”
But the positives Mesereau accomplished, attenuated though they may have been, were more than negated by the triumphalism of Jackson’s first official statement after the trial, a celebratory video on his website (loading very slowly).
After a dramatic opening fanfare flourish, a screeen emblazoned with “Innocent” and a hand flashing a victory sign, the video segues into a montage of quotes proclaiming Jackson’s innocence and predicting his acquittal, interspersed with a calendar of historic events including “Martin Luther King is born,” “The Berlin Wall falls,” “Nelson Mandela is freed,” and then, most importantly of all, “June 13, 2005, Remember this date for it is a part of HIStory.”
I’ll be sure to do that because it is now clear to me that mankind — and its HIStory — was created specifically as a backdrop for the solipsistic sublimity that is Michael Jackson: not a hint of humility, a whiff of chastening, a zephyr of introspection, or an eddy of remorse.
Perhaps the tiger cannot change its stripes. The readers of MSNBC don’t seem to think so: currently they respond 65% in the negative to the question “Will Michael Jackson actually change his ways?”
Perhaps Jackson doesn’t care about his public image, want or need a career, or feel the need to reconnect with the world. That’s his business, but it is a sad and debased business for the man who was once the King of Pop and who was just given a third (or is it fourth) chance to start over again.