The sense I get is that the general public is okay with the Michael Jackson “not guilty” verdict, not necessarily because they don’t think he did anything wrong, but because our system favors the accused and given the demonstrably variable character of virtually the entire lot of Jackson accusers, the “reasonable doubt” was basically built in to the verdict from the beginning.
In addition, my guess is that there is an underlying understanding that a guilty verdict might have literally been a death sentence for the frail and fading former King of Pop, who it has now been revealed went straight to the hospital after the “not guilty” verdict was announced. Had he been incarcerated he might have never recovered and withered away like Karen Carpenter, trapped in a cell rather than a closet.
But just because the public didn’t want to see Jacko executed for his questionable behavior with young boys, nor did they come away from his trial with anything but a profound sense of distaste, aversion and sadness due to the lifestyle, proclivities, attitudes and bizarre combination of vast ego and self-destructiveness revealed in the trial for the entertainer who once stood astride popular culture.
Objectively backing these admittedly sweeping conclusions are the stark sales figures of Jackson’s latest release, the career-spanning 2-CD set The Essential Michael Jackson, which despite its litany of genuine musical treasures covering a 35-year period, sold just 8,000 copies in the US in its first week of release, reaching number 128 on the Billboard album chart. Contrast these figures to the 436,000 copies the number 1 album, the Now 19 compilation, sold this week.
Of course, the fact that this is Jackson’s third hits package in just the last two years is an important factor in these astonishing figures, but simply the presence of so many great songs in one place would seem to mathematically ensure a certain level of popularity. But the American public isn’t much taking artistic quality into account by this stunning shunning of a former icon.
This does not bode well for Jackson’s future career in the US, and even in the UK, where the Essential collection fared much better, debuting at number 2, British PR wizard Max Clifford told the BBC that he turned down Jackson’s request to take him on as a client.
“He came to me a month ago and I turned him down,” Mr Clifford said. “It would be the hardest job in PR after Saddam Hussein and I would be astounded if he could turn things around. People were extremely offended by even some of the things he admitted in court. The final judgement is with the record buying public and they have made their verdict clear.”