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Friday, February 20, 2009

The good father

Michael Jackson was briefly mentioned in the last post. I've long had a theory about him, which is that his father Joe fed him female hormones to delay the onset of his puberty in order to extend the life of the cash machine known as the Jackson Five.

Some of you may remember, or may have seen videos, of the Jackson Five back in their heyday in the late Sixties. Michael was their front man from a very early age. He was an energetic, vigorous presence with a strong singing voice. Even at age nine, Michael absolutely owned the stage. It was amazing to see a prepubescent boy so talented and well trained at both singing and dancing.

The group had any number of great songs, back in the era when Detroit was producing great music (instead of rap): ABC, I Want You Back, The Love You Save, and many others. The Jackson Five faded, as pop groups do, and Michael emerged as a solo superstar, producing such albums as Thriller, widely thought to be the best-selling album of all time. After his first couple plastic surgeries he was, for a brief period in the 1980's, remarkably good-looking. I remember seeing the picture of him on the cover of Thriller and thinking, wow, a superstar who looks like that could get any girl he wants.

But even then, at the peak of his singing and dancing prowess, his voice was preternaturally high and his body abnormally skinny. Eddy Murphy, back in his stand up days, used to have a routine about Michael Jackson's famous "date" with Brooke Shields and how that must have gone. (The gist of it was that there couldn't have been any sex involved.)

Usually when a man grows up to be this effeminate, he shows signs of it in his early childhood. But Jackson showed none of those signs. He seemed a perfectly healthy little boy, robustly enthusiastic in his delivery and with a normal build. Even as a ten year old his voice was, if anything, deeper than it was when he was a grown man. (Check out a youtube video.)

The only thing I can think is that Joe Jackson wanted to keep the Jackson Five's sound intact, and so fed Michael estrogen in an effort to keep his voice from changing. Maybe Joe didn't realize the effect it would have on his son's sexuality; maybe he didn't realize the hormone's effects couldn't be reversed once puberty was past. Maybe Joe didn't realize that by doing this he would twist his son's psyche to the point that Michael could never get enough plastic surgery. Maybe Joe figured that with nine children, he could spare one.

Joe certainly hadn't shown any reluctance to abuse his children before. By all accounts he used to whip his young sons with a belt if they didn't perform up to his expectations during their endless rehearsals. Abused children almost always end up dysfunctional adults. And sure enough, Michael's eccentricities are legion, and have been a matter of public record for some time now. Some of them are obvious (and very sad) attempts to make up for a lost childhood.

In the end you have to have some sympathy for Michael Jackson; it's not his fault that he became the freak that he is.

From my point of view, it's reassuring to finally see a guy out there who makes me look good as a father.


Anonymous said...

I feel badly for the Jacksons, having had such an awful father. Their father is a sociopath, a creepy looking, abusive man.


John Craig said...

Birdie --
No question. Of course, he probably didn't get much good fathering in turn…..