Thursday 17 October 2019

The Jackson abuse revelations are the US and the world's Savile moment


Editorial Comment

True crime documentaries are a dime a dozen at the moment but the recent exposé of Michael Jackson's sordid 'hidden' life is a far more worthy exercise than the typical pot boilers that are increasingly clogging up viewing schedules.

Most viewers who watch the harrowing two part 'Leaving Neverland' documentary will find it hard to avoid the conclusion that Jackson, while an enormously talented performer, was also a predatory paedophile.

The documentary - one sided as it is due to Jackson's death almost a decade ago - is extremely well made and goes into often disturbing detail about Jackson's predatory behaviour and how it was masked by his eccentric public persona.

Both victims whose stories are told in the documentary provide harrowing and highly convincing testimony as to what happened to them at the hands of the singer.

That their individual stories - and the horrifying details of how they were groomed and abused - are so strikingly similar gives considerable weight to their allegations.

Given the level of Jackson's fame - the term 'megastar' barely does it justice - it was inevitable that his millions of fans worldwide would leap to his defence and lash out at his accusers.

Both men had, as children, given evidence in support of Jackson when he was on trial for the sexual abuse of another young boy and this has been seized upon as evidence that they are now attacking the dead musical icon for money.

As one commentator put it in recent days having watched the documentary, there are surely easier and far less painful ways to make a quick buck.

In the wake of the #MeToo movement - which has seen scores of alleged celebrity sex abusers' careers destroyed - it is striking that in this case it is the victims and their parents rather the attacker that are being assailed.

Certainly the men's parents have questions to answer but surely it is the man who is accused of sexually abusing children - and those who enabled and hid his crimes - that deserve the public's opprobrium.

It should be noted that other boys who knew Jackson - including child star Macaulay Culkin - have consistently supported Jackson and say that he never behaved inappropriately with them.

That's fair enough, but the fact that Jackson didn't abuse Culkin and others does not in any way prove that his accusers are lying.

The revelations about Jackson are deeply unsettling and it is hard to see a global icon - whose music is still widely adored - accused of such horrendous crimes.

In reality should we be that surprised? Like Jimmy Savile, Jackson seems to have hidden his crimes behind an eccentric facade.

Worrying rumours have long swirled around the singer but the press and public instead focussed on his 'Wacko Jacko' persona and his childlike affectations.

As unpleasant as it is, we must now reassess what we know about Jackson and take a long hard look at how he was allowed prey on children - in the full glare of the media - for so long.

This is the world's Savile moment and it is long overdue.

Enniscorthy Guardian