I’ve acknowledged that the current rift in the Jackson family is a sad situation. No argument here. But I never dreamed I would see the disturbing trend of people (whether they be MJ fans or neutral bystanders or haters) blaming innocent kids. That in itself is shameful enough, but for some fans to be doing it is just outright unforgivable.
Okay, we can say that maybe these kids need a firmer hand these days when it comes to running to Twitter with every little piece of family gossip. Teenagers need discipline and guidance. But whose responsibility is that, the adult or the child? Also, we could look at this another way as well. Just as some often say that the media doesn’t create the stories; they merely report them, then how can they point fingers at Paris and Prince for only reporting what they saw as a desperate situation? Again, if adults are behaving poorly or irresponsibly, let’s point those fingers squarely where they belong. The current disturbing trend I am seeing of some media stories, celebrities, and even fans who are bashing the kids for speaking out is very much akin to the parent who scolds their child for telling the school counselor on them. In such cases, the parent usually isn’t sorry for what they’ve done, but they are very, very sorry about being caught-and of the consequences they know will ensue. Thus, they blame the child, trying to make the child feel guilty when it is they themselves who should be looking in the mirror at their own actions. We live in a society that is incresingly encouraging children to be forthright about things that are going on behind closed doors, and is that not a good thing? But why are children often so reluctant to report abuse or even things that simply aren’t right? Bingo. Because kids who do so often end up being more victimized than if they had just kept their mouths shut. In this case, there seems to be a disturbing trend of adults attacking children, and for what? For speaking the truth? For reaching out in a situaton for which they were feeling helpless?
I’m not saying the kids were being abused, but certainly they were unnecessaily put through a very traumatic experience. In our culture, it is expected that a child’s welfare should come ahead of all other priorities-and, I am sorry, but that includes their adult family members’ right to privacy if the children’s welfare is being threatened. I know the kids weren’t exactly left “home alone.” Some stories were running wild that the kids were left without food or any adult presence whatsoever. Obviously, that was not the case. Yes, there was an issue over the staff being let go, including the cook. Yes, Katherine said she was concerned they weren’t eating healthy. But come on, they weren’t ever in danger of starving. These kids are far richer and more well provided for than probably you and I combined ten times over.
BUT, they are still children, and still prone to the same fears and insecurities as all children. All of the money in the world means nothing if you’ve lost the only security you ever knew, and now are seeing whatever fragile security you have left being threatened.
Actually, most of the media stories I’ve seen have been sympathetic to the children’s side. I think most reporters at least have the good sense to know that attacking children isn’t going to win them any points with the public. But the first rumblings I saw which hinted things might take a nasty turn for Michael’s kids was this article from Chicago News Report, which is really nothing more than a thinly veiled and contemptuous opinion piece. I would not even bother linking to it here, but the sole reason I am doing so is to help back up my justification for doing this post. Following the usual tabloid tactic of printing information from an “unnamed source” this trash article tries to make the claim that the reason Rebbie, Jermaine, Randy, and Janet went to such lengths was to actually protect their mother from Michael’s kids, who (according to the article) are the ones dishing out the abuse. (Come on, one of these children is a shy, ten-year-old boy! Just how ‘abusive” can he be?).
Of course, the idea of spinning Michael’s children as “spoiled brats” fits neatly into the paradigm of those who wish nothing better than to have the perfect excuse to project all of the hate and ridicule they can no longer heap onto their dad, onto them. This is nothing new. It goes all the way back to that day at the memorial when 11-year-old Paris made them all feel very guilty, if only for five minutes. Since then, they have looked for any excuse to try to make the children look bad-after all, the idea of Michael having raised three normal, smart, and well adjusted kids goes against the grain of everything they tried to accomplish.
But the fact is, everyone who ever knew Michael-who ever saw him interact with his children or met his children-complimented them on their wonderful manners and unspoiled attitude. Most people who ever saw Michael interact with his children actually described him-shockingly enough-as a strict disciplinarian and as someone who strove very hard to instill values in his children.
Listen to what Steve Harvey says in this video about Michael’s kids:
Kai Chase, who was employed as Michael’s personal chef during his last months, has also gone on the record to state what well mannered and thoughtful children Michael had raised. This was a note to her written by Paris:
And this was the “Box of Happiness” gifted to her by the children:
Not to mention, it goes without saying that there are many, many other such stories, all of which most fans are familiar. Over and over again, Michael Jackson’s three children have been described by everyone from employees to casual observers as amazingly well mannered and well behaved children, especially considering that they were the children of a world renowned celebrity. Now as to how much if any of that may have changed in the three years since his death-and especially since the kids have entered their teenage years-is hard to say.
But even if we give benefit of the doubt to some of these negative spins and assume that maybe the kids have become more headstrong and willful in their teen years-which is normal-does the responsibility fall on them, or-again-does it reflect on the adults in charge?
Michael instilled values in these children that will last with them a lifetime. But let’s not forget, he has been out of their lives for three years. When he died, he left three very impressionable children who were at a vulnerable age-and who still had a lot of growing up to do. Some people act like they expect them to be those same, sweet, adorable little toddlers that they were. They are not that, okay? They are teenagers. And yes-with all that that implies.
But aside from simply pinning blame on the obvious reasons-that these are Michael Jackson’s kids-what I see unfolding are really three reasons why some are turning on the kids.
The first is the issue of divided loyalty, and this is where you get people like Gladys Knight with her comment that Paris should have her teeth knocked out. The comment understandably raised a lot of ire in the fan community. Of course, upon actually watching the clip from Ms. Knight’s appearance on The View, I discovered that (as so often happens) those reports had been somewhat exaggerated and misleading. Gladys Knight didn’t exactly say that Paris deserved to have her teeth knocked out. What she actually says is, “If she [Paris]called me that, she wouldn’t have no teeth” which I suppose, when you get right down to it, is still saying the same thing even though it does change the context of the quote somewhat.
But here is the problem: Gladys Knight wasn’t there, and she herself is just going by media reports. What exactly did Paris allegedly call Janet? Does she even know, much less whether what she heard is even true? Also, seeing as how people like Gladys Knight do not know the whole story, it might do her and others like herself and Star Jones some good to refrain from making judgements-as Star herself seems to have acknowledged after much media backlashing:
Star Jones Clarifies Words For Paris Jackson, Michael Jackson’s Daughter
Star Jones feels that her concerns about Paris Jackson speaking out via Twitter have not been accurately represented in the media.
“Somebody PLEASE take @parisjackson phone! She’s a CHILD So STOP it,” Jones tweeted last week. “I have 8 aunts…and if I was “tweeting” our family info that’s being used for TABLOID fodder ONLY! They’d check me with a quickness,” she continued.
However, on Monday, Jones took to the social-networking site to clarify her feelings on the matter.
“Let me be clear: any child who is being emotionally and/or physically abused needs to shout it to the rooftops to people who can help,” tweeted Star, after getting backlash for her original remarks. “I DO NOT however believe that #twitter or any other social media is that forum for a vulnerable child. It is EXPLOITIVE and DANGEROUS…Exposing oneself to the scrutiny, criticism and evaluation of anonymous adults on social media does not help; in fact it can hurt tremendously.”
Jones clearly doesn’t like the response when she exposes herself to the scrutiny, criticism and evaluation of anonymous adults on Twitter, and now is arguing (via Twitter) that it’s not the right medium for a 14-year-old girl either.
“Social Media is not a place of safety, security or most importantly LEGAL RECOURSE for a vulnerable child; no matter how famous,” tweeted Star. “Don’t care if you like me or don’t like me…I have advocated for children and the law for over 25 years. That’s my agenda; WHAT’S YOURS?”
In a private message to me, Star made it clear that her only concern was the safety and privacy of Paris. May I suggest, Star, that you take the advice you give and step away from Twitter for a while?
Again, just because someone is an adult and older, doesn’t make them “right.” As I’ve said before, I don’t know the whole story here anymore than anyone else does-which is exactly why I’ve refrained from some of the more vicious anti-Janet, Jermaine, Randy and Rebbie bashing that I’ve seen elsewhere. However, Paris in turn at least deserves the same courtesy, if not moreso considering she is a child. Gladys Knight may come from that same Southern, old school style of discipline as Joe Jackson, but really, is going on TV and advocating physical violence against a minor child the wisest thing?
But here’s where the issue gets sticky, because as we know, Gladys Knight has been a very close and dear friend of the Jacksons for over forty years. She is credited for having discovered The Jackson 5. Here she is in an interview after Michael’s memorial, where she praises Paris for her speech:
And here Gladys Knight talks about her experience singing at Michael’s private service, and also mentions how well behaved his children are:
But just as I said in my previous post, the current situation with the Jackson family is causing divided loyalties. Gladys Knight loved Michael. But let’s not forget, she is also long time friends with the entire family, including Janet. Her position, as well as that of Star Jones and several others, reflects those of many old-time friends of the family, as well as those old school fans who grew up with The Jacksons and the Jackson 5. They may have loved or respected Michael, but their first loyalty is to the Jacksons as a family unit. Michael’s kids, in essence, are often simply looked on as “less than” or as “the others.”
Or in other words, when it comes to a showdown between certain members of the Jackson family and Michael’s kids, it seems some of these long-time “friends” are all too willing to throw Michael’s children under the bus. That sounds harsh, but it’s the reality.
And sadly, I half suspect that racism plays some hand in this-well, let me take that back. I know it. The celebrities aren’t going to come out and say it, of course. But just go on any forum or read the comments left on most any article written about this family drama over the last week. Inevitably, you are going to see a lot of snide posts in the vein of, “How DARE those white kids do this to the Jacksons!”
Um, excuse me. Those kids are Jacksons, too, no matter how light their skin is. What’s more, they are Michael’s children-legally and in every sense of the word.
Which brings me back to Gladys Knight and her comments. The fact is, yes, she may have been a very close friend of Michael’s and a long time friend of the family. But let me ask you this, especially all of you who are parents: If a friend went on national TV and talked that way about your child-saying they deserved to have their teeth knocked out-would you still be friends with that person? Trust me, Michael’s children came first in his life. If I know nothing else about him as pure fact, I know that much. And no, I don’t think he would appreciate in the least someone going on TV to say his daughter needs her teeth knocked out. Had that happened while Michael was alive, I can guarantee you there would be some teeth knocked out, all right-and it wouldn’t be Paris’s!
Well, some of the snideness and criticism might be understandable coming from haters, but what’s even more disheartening is seeing it within the fan community. Why on earth-when Michael made it very clear how much he loved and adored his children, and how they were the most important thing in his life-can some fans justify their current attitudes? Well, my theory is that some fans are so caught up in their hatred of the estate that they will condone most anything and any attempt to overthrow it-again, even if it means at the expense of throwing Michael’s children (the beneficiaries of his estate) under the bus. In short, they resent Prince and Paris for having (it seems) thwarted the plan by blowing the whistle on their aunts and uncles.
But let’s keep some things in perspective. These kids weren’t concerned about dollar signs or the estate or anything else people are attributing to them. They were concerned with where their legal guardian-their grandmother-was, and why they couldn’t talk to her.
I want to stress again that this isn’t about bashing the siblings. Like I continue to say, I don’t know the whole story. I’m just saying, however, that regardless of which “side” one takes, it is shameful and disgraceful to put the children at the center of it.
Fans who continue to say stuff like “You can’t be a fan of Sony/Branca and be a fan of Michael Jackson, it’s one or the other” need a reality check. Interesting that these are some of the same ones who advocate bashing Michael’s kids, but I’ll stop right there. I guarantee you, if it came down to an either/or between Sony and Branca or Michael’s children, do you really think there would be any contest as far as Michael was concerned? I think he would probably say in a heartbeat, “Screw Sony and the damned estate; don’t bad mouth my kids!” Do you think he would approve of people bashing his kids?
People may love their siblings, and I’m sure Michael loved his. But they will kill and die for their children.
First of all, I don’t know anyone who is a fan of Branca or Sony. I am a fan of Michael Jackson, and just because I may be neutral on some issues or not a screaming radical advocate for conspiracy theories doesn’t make me a fan of Branca or Sony, or any less of a fan of Michael Jackson.
And I’m gonna tell the story straight. The only either/or here is Michael’s children.
Either you respect his children, or you are not a fan. You bash his children, and you are not someone he would even want to call a fan. And that is the end of the story.
If you want to disagree with me, fine. But this issue is not up for debate as far as I am concerned.
Michael’s children were his top priority when he lived-not the Jackson family, not the estate, not Sony, nor anything else that people are so all consumed with. His children, of course, cannot be our top priority because we all have our own lives to live and our own families. But if nothing else, they deserve our respect, our compassion, and our sympathy. They have been through a lot in the last three years.
Yes, we can say they egged a lot of the drama on by turning to social media to air the dirty laundry. I would not deny that. But again, it all goes back to where it began. Who is really to blame here, the children for reacting to a traumatic situation, or the adults who created this situation to begin with?
Honestly, I don’t think it takes much brain power to figure that one.