This will be the last reprinted installment from the series. From here on out, “Michael From Head To Toe” will be new entries all the way!
I actually hadn’t thought much about Michael’s ears, but they are the next logical step on our journey and…well, why not? Without the ears that enabled him to hear the beautiful sounds of music, he would never have been able to create his own. Maybe because he spent so many years hiding his ears behind all those long, luscious locks; maybe because they never appeared to be a particular stand out feature; for whatever reason, I simply hadn’t given them much thought.
But I do know a crazy tabloid rumor had persisted for years, and which I continue to hear in certain circles. That is the urban myth that an operation had been performed to remove cartilage from his left ear in order to “rebuild” his nose. As recently as June of 2009, just a few weeks before his death, the tabloid press was aswirl with the rumor of a pic that claimed to “show” the mutilated ear. Interestingly enough, though almost every medialoid outlet picked up and pasted the story of the “mutilated ear” only a few, such as The Daily News, actually showed the photo in question-the photo supposedly responsible for all the uproar. I’m not even going to bother posting the link, which is just tabloid garbage. BUT let’s have a look at this photo in question, and dissect it:
Notice that the photo is not from a particularly clear angle. With so much hair still covering the left ear, it would be hard to say if this is definitive “proof” that he lacked a left ear lobe. To really get to the truth, we would need to do two things. 1: Look at comparable, earlier photos to see if he had a clearly defined left ear lobe then, and 2: Look at other photos of his left ear from this same timeframe to determine if they are consistent with the claims and with this photo.
I began going through my vast collection of MJ photos to see what might be revealed. I was looking specifically for photos where his left ear was revealed, and at different periods of his life.
In the above childhood pic, taken when Michael was probably about twelve or thirteen years old, you cannot see a full view of the left ear thanks to his thick Afro, but you can clearly see the left lobe. It’s obvious even here, in childhood, that he never had a fully defined ear lobe. Also, it looks to me (at least judging by some photos) that Michael may have had attached, as opposed to free ear lobes (the kind that are more obvious because they hang down from the ear). This is what wikpedia says about attached vs. non-attached ear lobes:
Whether the earlobe is free or attached is a classic example of a simple genetic dominance relationship; freely hanging earlobes are the dominant allele and attached earlobes are recessive. Therefore, a person whose genes contain one allele for free earlobes and one for attached lobes will display the freely hanging lobe trait
Obviously, attached ear lobes are less common than free ear lobes, and can easily give the appearance to an untrained eye of an ear that is malformed or “missing” its lobe.
Now let’s look at some other examples of Michael’s left ear, the one in question. Contrary to what most of these stories were claiming, we saw Michael’s ears quite frequently, even in his last decade.
This Is It certainly offered ample opportunities to observe, for those of us paying close enough attention. At no time did I ever see any evidence of maligned ears.
The photos clearly and consistently show that his left ear did not look significantly different at any period of his life, either before or after the alleged cartiledge removal.
To be fair, a few comparison photos at the time did attempt to show the difference, as in these comparison photos here:
But the only thing really “proven” here is that the lobe on the right does look a bit thinner. Also, the original caption for this collage mistakenly refers to the photo on the left as a “Young Michael Jackson ear.” Hardly the case, as this is clearly a late 90′s era photo-meaning it could not have been taken that many years prior to the photo in question. Also, as previously noted, it’s clearly obvious that in the right photo, the ear is bent at an angle, perhaps either from the surgical mask he was wearing, or if he happened to be wearing a wig at the time (which we now know that he did in later years, due to lupus and hair loss). At any rate, this bent angle is what “appears” to give the ear its rather bizarre, elfish appearance, which the tabloids then ran with. However, even if we can allow the fact that the lobe in the right photo does appear a bit thinner than in the left photo, it is still hardly definitive proof that he was missing the lobe completely, or that surgery (to rebuild his nose or for any other purpose) was the reason. This was a classic case of tabloid writers taking one photo and running wild with unfounded speculations. There were even crazy headlines such as this one in Gossipbeast, claiming “Michael Jackson’s Ear Is Nearly Gone” http://www.gossipbeast.com/?p=2023 while showing this same photo-a photo clearly showing a fully intact ear with nothing “missing” and no remarkable qualities other than the same attached, weakly defined earlobe as described above. It’s sad to know this was one of the last stories being circulated about him just two weeks before June 25th!
Also, if Michael had been missing ear cartiledge, this most assuredly would have been mentioned in his very accurately detailed autopsy report. The only mention of anything at all out of the ordinary about his ears is a 3/4 scar behind the left ear, and a “scar like area” behind the right.
Other than that bit of unpleasant business, what else can be said for Michael Jackson’s ears (both left and right?) Well, for starters, like everything else about him, they were very…er, big. And they stuck out! But we love them anyway. (And if anyone needs further proof that his children are his biologically, just look at Paris’s ears! Like father, like daughter!). I once saw a comment where a person was arguing that Arnie Klein has to be the kids’ father because Michael did not have big ears. Apparently, that person never observed Michael very closely!
What else is really known about Michael’s ears? I guess not a lot. I haven’t been able to locate any quotes that reveal how he felt about them personally. I don’t know if he was ever particularly happy or unhappy with them. There is simply not enough information to go on. I did hear someone say once that he had freckles on his ears (cute!) but I haven’t seen any photos that verify this. Besides, those “freckles” could well have been vitiligo patches, which is more plausible.
Of course, one thing we do all know for sure-how he felt about having to wear those damned ear monitors!
If you are new to this series and catching up, here are the first two entries: