I recently did a guest post for my long-time friend from New York, Isha. I talked about my experience meeting Michael Jackson in 2002.
MJFanGirl Blog is a really cool little corner of the internet that is well thought out and full of very cool information about Michael Jackson’s career. What sets it apart is not the fact that its not full of saturated adoration and tangents about how beautiful MJ is (which let’s be honest, we all think he was, lol, but not the point) its the kind of blog that allow us to learn more about the small details of his career that a casual fan probably wouldn’t know about.
I’m sure its been mentioned once or twice, but full disclosure: I am a huge Michael Jackson fan. So huge in fact, that I met him a couple times in the 00’s by traveling across the friggin’ ocean just to catch a glimpse of him (and thankfully they were much more than just that).
After he died, I would say my fandom died a bit. Well, I didn’t/don’t love him any less, but there is really nothing to “follow” and I wasn’t one of those fans who transferred my feelings for him on to his children. I have been fairly uninterested in his children and all of their endeavours because I really feel that MJ wouldn’t have wanted their lives splashed around the press until they were old and mature enough to deal with it.
Clearly things didn’t work out that way and over the years I’ve briefly read things about his daughter (mostly) and can’t help but to feel for her. I have a soft spot for that tiny little girl back in 2002 who slept soundly on her Daddy’s chest as he pressed his finger to his lips and waved me over to his car (before I got knocked on to my arse by some… er… matronly German girls who proceeded to scream in his face and motivated him to wind up his window entirely) as if I was silently promising to not wake her.
Paris Jackson is a gorgeous 18 year old now and while I don’t frequently read Michael Jackson websites anymore, I often have read comments judging her tattoos her boyfriends her clothes… everything — coming from MJ fans themselves. It is no secret that after a suicide attempt, she got sent away to a turnabout school for troubled or problematic teens. I don’t understand that while knowing that she has dealt with mental health issues, people still think it is okay to continually judge from behind their keyboards without realising their weight of their words; as if she could never possibly read the things people feel the need to tag her in on social media.
This morning I read an article for her latest Rolling Stone magazine spread and felt a great weight of compassion and sadness for her; the solidarity of going through the rest of your life without the person who loved you the most; who was the entire world to you. Granted for her, it has been much harder, losing a parent at an early age would be catastrophic.
She spoke about being thrust in to school after being home schooled her entire life – where she began using drugs and hanging around with bad influences and was suffering anxiety and depression – even touching on a sexual assault that happened at 14 and I can’t help but to wonder where the hell her guardians were and what on earth they were doing? After the death of a parent at 11, why wasn’t there counselling for the kids? Why weren’t they correctly supported? Why was a 14 year old left to her own devices? Why at 18 is a young woman tattooing herself to cover track marks left from heavy drug use after being clean for a number of years? (Honestly, what the fuck?).
Perhaps her story is similar to so many that I know and love — I found it heart breaking to read — at the base of the article a very young, lonely girl resides trying to find a place in the world just like the rest of us were at 18, with the added peppering of world-wide judgment from not only the general public, but from Michael Jackson sycophants who think they know what he’d want for her; who care so little about her feelings that they let their own perceptions of who Michael Jackson was, shape who they think she should be.
I loved and followed Michael Jackson since I was 5 years old and my fandom was intense until the very day the man passed- but I was never fooled, I didn’t know him. I had a perception and an idea of who he was and I am sure he was that person genuinely, but he was also multi-faceted and real. He was someone’s brother, someone’s son, a little girl’s father and a father to two other boys — based on the fact that he was both a little and big brother, I can imagine that at times he was a shit-stirrer and a petulant asshole. He was probably a good friend but if you upset him, he would have probably written you on to his shit list forever — that’s human. He was human. And his most humanifying job was being a father.
I don’t have an issue acknowledging that he probably had mental health issues — that Paris has obviously dealt with (if not dealing) with mental health issues – but that doesn’t give people a right to question her decisions or to assume everyone in her life (her boyfriend, manager, friends) is trying to lead her down a garden path or that they are ‘bad news’. It doesn’t mean that she shouldn’t embrace the opportunities that present themselves to her.
This morning I saw this video of Paris being mobbed and harassed about her father’s death and it absolutely gutted me;
What the very fuck is wrong with people?
My mum passed away in November 2016. If a single fucker ever dared ask a single question in such a way about her passing, I would have knocked a person out. And then, at the end there is some soft-voiced bitch making a comment about how it’s okay Paris. Condescending, rude, punch-worthy. Salt a wound and tell her how to act….
And so today I remembered why not to read the comments section — questioning her sexual assault; not being able to get over the fact that she considers herself to be bi-racial and the biological daughter of Michael Jackson. There were comments saying that if she should be used to the limelight or that she should have expected this kind of backlash after being interviewed by Rolling Stone.
Victim blaming is okay when it applies to people who have notoriety, is it?
It kind of shocks me. Do those same people question their best friend when they say they’ve been assaulted? Do they snort and chuckle about hairy predicaments that their loved ones have gotten in to? Do they take glee in seeing other people fall? Paris Jackson grew up in the limelight, but she was not in the spotlight – it was her father and a child would entrust her safety wholly in to that guardian.
Do I think Paris Jackson is ready for a career within the showbiz industry? If I’m going to make a judgment based solely upon the paparazzi video above? Probably not – however, just like my fandom and perception of Michael– I saw one single facet of who he was and same goes for Paris. I am sure there is more depth to her than one can gain from social media posts or moments of tumultuousness when she is simply in transit. She seems so sensitive and easily upset — that is not a bad thing to be, but it might not be a great mix with fame. Would I judge her decisions as if I know her or her family? No.
I just watch all this from afar feeling empathetic toward an 18 year old who looks as bewildered and lost as I felt at 18 (though I don’t think I had a real reason to feel like that) and I feel shame for the rest of these despicable humans that feel like they should all get a say or a piece of her for the sake of being funny, seeming knowledgable about MJ or for their photographic pay day.
I hope if Paris does decide to extend herself in to the limelight – that she will take it on with great armour and know that people are assholes and that opinions of both MJ fans and the wider public don’t matter – that you can’t make everyone love you. It is my hope that her ups and downs will resonate and be able to help others by continuing to be herself and being the voice for those who have been through similar losses and issues that she has endured.
I think that would be something her father would be incredibly proud of.
Michael Jackson was everything to me from the time I became old enough to acknowledge him, right up until I was about 25 years old.
When I read posts about other people’s fandoms; of other people writing about someone or something as a ‘lifeline’, I cringe and feel embarrassed for them, so I’ll try not to do that.
However, being a fan of Michael brought very many special things to my life — the most important being friendship. Its no secret to most people that I had traveled to see him live (or at least, in person) on occasions — through those travels, I built friendships with other people who I had a lot in common with – the type of people that I wouldn’t/couldn’t encounter in my everyday life.
Aside from that, my experiences meeting Michael Jackson face-to-face are treasured memories that not a lot of people were able to experience. At that point in my life, I didn’t ever think anything could ever be more exciting than seeing the person that I had looked up to for decades right in front of me staring back at me welcoming, friendly, loving and kindly. And honestly? I don’t think I’ve ever encountered such excitement since — I was right to revel in it.
Michael Jackson, as his son put it today, the day of his birthday, was to most a legend and myth– someone who became known more for the media’s portrayal of him — the target board of a playful game of darts over at the office — he ceased to be human to most; a personality rather than a person – and the kind of water-cooler fodder that most took glee in poking fun at.
Honestly, those reasons alone are probably one of the reasons why Michael Jackson died a very slow victimised death. From the rise of the top, to the fall that was carefully constructed at the hands of the media and those who sought to profit from the sincerity of his soul.
For me, personally, I will never forget the time in my life at 19 years old where I felt stuck and without confidence or plans for the rest of my life – where Michael Jackson took my hand in his, took the time to ask about my life, asked questions with interest before telling me that I had a brilliant future ahead of me and that all it takes is one person to tell you that they believe in you to give you the faith to move mountains. I will never forget the way he added that he truly believed in me. He told me that if I was going to be a writer, I was to do it well, to do it fairly and to always have heart in my work.
And again, he believed in me.
It seems so corny perhaps to some, but at 19 years old, I walked away holding the world in my hands.
He was special and people knew it — unfortunately even those who were unkind.
It is easy to forget that while he was not only a musical legend and entertainer, he was also, most importantly, someone’s father, someone’s brother and someone’s son, someone’s best friend – and none of those people deserved to lose someone so tragically – especially not his children who I will always remember watching him parent with love and kindness and good-humour.
This is my birthday dedication to someone who became the king of my heart – who always remains there in a very special place with a love that feels unique that I couldn’t replicate for anyone else. It has been seven years since he’s been gone and while I have grown up and moved on from that part of my life – I have a life here planted in Australia with my partner and dog and a job, I still have my friendships that he left me with; I still have the music and most importantly, I have unique, special memories of my teenage years and early adulthood.
Along with his life, this also deserves to be celebrated.
Happy birthday, Michael Jackson. I always loved you more.
I am not a trail-blazing feminist the way I felt like I was in my early/mid twenties, but I still like to call out sexism as it is when I see it or when I am the subject of it– in that case it is especially hard to ignore. This post is going to be about the daily sexism I have encountered in the past few months.
Sometimes I go to sleep early — around 8-9pm if I’m tired enough. As a result I can be up as early as 5:30, but usually at least just after 6am. I like to work out before I go to work because I find it helps my moods and my anxiety for the day. Last week, I woke up at 5:40am, ate breakfast and put my work out clothes on to go do forty on the treadmill and then my circuit work out. Sometimes after a work out, I am absolutely ravenous. On this particular day, I spent a further 30 minutes making my lunch for the day and faffing about on the internet before work. I realised when it was too late that I needed to eat something before work.
I got to work and found that I had a packet of potato chips sitting on my desk from the day before that I had bought and forgotten to eat. With no other food options, I opened the bag and began to eat them. I know, I know — a lady of my age and my size (14), I could probably have stood to go without, or at least eat something that would allow me to be more of a proper lady.
I opened the door to someone and was met with a funny look from an older gentleman. He said, “are you eating chips?” (gasp, shock horror!)
Cheerfully, I said, “Yep! Want one?” offered. He declined. He said, “It’s a bit early, don’t you think?” (It was after 9am).
Still cheerful, I said, “I’ve been up for almost 5 hours now! I’m starving!”
Then, I got a lecture on how unhealthy it was to be eating potato chips at ‘this time of morning’ (or at all) and that I should try a piece of fruit.
Fuck off. Firstly, I’m sure he wouldn’t have commented on my dietary condition if I was a guy. Also, if I chose to eat chips at 9:30 or fucking 8pm, it would still be unhealthy. If I had a fucking piece of fruit handy, I still probably would have unapologetically enjoyed the salty snack.
And all that aside? How about you just mind your fucking business, mate?
I usually find that men who are roughly the same age as my father don’t understand just how smarmy and patronising their comments and remarks can be.
I try not to be too hard on people, sometimes they may not even realise how or why what they’ve said can be taken the wrong way, but if no one ever tells them, then how can they correct their behaviour?
One that I hear almost often – in every job I’ve ever worked and also outside of any job I’ve ever worked; “good girl”.
How arrogant, how patronising — how fucking insulting. I am not a dog. I am not your pet (I’ve been called pet, it burns me right fucking up!) do not praise me as if I am one. I am also not a girl, I am almost 33 years old. All you need to do is say thank you, that will be enough. No pet names, no back-handed insults. Oh, and no I don’t want to call you fucking Adonis (yes, that was something that happened on another occasion) at all — ever.
I opened a door for someone the other day while the woman struggled to leave the shop where I was coming in from and once she was out, she said, “good girl!” — and honestly I wanted to let the door slam on her. I understand the intention is not cruel or patronising and in fact, its probably just gratitude, but it feels condescending and when it comes from a man, it feels like sexism at it’s finest.
In another situation outside of work, a man I knew continually referred to my friend as “the bitch”, based on a stupid misunderstanding on both their parts — both had spoken politely to one another since the occasion and it was only behind her back that he continued to call her a ‘bitch’ until I finally spoke up. What makes a person think that it is actually okay to continually refer to a person in an insulting way after a situation had been resolved?
Next time someone calls me a “good girl”, it’s going to go down like this;
“Good girl!” “Yes, I am a good girl, may I have a treat?” “Huh? A treat?” “You said I was a good girl like I’m a fucking obedient animal, now where is my fucking treat!”
Because honestly, if I hear it one more time I’m going to lose my shit.
I know everyone has done things in their past that they are not proud of. They have gone through phases or patches of crazy where they have acted out or taken action purely to rebel against their parents. I know its easy to look at other people and feel second hand embarrassment — I know for instance, I can’t watch Bridget Jones or the auditions on xFactor because second-hand embarrassment is a real thing.
I went through a period where I thought it was cool and OK to wear a black leather cuff with studs on it. And a silver chain that clipped from the front of my jeans belt loop to the middle back belt loop. I know, I know, thats like a step away from clipping an old Nokia to my belt.
But overall, the things that I did in my late teens and early twenties have gone over pretty well. There were so many things from that period of time that I know I should be incredibly proud of. When I was 17 and 18, I barely left the house. I had one friend (not that I’m complaining) that I saw on a regular basis. I expected her to spend every waking hour with me and goodness forbid if she spent time with other friends (note: I was also incredibly jealous because my other two or so friends lived really far away). I made friends on the Internet– not that this is an issue, because three or four of those girls are still close and current friends around 15 yrs later. I didn’t really leave the house unless I was with a parent or said friend.
Just one of my friends and I. 15+ years of friendship.
I turned 18 and was tired of sitting on a shelf waiting for something to happen. I had a bunch of pipe dreams, I had inspirations but I wasn’t quite even sure how to make anything come to fruition. So, I did what any normal 18 year old does; jumps on a plane to New York City without any regard for my safety or fear that the person (friend) meeting me on the other end was who she said she would be.
Good news, she was. And I had an adventure. Because I had never great socially (I used to stand around awkwardly. I didn’t even have a phone with me to pretend to be texting), this made me come out of my shell, because I didn’t have a choice but to try to talk to people. I made some friends on that trip (again, some of whom I’m still friends with now) and made one of my childhood fantasies of meeting Michael Jackson come true.
I know, crazy, right? Girl goes to New York City to see Michael Jackson.
One of my mementos.
I’m still not ashamed. I still feel pretty proud that I had the guts to go and do something about my dream of going to NYC and seeing my life-long idol. It was an incredibly happy time for me in my life. It was one of the nicest experiences of my life, still to this date.
When I got back, I felt like a social butterfly. I feel like the confidence that that trip bought me was priceless. I made some other new friends when I returned. I still felt awkward and silly, but I got on with things. By the time I was 20, I’d gone from wallflower who never left the house to someone who was never at home.
And then there were more trips. More friends, seeing parts of the world, seeing my idol again and again, sharing memories and laughs and friendships that I’ll always treasure.
My life was a totally fun adventure. I worked to save and saved to travel. I traveled around Australia visiting friends and making new ones and overseas. I had the kind of adventures that some people could only dream of. Of course it was all a little left-of-the-middle, but so what?
I guess thats why I get so taken-aback when I find out someone is quick to guide me away from talking about any of those moments because they are uncomfortable, or feel second hand embarrassment from my traveling to see someone who brought me a lot of joy and to see the friends that I hadn’t seen for a long time, or another part of the world.
Someone asked me the other day if I still liked Michael Jackson. Answer is, yes. He will always have a very special place within me not only because of all the personal and lovely things he said to build me up as a late teen, but because of his sheer genius. Considering I had been a fan of his since I can remember, it would be stupid to suggest that I’ve simply “lost interest” … he’s dead, that’s unfortunate and heartbreaking and something that I still find hard to reconcile with, but I am not not interested in him.
I am not interested in latest releases, his family, what ‘friends’ and his estate are saying about him now that he is gone — none of that.
But the person glossed over it very quickly because the conversation about some of my past things made the person feel a bit uncomfortable. Why? Its my past. They were my adventures. The person never asked to see my photos, never asked to tell them about any of it — and that’s incredibly unfortunate because I was so giddily happy in that time period that I was always bursting at the seams to talk about my friends and the kind of fun things we did together, the things we talked about (hint: my life did not revolve entirely around my idol, gasp, I actually had other interests) and the actual adventures themselves.
How many people can say Michael Jackson gave them unprodded advice?
No one has the fucking right to feel second-hand embarrassment of my “past”. Oh, and I guess sitting in Australia in the same suburb you were born and raised in going to work back and forth every day with no aim and no joy is a better way to way to live? You’d have preferred that I buried my head in to a boring-ass office job and slogged away saving up a shit wage to not enjoy?
Since I got over the horrors of high school and the emotional damage an entire lifetime of bullying did to me (and I reckon I did pretty well), I began to care so very little of what people thought of my actions and as I get older I begin to care even less. I have nothing to feel ashamed of. I never picked up a cigarette, I’ve never ever tried any type of drug, I’ve never been in any legal issues, I didn’t even get drunk until I was about 25. I never gave my parents any trouble (except premature greying from illness), I always did what I was told. So quite frankly, my past is very mild.
My only regret? I didn’t travel more.
So screw your discomfort with the joy that those years brought me. I have memories to last me a lifetime — and you probably don’t even remember that period, but so very quick to be critical of me. Its unfortunate that I couldn’t share those joyful memories with those who love me because they’re too critical of ‘normal’.
I’ll keep my awesome friends and memories thanks! 🙂
In London with my two gorgeous friends. The last adventure.