The Real Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson’s family and friends, colleagues and fans, have been trying to tell you something for a long time. They have been trying to get your attention. They have been trying to tell you the truth.

But nobody has been listening. And maybe we’re partly to blame for some of that. But there is a reason we’ve been trying so hard. At times, some have seemed defensive, frenzied and ungrounded. It is because of this fierce sense of urgency and the constant barrage of injustice that comes at Michael, his work, his image and his legacy. We feel a responsibility not just to him but to his grieving family and to you– yes you, the public. And yes, some of us have been running around like headless chickens screaming ‘the sky is falling’– but it’s not the sky that’s falling; it’s something else.

Basic, core standards of decency, culture and humanity are eroding. And it’s affecting the whole of humanity. That’s me. That’s you. That’s all of us.

Not all Michael Jackson fans, supporters and admirers are the same. Some are young and passionate, some are older– and know what Michael Jackson meant and still means.

But the ridicule is tough to deal with. And the description of “crazy” is tough to deal with. And either prevents us or stops us from being heard. We are going to try again as a sane, rational and intelligence voice.

Imagine Discovery’s manufactured image of Michael Jackson on a gurney wearing his signature sequined glove here:

It was not kind.

We want to believe in a kind world. That is what Michael taught us.

He believed.

These people also believed and some called them crazy:

  • Galileo, who tried to tell us the sun was the center of our solar system
  • Socrates, who tried to bring wisdom and truth
  • Winston Churchill, who tried to warn about the Third Reich
  • Chief Seattle who tried to say we are all responsible for the land, the Earth.

Sometimes it’s the crazy ones who bring us the truth. But the truth, when revealed is often resisted. Yet when people learn that the truth they have been sold is a story, they are reluctant to accept it. Whistleblowers are often mocked, sometimes even threatened– but more importantly, they are sometimes silenced.

Who was Michael Jackson?

Michael Jackson actually tried to have a personal life because he truly was a very private person. After being catapulted to superstardom, that “private person” thing didn’t work so well for him. There was something about Michael Jackson that was unique and magnetic and drew people to him.

Some of the people Michael drew into his orbit were unscrupulous. Unfortunately deep pockets and fame have a way of attracting those with less than complete integrity. Many things were said and written about Michael Jackson but we ask you to consider where you heard them and who told you.

If you saw This Is It you were already asking questions.

Michael Jackson was a movie and film afficionado. As he prepared his farewell concert, he filmed the rehearsals for his library and the footage was very revealing. It demonstrates the true nature of the man. That is why those who saw it and remembered the tabloid version of Michael’s life felt the disconnect. That is because there was a disconnect—a huge one. People who personally knew Michael Jackson and who worked with him tell a much different story about who he was and what he valued.

The Fascination with Michael Jackson:

When you are the most famous person in the world, a prolific artist and your name is on the tip of everyone’s tongue, people are fascinated. And some of those tongues will wag, telling stories. People who covet what other people have are particularly vicious when they attack the rich and famous.

Michael was a megastar. He was the most famous man on the planet. He amassed a fortune by sharing his talent. He kept changing his appearance, including having surgical procedures. His skin color changed. He wore a mask. His behavior was labeled “strange.” He was called a child-man. He seemed an enigma and puzzled people. These “facts,” when taken out of context paint a strange man whose motives are easy to question. When viewed in the context of a life lived in naive innocence and in a fishbowl, they seem natural.

When things are taken out of context, quoted out of context or used as hyperbole, they grab people’s attention because people like to be in the know. Public fascination is understandable.

The Quiet Humanitarian

People who knew him say he was an extremely shy individual who didn’t like to speak publicly; he preferred to sing. He was an accomplished artist, but not a polished orator. Had he been more like Barack Obama, he might have avoided speculation because he would have cleared things up better. And some of that reticence was a strategy to perpetuate the mystery; it’s a tactic all artists use. Mystery provokes and perpetuates interest. All Hollywood greats monitor their exposure. Michael recognized that he had amassed a huge audience by using his god-given talent and he always gave credit for his creativity to his creator.

Maintaining his visibility and his mystery is what gave him a continuous forum to speak about humanitarian initiatives. He saw the opportunity as a gift and he used it continually and consciously; he saw it as part of his life mission and he accepted the magnitude of that responsibility with grace.

Michael Jackson knew that he was two people—Michael the person, and Michael Jackson the musical icon and superstar. He confided to friends that he was not an important person but “Michael Jackson” was. He felt his work was inspired work and he knew that people, particularly youth, would be impacted by what he said, his work, and his music. He knew he had a worldwide platform and he deliberately used it for humanitarian purposes. Most people, however, don’t know about that side of Michael Jackson because the “superstar” persona when highlighted by the media would overshadow his philanthropy.

Early in Michael’s career, he recruited other artists and encouraged them to lend their fame too, bringing awareness to people in need. From Africa to the world, his humanitarian work expanded throughout his life. And he never stopped using his image and name to influence people for social good and conscious stewardship globally. You didn’t hear much about that because it didn’t sell newspapers.

The Mask and the Man Behind it:

Some people found the mask that Michael Jackson often wore in public to be strange. Some made fun of it. Some found it sinister. The truth of the mask is simple: Michael Jackson was the most photographed man in the world. The paparazzi chased him everywhere even into bathrooms in hotel rooms, behind mirrors, climbing trees and using helicopters to get photos.

Those stolen photos often ended up in tabloids with huge negative headlines, so Michael’s mask was simply an attempt to foil the photographers who would use his image to vilify him or present him in a negative light. Because that kind of story would sell more newspapers to the curious.

The mask was an attempt to have a modicum of privacy for a man who had none, and lived in a fishbowl– visible to the entire world.

The Umbrella

There was nothing sinister about the umbrella either. Michael had a skin disease called Vitiligo and he had Lupus. Those illnesses require an individual to stay out of the sun and sunlight because to someone with no pigment in their skin or with a severe autoimmune disease, the sun is poison, is dangerous and can cause death. The explanation for the umbrella is simple: he used it simply to save his life.

Michael’s change in skin color was due to a disease called Vitiligo which is incurable and progressive and eventually destroys all the pigment a person has in their skin. When it begins, it is blotchy and for an African American that is particularly disfiguring. For an entertainer who makes a living onstage– it would be deeply distressing. Michael hid it as long as he could with dark makeup and when it had spread over too much of his body, he used therapies to even the skin tone. The light and eventually white skin tone is a hallmark of the disease as it progresses. In Michael’s case, Vitiligo Universalis, the skin became almost translucent. A proud African American, Michael was not trying to be Caucasian.

No other person has ever been vilified for having an incurable disease. The media printed that ‘Michael Jackson claims to have a disease that turns his skin white.’ Nobody ever printed about Patrick Swayze that he ‘claimed’ to have cancer or that Elizabeth Edwards ‘claimed’ to have an incurable illness. No one has ever made late night jokes or drawn cartoons about real people with real life threatening illnesses. Vitiligo can be life threatening.

The Surgeries and the Famous Face

Michael Jackson had a number of surgeries on his scalp and face. The surgeries were to “fix” what he felt was a too large ethnic nose, to open his nostrils and create a facial chamber capable of hitting high notes and holding resonance. He was also aware, as are other artists and famous faces, that it is important to stay youthful looking and attractive in a culture that values youth and beauty.

Cosmetic surgery helps famous faces to stay relevant in a culture that has a short attention span and tends to throw away people—the old, the infirm, the disfigured.

Michael Jackson worked in a highly visible medium. He was an actor, singer, dancer, and stage artist. Having a fresh and relevant face was essential to survival in his industry. Never has a person’s face been so scrutinized, criticized, or vilified. Never has cosmetic surgery been such a huge issue—not for Joan Rivers, not for Priscilla Presley, not for Gene Simmons, Oprah Winfrey, or any other Hollywood or famous face. Michael Jackson was an artist who was a perfectionist in all things including having the “right” look. Perfectionism has never before been “strange” but always admired as a mark of success.

Michael had fans across the world in all nations, races, peoples. His fans number more than 250 million. More than 100 million purchased his Thriller album alone; and his total sales is said to top 750 million; his reach was worldwide.

Michael Jackson fans have been labeled “crazy” by some because they have been fiercely loyal and steadfast throughout his life and now commit that same loyalty to his legacy. They know something the rest of the world doesn’t know. They are privy to some knowledge that the general public is not. And that information they hold is important to the entire world. Their message is crucial to humanity.

Michael Jackson did love his fans and they loved him back. What rock star maintains a loving bond with his fans through a lifetime? What measure of a man always acknowledges those who have made him what he is today and thanks them and loves them publicly?

It was the way Michael cared for his fans. At each performance, he brought a female fan onstage and cupped and cradled the back of her head as if he were holding a sacred object while singing to her. It was the way he touched them. He touched children that same way– reverently.

His work with children was anything but sinister. He donated a large piece of equipment to every hospital in every city on every tour. He brought in sick and disadvantaged kids to every concert– some of them on stretchers.


Rolling hills, mossy green valleys, wildlife and an ancient and sacred spirit– a piece of land needed a steward who would respect and cherish the once sacred territory of the Chumash Indians. Michael Jackson, because he could never have privacy in a very public place, needed a private sanctuary. That sanctuary was Neverland Valley Ranch.

Michael loved animals and he loved nature. He developed Neverland to share it with those whose lives were less fortunate. They came from the inner cities, disadvantaged circumstances, orphanages, hospitals and civic groups –  bussed in every few weeks to enjoy Neverland at Michael’s invitation whether or not he was there. For many, it was the event of a lifetime. Imagine it. Imagine what a day at Neverland would have meant to a child. To have ” Michael Jackson Superstar ” — care about you and gift you with a life-changing opportunity was enough to inspire some for a lifetime.

Michael loved animals and he cared about all the children of the world. He knew ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ so he built one– Neverland. Then he shared his music and lyrics and tried to build a world village by inviting us all to join him in stewardship­ for children; the Earth; the animals; people; and the world.

In a world of gangs and violence, corporate greed and terrorism, what is wrong with trying to ‘heal the world’ and ‘save it for the children’ as Michael taught through his lyrics? Have we lost all sense of propriety?

There was nothing deviant about Michael Jackson’s love for children. One only has to watch a few videos and observe how he touches them. It is with reverence — with gentleness — borne of a man ‘s deep respect for children  — and childhood.

To harm a child was simply not in him. A beautiful sanctuary for children was sullied by people who sought to extort money from a wealthy man by accusing him of unspeakable things. By unscrupulous cut-and-paste journalists and filmmakers, and by those with a dark agenda seeking worldwide attention for themselves. Those with an eye on deep pockets and a desire for vicarious limelight targeted a man they considered a ‘soft target.’

The unscrupulous will always take advantage of the trusting and generous among us. Researching the official documents tells the real story. Many have done that work and have come to a very different conclusion from the one the prosecution and press sold you about Neverland.

Neverland was Michael’s sanctuary, and it was turned into a crime scene by those who saw its rides, and cinemas, sweet fountains, and animals as a place of danger. They couldn’t see the innocence there—perhaps because they couldn’t find it within themselves and because they turned their back on its existence a long time ago.

Michael Jackson’s Neverland was part of his vision for a joy on Earth — a paradise. Maybe one day, it will be so again.

The truth will not be handcuffed forever

Michael Jackson was not a criminal. He did not harm children. He was not the “freak” some people made him out to be. There are those who, over his lifetime sold you the sensational and fabricated version of Michael Jackson. There were also those who gained monetarily and grandly from riding on the coattails of Michael’s fame. They included “biographers,” disgruntled competitors and employees, the cut-throats of the music industry, managers, financial overseers and a host of others.

They took advantage simply because they could. Because he was famous. Anything for money. Just like this Discovery program, there was no social value in anything those people contributed to the culture of the twentieth century.

Michael Jackson, however, contributed to the humanitarian effort to make the world a better place. How he did that is now being revealed by those who knew him best and benefitted from his generosity and philanthropy. As time goes on, the world is gradually finding out who the real Michael Jackson was.

What if the picture you were sold of Michael Jackson is wrong?  Never in the history of this planet has anyone so innocent, been so bullied. The real story is in the court records; the FBI files; the grand jury transcripts of 2004; the personal testimonies of those who spoke in Michael’s defense at his trial in 2005; and the words of those journalists and writers who broke ranks and told the truth about Michael Jackson: Among them — Andrew Cohen, Charles Thomson, Barbara Amiel, Matt Semino, Linda Deutsch, Armond White, and Aphrodite Jones. And it’s in the remembrances of a thousand friends and collaborators — who knew who this man really was — and what he was not.

When you are ready to know the real Michael Jackson… we are willing to introduce him to you.


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