Saturday, July 04, 2009

ABC 20-20: Jackson's physical transformation was part of his art ("The Life Behind the Magic")


On Friday, July 3 ABC 20/20 covered the Michael Jackson story with a one hour report, “Michael Jackson: The Life Behind the Magic.” While covering the issue of drug-overdose or misuse as the almost certain cause of cardiac arrest and death, and reviewing the idea that Jackson had possession of prescription "drugs" [Diprivan – look at the "Popeater" story] normally used only in hospitals (maybe a legal issue, just as with Rush Limbaugh, perhaps this time for his attending physician(s)), the most important and striking part of the report was Jackson’s physical metamorphosis. Physical transformation was part of his art; he became something else in the process.

The main ABC News story is “Why Did Michael Jackson Go So Far to Alter His Appearance?: 'King of Pop' Biographers, Plastic Surgery Experts, Family Members Weigh In,” (authors Jon Meyersohn, Cynthia McFadden, and Tom McCarty) link here.

ABC shows some clips of the “Thriller” video, where Jackson undergoes animated change into monsters, but over time Jackson apparently started having various plastic surgeries, especially on his nose, and possibly skin bleaching, perhaps to look “white,” although to some point this was impossible. He also looked immature and child-like. The report showed a computer-aging of what Jackson would have looked like at age 50, and it is quite different from what he does look like, to the point that no facial recognition software could have considered him a match. The nose jobs were supposed to make him able to sing the high notes (his voice was very high pitched anyway). Jackson had expressed sensitivity about his body (mentioning specific parts almost in a Forest Gump fashion), particularly after police activity in 1993 and again in 2004. Regarding all of his legal troubles, it seems that, although Jackson was acquitted of charges, some of his behavior with minors was, by all common sense, inappropriate.

Jackson, however, was an entertainer in grand style (I think his high point was “We Are the World”), one whose songs and videos map to the social changes that happened over several decades. Who could not be fascinated by the opulence and “adventure” of his Neverland ranch and home, just an endless expanse of adolescent space going from one room or pasture to the next. . At Neverland, it seems, Jackson literally created another planet, a parallel world.

Other celebrities still say that Jackson was one of the nicest performers to work with.

The information for the Michael Jackson Public Memorial Service at the Staples Center in Los Angeles is here.

I have to take a moment to point out ABC and 20-20 "libertarian" (or "market fundamentalist") consumer reporter John Stossel's new blog, here. Yes, it will make some people mad, and that's OK.

Update: July 5

Don Lemon's show on CNN, "Michael Jackson: The Man in the Mirror" presented a family friend who insisted that Jackson was always heterosexual, had always denied homosexuality, and had always said that he wanted kids, which he eventually (apparently) had.

Jackson's steelworker father turned five of his boys into a "band" -- somewhat foreshadowing the concept of the modern Jonas Brothers.

Update: July 8, 2009

CNN's Larry King Live tonight interviewed Michael Jackson's dermatologist, Dr. Arnie Klein, who said that Jackson had lupus, and that the skin depigmentation occurred gradually in spots as a result of auto-immune disease. He did not want to become "white" according to the doctor.

The doctor evaded a question on who the biological father of Michael Jackson's children were.

The LKL blog reference is here.

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