Thursday, October 27, 2011

Michael Jackson: An Innocent Man

Away from the drama of the court battle between the people and Conrad Murray, it seems that people still, long after his death, believe Michael Jackson was a pedophile. Whether it comes within a joke or just discussions between friends, television or debates. People always come up with the same arguments about him; why did he sleep in the same bed as children? Why did he pay out $20million to the Chandler family in 1993. Why was he so eccentric?

After reading various books, both balanced biographical accounts, Jermaine Jackson's memoirs and the book Redemption (a book written by someone who worked for Chandler's soliciter) there are many answers to all those questions and how Jackson was set up to suck money out of the billionaire popstar. I wanted to portray a few facts to those who are in disbelief or cannot make up their minds.

I will begin with the big one, the one that always asks... why did Michael Jackson pay out $20million to spare him from jail if he was an innocent man? Well... he didn't. That agreement was never to stop the family taking Michael Jackson to court, it was to stop them going to the media. Michael wanted the court case, he wanted to prove his innocence, but the family only wanted money. The family could have taken the money and still taken him to court, but they didn't. Funny how no one turns the question around to ask why the parents of Jordy Chandler accepted money instead of making sure a man they called a predator to serve time. Surely if someone harmed your child, justice would be preferred instead of money? And yet they could have had both... but they didn't they only took the money. The media never report this fact.

So why did Michael Jackson not just sue the family for the lies they were telling rather than trying to buy their silence? He was a drug addict at the time, addicted to prescription pain killers, and he wasn't strong enough for a fight against the family or the media. He paid out to stop them from ruining his reputation because he didn't have the energy to be able to fight himself. What the media also didn't report was that Jordy Chandler became estranged from his parents after this, he didn't speak to his father again, who later killed himself after trying to sue another person.

Jordy Chandler was asked in 1993 to identify Michael Jackson's body by giving descriptions of his naked frame. Michael posed naked to give evidence. All of Chandler's descriptions were incorrect. The second family who accused him were also suckers for suing people. They tried to make a claim against a security guard at a department store a couple of years before, accusing the security guard of assaulting them, however CCTV proved otherwise. Another set of liars.

Why did Michael Jackson sleep in the same bed as children? He didn't! He slept on the floor in a sleeping bag while more than one child would sleep in the bed. The media never mention that the children's parents would also come and stay and would agree to let their children sleep in the room and would often join in themselves. Jermaine Jackson provides a wonderful description of Michael's love of slumber parties with candy and pillow fights; mainly down to the closeness he and his brothers had as a child. On the Victory Tour, Michael wanted to share a room with his brothers once again, but the others felt they were too old and wanted their own hotel rooms. Jermaine Jackson also provides wonderful descriptions of Michael's childhood which inspired areas of Neverland, poems, Peter Pan and many many other artifacts have come from Michael's nostalgia, rather than planning an entrapment for children like something out of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Neverland? Why the fairgrounds? Well Michael has said many times he is a child at heart and that was seen very clearly in Martin Bashire's documentary. But Whoopi Goldberg made a clear analysis in 2009 that when someone is as famous as Michael Jackson, they cannot go out to a theme park like the rest of us without being mobbed; therefore he had to build it in his own home. Many Holywood stars have had to resort to building elements within their homes so that they don't have to go out and Michael was doing just that; Neverland was his haven, his safe place and he didn't want to leave until the media drove him out in 2005. Whoopi Goldberg also stood up for her friend Michael Jackson when asked whether she would ''seriously let him look after her children'', Whoopi Goldberg said ''I would let Michael Jackson babysit my child, and Michael Jackson has babysat my children''.

People say he is an eccentric freak; but if they find his actions strange or different to theirs, is it any wonder? He has not had the most normal of upbringings has he? Listen to the song 'Childhood', Jackson's autobiographical song. The answers all lie within there.

These many many elements the media never demonstrate; the world likes a negative story. It is in our nature to respond to the negative rather than the positive. But when it comes to reporting pure lies, it is surely just another evil. I hope this post changes opinions or at least allows people to consider the possibility that he might just not be the predator that the world made him out to be. Michael Jackson may have died an innocent man in the eyes of the law, but his critics may never hold the same opinion.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Nostalgia of my American Dream

When leaving America after spending a year living and working there, I never felt saddened that I was leaving. I loved my friends there and I would surely miss them, but I was so excited to see all my friends back home that it overshadowed the life I was leaving behind. This is not to say I had a bad time out there, I had the most amazing year with the most amazing people and in some ways I felt my life was better out there. I lived like a king, I ate out at the best restaurants every day, lived in a massive house and my bills were hilariously little cost. Back here I can barely stretch to a Boots Meal Deal on a daily basis!

Since returning to England I've looked over my photos many times and wanted to go and visit and see my friends, but never once did I cry or feel saddened that I was here in England and not there. I suppose in a way my photographs were of events and holidays over there, which like any holiday can be looked back on with joy but not saddened that we are no longer there.

But then a few weeks back, I was looking through a suitcase. I opened a pocket that I hadn't opened in 2 years. There I found a bank statement from Chase, my bank account provider over in Chicago. It showed a month of my life, the places I would eat out everyday, a trip down to Chicago, the different activities that I would get up to on the daily basis whether that was just a trip to Starbucks in Woodfield Mall or hanging out in Hot Topic. I suddenly burst into tears. It was so strange that a bank statement could cause such emotion, which a photograph couldn't. I think with the photograph, like earlier, is more like capturing an event or a holiday; we don't take photos of our daily lives of walking to work. But with a bank statement, it made me remember the life I had out there, the daily routine and the comfortableness of my daily life.

I am so happy to be here in England, but part of me wishes I could just live just a week or two back within my old routine. A visit back there for a holiday is indeed needed one day , although no doubt much of what I remember will have changed. My closest of friends have moved away from the town I lived in and the employees of the hotel I worked have all moved on too. But just to walk along memory lane and see the sites and go to the shops would be amazing to see and to recapture the American Dream that I was once a part of.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Time I Was Hypnotized

After watching Derren Brown this evening hypnotize a man to assassinate the much loved Stephen Fry, it reminded me of the time I was hypnotized myself back in 2004. On a holiday with my family, we watched hypnotist, Morpheus on a couple of occasions, in which my dad believed it was all fake. However, each evening I was falling asleep just sitting in the audience, and the hypnotist's stage hand had to keep poking me to wake me up as being in the audience and not in the spotlight, they couldn't keep me under control. I decided to give it a go and be hypnotized!

We took the evening very seriously, especially since my mum was rather concerned with what I was about to undertake. The stories of people falling unconcious and never waking up again deeply scared her. I didn't drink any alcohol before as advised and when called I went up and sat with the other volunteers. The first test was similar to Derren's tricks of making our hands stick together and being unable to pull them apart. Those that could pull them apart were asked to return to their seat. Mine, however, were unable to break apart; a feeling so very strange and defied all logic to me.

After Morpheus broke my hands apart, he began the trance. I was told to picture walking down hundreds of steps going down down down, deeper, deeper deeper. And that's the last I remember of it. The next I knew, people were applauding me and I'd assumed the whole experiment hadn't worked. What my family and anyone who has watched the DVD saw was me believing I was a kangaroo, having sex with a chair (not literally) and physically crying on stage (both with laughter and with sadness). At one point I was asked to rejoin my family under the trance, to which my best friend, Rob and my parents said it was as if I wasn't really there, like my mind was some place else.

After I was awoke up to the applaud, my family's reaction said it all that it had been a success. People came up to me and told me how hilarious I was. We bought the DVD so I could go home and watch it. After waking up I felt so awake and alive with energy. It was very late into the night, and yet it felt like it was mid-afternoon. I felt so unbelievably happy and alive with life and I wanted to party the night away. It was if I had taken some sort of drug.

I can understand how dangerous hypnosis could be being in the wrong hands, as Derren has demonstrated in his show, but at the same time it shows how remarkable the human body is. For those who don't believe in it, I only suggest you try it (and let yourself go rather than stubbornly fighting against it) or take my word for it, as it was a truly remarkable experience, one which I will never forget.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Ricky Gervais

Once again the world and its’ tabloids have turned against comedian Ricky Gervais for his supposedly offensive humour. This time for using the word ‘mong’ a derogatory word for Down Syndrome people. However Ricky repeated time and time again that the word does not mean that anymore and he is not using that word to use those people. In which case, it is those who are making that connection who are becoming the offensive ones, not Gervais.

Many people say Ricky Gervais has always been offensive, however this is far from the truth. Those who have actually spent time to listen to Ricky’s jokes in context (rather than the snippets in the press) will understand that his jokes are aimed to make fun of the morons that are bigoted. He tells the joke because we are like-minded and not agreeing with the statement. Those who actually listen to the joke in context and still think he’s offensive are just ignorant and quite honestly, unintelligent if they can’t understand the joke. They don’t have to like the joke, but to say he is an offensive man is ludicrous.

Ricky has said time and time again that he does not mean to offend. My favourite quote of his is ‘’You have the right to be offended, and I have to the right to offend you. Being offended does not make you right’’. He’s right; it doesn’t make them right. There are people who are offended by homophobia and black people, are they right?

Like I’ve said over and over again with other ‘’offensive’’ television or comedians, if you don’t like it, turn it off. He’s not thrusting his humour in your face. He’s on the television or on twitter. Don’t follow him or switch the television off. I could understand if he turned up at your house and shouted ‘’MONG’’ at you or even began screaming it a Downs Syndrome child in the street. But he hasn’t, and he never will.

Ricky Gervais is a highly intelligent, artistic and articulate man who is incredibly liberal. Whether you disagree with that is your right, but to call him offensive is just far from the truth.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Michael Jackson Forever

Like Michael Jackson’s life, his tribute concert came with just as much controversy. Fans across the world had shunned the show saying its’ timing with the trial of Dr Murray was not appropriate, but as Neyo who opened the show with Billie Jean pointed out that this show was not about the trial, but about celebrating a musical genius.

I had travelled to Cardiff on the Saturday morning and as soon as I got on the train in Manchester I was pleased to see how many MJ fans had made the effort to travel for the show. Rumors of it being cancelled and poor ticket sales had circled for weeks, but the day before it was announced that all standing tickets had completely sold out. I was quite glad that there were other fans on the train as I was slightly concerned that all the train stations were signed in Welsh; I didn’t know if I would know where to get off!

I arrived in Cardiff which is one of the most beautiful cities I have visited in the UK, and with its friendly nation, I could see myself one day living here. I collected my ticket and walked a mile and a half to the guest house which was to be my accommodation for the night, only to be told that I had booked the room for the wrong year! I walked around Cardiff looking for somewhere to stay, but they were all sold out. I had visions of sleeping rough at the train station but thankfully a Travel Lodge had one room left, which was actually right in the city centre and had a view of the Millenium Stadium from my room where the concert was to be held that night.

On the way to the concert I passed dozens of bars all blasting out Jackson songs and dancers in the street impersonating his moves. As I was walking towards the stadium a huge black car with high security passed and inside I spied a perfect silhouette of Michael Jackson’s mother, Katherine, who when I flashed her my t-shirt gave me a wave!

I arrived at the stadium, which suddenly seemed very dark upon entry, when I realized they had pulled the roof over it to keep out the poor weather that had been predicted for that evening. The stage was spectacular and the fans had already been gathering for hours for the best spots.

I grabbed a beer and that’s when I bumped into Navi, the world’s most famous MJ impersonator who had crowds around him; he was nearly as a popular as the man himself! Before the concert began I met some lovely people from Birmingham and Africa and together we celebrated the music and the legacy of our hero, Michael Jackson!

After Neyo’s entrance to the show, JLS came on with the Jackson brothers to sing a collection of Jackson 5 hits. Smokey Robinson and Gladys Knight sang a collection of MJ songs both as soloists and as a duet and brought the Motown Michael to the stage. Christina, Leona Lewis, Alexandra Burke were also fantastic acts, but it was the unknown Yolandis Adams who stole the show. When Yolandis came to the stage, people were questioning who she was, but by the end of her rendition of Earth Song, she had the biggest applaud of the night.

Michael Jackson’s children came out to talk to the fans. Paris and Prince were really getting into the night, but I think Blanket is still a little young to appreciate who his father was as he looked less than impressed to be there. They introduced Beyonce who did a video link performance from the USA, but to be honest I’m not too sure whey they bothered, it wouldn’t be impressive unless she was performing at the stadium itself.

The show went on for over four hours and hadn’t even covered half of Michael’s most famous hits, which shows how many hits he really had. The night finished with everyone coming on stage together to sing ‘Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough’.

Everyone left the concert singing the songs of our hero back into the city centre. We dispersed and I returned to the Travel Lodge where I heard local clubs and bars playing Michael Jackson songs late into the night. There are rumours that the Jackson family plan to do an annual tribute concert, which I will certainly be doing… especially if its in Cardiff as I have a room booked there for next year!

The best part of the evening was being in a city full of people with the same love for music, it was wonderful to see how many different generations of fans were there, especially the young children who were not even around in Michael's most successful of years. It proves that Michael's music, like the same of his concert, will live on forever.