Kerre McIvor: Why I'll continue to listen to Michael Jackson's music

Author
Kerre McIvor,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Sunday, 10 March 2019, 9:05a.m.
Michael Jackson. Photo / Getty images
Michael Jackson. Photo / Getty images

COMMENT:

Tonight, the show that everyone I know has been talking about will finally be screened on free-to-air TV in New Zealand.

Some people have already streamed Leaving Neverland, the documentary that alleges Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, the sad little boy who could never grow up, was, in fact, a predator and an abuser of small boys. However, most people, in this country at least, will be watching tonight and if they can bear it, tomorrow night as well on TV One.

Even though few of us have seen the doco in its entirety, it hasn't stopped people engaging in intense discussions about it around the water cooler, online, in exercise classes, at the school gate.

Everyone, it seems, has an opinion.

Was it right to make the doco at all given that Michael Jackson has already been through a sex abuse trail and was found not guilty by a jury?

He's not alive to defend himself against the allegations. Are the two men who claim they were abused by Jackson as children just in it for the money or are they genuine victims finally able to speak out after years of complicated feelings for the legendary singer? What on earth were the boys' parents thinking, letting their 7-year-old and 10-year-old sons sleep in the same bed as a grown man?

And if you believe the allegations are true, and that Michael Jackson was a sophisticated, vile predator, can you still listen to his music? A number of radio stations around the world, including the music stations in the stable of the company I'm employed by, have stopped putting MJ's hits into their schedules.

Dean Buchanan, NZME's group head of entertainment, says that the music stations' playlists change week by week and at this time, Michael Jackson doesn't feature on any of them. Which I guess is taking a wait-and-see attitude.

It would be hard to imagine a musical landscape that didn't feature Michael Jackson.

Even though I wasn't his biggest fan – I had an opportunity to go to his New Zealand concert at Mt Smart and didn't take it – you would have to be deprived of all senses not to appreciate the man's genius as a writer, singer and performer.

One of the most fun things you can do with your kids is introduce them to the music that you grew up with and it's even more fun introducing that music to the grandchildren. I can't imagine my grandson never hearing Thriller or Beat It … but then I can't imagine how murderous I would be if my grandson fell prey to the Machiavellian wiles of a paedophile.

And then the arguments begin again.

How can you call Jackson a paedophile based on interviews with two men, one of whom testified, as an adult, in defence of Michael Jackson at his child molestation trial. And who also wrote a heartfelt tribute when Jackson died, that proclaimed Jackson was the reason he believed in the pure goodness of mankind.

In this age of #MeToo, does anyone who claims to be a victim get to be one, irrespective of supporting evidence and the judicial rigour of a trial?

And round we go another time – how many victims of abuse are re-victimised through the court process and will never find justice through the legal system?

So many of the conundrums we deal with in today's society are wrapped up in the making of this documentary and hence why there have been so many impassioned debates over the rights and wrongs of screening it.

As for the music, I'll still listen to him.

As so many religious figures are wont to say, they can hate the sin but still love the sinner. If every artist who'd ever committed a crime, or who was alleged to have committed a crime was banished from the airwaves, we'd be left with a solid diet of Nana Mouskouri and Donny Osmond.

But then very few of them were alleged to be the very worst of manipulative paedophiles.

The arguments and debates begin again. I guess all we can do is watch the documentary and form our own conclusions. And then argue the merits of those conclusions with our friends.

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