If, when walking
past the Dr. Phil table at the local Barnes and Noble, you find yourself
with a greater and greater urge to push that bald fraud down a flight of
stairs, you’ve got the right idea when it comes to the popular culture.
It was with this eye I viewed the continuing (and continuing, and continuing)
coverage of Michael Jackson’s hearing last Friday. Surely this isn’t
the biggest thing going on in the world? Isn’t the United States still
knee deep in an ongoing war against Islamic terrorists?
Well, if you’ve approached the Jackson matter with that sort of attitude,
you’ve missed the point entirely. No matter the fervor you’ve employed
when defending your country – against unhappy Frenchmen, Canadians, Russians,
Germans and other garden variety liberals – there is something about a crowd
showing up at a courthouse to shout words of encouragement at an accused
child molester that, for a moment, makes you exhale deeply and think, Well,
maybe they’ve got a point.
But then you remember: The French revere and protect Roman Polanski (who
we know for a fact drugged and raped a 13-year-old blonde girl) and can’t
have a heat wave without watching ten thousand people drop over, Canada is
five years away from a civil war over who should speak French, who shouldn’t
and under what circumstances, Russians can’t free hostages from a theatre
without killing 150 in the process and the Germans, well, let’s just say
the Germans still have no room to criticize anyone and leave it at that.
So forget all of them … that doesn’t mean something about this Jackson mess
doesn’t smell funny, but what?
There is the matter of the boy, someone rarely considered. Unnecessarily
large court cases tend to prod cable television into producing a small cottage
industry, that of attorneys brought onto set to discuss the accused, the
accuser, the lawyers involved, et cetera, ad infinitum. Some of the
more adroit of these lawyers have taken the time to say we should consider
not only the child in this case but the child from ten years ago, as well.
Well sure, but the boy from ten years ago is a man now; twenty million dollars
can buy an awful lot of therapy, not to mention the fact it’s always much
easier to wallow away your depressions and insecurities in a wading pool
filled with hundred dollar bills.
This year’s alleged victim has no such luxury. In fact, given that
no civil lawsuit has been filed (yet), this poor child’s ultimate fate (no
matter the legitimacy of his charges) is that he must spend several more
years living in the same town as his family – Mom, by the way, is the woman
who was accused of shoplifting from Wal Mart and then had the temerity to
sue for damages. One hopes this child will grow into a circumstance
that allows him the good sense to emancipate himself at 16 or 17, so that
at least he can enjoy the proceeds of his book deal without his dopey parents
hanging around. (There is apparently no truth to the rumor Knopf has
approached the boy and wants to call the book I’m a Victim, Too.)
No; what’s strangest about the case is that Michael Jackson may have (please
note that I have not “convicted the man in the press,” as it’ll keep the
Nation of Islam off my back; I have enough headaches as it is) masturbated
to completion in front of a 12-year-old boy, and the best we can think to
talk about is the pre-assembled mob outside the courthouse. When prudence
suggests respectable chunks of radio and television time be dedicated to
the topic of molestation – why it happens, the frequency with which it happens,
what parents should do if they think their child has been molested, which
agencies and national help lines one can call if they have been molested
– we instead see footage of Jackson climbing atop his chauffeured SUV over
and over again, waving meekly, dancing and pointing out to his personal cameraman
his throngs of enthusiastic supporters.
We haven’t discussed the important things because that would force us to
think about many unhappy occurrences, and Lord knows that shouldn’t happen,
especially when it gets in the way of celebrity worship. Considering
someone else’s misery – most especially the child’s – at such a distance
is abstract; it allows the extravagance of distracting ourselves with talk
of the accuser’s motives and legal strategies. Anything but what
Brian Wise is the lead columnist for IntellectualConservative.com.