The way he made us feel: the legend of Michael Jackson Featured

Ten years on from Michael Jackson’s death, have the accusations against him tarnished his legacy?

When Leaving Neverland, an HBO documentary, was released earlier this year, it forced many people, including long-time fans of Jackson, to re-examine the truth of child abuse allegations against the musician.

The four-hour documentary is the story of two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who recount their abusive experience with Jackson.

Both men as children, when Jackson was still alive, denied that anything had gone wrong with the musician during their spent time at his California ranch, Neverland.

But the latest developments have changed the public perspective on the singer’s legacy drastically as his millions of fans prepare to mark the tenth anniversary of his death.

Airwaves silent

Although there were rumours and claims of child molestation were made against the singer in the 1990s, he was cleared of child molestation charges in 2005.

As such, fans were saddened, angered and shocked by the many allegations that were raised again by many people who lived at his ranch while they were children.

In the wake of the controversy, major music outlets all over the world have stopped streaming Jackson’s songs.

His music is no longer being played on major Canadian and US radio stations. The Simpsons will no longer air an episode he once voiced.

Golden shoes still shine

Leaving Neverland has become HBO’s most viewed documentary of the past decade. But Michael Jackson’s popularity appears still to be strong ten years after his death.

Despite the outbursts, support for the musician and his music remains steadfast in some quarters.

Cirque du Soleil’s musical stage show Michael Jackson ONE still runs two performances five nights a week in Las Vegas. A musical inspired by his life, Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough, will premiere on Broadway in 2020. Billboard magazine reported in March that streaming and sales of his music increased after Leaving Neverland premiered.

Darren Julien, chief executive of Julien Auctions in Los Angeles, said the late superstar’s belongings still fetch top prices from buyers. He has sold millions of dollars’ worth of Jackson memorabilia over the years, including the famous Thriller jacket, for US$1.8 million in 2011.

“In the investing world, I would call Michael Jackson a blue chip,” Julien said. “He’s a good investment because his value is just going to continue to go up.”

“Get him”

Julien says a jacket Jackson once wore went up for auction in May, a few months after Leaving Neverland premiered, and sold for $75,000.

The amount is comparable to price for another jacket, sold shortly after his death, which went for $60,000. It resold five years later for double that amount.

Yet there are have been repercussions. “His reputation has definitely been tarnished,” said Alan Cross, host of the radio show and podcast The Ongoing History of New Music.

“However, it hasn’t been tarnished to the point that people have completely given up on him. There’s also a very sizeable number of people who believe he’s innocent and believe that people have been out to get him.”

Life without Dad

Months after the documentary first aired, the Jackson estate said that his son Prince, as with all of Jackson’s children, had been badly shaken by the release.

Prince, the eldest of Jackson’s three children, was just 12 years old when his father died. Now 22, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University this month after studying business.

Prince launched his own production company, King’s Son Productions, in 2016. He also founded the Heal Los Angeles charity to keep his late father’s “Heal the World” initiative alive.

He made a permanent tribute to Michael by having a tattoo etched on his leg last year in his memory. But Prince has never spoken publicly about the child abuse allegations.

Great defender

Paris, his middle child, has occupied the showbiz spotlight to a much greater extent than her brothers since her father’s death. But it has not all been plain sailing: she has also been vocal about her mental health battles.

She has admitted she is still struggling to deal with her dad’s shock death.

More recently, she has become a fierce defender of her late father and his legacy.

Paris hit back at trolls on her Twitter handle as she labelled the allegations as “tabloids and lies”.

She tweeted, “So … not love and peace and trying to carry that message out? tabloids and lies are the bigger picture? I’ll pray for you.

“Yeah, they do that to everyone with a good heart and tries to make a difference but do you really think that it’s possible to tear his name down? Like do you truly believe they stand a chance? relax and have peace.”

Blanket’s emotional blackout

Although he grabbed headlines as a baby when his father dangled him over a hotel balcony, Jackson’s youngest child, Blanket, has managed to keep a fairly low profile over the past ten years.

A family friend has said that, of all Jackson’s children, Blanket had the most problems adjusting after his death.

“He acted very lost and extremely upset,” a source told People magazine at the time. Since his father’s shock death in June 2009, Blanket ‒ whose real name Prince Michael Jackson II ‒ has been raised by his paternal grandmother, Katherine Jackson.

Blanket changed his name to Bigi in 2015 after reported bullying. According to friends, he loves doing martial arts and playing video games, and does not speak about the child abuse allegations against his father.

Bottom line

News of a medical emergency involving the pop icon began spreading late on Thursday June 25 2009. Many people who heard it trashed the rumours, but a few hours later, major news outlet broke the news of Jackson’s death.

The singer died from acute propofol and benzodiazepine intoxication at his home.

Despite the tarnished image, Michael Jackson will for ever be in our hearts ‒ but maybe, for many, he can no longer be a legend.

It is hard to discuss pop music of the 1980s and 1990s without mentioning Jackson’s name. The singer was a worldwide phenomenon who attained worldwide recognition. Dubbed the “King of Pop”, he has sold over 350 million albums, and has continued to break musical records even since his death.

It is even harder to deny his impact on the music business. And for that he will always be remembered.

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Last modified on Friday, 30 August 2019 17:48


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