Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Michael Jackson, Lil Wayne, R. Kelly & Roman Polanski: Media Coverage Vs. Perception

I was reading this essay last night. Oh, I feel a headache coming on as I'm writing this but it's the big giant pink elephant in the room. Depending on what you believe, what you've been led to believe, actual court proceedings or a refusal to accept reality we could made a wide arc and include all of the men in one category. It just depends which side of the fence you reside on. All have achieved artistic success. Some are more vilified than others. Two have been acquitted. One was never tried. One needs to be investigated. Some are victims themselves. Some displayed clear grooming tactics of a sexual predator. Let's discuss. One thing that will always be a hindrance in discussing this is race and class. 

Roman Polanski: His pregnant wife had been tortured and murdered when he turned his grief and rage onto an unsuspecting 13 year old. Court testimony clearly indicates that he drugged and violated a minor. We don't need to go into details. Yet the mother who had offered her own child up for a potential movie role got off scott free. The problem was the judge tipped his hand about his personal feelings so the defense could claim bias. Yet he was guilty. Yet people felt sorry for him, so he was allowed to skip the country. Male privilege wins again. I say allowed because all the years Polanski's been on the "lam" he's been yukking it up in France. His wealth has been intact, he's had rather favorable press, he still works and was even nominated for an Oscar. He's been able to publicly complain about not being allowed back in the US. France and the US do have extradition laws. They could have demanded him back to stand trial at any time if they'd wanted. There was further attempt at revising history with a documentary where his teenage victim (who's in her 30's now) declares that "the incident" is all behind her now and she'd like everyone to move on. Should we? Why? What punishment did he actually receive when he would've long served any time if he'd actually been convicted. He probably would've been able to get it tossed out on appeal. Running away never solves anything. So his discomfort at being "inconvenienced" is mostly his own design. He never expressed serious remorse for what he did. Compare his press coverage to....

Michael Jackson: Case #1. It was problematic from the start because it had the wiff of shadiness. Johnny Cochran defended him. He settled out of court and paid millions. I'm not a parent but I always thought no amount of money would make me settle a case like that. I'd want a trial. Apparently there wasn't enough evidence. We know that cases involving sexual misconduct are difficult to prosecute. We also know as with the McMartin case children can be coached to lie. I think people with an agenda to discredit someone or lessen their sphere of influence always involve a very publicly humiliating situation that offends. MJ's mere presence as the biggest star on the planet would be considered a threat to the order of white supremacy. That influence could have political ramifications as evidenced by his humanitarian efforts and attempts at normalizing the face of AIDs. On the other hand his abuse and childhood trauma was nothing to ignore either. He displayed an obstinance at having things his way. There comes a point where you have to take control of your inner demons. He may have wanted to be a kid in his head but the reality was that he was a grown man. Yet he was vulnerable to Case #2 which had holes bigger than swiss cheese and a prosecutor who requested the state law be changed with a one-time exception to prosecute and was granted. Now who does that? That makes the Polanski claim of bias from the 70's look like a joke. He was acquitted. The problem was that people watched the Bashir interview and saw with their own eyes the lack of good judgment on MJ's part. I saw a young boy who seemed to really adore him and it bothered me. It was the proximity, the lack of boundaries and the still unresolved issues all on display and I couldn't believe MJ would so foolishly expose all of that for the world to see. The backlash was severe. I think we lost him then and that was years ago. Now there are rumors that Case #1 accuser Jordan Chandler wants to recant but that ship has long sailed and there are people who will never believe him one way or the other. They have twenty million reasons to doubt.

Lil Wayne: He has publicly admitted to being an abuse survivor. That's a brave thing. I'm not sure that's he's actually survived anything though. He seems to be mired in it. He still has contact with the relative that violated him. He allowed his own 10-year old daughter to dance on stage with him at the BET Awards and other grown men while he sang a song about wanting to sex as many women as he could. That's grooming behavior of a pedophile. I would hate to think he's unconsciously setting the stage for his own child to be harmed but there it is.  All the outrage people expressed is justified but what has anyone done about it. I'd suggested people call Protective Services but I don't think I made that a definitive statement. This blogger did. It should be done. Apparently he has a fiancee and a third woman knocked up at the same time. Boy I could talk about acting out, irresponsible behavior, greed and a host of other nonsense but I feel dirty right now. I wonder if people forget they're displaying their pathologies for the world to see and many are not impressed? Worse yet were all the people in the audience who seemed to be oblivious to this scenario and were carrying on as if nothing was wrong with the debauchery on display. 

R. Kelly: Well he was acquitted. We have the tape though. We know what he did and what he's done to many others that will never see the light of day because law enforcement didn't follow proper evidence collecting procedures. The excuses made by other black women was very telling and equally appalling. We have the tape. We have the tape. The one tape that made it to the light of day. There were many others. If one of the young girls had been white he'd be in prison right now, but apparently the value for a black female body is....not much. Race loyalty over common sense. If someone would accuse us of making too many allowances for any other music star I can point to this man and trump them. Which isn't really a win. **Now there's word that prosecutors are looking to charge him in another case. Let's hope if they do they don't blow this case like the last one.

In all of these situations we have people who've been erased, silenced, marginalized or ignored. This is the time to discuss our dirty little secrets and remove that veil of shame once and for all. Victims can become perpetrators and all sympathy must go out the door. Race and class and gender have just as much to do with it as anything else. The influence of media on making things appear larger, grosser or lesser cannot be discounted. Our own prejudices taint our viewpoints. The guilty go free, there may not be any innocent in any of these scenarios and we have life circumstances where better judgment would have led to a much smoother life. It's a mess. Life is messy. Regardless we're just spectators in all of these situations. There are those who actually have to live through it and with what they've done.

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sally said...

My guy and I have been talking about MJ's cases lately and we are in agreement that the problem from the beginning was that he just did not see the world the way others see it. It is in his musical genius, his activist work, etc. -- this was a man who not only believed we could reach a utopian society, but lived his life as if he was already in it. That is why he was able to go through all of that in a way we find foolish, because he was living in a world where there isn't anything wrong with showing children affection, trusting children, etc.

Anonymous said...

I am going to be sick. I goggled the video clip and I saw the Lil Wayne performance and I am just stunned.

I have a lot to say, but I can't get it out bc I am so overwhelmed.

Who in the world thought that was normal??

This guy is singing about sex and he parades preteen girls onstage.

Oh my God. I want to jump out of my skin right now.

Faith at Acts of Faith Blog said...

Frau Sally Benz: I don't know if I'm prepared to believe in unicorns so to speak and take away all culpability from MJ.

Aphrodite: Ok channel that and contact the Labor Dept and CPS and the link I provided has phone numbers listed.

Khadija said...


Thanks for having the courage to take on this topic. I've been relatively muted in most of my public comments about MJ's scandals. Here are my thoughts:

First (as I constantly have to explain to clients), people need to understand that being found "Not Guilty" does NOT equal being found to be factually innocent. A Not Guilty finding (bench trial)/verdict (jury trial) means that the prosecution lost. Period. There can be many reasons for this. The factual innocence of the defendant is just one of many possible reasons for this outcome.-

Second, MJ's continued popularity among AAs shows the corrosive effect of celebrity worship. AAs generally don't care about males allegedly sexually molesting girls. But we usually care about the alleged molestation of boys by men. Except for MJ.

Third, even if MJ was factually innocent of the molestation charges, AAs should have been concerned about the KNOWN, ADMITTED behaviors that MJ engaged in that are the SAME, KNOWN behaviors that pedophiles use to "groom" their intended victims. [Material and other bribes, seeking opportunities to be alone with the intended victim, not to mention official "sleepovers," etc. {shudder}]

Most AAs would be ready and eager to lynch any other GROWN MAN who engaged in these "grooming" behaviors. We're usually not that naive. We generally don't believe in those sorts of unicorns.

The fact that MJ persisted in these grooming behaviors even after his first case was another troubling indicator. Most folks back off of something after it's burned them. That is, unless they're acting under some sort of compulsion/obsession.

There's also the example of Woody Allen. No, he wasn't imprisoned. But, unlike AAs, White audiences never really warmed up to him again after his actions became known.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Faith at Acts of Faith Blog said...

Khadija: You're right. So many blacks just want to sweep it away in its entirety. It wouldn't have been an issue if they had been black youths or specifically females he'd surrounded himself with. Like I said it's a mess and the behavior was troubling. I've tried to be as balanced but realistic as I could but something like this is difficult to discuss and live with.

Anonymous said...

I could not get through to the labor dept and I tried for a few hours straight.

I did get through to CPS in LA county and they transferred me to the national hotline - the information and details were taken and I will see what happens.

Faith at Acts of Faith Blog said...

Aphrodite: That's ok. I couldn't get through to the Labor Dept either. The phone rang but no one picked up. Anyway Lil Wayne just cancelled a bunch of dates in Europe today because he's supposedly sick. Makes you wonder if some of those calls touched off something.....