Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Never say Neverland again

You can imagine ITV being a bit miffed that their Mad Musician Monday got slightly trumped by Phil Spector being even madder than Michael Jackson, but they still had a good feast off the exclusive interview - a warm-up chat with Martin Bashir on Tonight, then the ninety minute Tonight Special; then a large chunk of the News at Ten; and then a Special on the ITV News Channel (an ITV News Channel show being defined officially as special when the audience rises above the number of people who sit on the production floor of the channel). In fact, apart from getting Jacko to appear in Coronation Street - probably impossible, since he'd find the bubbling hormones in Weatherfield too scary - they made the most of their exclusive.

Set up by Uri Gellar, who must by now have "Friend of Michael Jackson" on his passport under 'Occupation', it looked like the original plan had been for Martin Bashir and the Tonight team to report back that Michael's certainly odd, but not creepy. The earlier footage seemed to point in this direction. However, the accumulation of disturbing imagery and behaviour must have got too much for even Bashir to smooth away by the end, and so the original storyboard was ripped up and the "what is it with you, you freakin' freak?" ending got tacked on.

A curious man, who keeps odd company and seems at times to have genuine difficulty understanding what's going on around him. But enough about Martin 'I've seen all the reruns of the Louis Theroux Shows on UK Horizons, you know" Bashir; nobody could really hope to get to the bottom of Jackson without a lot more time and a lot more willingness to be probed on his part. What did come through was a badly fucked-up bloke; but one who seemed to rely on his perceived childishness to avoid answering tricky questions (as he has in court, of course). Certainly, the scenes in Neverland, where Jackson behaved like one of the kids, didn't come across as totally natural.
Asked if he'd had plastic surgery, he said yes, twice, but only his nose. Then he stammered "cosmetic surgery wasn't invented for michael jackson."

Apparently, the changing faces of Jackson have been down to him getting older. Which is curious, because for a forty-four year old man, he doesn't look a day over badly drawn cartoon.

And the children stuff? Maybe he doesn't realise how it looks - though someone who wrote a cheque for millions after earlier -um - allegations must have a shrewd idea; but then, someone who can skeeter through a store buying twenty million odd dollars worth of ugly tat without even pausing wouldn't blanch at the concept of paying a few million to buy off a kid's family, either. You'd have to question the behaviour of any parent who lets their kid sleep in jackson's bed, though; the answer may have something to do with those millions of dollars.

With his own kids, he came across more like a slightly befuddled grandparent who wasn't even sure who they were or what they were doing there - as Bashir tried to ask about the two year old being caught in the crush at Berlin zoo, Michael thought he was being asked if he'd enjoyed his trip.
But it was the shop scene that said most - Michael enjoys shopping, we were told, before being shown the footage of him tramping round a store going "I'll have that... that... that..." - not shopping, just acquiring. Empty acts. When you can have anything, the act of possession becomes meaningless.


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