Winter is here for R. Kelly, the famed R&B genius and often alleged pedophile and woman abuser.
It seems it only is a matter of time that justice finally catches up with the Pied Piper.
While we are most likely watching the end of a music legend, grey clouds are beginning to gather on NeverLand, the Peter Pan paradise created by the reclusive pop god Michael Jackson.
MJ, the 21st-century deity of dance and music had been plagued with accusations of being a child molester for decades. He survived two child sexual abuse allegations, in 1994 and 2005.
Just a few months shy from the 10-year anniversary of his death, child sexual abuse allegations have started to haunt the gloved one again.
‘Leaving Neverland‘ is a 2019 documentary that is based on the allegations of two men, Wade Robson and Jimmy Safechuck, who claim they were sexually abused by Michael Jackson as kids.
The documentary has been doing the rounds and has raised the question again if Michael Jackson was truly a pedophile. Michael Jackson might have gotten a ‘not guilty’ verdict in 2005, but in the court of public opinion today, the jury seems to be leaning towards a ‘guilty’ verdict.
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Is Michael Jackson too big to cancel? Should we still listen to his numerous hits? These are the moral questions millions of people are facing.
The King of Pop was surely a complex man, a genius with Peter Pan syndrome. The answer to whether he should be cancelled is also complex. There is no straight answer to this.
How does one erase all his childhood memories of MJ? As a kid, Michael Jackson was the first super-hero I knew. Before I knew Spider-Man could climb buildings and Super Man could bend steel, I knew Michael Jackson could moonwalk, which back then to a young boy was a superpower.
Michael Jackson was an omnipresent force in my childhood. He was the guy who made sidewalks light up in ‘Billie Jean‘. He was the red-jacket, scene-stealing dancer and peacemaker in ‘Beat It‘. He was the werewolf and zombie (I mean who plays a werewolf and zombie at the same time?) in ‘Thriller‘ and the leader of an inner city dance mob in ‘Bad‘.
MJ nearly took away the Internet with him on the day he passed away.
Michael Jackson defied the laws of physics. He was the leaning tower of pop in ‘Smooth Criminal‘. I mean Michael Jackson could do everything, shatter Grammy records, buy the Beatles catalogue and also change his face.
Jackson’s genius has never been in doubt, and also his many eccentricities (hello Wacko Jacko).
Erasing the King of Pop is much more than removing his classics from your Apple Music library or blocking him on Spotify.
Cancelling MJ involves erasing some of the joyous parts of your childhood.
Kids born in the late 90s and early 00s might not struggle as much but for people who grew up in the 80s and early 90s, Michael Jackson makes up a sizeable chunk of memories that are closely linked with nostalgia.
Thriller was the first horror flick I watched. The zombie scenes used to scare me silly, but I still watched it for the thrill (sorry for the pun). I wanted to dress like him in Bad, the all-black outfit with zippers. In kids parties back then all kids danced like him.
Michael Jackson is too much of a behemoth to get rid off completely. His influence in pop music will still be felt for many generations to come. Emo R&B singer The Weeknd is a spaced-out version of him. Kanye West has numerous MJ lines and references.
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A song like ‘They Don’t Care About Us‘ fits perfectly in the spirit of the times. ‘We are the World‘, ‘Heal the World‘, are more than just classics. They are rallying cries to the whole of mankind to do good, pursue peace and promote love on Earth. How do you eradicate the impact of these songs from a pop landscape now bogged down with too much glitter and little or no soul?
In fashion, Michael Jackson’s style statements, the red jacket, sequined white glove, short black pants will forever be attached to him.
How then do you cancel someone as huge as him?
Cancelling Michael Jackson has to do with personal conviction. There are millions of people who witnessed him at the peak of his creative powers and who have cancelled him not from just their music libraries but their consciousness as well.
And there are others who still slam his songs and perform his tunes in karaoke bars. We cannot deny that these two sides of a coin exist.
What shouldn’t be up for debate is the denial of the huge accusations leveled against him. Listening to his music should not be a totally blissful experience but bittersweet. You can appreciate his musical genius but should never deny that he was flawed as a man.
There is now a duality that comes with Michael Jackson. ‘NeverLand’ is more than the kingdom created by pop’s Peter Pan. It should also be seen as a strange, reclusive estate where weird things must have likely occurred.
Even his songs, classics and albums should be perceived with a deeper non-musical subtext in mind. Was ‘Man in the Mirror‘ more about Michael Jackson singing about his sins than asking the human race to change?
Did you know Michael Jackson’s breathtaking single ‘Speechless‘ was inspired by kids? We must view his songs and legacy with the lenses of appreciation and disappointment.
MJ’s music should be placed in the same vault where we put deeply flawed men and women who achieved great things.
If when it is proven beyond reasonable doubt that Michael Jackson was a child molester, humanity should see him for what he is, a pedophile.
In terms of cancelling his music or not listening to his songs, whatever your choice is, it should be ingrained in your mind, that the world’s greatest pop act molested kids.