Peter Pan & the Man

First of all, Michael Jackson is a grown man. That should be obvious enough to most normal-thinking folks, given the fact that Jackson is now 45 years old. His fans can call him Peter Pan all they want, but I think we all know that Peter Pan was not a bleach-skinned brother with a process knocking on the doors of middle age. Peter Pan is fiction. But even in fiction it would be hard to imagine a character quite like Michael Jackson. Like my mother used to always say, truth is often stranger than fiction.

Speaking of the truth, I was interested to read an article by editor Bakari Akil II. The piece reported that comedian/activist Dick Gregory apparently believes something to the effect that the Man is out to get Michael Jackson. The core of the argument essentially states that Jackson’s image is under assault because he has grown too powerful in the entertainment world. He is a black man who owns the musical catalogs of both the Beatles and Elvis Presley, two of the biggest names in popular entertainment aside from Jackson himself. The fact that a black man now effectively owns white people — only a little over a century after it was the other way around — is simply too much for some of the powers that be to handle.

According to Gregory, it is very possible that Jackson could become the target of a hit — and I don’t think he’s talking about a hit song either.

If you want to read the entire article for yourself, check it out at and see if you come to the same conclusions that I did, which were not quite the same conclusions arrived at by the author. What Akil asks us to believe, or at least consider, is that Gregory just might be on to something when he says that the assault on Jackson could well be part of a much larger conspiracy to target high-profile black men who have risen too far above their station. Gregory even suggests that the murder of Bill Cosby’s son Ennis could have had something to do with Cosby’s voicing a desire to purchase a particular TV station when it went up for sale. He goes on to list other “suspicious” deaths of prominent black males that might not be what they appeared to be on the surface.

Maybe it’s just me, but I think this is carrying the defense of Brother Jackson a bit too far. It’s not that I automatically dismiss all conspiracy theories, because I don’t. I still question the single-bullet theory when it comes to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and I also have my doubts that the official explanation for Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination fully explains everything that may have been involved. America has given black folks more than a few reasons to question authority and to be basically suspicious by nature, and I understand that. But sometimes we tend to carry that suspicion thing too far. Sometimes we rally around the wrong folks even when we know that they’re wrong because we’ve grown so tired and outraged over seeing so many of our leaders and public figures torn down and destroyed in ways that we know never would have happened had they been white.

Like I said, I understand the frustration.

But Michael Jackson has some serious issues, and that’s putting it mildly. Any grown man who claims it’s OK to sleep with young boys in his bed has some serious issues, all right? Can we at least agree on that much? The last thing we need is “Free Michael Jackson!” T-shirts. Save the fabric for someone more deserving.

No, this doesn’t mean we need to burn Michael at the stake. It also doesn’t mean that Jackson is necessarily guilty of the sexual molestation charges he is currently facing, even though it doesn’t look too good. Jackson’s case is due to come to court very soon, and the fact that he had to cough up $3 million in bail and surrender his passport to the cops makes it pretty clear that the prosecutors must have convinced a judge that they have some pretty big bombs to drop. Additionally, 1993’s nearly $25 million out-of-court settlement that he reached with the family of Jordy Chandler, another kid who accused Jackson of molestation, is going to weigh heavily against Jackson this time around. Even if the episode is never formally introduced into the court proceedings, the stench of it combined with other reported episodes of similar behavior will still be hanging thick in the air.

Like most folks, I can only go on what I’ve read when it comes to Michael Jackson’s trials and tribulations, and from what I’ve read about this particular case it appears Jackson could be the target of a vindictive mother who decided to squeeze Jackson once he shut down the gravy train that supplied her with luxurious gifts simply because she was the mother of his little friend. Now, some might suggest that Jackson was paying the mother off in the first place so he could “play” with junior, while others might suspect other motives. Who knows? The only thing I know is that it’s pretty damned stupid and twisted for a grown man to invite young kids to share his bed. It is virtually impossible to imagine that Jackson — having grown up in the harsh and unforgiving spotlight of childhood celebrity — didn’t even suspect that maybe, just maybe, this kind of questionable behavior might again cause a problem for a stupendously wealthy black entertainer whose face is recognized by just about everyone in just about every country on the planet. How can a grown man not know this kind of thing is abnormal and just a little bit sick unless he himself is just a little bit — or maybe a whole lot — sick?

All I’m saying is that we need to leave the Man out of this one and try a little harder to be honest with ourselves about something we all know is wrong instead of saying unbelievably stupid things like “Leave Peter Pan alone!” Just because Jackson refuses to grow up doesn’t mean we have to follow his example.

Keith A. Owens is a Detroit writer and musician. E-mail [email protected]
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