Jewish World Review Nov. 25, 2003 / 30 Mar-Cheshvan, 5764

Stanley Crouch

Crouch
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Consumer Reports


Jacko's the sick king of
industry that preys on kids


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | The latest Michael Jackson controversy perfectly mirrors the shallowness and exploitation at the center of the entertainment business.

Jackson now seems to have become the three-dimensional picture of Oscar Wilde's Dorian Gray, the man who looked forever young but kept a picture hidden that recorded his layers of crime and sickness. Jackson's reputation carries the foulings so emblematic of our time, revealing themselves in spiritual pustules.

It is a strange tale. Jackson evolves from cute little exploited boy and lead singer in a bubble gum group of brothers all the way to a progressively eccentric and repulsive tabloid favorite.

In terms of color, Jackson went beyond Clarence Clemons' observation that to be successful in rock you need to look black but sound white. Jackson's ascension to the King of Pop was made possible by his having made himself look like a pale, androgynous Disney character.

His plastic surgery and his fey refusal to grow up rhymed with our culture's death camps of cosmetic surgery that so purely express the evermore contagious insecurity of human beings in the face of time. Those expensive camps in which one is not gassed but cut up are where so many, to use the cliche, reinvent themselves.

Jackson surely did that. He changed his look; he acquired new companions: a midget child star, a chimpanzee, Elvis Presley's daughter (who left him, saying that their marriage was never consummated).

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Now a second set of child molestation charges. Whether Jackson is guilty or not, there is a basic truth about the entertainment business today: to be the King of Pop is to be the King of Pedophilia.

I say that because pedophilia is the essence of the pop music industry, where children are exploited in every possible way by products arriving in the form of lyrics or images or dehumanizing perspectives.

Our children are made hungry for things they cannot digest. Their narcissism is used against them, which is the exact technique of the pedophile who says to the child that he or she - unlike all those other kids! - is mature enough to be treated like an adult and to do things that other kids either don't understand or are too lame to appreciate.

Our children are told that hostility, vulgarity, shock and sex are the weapons that best express their freedom from the adults who - hidden inside the industry like the Wizard of Oz - are setting them up to consume even more demeaning products.

From any angle, Michael Jackson is no longer the man in the mirror. He is now the mirror itself.

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JWR contributor and cultural icon Stanley Crouch is a columnist for The New York Daily News. He is the author of, among others, The All-American Skin Game, Or, the Decoy of Race: The Long and the Short of It, 1990-1994,       Always in Pursuit: Fresh American Perspectives, and Don't the Moon Look Lonesome: A Novel in Blues and Swing. Send your comments by clicking here.

Up


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