I could not agree with this assessment more and I think that Joe Jackson's gonna have a lot to answer for down the line.
Perhaps I'm the wrong age for whatever "magic" he was for others--I do think his life was sad, but I also think a lot of it was self-inflicted...typical of young people who get too much adulation too soon and then never use the resources it brings them to work (operative four-letter word) past their problems.
MOST people don't get "a fair chance." He had more chances than most, because of the resources his talent brought him. Many people have one or both parents who are domineering, abusive, etc. The task of adults is to grow out of their childhood, however difficult that is; people have truly matured who had worse problems. He showed no inclination to do so, instead using his resources to indulge the child within.
Like many others, I hope he is at peace, and that the cute little child can slough off the craziness of his adult years. I don't hate him though I never admired him.
I see him as similar to a child who was locked in a closet for most of his childhood. Then when he reached majority he was basically abandoned and left to fend for himself.
It's kind of like kids who go through the foster care system, being abused and learning no useful skills, and then get thrown out on their own at 18. Many of those kids end up in and out of prison for the rest of their lives. I feel sorry for them because they never had a chance to learn how to cope.
Even though he was rich, Michael Jackson went through the same sort of childhood. He was an income-generating asset until he came of age. Then he was left to fend for himself. He did pretty well for a while, but his lack of education in basic life-skills caught up with him and he ended up lost.
Yeah, maybe he should have done better. But at the age of five he was turned into a one-trick-pony. When he became an adult he had no education, no outside skills and no one who cared enough about him (rather than his money) to help him out.
He was used as a child and then left to sink or swim. He sank and ended up lost and I feel sad that he didn't have a better chance and a better life.
I understand what you're saying--and I agree it's sad and it would've been better if he'd had better parenting--but I don't have the same level of sympathy for him that I do for, say, a kid in foster care in East St. Louis, or just dumped on the street by a rotten stepfather (I know of a case where that happened, and of course the kid got in trouble for turning tricks, but the step-father? No, he wasn't charged for tossing her out--literally--drove her to Austin and dumped her out on South Congress), who has had as bad a childhood and no opportunities at all.
He had talent, and though his family turned him into a one-trick pony, that talent gave him chances that could (used better) have brought him to a healthy maturity. I do not believe that *no one* ever tried to steer him in a healthier direction--I believe he didn't listen.
But I could be wrong, and I certainly hope he has a better afterlife than he had life.
IT seems that when people are really rich that places them beyond help when they start to go off the rails. Maybe they are surrounded by yes men or maybe no one wants to challenge the goose that's laying golden eggs. Child stars are so often destroyed. Maybe it's not possible to be a good parent when your kid is your meal ticket.
What cdozo said. There's a Twilight Zone where the kid has magic powers to turn people into dogs or something. No one will challenge him and he's a monstrous brat. I also feel that people can be destroyed and permanently damaged by the combination of neglect and abandonment. I can't imagine his freaky childhood gave him anything to build on. Those folks who do manage to pull themselves up usually have grown up in a messed up personal situation, but participating in the normal world. Teachers, neighbors, tv shows even, model what is "normal" and those kids aspire to that. But if you're the one ON the TV shows, you never go to school, you never see your neighbors or anyone who isn't is show biz, you never even get the idea of what a good life can be.
Or maybe they don't listen.
A lot of adulation in adolescence is bad for anyone, IMO. No adolescent--good parenting or bad parenting--has the fully-formed identity and reasoning ability to be swamped in adulation and not go somewhat off the rails.
It doesn't even take great wealth (though that's another form of "approval" in that it allows self-indulgence.) But your football or basketball hero--even if parents are not wealthy--can suffer the same kind of explosive narcissism, and some of those remain stuck in their adolescent identity because it was so rewarding. They make lousy employees/husbands/fathers. Money adds to the problem, of course. We see it happen with the talented young athlete who turns pro, too (the NFL now has counseling for incoming pro football players, to help them cope with the sudden influx of money and attention, and the reality that someday no one will be asking for their autograph.)
Good point. The book Friday Night Lights, that the TV show was based on, was heartbreaking, as was The Last Shot by Darcy Frey, about basketball. It's a perversion to exploit children, but I understand the temptation for poor families. Britney Spears is another train wreck. These stories are extra sad to me because everyone knows what's happening and not only does no one successfully help the kids, but so many droolers just watch the tragedy unfold with sick glee. That said, I think some people are just born stronger than others, better able to overcome, rise above.
Oh, definitely. Born with better brain chemistry never hurts. Growing up with sane, sensible parents who--even if they're letting the child experience more than a healthy load of publicity--understand the dangers and mitigate as possible (Tiger Woods, Pavarotti, to take two examples of world-class performers who didn't come unglued) is an even bigger help. When those you'd think are most vulnerable (pro athletes from not-great backgrounds) do pull themselves together later, it's impossible to say whether it's genetics or not. But I think it always requires their commitment to becoming functional humans.
The whole media blitz thing does not help (and I personally think papparazzi should be run over with tracked vehicles) as one of the things you need to grow out of self-centered adolescence is quiet time alone with yourself (and maybe a good therapist, but the time alone after a therapy session is important. We humans arrive at insight slowly.)
Do you remember when we were starting to babysit and were wresting with the responsibility, the fear that we might do something that would mess up the kids forever?
We looked around at all the kids we knew, and (in our preteen superiority) decided who was messed up and who wasn't, and why. And finally concluded that the common factor in being messed up seemed to be feeling unloved. Rich kids became messed up when they saw their parents as throwing money at them instead of loving them. Physically abused kids were okay if they took the abuse as loving discipline, but were messed up if they saw it as dislike or evidence that they were just in the way. I've often thought of that conversation.
Another part of that conversation was that parents could mess you up for awhile, but once you were out of the house you were responsible for yourself. Therefore, we decided that you could blame being messed up on your parents until you were about 35 or so -- equal time to correct the problems as you took to acquire them. After that, if you still had problems, they were ones you had decided to accept in your life and how you decided to live.
Ah, the omniscience (and tolerant intolerance) of youth.