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Othering considered harmful.

Making Light linked to this blog post about Michael Jackson.

Here is the comment I left:
I thought Rossney's post started out well enough, but by the time he got to saying MJ was "no longer really...human in any meaningful sense" and saying "it feels strange to call him 'a man'," I had serious problems. Human beings who are seriously damaged are still human beings. Men who are seriously damaged are still men. It's disrespectful to the damaged people and to the rest of us to deny this. It's also misguided, because it creates a false sense of otherness and a false sense of security, a sense that this sort of thing could not happen to real people. Well, it could and did.
(This part wasn't in the original comment.) This might well be something going on only in my own head, but I also have the uncomfortable sense that MJ's race is partly involved in the blogger's othering him, especially because of this sentence:
(it's a mark of how profoundly damaged Michael Jackson was that it feels strange to call him "a man", just as it feels strange to recognize that when he died he was older than the President of the United States)
For the record, my opinion of MJ is that he made some music that I loved and that he had a big influence on pop music, and that he seemed like a pretty unhappy person during the latter part of his life. I also know he is accused of child molestation, and I didn't follow the stories about that, so I don't have an opinion. If he did it, I am sad about the damage caused.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 29th, 2009 10:21 pm (UTC)
I'm with you on people not giving up being human. Michael Jackson, hell. Dick Cheney has remained human.
Jun. 29th, 2009 10:25 pm (UTC)

There is so much racism and white privilege in the de-humanizing commentary on Michael Jackson, I don't know where to start.
Jun. 29th, 2009 10:46 pm (UTC)
Yes, this. There was something about that post that was bothering me and you've managed to put it into words. Thank you.
Jun. 29th, 2009 11:07 pm (UTC)
That really upset me. He was human. Humans are fucked up. Part of what's so sad about his death is that now he can never have a happy life, and he wanted one.

Pain begets pain, so I find the sex abuse accusations plausible. They don't mean he wasn't a hurt person himself, though.
Jun. 30th, 2009 01:52 am (UTC)
He was human. Humans are fucked up.

So true. And yes, he was human the whole damned time.
Jun. 30th, 2009 12:07 am (UTC)
re: Othering considered harmful.
I'm glad I didn't read the original - I'd be very annoyed at anyone being called less than human.

I realize I didn't have anything solid to go on, but I just had this feeling that he didn't molest children. The bits of the 'case' that I read were too reminiscent of one or two people I've known who have been falsely accused. It really bugged me at the time, but since I only had the media to go on, I didn't say anything.

But a friend of mine who knew him wrote a pretty convincing post on fb saying that MJ didn't molest kids, so I'm inclined to believe that my gut instinct was correct. I'll ask my friend if I can repost some of his words, if I get a chance.

I'm sorry that MJ was, apparently, really unhappy in more recent years. That's really sad.
Jun. 30th, 2009 04:08 am (UTC)
I'd been thinking of him as self-loathing, which is really sad.
Jul. 1st, 2009 08:04 am (UTC)
Re: Othering considered harmful.
rossney's post and most of the comments on making light (kind of a misnomer in this case) make me angry.

one commenter on ML, forza, expressed pretty well what i might've liked to say, if i would want to comment over there.

and you go! i agree that othering is harmful, and that there's some not-so-hidden racism involved in rossney's post.

i think he caused damage even if he didn't molest those children in precisely the way we tend to think pedophiles act, and he did damage by having those two kids of "his own" the way he did. i feel sorry for him, and for them. it's not that he wasn't human, he was all too human.
Jul. 1st, 2009 08:27 am (UTC)
Re: Othering considered harmful.
I liked forza's comment too.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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