So said Jean Baudrillard in 1990 in his The Transparency of Evil: Essays On Extreme Phenomena, (translated by James Benedict, Verso, 1993) written just a few years prior to the child molestation scandal that brought Jackson’s pop music career to an abupt halt, and ratcheted his career as a publicity object into higher gear than ever before, Baudrillard’s remarks appear to have been made with tongue in cheek. But with Baudrillard you never know.
In 1994 I worked on an article for the Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine about the Jackson phenomenon that was set to be published in anticipation of his arrest for child molestation. But the arrest was never made, as charges putforth by the parents of the boy in question were dropped in an “out of court settlement” rumored to be as high as $15 million.
Now a decade later Jackson is once again in the news thanks various personal shenanigans (the most egregious being his dangling an infant alleged to be his son from a hotel window) and a ludicrous television interview that brought the ABC television network its highest ratings in years. So it seems like a good time to jump into the Wayback Machine and (ever so briefly) review a key events in a saga that seems destined to end in the former singer’s grave.
With attoney John Branca, Jackson renegotiates his contract with CBS records, in essence breaking all ties he had in the past with the Jackson family as a performing entity.
Jackson visits the set of On Golden Pond . Becomes a “friend” of Jane and Henry Fonda and Katherine Hepburn (according to Jane.)
Jehovah’s Witnesses object to Thriller video and its images of ghoulish transformation.
Jackson is burned in an accident during the shooting of a Pepsi commercial.
Jackson wins multiple Grammy awards for Thriller.
“Victory” tour (intended to be his last with his brothers) begins.
Supposedly sparked by British tabloid claiming he was having an affair with singer Boy George, Jackson calls a press conference in which his manager Frank DiLeo denies that Jackson (who says little) has had hormone treatments, cheekbone alterations, and cosmetic surgery on his eyes.
DiLeo declares that Jackson will get married and have a family, threatening legal action against all who would say otherwise.
Jackson begins to appear in public with children more frequently, his favorite being actor Emmanuel Lewis.
Jackson begins filming of Captain Eo — a 3-D short designed to be installed at Disneyland.
Elizabeth Taylor becomes part of Jackson’s entourage.
Jackson acquires the ATV music catalogue.
Falls during shooting of Captain Eo and sprains wrist.
Photographed leaving hospital with new underage boy-companion, Jonathan Spence.
Sees hyperbaric chamber (a device that allegedly extends life) and considers buying it. Has himself photographed inside one and sells picture to National Enquirer
More surgery. Begins to affect surgical mask over his mouth.
Seen shopping with unidentified boy (not Spence) at Disneyland. Captain Eo premieres.
Circulates story to tabloids that he is seeking to purchase the bones of the Elephant Man.
Bad album released. Video directed by Martin Scorsese.
Inaugurates a “Non-Disclosure Clause” on contracts with all employees.
Bad tour begins.
Starts to cultivate Donald Trump socially.
Fires Frank DiLeo.
Jackson becomes spokesman for L.A. Gear clothing company. At first event for company cries out to spectators “Protect me. . .Don’t let them ask me questions!”
Visits a school in Stockton California in wake of shooting incident. No press present. “He just smiled, then he left,” says teacher.
Michael Jackson’s skin appears to turn white.
David Geffen teams with Jackson for future work.
Jackson announces that he will design theme park for hotel owner Steve Wynn in Las Vegas.
Jackson fires John Branca and hires Bert Fields.
The Boy Scouts of America inaugurate a “Michael Jackson Good Scout Humanitarian Award.”
SONY signs Jackson for deal allegedly worth $1 billion.
Jackson attends the Academy Award ceremonies with Madonna.
“Black or White” video airs drawing huge television audience.
Jermaine Jackson releases song called “Word to the Badd!” : “Once you were made/ Now you’ve changed your shade.”
Film project MidKnight (script by Caroline Thompson and Larry Wilson) announced.
Jackson announces he’s spending Christmas with Las Vegas showgirl, Shoshana Hawley — who has never met the performer prior to this “date.” Or subsequent to it either.
Disastrous Ivory Coast appearance at behest of President Bongo (February 20)
Bucharest Concert (October 10) shown on HBO.
Sues London “Daily Mirror” over story about his plastic surgeries.
Melissa Baharach heads SONY movie division and moves to develop MidKnight in June. (Never filmed.)
January 16 — Appears at NAACP Image Awards.
January 19 — Performs at Inaugural Gala in Washington D.C.
January 31: Sings “Heal the World” at the Superbowl.
February 10: Oprah interviews Jackson at “Neverland.”
February 18: Brooke Shields announces that she’s not Jackson’s girlfriend, as he has claimed.
February 24: Brooke Shields accompanies Jackson to Grammy Awards.
March 8: Michael Jackson Productions Inc., an independent film company, to share the profits on “Heal the World” charity.
March 19: Jackson gets approval from Santa Barbara county to breed gorillas, white tigers and bears at “Neverland.”
March 25: Jackson joins entrepreneur/white collar criminal Michael Miliken to start an education and entertainment cable television network. (Never realized.)
May 10: Attends World Music Awards in Monaco with Jordie Chandler.
June 13: Launches MJJ/Epic label with Free Willy soundtrack.
July 9 and 11: Jordie Chandler’s mother and stepfather meets with Bert Fields and Anthony Pellicano.
Psychiatrist Dr. Mathis Abrams contacts LAPD’s “Sexually Exploited Children” unit after hearing Jordie Chandler’s testimony.
Augus 17: LAPD begins investigation.
Evan Chandler obtains court order to deny Jordie any further contact with Jackson
August 21: Police raid “Neverland” — the scandal breaks in the news.
August 22 : Jackson flies to Bangkok for Dangerous tour.
Augues 23: LAPD formally announces that it is investigating Michael Jackson on child molestation charges.
Jackson, in Thailand, releases taped address in which he denies all charges.
Anthony Pellicano claims extortion on part of the Chandler’s.
Norma Staikos, Jackson aide and possible key witness in case, vanishes.
August 29: Elizabeth Taylor flies to Singapore to be with Jackson.
August 30: Jackson cancels second Singapore show, claiming migraine headache.
September 2: LaToya Jackson begins series of interviews about her brother.
Jackson pulls out of doing song and video for Addams Family Values .
September 3: Jackson’s parents fly to Taiwan to joing him.
September 8: Jackson goes on shopping spree with alleged “nephews” (unidentified, underage white youths) at Taipei Toys-R-Us.
September 15: Jordie Chandler files Civil Suit against Michael Jackson –#SCO26226.
October 7: Bert Fields sues “Globe” tabloid over story about Jackson paying “hush money” to various parties.
October 9: Jackson in Buenos Aires. At hotel room window hold up photograph of a baby to crowd and reporters below.
October 29: Jackson’s lawyers ask to delay the lawsuit for six years — by which time statute of limitations will have run out.
Police confiscate photgraphs and files from Jackson’s Encino home.
November 12: Jackson in Mexico cancels tour claiming he’s developed an addiction to painkillers caused by pressure from molestation charges. At the same time he gives a deposition in a plagarism suit separate from the ongoing investigation.
November 13: Rumors of Jackson being in London’s Charter Nightingale Clinic for Drug Rehabilitation begin to circulate.
November 14: Pepsi cancels its contract with Jackson.
November 16: LAPD prepares warrant to strip-search Jackson.
Jackson signs guaranteed $70 million five year deal with EMI to administer ATV catalogue.
November 22: Five former security guards sue Jackson claiming they were fired because they knew too much about his activities with underage boys.
November 23: Superior court judge denies request for six-year delay in case. Sets trial for march 21. At press conference Bert Fields speaks of Santa Barbara Grand Jury “ready to indict.”
Dangerous videos released.
December 3: Lawyers say Jackson to return to country by January.
Fields and Pellicano resign.
December 20: Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP holds press conference that denounces the media’s role in Jackson affair.
December 22: Jackson returns to the U.S. Makes broadcast declaring his innocence and complaining of treatment at hands of the authorities.
December 31: Jackson attends Barbra Streisand concert in Las Vegas with Michael Miliken.
January 5: Jackson appears at NAACP Image Awards and again declares his innocence.
January 25: Civil suit settled out of court.
Norma Staikos returns.
February 19: Appears at “Jackson Family Honors” show in Las Vegas to present Elizabeth Taylor with an award, but does not perform himself. Celine Dion, however, does — formally launching her career.
February 25: Captain Eo pulled from Disney World.
John Branca rehired.
Santa Barbara grand jury investigation continues with interviews with maid, chauffeur, Norma Staikos and the mother of Brett Barnes — another underage male Jackson “friend.”
April 3: Richard Steingard, attorney for Jackson employee, protests Santa Barbara prosecutors questions about sexual orentation of Jackson associates.
April 8: Jackson announces he is developing musical remake of The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao with score by Giorgio Moroder, make-up by Stan Winston and Rusty Lemorade as line producer. (Never made.)
April 11: Los Angeles District Attornet Gil Garcetti denies that probe ofjackson has ended. Santa Barbara D.A. Tom Snedden extends grand jury probe.
May 11: Jackson appears in New York to receive “Children’s Choice Caring For Kids” awardfrom “Body Sculpt” — “A non-profit drug prevention program foryouth at risk.” The award was presumably voted on by 75% ofyouths from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, identifying Jackson as the celebrity who cares for kids the most because “he gives money to children’s foundations.
May 13: Jackson bodyguards assault a photographer and confiscate film he was taking of Jackson and underage male companion in Central Park.
May 16: Evan Chandler retires from dentistry.