2019 has been a little rough. A stark contrast from last year when we were all basking in the Wakandan sun. It appears as though the Black community is taking some L’s.
I recently watched the two-part Leaving Neverland documentary that aired on HBO. The documentary follows two men’s account of sexual abuse and molestation they experienced as a child by Michael Jackson. This post isn’t about whether I believe them or MJ. This is more of an inquisitive and observational post on how people react to these types of allegations from their beloved celebrities.
As soon as an allegation comes to light people often take a side pretty quickly. Usually without knowing all the facts. People on either side of the story are firm and absolute in what they believe. And the attacks from those who think differently are vitriol.
I’ve noticed that there hasn’t been a lot of discussions or condemning social media post about Michael Jackson as there have been of R. Kelly or Jussie Smollett. Understandably so. It’s Michael Jackson, the King of Pop. Everyone loves him. Generations of people of all races feel deeply connected to him. He’s otherworldly and enchanting.
People feel deeply connected to their favorite celebrities. As much as we may feel like we know a celebrity we only know the personas that make them money. But at the end of the day, they’re just humans, and humans are troubled and problematic. If we can agree on that, then why is it so hard to believe a celebrity wouldn’t be any different? I’m wondering the following:
- When a harmful allegation is reported against your favorite celebrity how do you sift fact from rumors?
- Or do you even investigate the story further? Do you have blind allegiance?
- What if your favorite celebrity vehemently denies the allegations? How do you reconcile what is being said about them?
- If it turns out your favorite celebrity is guilty? Do you cut off support to their art or can you separate the artist from the art?
- And lastly, if you can separate these two, what does that say about you and your scruples?
As for me, I think I am always going to be partial to the victims only for the simple reason that I would want someone to believe me if I ever experienced such a trauma. I understand people lie and extort celebrities. I also deeply understand the history of white people constructing campaigns to lie, diminish the impact of and kill Black men. But I also understand that where there is smoke there is fire. And when multiple allegations come to light then you can be sure that there is some truth underneath it all.
Ultimately, when someone uses their power and influence to manipulate and abuse the vulnerable it’s a problem for me. Celebrity or not. Taking advantage of others is not cool and I could never support that. But this can be problematic because everything we engage with is shady. We bop our heads to music produced by drug dealers and domestic violence abusers. We watch films and television shows produced by sexual predators. Some of us attend churches in which the word of God is being spoken by pedophiles, adulterers, and scammers. Many of us work for companies owned by racists. With so much crudeness and salacious behavior going on in the world, how do you just cut off one and not the other? How do you decide?