‘I feel bad for the children. I feel bad for him,’ said Barbra Streisand to the Times of London about Michael Jackson, who was by his own admission ‘really bad’ and, according to Wade Robson and James Safechuck, much, much worse in private. Streisand’s interview was a wide-ranging reflection on her legend and upcoming tour. The kind of men who agree with her defense of Jackson won’t buy tickets. Most of them are already locked up.
‘His sexual needs were his sexual needs, coming from whatever childhood he has,’ said Babs, referring to the Jackson Five’s Greatest Hits and Freud’s theory of early childhood sexual development. And hadn’t both Robson and Safechuck been ‘thrilled’ to be at Neverland? Surely the interviewer realized that the damage, anal bleeding aside, wasn’t fatal? ‘They both married and they both have children, so it didn’t kill them.’
You could shake Babs by her hair extensions and tell her that the King of Pop was a hardened pedophile who diligently and successfully groomed young boys over many years but she won’t understand. Hollywood is fueled by money, and everyone has a price. People are products to be commodified, and they’re beating at the doors for a chance to become a commodity. Children are no exception. This is the skewed, sick prism through which Hollywood looks out at the world. Jackson had child-centered ‘sexual needs’. Neverland was where he purchased underage commodities for their fulfillment.
To be a superstar for half a century, as Streisand has been since being a merely excellent singer and comedienne wasn’t enough, is to lose any sense of what existing in the real world is like. Icons are manufactured, polished and pandered to by hangers-on and enablers. They process through a bruising system of narcissism, self-promotion and incalculable greed. Then, colon irrigated and face botoxed, they tell us ordinary uglies they feel sad because a fellow fish in the goldfish bowl has been accused of prolific pedophilia. Disingenuous doesn’t begin to describe it.
Diana Ross, another specimen case of how celebrity makes you a moron, waded in to protect Babs and Michael. ‘I believe and trust that Michael Jackson was and is a magnificent incredible force to me and to many others,’ Ross tweeted, then reminded us that she too has a tour imminent, and quoted one of her hits from the 19th century. ‘STOP IN THE NAME OF LOVE’. Ross has even less of a grip on reality than Streisand. She believes Jackson, who sexually abused young boys in the name of love, is totally innocent. But then, Jackson did pay the supreme compliment of surgical impersonation.
Streisand has tried to remain part of the world, if only through daft Democratic activism. Eventually, her meandering egotism identified the obvious. ‘I blame, I guess, the parents, who would allow their children to sleep with him,’ she told the Times. The kind of parent who sends a child into the compound of a multi-millionaire superstar for unsupervised overnight visits is a parent who has sold their sense of stranger-danger at the gates of Neverland.
When Streisand discovered that the general public has yet to attain her level of sophistication about child abuse, she issued a damage limitation article in the Washington Post. We know it was written by her, because her handlers would never have let the bad grammar pass. ‘The single most important role of being a parent is to protect their children.’ But then Streisand restated her original analysis: ‘It’s clear that the parents of the two young men were also victimized and seduced by fame and fantasy.’ She followed up with a tweet stating she was ‘profoundly sorry’ for ‘not choosing my words more carefully’. She hadn’t meant to ‘dismiss the trauma these boys experienced in any way’ — or at least to get busted for it.
But she did. The damage is already done. She is accused of being ‘complicit’ with pedophilia in the entertainment industry. It’s not clear if complicity still counts as an offense, now Robert Mueller has filed. But people are also threatening to burn her albums, and boycott her concerts.
Streisand’s mistake was to tell us what she really thinks. In her thinking, and the group-think of Hollywood, celebrity culture might recklessly exploit and consume its players, but they’re lucky to get the chance to play at all. She understands fame, but not the sudden change in the media’s mood. The public has always disliked the abuse of power. It’s the media which has suddenly changed from simplicity and cover ups to crusades and #MeToo campaigns. Poor Barbra.
Twenty years ago, attempts to publicize Jackson’s behavior were silenced with a legal writ. Now, anyone who doesn’t automatically condemn the nose-melted pederast gets a collateral reviling. The machinery of stardom is still working, still giving us what we want. The great dethroning of the King of Pop will continue, because there’s no business like show business. Even Streisand’s error helps to oil the wheels and feed our appetite. It’s bad, really bad.