By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
The Michael Jackson case brought out the (noted psychic confidante) Uri Geller in me. You'll remember that back in February, I wrote that Jackson would most certainly moonwalk. After all, the case against him had more holes than a botched nose job, the accuser's mother would surely be painted as a bloodsucking zombie ripped from the anus of a dead dog, and the jury would either be heavily medicated blank slates or starstruck celebrity hounds with their tongues out. I knew they'd end up cottoning to Jacko's side even if they did not exactly comprise an assemblage of his peers. (But what would a jury of peers consist of in this case? Twelve skin-lightened, nasally challenged pop stars in military jackets?)
And lordy, I was even more on target than with my Tony predictions! Shockingly enough, both sides seemed so inefficient at times that you wondered if they'd even pre-interviewed their witnesses, a few of whom ended up helping the other side. Eventually you started thinking that faced with either Tom Sneddon or Tom Mesereau, Martha Stewart might have gone freer than an unstapled chicken.
But it was the prosecution that really took the crumbling cake. The molestation charges Sneddon's case leveled were mesmerizing, mind you, but he seemed to think they'd speak for themselvesand if they didn't, well, he was going to throw in conspiracy and other charges too and see if maybe those stuck like a white glove on congealed duck butter.
They didn'tpartly because a bizarre hodgepodge of celebrities came out to defend Jackson, proving that showbiz people, especially second-string ones, always rally to protect their own. As George Lopez, Macaulay Culkin, Debbie Rowe, Mark Geragos, Wade Robson, Chris Tucker, and Chris Tucker's ex-fiancée lined up to take the stand, the jury may not exactly have been blinded by stardust, but they at least became susceptible to a light, distracting sprinkle of glittery cheese.
That was all too poetic since none of this unsavory situation would have ever happened without the fabulous construct of celebrity. If he weren't a frustrated ex-child star, Michael would not still be living out his youth, this time with more playmates and possibly fewer boundaries. If he weren't the King of Poppers, I mean Pop, he wouldn't be able to use his fame and wealth to lure kids into his multi-acre theme park estate and his bedroom. ("They followed me!" Michael always claims, as if they just showed up and invited themselves in.) And if he weren't a star, so many parents wouldn't be impressed enough to leave their misgivings (and children) at the door, especially since abusewhether real or imaginedmight always lead to attention and dollar signs.
Celebrity got Michael Jackson into this unholy mess, and damned if it didn't help him get out of it too. The trial became a real-life game show whereby weird tabloid personalities converged to answer questions and crown Jacko the winner, while portraying the accuser's mother as a loser grossly feeding off his majesty. (As if almost everyone else for miles weren't up to a less obvious version of the same thing. And besides, isn't it a tiny bit possible that the woman is a sleazeball, but so is Michael? Feeding frenzies generally take two.)
But I digress. Jackson was found not guilty on all 10 countsfair is fairand it was B-listers who helped save him, while A-lister Jay Leno proved to be a washout and sister Janet didn't materialize at all. (That was just as well for Jacko; if Janet supposedly corrupted the world's youth with her flashing breast, how could she now be held up as a moral weather vane on the subject of child abuse?) Rowea backfiring witness for the prosecutionis the one who came through most royally for the singer, lavishing him with gushy praise while apparently reveling in hopes that he'll let her see their kids again. And Culkin also went to bat, rather than exclaimingas some were praying"He wasn't a homo alone!" That would have forever branded him as the person who brought down Jacko, not to mention a victim of abuse and a longtime liar. Besides, if he was messed with, Culkin may well have buried the memory, rationalizing, "Well, at least there was some affection there. Overall, he treated me better than my father." But of course the main reason Culkin defended Jackson, the verdict instructs us, is that the pop star has children over merely to serve them cookies (not Jesus juice) and tell them stories.
He's certainly entertaining enough that I'd listen! In fact, even though he didn't testify, Jackson triumphantly called on his own star power (or just possibly weird luck) to cement his courtroom dominance. In a twist that's now legend, the day the accuser was set to deliver devastating testimony, the master showman was rushed to the hospital for a back problem and finally arrived in court looking even frailer than usual in pajamas and slippers (but miraculously managing to wave to fans). The only one not riveted by the sight of him in pj's was the accuser himself, who's undoubtedly seen the guy in his bedwear before. The upshot? Michael became the victim that day as the boy's scorching allegations were relegated to the funny pages.