FEATURE: Erasing History: Is Banning Michael Jackson’s Music from the Airwaves a Bad Decision?



Erasing History


Is Banning Michael Jackson’s Music from the Airwaves a Bad Decision?


EVEN though there is not the same amount of talk...


 IN THIS PHOTO: Michael Jackson in 2005/PHOTO CREDIT: Carlo Allegri/Getty Images

regarding Michael Jackson and the allegations made against him over the past day or two, there is still a lot of development and ‘progress’. By that, people seem to be on the side of Jackson’s accusers, Wade Robson and James Safechuck. In fact, by the day, it seems Jackson’s work is disappearing from the world. Drake has dropped a Michael Jackson song from his setlist amidst the controversy. Whilst there is a lot of talk regarding the Leaving Neverland documentary – where Robson and Safechuck have told their story – it is only these two guys who, nearly a decade after Jackson’s death, are now coming out. It makes me wonder whether their motive is money or justice. Certainty, even if there was concentrate proof regarding Jackson’s guilt, he could not be taken to task and imprisoned. This article looks at what was missing from the recent documentary:

But while the documentary recounts both men’s damning claims against the singer, Leaving Neverland doesn’t include every aspect of the decades-long allegations against Jackson, who died in 2009 of a drug overdose.

Some parts, such as testimony from the singer’s staff and his own family, have been purposely omitted by director Dan Reed, who argued they needed to be left out in favour of focusing on the victims’ voices.

However, those omissions and others, like the long-running Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into Jackson that never resulted in conviction, have been seized on by the singer’s supporters who have claimed the film is one-sided as a result...

Mr Robson and Mr Safechuck’s failed legal action against the late singer and previous claims they were never sexually abused by the singer have been highlighted again and again by Jackson “truthers” in the wake of Leaving Neverland’s release.

In 2004, the FBI again provided police with assistance in investigating claims against the singer, forensically analysing 16 computers from Jackson’s home and finding nothing of note, according to Billboard.

In September that year the FBI was asked to look at possible sex charges against the singer after the discovery of an unnamed alleged victim living in New York, CNNreports.

However, the case was closed after the alleged victim told the FBI he would “legally fight” any attempts to try and make him testify against Jackson”.

I would never make light of any situation like this but, as Michael Jackson has been accused of being a pederast, people have to take it seriously. No matter what side of the debate you are on, the man himself can never have his say or have his moment in court. All of those who accuse him are doing so based on no evidence and assumptions – because he has shared a bed with children does not automatically equate to abuse. It is clear the words of Jackson’s accusers are shocking but there are a lot of holes. They have changed their story a few times and one wonders why if – as it is claimed they were abused hundreds of times – they kept going to Jackson’s home.

Why would their parents allow that and why would the children, knowing it was not right what was happening, continue to go rather than staying at their homes? Maybe there is fear and the sense they want to be near their idol but there is a lot more to the case than meets the eye. The sheer complexity of this matter means that we might never know for sure what happened and whether there is truth in anything that has been said. At any rate, many people seem to have Michael Jackson pinned and figured. This BBC article explains the fallout:

Paul Blanchard, founder of the PR company Right Angles, says it's too early to tell what lasting impact the revelations will have on Michael Jackson's legacy.

"This is the Brexit of pop music. People will be more divided than ever. The longer it goes on the more alienated and divided people are.

"As we've got nearer to Brexit people have become even more polarised and even more opposed to each other and not come together.

"I think this will happen with Jackson's legacy. For those who are starting to turn off him they will become more entrenched in that view.

"For those that think he's a victim of blackmail and these people are trying to get money out of him - they will continue to think that ever more strongly".

It is not only the fans that are divided – with some turning off – but one must wonder what affect this is having on Jackson’s family. These allegations affect them and his nearest and dearest, including his daughter Paris Jackson, will carry this with them forever:

Michael Jackson's family has strongly denied the claims made against him and says the allegations are about getting money from the singer's estate.

His nephew Taj Jackson spoke to Newsbeat on Wednesday to defend his uncle and said the singer would be "crying" over the allegations.

But other high profile family members - such as his mother, and sister Janet Jackson - haven't addressed the claims.

His daughter Paris has kept a low profile since the documentary was shown and hasn't spoken about it directly.

But on Thursday she sent a tweet in which she told her followers to keep calm, saying: "Y'all take my life more seriously than I do".

Nobody wants to overlook what has been said in the Leaving Neverland documentary but it seems that a lot of the media’s perceptions and reactions have been one-sided: finding Jackson guilty and appalled at what has come out. I know that music is a personal thing so, if someone feels they cannot listen to Michael Jackson again, then that is up to them to decide. One of the most shocking decisions to come out of all of this is radio stations turning off Jackson’s music.

The BBC article explains what is happening so far:

Some radio stations across the world - including in Australia, New Zealand and Canada - have stopped playing Michael Jackson's music.

Leon Wratt, the boss of MediaWorks - which owns nine radio stations across New Zealand - said the company is guided by the audience and wanted to "err on the side of caution".

But radio stations in the UK haven't taken such a public stand.

The BBC says it doesn't ban artists and Michael Jackson could be played on its radio stations.

A spokeswoman said: "We consider each piece of music on its merits, and decisions on what we play on different networks are always made with relevant audiences and context in mind."

While Global, which owns stations including Heart, Capital, Classic FM, Smooth and Capital XTRA, says it "never comments on editorial (playlist) decisions".

The fact that the stations not playing his music are doing this because they want to be cautious is ridiculous. How can you ever disprove what is being said about Jackson? Because there will never be an absolute truth, does this cautious approach means his music will be banned forever?! This statute of limitations might extend for decades and one wonders, if it is a temporary ban, then why bother at all. I can understand there might be some discomfort playing songs so close to the documentary coming out but, now that it is out in the world and there are two sides to the debate, why keep this ban in place?!

 IN THIS PHOTO: Jackson and a young Wade Robson/PHOTO CREDIT: HBO

Radio is a medium for everyone and should not be dictated by station bosses. There are people in Australia and Canada who are Michael Jackson fans and I feel it is wrong to have this blanket-ban and deny those who want to hear him. Even though the U.K. has not taken such an extreme stance, I feel like they are holding back. Consider stations that, until a few weeks ago, played his music fairly regularly. Everyone from Heart to BBC Radio 6 Music played his material and I do not think I have heard a Michael Jackson song played on any station here since the controversy. Even if they have not banned his music then, by not playing it, they are effectively doing the same thing. I received comments on Twitter when I announced I was going to do a piece on Michael Jackson; I asked whether it was a bit unwise writing a piece about him given the news coming out. Some said that, because he was a bigger star than people like Rolf Harris (who has put music out there and is not as famous) then does that mean he should be given a pass? Do we overlook the nature of a crime if the music is really good and popular?



In the case of artists who have been accused and arrested – including Rolf Harris and R. Kelly – the situations are different and, in both cases, the men are alive to face justice – Harris has already been to prison. It does bring up an interesting debate regarding the music and the man. I have talked about this before but, until anything conclusive is revealed and we know Jackson is guilty, everything is hearsay and up for scrutiny. Everything is hanging on this documentary and the words of two men – if it were dozens then we might have to take action regarding Jackson and his music. Even if more people do come through, how does banning his music get rid of the problem? The argument we should be having is how to protect young fans and women in the modern times. There is, fortunately, nobody like Jackson around today who invites children into his home but there are men in music who are abusing women. We need to look more at protection and avoiding any ghastly situation rather than scrapping back catalogues. If Michael Jackson were to be found guilty and there was concrete evidence, what would be the use in banning his music? Jackson cannot benefit from any sales and he is not alive to record anything new. People were still buying his music and stations were playing his music when allegations were made back in the 1990s and early part of this century. Why, then, has another revelation pushed some stations to the edge?!

I do hope the radio stations that have banned his music relent soon enough because, when the attention regarding Leaving Neverland dies away, what is going to happen? Listen to any Michael Jackson song and he is not referring to children being in his bed and having a thing for them. It would be commercial suicide if he did say that but his love songs all refer to women and are fairly safe. Even when Jackson is edgy and at his angriest, that is aimed at those doing him wrong. I do think anything in his catalogue has alluded to being in bed with young boys or anything to that affect. It is sad that we should tarnish an icon whose personality and music are different things. One can say the artist and man are one of the same thing but I disagree. Music is a personal choice and one can see why someone like Rolf Harris’ music would be maligned – the fact he actually sung a song called Two Little Boys would leave a sour taste in the mouths of many! Jackson has been dogged by accusations through his career and, whether there is substance in any of the allegations, why deny people his music? The weight of his legacy is shifting and many are seeing this iconic musician who transformed Pop and affected real change as a reviled and awful human.

In homes and in lives all around the world, the music of Michael Jackson will always exist. If the U.K. radio brands are being too cowardly to commit either way – they have not banned his music but are definitely not playing it like they did – then we can rest assured that Jackson will be played by his fans. Music is a personal choice and should not be dictated by radio stations and broadcasters. His music is available on Spotify and they have not committed; one can see his music videos on YouTube and there has not been this embargo. T.V. shows such as The Simpsons are not taking any chances – as the BBC article from before explains:

An episode of The Simpsons featuring the voice of Michael Jackson is being pulled from streaming services and streaming channels.

The singer voiced a character called Leon Kompowsky, who meets Homer in a psychiatric hospital, in an episode which originally aired in 1991.

"It feels clearly the only choice to make," executive producer James L Brooks told The Wall Street Journal.

He added: "I'm against book burning of any kind. But this is our book, and we're allowed to take out a chapter".

We are already seeing fallout and damage that might never be repaired. By playing his music on radio, you are not sending out a message that says the man is brilliant as a human: you are promoting his music that, throughout the decades, has brought countless joy to millions – including the men who have accused him.

 IN THIS PHOTO: A shot from the West End Musical, Thriller Live/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

If Jackson stood to profit then there might be cause to suspend his music for a while but the man has been dead for almost a decade. There is a musical in the West End, Thriller Live that has been running since Jackson’s death and people are still queuing to see that. Maybe the musical will not attract those who are not already fans of Jackson but neither too have the doors been closed. A lot of Jackson’s family have been quiet regarding the situation and that, again, says more about Jackson as the man than the artist. It seems many cannot or will not distinguish between the two and have already made their decision. From a moral standpoint, Jackson was not completely clean and few can deny he was a rather unusual human. One will never know what happened at his Neverland ranch but where do we draw the line? Look back the Rock bands who would often bed under-age girls back in the 1960s and 1970s. Even if it was consensual then why should they be idolised and their music flourish? The situations are different but it is clear that, through the decades, musicians have broken the law and, yet, they are still popular and not being tarnished. I think an artist should be judged on what the law says and whether they are adjudged to be guilty or not. Whilst there is still a difference between the musician and the human, we need that absolute proof and conviction of wrongdoing – right now, a legendary artist is being tarnished based on people’s assumptions and perceptions.

I do not feel Jackson’s music should be banned on radio or played any less than it would have been years ago. It continues to delight many and, in these hard and tense times, his music provides joy and energy. He inspired multiple musicians and, to the best of my knowledge, none of them have been accused of being pederasts. What do people think will happen if the music is played on the radio? The artists who have been influenced by Jackson have taken his music to heart and the way he performed – not how he behaved as a human away from the spotlight. Many might not be able to separate the performer and man but, in musical terms, one cannot merely erase and overlook a legacy because they feel a little uncomfortable or icky. If someone does not like a Jackson song being played then that is their call. The size of his impact on music is larger than the hit from the Leaving Neverland documentary and it makes me wonder whether he will still have a brand in the future. We have never seen a Popstar as big as him have to go through this so I wonder, in a decade or so, will anyone play Jackson’s music at all?! It would be a shame to think the die has been cast and this is the sign of the future. The pacificity from the U.K., I feel, will continue and I do not think they will play Jackson a lot. The U.S., largely, is not banning him but neither are they playing him as frequently as they might otherwise do. The final nail seems to have been added by Wade Robson and James Safechuck and it makes me concerned two human beings can influence radio stations around the world. Michael Jackson’s music is phenomenal and could inspire generations to come but, if we continue to take such rash and unwise action based on no proof whatsoever, then that can have a hugely damaging effect on Pop music and the industry...             


 IMAGE CREDIT: Getty Images

FOR decades to come.