Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Jackson jury ends third day without verdict

Jackson jury ends third day without verdict: "SANTA MARIA, Calif. (Reuters) - The jury in Michael Jackson's child molestation trial on Wednesday completed a third full day without reaching a verdict as aides to the pop star urged supporters to be patient."

Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, is as American as McDonald's. Most of us grew up watching his career mature like the boys and girls on our block. We all have one of his albums among our CD collections. We all dreamed of being cool enough to pull off the one, sequined glove and the moonwalk. Why, then, are Americans not following this case like they did the OJ Simpson murder trial of the 90s?

More Americans identify with Michael Jackson on at least some small role that represented our adolescence. Maybe he was the kid that the "cool kids" in our high school and junior highs emulated. Maybe he was their inspiration on how to be cool. He did, after all, bring the word "bad" into our lexicon. Why do we not care as much about this case?

On some small level, his indiscretions, whether true or not, are our embarrassments. Even if this jury returns a verdict of not guilty, his reputation will be lost, and our teenage years soiled because of the simple question: "did he or didn't he." OJ Simpson was a football player, an icon of strength and athletic prowess for men, and a symbol of what's wrong with athletes and why children should not idolize them. Removing the race card that was played as much as the fifth ace at a poker table, the case was about celebrity drama and the every day power struggle between men and women. People cared more for the outcome than the accused and the victims.

The intercourse between crime and trial birthed the reality television era. The brutal murders were something straight out of an episode of Law & Order; the trial, People's Court at the federal level. There was that sense of entertainment detachment between audience and programming that isn't evident in the Michael Jackson case.

What Jackson is accused of is something that no individual could rationalize into acceptability. If OJ really did kill his wife and her friend/lover, there would be some that could claim to understand his anger and sense of rejection. 'Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned'...at least women have cunning ways of destroying without killing, men know the best solution to a problem is to erase it completely. There's a mental understanding of what some people - maybe not the average person working behind a cubicle in a stained tie and cheap suit - would do because of love. As beautiful as love is, it can also drive men and women, alike, to do terrible things...even a flower casts a dark shadow.

It's because Americans cannot justify Jackson's acts that they turn their heads. Shame, maybe, but more probable, Americans live like ostriches when confronted with an idea that they cannot explain away. If they never hear the verdict, they could go living their lives in the shadow of possibility - the hope that he does turn out to be innocent. But, the truth is, people will know the verdict within minutes of its release and whatever it is, their Michael Jackson albums, memories, and adolescent dreams of fame will have to be put away for some time. The burden of living with that embarassment is too much for us to identify with.

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