Why the Skeptics Should Watch Leaving Neverland

First let me explain to you what this post is NOT about:

  • Cancelling Michael Jackson > I don’t believe in ‘cancelling’ anyone. How can a group of human beings cancel another? It’s impossible. I do believe in viewing a person or a situation from a nuanced perspective. At least as much as one can. We are all flawed and have committed evil acts in our time. As a matter of fact, as flawed humans we are presently capable of dastardly deeds as much as acts of generosity and love. We choose our actions daily.
  • A Referendum on Michael Jackson’s Music >The root word of ‘fan’ is fanatic. Fanatic is defined as, ‘a person filled with excessive and single-minded zeal.. especially for an extreme religious or political cause.’ In this case the religious and political cause is Michael Jackson and his music. I’m not asking you to watch Leaving Neverland so that you can stop listening to Jackson’s music. How you reconcile love for his music vs what he’s accused of is up to you. In a world full of either/or’s, there is room for and/both. Facing harsh truths about our icons makes us better more responsible humans.

It’s frustrating to hear people dismiss something as a lie that they have not seen. I’ve heard and read more than a few in the Black community say they refuse to watch the documentary. The reasons vary from, ‘They just want money,‘, or ‘The media is out to destroy Jackson,’ or ‘Why didn’t the come forward years earlier or why lie about it before?’ These questions are tremendously shortsighted. For example, I was sexually molested as a child. Am I a liar because this is the first time I put it in print? Less than a handful knew before I hit ‘publish.’ Also I know that molestation has been an issue in my own family.

I recall a time when a family member called a family meeting to confront another member. The incident or incidents happened to them as a child. (I’m being vague to protect privacy) During this meeting they gave their account of what the person did to them. Their pain and agony filled with tears was devastating to watch as they described what was done to them as a child. This relative was in their 40s. On another occasion it was suspected that a member was molested. A safe space was provided for them to open up. They denied it for about 15 years. By the time they were ready to admit the truth and face the trauma, they were on the verge of a nervous breakdown. There are more examples I could give but I’ll stop here. The point is one cannot determine for someone else when they should be ready to share their truth. And it should be understood that the high level of skepticism of victim’s stories is part of the reason why it’s so hard to come forward. First of all victims tend to blame themselves. The longer the secret is held, the deeper the guilt and shame. Couple that with the fear of not being believed creates a no win situation. Every time someone says, “I don’t believe any of the victims in the ‘insert public molestation or sexual abuse scandal,’ you reinforce the need to remain silent lest they too be called a liar. Not to be missed, it both covers and empowers the perpetrators.

I was listening to the radio the other morning and caught the tail end of an interview with Arsenio Hall. He was on the “Tom Joyner Morning Show” talking about a sequel to the film, “Coming To America.” At the very end of it without being prompted he said, “Don’t waste your time on the Michael Jackson documentary. It’s slow, it’s annoying and people letting their kids go to Michael’s for five days in a row without their parents. …He then joked. “You know what? Tito didn’t send his kids to the ranch for five days.” Finally he took shots at one of the alleged victims Wade Robson, saying, …“the boy has Rob in his name…Unless you had ‘thief’ in your name you couldn’t have a worse name for the documentary.” This is fandom. Since Arsenio knew Jackson and is a lifelong fan, he would rather ‘cancel the accusers.’ Regardless of how he feels about Jackson’s guilt or innocence, discouraging people from watching the documentary and using their own judgment is weak!

As someone who has seen the complete documentary, including the Oprah Winfrey interview, “After Neverland,” I find the critics terribly uninformed. They site money as a motive. They question the timing. (as usual) They speak as if it’s merely 4 hours of simple minded accusations without any road maps, logic or rationale. I too didn’t know what to expect. What I found upon viewing is that it’s really not so much about Michael Jackson. It’s about grooming, not just the kids but the adult parents as well. It’s about how the young underdeveloped brains of children can be manipulated into a false sense of love. It’s about seduction and how even small children can be turned on both in a sexual and erotic sense, leading to confusion and self blame. It’s about the fallout of recognition, confusion, and deception as the child grows into teen and eventually adulthood. It’s about how those who are in charge of security can be hypnotized into forfeiting basic protections which should be forged with common sense. It’s a story of tragedy that the victims and their families including the wives of both Rob Robson and Jimmy Safechuck must endure for the rest of their lives. Jackson is merely a vehicle to illustrate the story.

Oprah (a sexual molestation survivor) said that what director Dan Reed accomplished with this doc was what she tried to accomplish with 217 shows on the subject matter. I agree. I have no idea how the director got all of the interviewees to open up the way he did. Even with the sometimes graphic descriptions it’s carefully done in a totally non salacious fashion. Personally, I believe it should be required viewing. I would consider Oprah’s interview ‘The Workbook’ if the documentary were text. Whatever one takes away from watching, these men are not laughing, they aren’t rejoicing, they certainly are not mentally or spiritually free. To ignore what is presented is missing an opportunity to learn how children are seduced and preyed upon, often right under our noses.

The truth of the matter is that historically we have had sexual abuse and assaults damaging our youth for generations. It’s happened in our homes, our churches, our schools, in back alleys and public spaces. Sadly we haven’t done a good job in protecting our children or creating a pathway of safety for them to reach for help when something evil happens to them. It’s all about preserving the secrets. Victims aren’t listened to enough. And when the accused perpetrator is a celebrity, we send clear messages that past and future victims will not be believed. But it’s time to take the covers off and recognize that this isn’t a problem, it’s an epidemic! We’ve ignored the injured. We’ve empowered and embolden the perpetrators. We must stop this vicious cycle!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Scandal’s Season Finale…. May Be Slipping A Little

I was late on the Scandal train.  Some friends at work got me hip to the party.  I blazed my way through the first two seasons via Netflix like my hair was on fire!   Once, my daughter came home from school and had forgotten something important in her locker.  I had to take her back.  But I was in the middle of some serious shenanigans involving Mellie at the time.  I had to pause my episode.  WTH?  I took her back like a good daddy would.  But don’t think I didn’t give her the straight business all the way there and back! I didn’t mention the show of course.  I went with the ‘being responsible’ rant instead.  #VeteranMove

Like so many, I love the show.  Shonda Rimes is a genius.  She can weave a plot and spin a narrative.  Writing good television is harder than it’s ever been before.  This is one of the reasons there are so many reality TV shows.  Not only are they cheap to produce, it doesn’t take much imagination.  Who needs a Rhimes to write a great story when you can just roll out a Kardashian, Honey Boo Boo or a Desperate Housewife in front of the camera?

When a well written show strikes gold, it creates a cult following.  Social media carries it even greater heights.  I consider myself a veteran and eclectic television show watcher.  I was Marin Tupper sitting in front of the TV set as a kid.  From Kojak and Columbo, Starsky and Hutch, and Berretta, Hill Street Blues and LA Law, The Sopranos and The Wire, The West Wing and Breaking Bad, I know good, and imaginative story telling when I see it.  The bar is higher than it’s ever been.

dream on

One of the biggest challenges for a great show with a cult following is to continue to write at the level that rocketed the popularity of the show in the first place.  Success and an abundance of praise can make writers lazy.  I’ve seen it with the best.  McNulty’s serial killer fiasco in Season 5 of The Wire come to mind.  Breaking Bad had some ridiculously unbelievable moments as well;  like Gustavo’s desert hospital on standby ready to pump his stomach after taking poison during his revenge plot.

This brings me to last night’s Season 3 finale of Scandal.  The challenge Rhimes faced, was having the ability to tie up a particular set of loose ends, while giving the viewer a taste of anticipation of what’s to come.  She had to to leave us reeling, giving us water cooler material to chop up over the next several weeks.  If not careful, the narratives can be rushed leaving the cake half baked.

This is how I viewed last nights finale:  (SPOILER ALERT)

Sally Langston’s cold blooded murder of her husband was ok.  I’ve always seen her character as a more fluent Michele Bachmann.  Her husband wanting to suddenly leave her in the wake of having a one night stand exposed with James Novack seemed lame.  But going Norman Bates on him lines up with her ambition to be president.  The fact that she called Cyrus, the man in charge of handling her political enemy instead of her own fixer didn’t make any sense.

Speaking of which, how in the hell did David Rosen’s assistant suddenly come up with an NSA link into Langston’s phone?  I knew they had to figure a way to expose that Langston was murdered.  I have no logic to explain that.

The scene at the Pentagon where Fitz and Eli went mano-a- mano was epic! The president’s insecurities made him feel desperate and powerless enough to talk sh#! about screwing Olivia; bragging about how she tasted as if Pope were a former lover rather than her father.  You would have thought it was Drake talking to Chris Brown.  Eli’s,  ‘I’m a man while you’re a boy’ rant was some of the best theater you will ever see.  It reminded me of Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman going toe to tow in Crimson Tide;  Or Pacino and DeNiro at the diner in Heat.  John Morton is one helluva actor, and Rhimes let him loose on Fitz.  As far as I’m concerned, he should win an emmy for that scene alone!

Pope

One of the reasons Eli Pope could step to the President like that was because he’s was the head of  a clandestine organization (B613) whose power exceeds that of the oval office.  This makes Pope untouchable.  So how in the hell could Fitz flip the script, put Pope on the street and make Jake Ballard ‘Command?’  Jake Ballard?  Seriously?  How does that even happen?

That’s a problem!

Speaking of B613; What is Rhimes doing with Quinn Perkins?  I get that she’s a bit looney.  But her direction started to smell the moment she got involved with Charlie and foolishly got played into killing a security guard.  Hadn’t Huck taught her anything?  Further, because Huck told her she wasn’t a gladiator anymore she then goes back to Charlie?  There was nobody else in that office to talk to her before she walked out?  Don’t tell me she’s that lost after being hard core enough to rip a GPS from her chicklets!

Lastly, the plot of Olivia’s mother being a terrorist was masterful.  The fact that her and Eli are devils in their own right is fittingly and awesomely complicated.  It makes me wonder what kind of person Olivia will be down the road.  Does she have some Eli or Walter White transformational potential?

Still, towards the end the plot became sadly predictable.  I’m sitting on the couch watching the show, and I said outloud, “That plain ain’t landing in Hong Kong.”  And, “Oh, that’s Olivia’s mom calling,” all before it was revealed.  But I’m supposed to believe she shot some dudes akin to the Navy Seals, landed the plane in an abandoned air strip in Angola and made it back to Washington D.C. by episodes end?

narcisse

I’m hard on television shows.  I know it’s fantasy.  But the astute viewer will maintain a certain standard of expectation once it’s been established.  If there is too much slippage to the point of lazy pandering I will cold drop a show.  This happened most recently with Boardwalk Empire.  It has it’s share of blunders in Season 3 but it ended strong.  Season 4 was a complete fail!  The writers just started smoking crack or something.  I finished the season hoping it would recover but it didn’t.  I’m out!

I hope Shonda Rhimes hasn’t lost control of her masterpiece.  And that she doesn’t let the hype get in the way of her creative genius.

Caught Up on “The Wire!”

Thanks Jason Whitlock!  No I really mean it. 

I was minding my own business till you insisted on the radio over and over again that “The Wire,” a show that used to be on HBO was by far the best drama series in the history of television – network of pay.

I had seen bits and pieces of David Simon’s production.  I had heard about the stories and some of the characters as well.  I never got hold of the series because I didn’t have HBO during any of it’s 5 seasons.  I caught an episode years ago while stay in a hotel that carried the network, but since I was not familiar with the show or it’s characters, I was not able to follow what was going on.  The Wire is one of those programs that picks up it’s plots from the previous week and so on.  So my interest for trying to pursue it any further dissolved quickly.

But, while catching up on the podcast archives of the Jim Rome show where Whitlock frequently substitutes for the host, he spent well over an hour detailing once again why the show was the best.  He had done this before in a previous show.  But this time he even went as far as interviewing Simon the mastermind of the program.  David Simon has a story of his own that is very well worth reading – so I won’t insult him by giving some brief synopsis not worthy of his research and work.  I will say instead that Whitlock’s passion for the show finally got to me and I decided to start from the beginning via Netflix.  I watched the first three episodes of season 1 over this past weekend. 

Right from the jump I was  introduced to the Baltimore police department, political and judicial figures, some crackheads and a drug cartel who’s main characters have as much depth as any real life characters ever seen on television.  “Ahhhh so this is what you were talking about when you described the contrast between crime boss Avon Barksdale and his lower level nephew D’Angelo.  This is how it really is when a police department is cash strapped and care more about their image than doing good police work.  Wow!”  I make it sound simple.  But the depth and detail of the character development I’m trying to describe is beyond anything I’ve seen before. 

What is really authentic about “The Wire” is that much of the story that Simon told during 5 season was based on his own personal research of the Baltimore Police Department, the drug trade, the politics, the reporting via the major local newspaper, and how it all effected the lives of the citizens of inner city Baltimore in particular.

The storylines are genuine, and the acting surreal.  After a mere three episodes I find myself fully invested into the characters and I look forward to seeing all 5 seasons in successon as soon as I possibly can.

Congratulations Mr. Whitlock!  You hooked me!

No.1 Ladies Detective – No Mystery, A Great Series

 HBO

 It’s been no secret that Hollywood has been no friend to African-Americans when it comes to television dramas.  They give us 100 Meet The Browns before we get one City of Angels.  I am so tired of blacks in comedy’s I seldom watch any of them.  The last good one in my opinion was Girlfriends, and that one was cancelled. 

Imagine my excitement when HBO premiered The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency last night.  Shot in Botswana it’s a beautiful look, a wonderful cast, and imaginative script and Jill Scott is simply majestic!  The camera loves her and she is a very talented actress.  I plan to watch each and every episode! 

 

An Undeserved Punishment

As a parent discipline can be a funny thing to administer.  I came from a generation of spankers so I was spanked.  Dare I say it, I was “whooped” even when it came to my mother’s ultimate form of capital punishment.  I won’t get into the gory details of how she administered such punishments, but usually the reasons varied from bad grades, or something having to do with getting in trouble at school.  This was the worst you could get from me cause I was a “good kid.”  I didn’t drink, drug, or blatenly disobey unlike my sister who was a glutton for punishment and did everything she could to tempt the beck and call of “The Belt!”  She wasn’t a nice sister either.  But thats another blog. 

Most whoopins I got I couldn’t argue with.  I was smart in school so I was expected to get good grades.  Behaving was also mandatory.  But there was one whoopin I got that I will never ever agree with; neither will I ever forget.  Let’s call it, “The Case of the Microwave.”

At the time we were living in South Bend, Indiana.  We had that middle class type of family that got most everything that came out when it was new.  For instance, for those of us old enough to remember, when cable first came out it wasn’t called cable.  It was called HBO.  And if you had cable all we said was that you had an HBO Box.  The other channels came in later.   Living in South Bend we were  able to get WGN and WBBM which was a local CBS station in Chicago.  That was just a result of the extra power from the reception that allowed HBO.  WGN was not a Superstation like it is now.  We even used the cable to the HBO box to plug into the back of the stereo in order to get the radio stations from Chicago so we could listen to Black artist.  South Bend was nothing but pop, rock, and country.  We had one radio station that played the likes or Parliament, Heatwave, The O’Jays etc. and it was only from 6-11pm on Saturday nights.  But I digress.

This wonderful thing called a microwave oven came on the scene.   As a pre-teen, my sister (almost four years my senior) and I were expected to cook more on our own cause our mom was not cooking as much as she used to.  Normally I didn’t care about cooking cause I could eat cold cereal any freaggin time of the day.  No time was a bad time for Coco Puffs or Captain Crunch with Crunchberries.  As long as I had access to my favorite breakfast treat, some milk and a tupperware bowl big enough to satisfy my appetite it was all good.  But I wanted to have more choices.  Not being skilled in the kitchen beyond the huge brontosaurus burgers I made on Saturday nights, the microwave provied the perfect tool.  I loved baked potatos and it was awsome to think that I would throw that lil thing in the “mic” for just 5 minutes and “Damn!” out pops a nice warm “papa” that I could smother with butter salt and pepper.  Not to mention I could reheat stuff without turning on the oven.  Are you kidding?  It was nothing to come home from McDonalds and throw that Big Mac in this wonderful invention and have it come out smokin – pipin hot!

One day after school me and some friends went to Wendy’s.  I got whatever burger my allowance provided for, and brought the thing home.  I couldn’t wait to throw that thing in the “mic”.  And I did.  After I put the timer on 30-45 seconds or whatever it was, I walked away to use the restroom.  All of a sudden I heard this loud scream and whale from the kitchen as my loving sister Darcel quickly turned the microwave off.  What was the problem I wondered?  She was always bitching at me about something anyway.  What now?  Obviously she doesn’t think I am worthy of using the microwave or something. 

Seems the problem was that Wendy’s wraps their burgers in aluminum foil – and you can’t put foil in the microwave.  The foil began to shoot sparks all around and the thing damn near caught fire.  “Damn boy, don’t you know you ain’t supposed to put aluminum foil in the microwave,” my sister yelled.  “Uhh, no.  No one ever told me that.  Ok, I won’t do it again.”  Normally this would be enough of explanation.  No one gave me instructions about what not to put in a microwave.  But since I was now informed I would easily correct that mishap.  Oh no not to my dear sister.  She pressed on.  “YOU WERE GOING TO BLOW UP THE WHOLE HOUSE!” 

Of course I’m thinking this girl is such a drama queen and obviously overreacting.  No biggie right?  Wrong!  She picked up the phone and called my mother at work.  “MOMMA, CHRIS IS ABOUT TO BLOW UP THE WHOLE HOUSE BY PUTTING ALUMINUM FOIL IN THE MICROWAVE!!!”  I wasn’t trippin at all.  I knew I was totally ignorant of foil/microwave procedures, and now that I know I never have to do it again.  My mom was reasonable and would surely understand this – and understand that my sister ever telling on me about something early and often was just up to her normal spouting.  Wrong again!  My momma came home and whopped my ass regardless of my ignorance.  I remember pleading, “Momma, how you gone whoop me when I didn’t know?”  She said, “Your going to know from now on!”  Oh man!

Till this day I am sure that my mom overreacted because my sister overreacted.  And to this day I will never ever believe that whoopin was justified.  Mom and I are super cool these days and she is one of my hero’s.  But the woman doesn’t even remember giving me that whoopin or the microwave incident at all.  Go figure.