When and why did Michael Jackson go nuts?

Wasn’t he relatively normal prior to the mega-success of the Thriller album?

Are there any generally accepted explanations for the bizarre behavior for the last third (or so) of his life?

I don’t think Jackson ever was “normal”–he had an overbearing father that pushed him and his siblings into performing at a young age. Most of his craziness in his later life (The Neverland ranch, sleepovers with children, etc.) seems, in part, his way of desperately trying to recapture his lost youth.

The usual reason: he inadvertently insulted an old gypsy woman who then cursed him.

It doesn’t seem all that mysterious to me. Give a performer more money than God, surround him with sycophants who are afraid to tell him no, add a relentless tabloid press, start him on the plastic surgery train (unstoppable, thanks in part to the “more money than God” and “afraid to tell him no”), each increasingly freakish transformation of his appearance further inflaming the “relentless tabloid press,” inspiring him to withdraw into further isolation, add some questionable shenanigans with little kids (cf: “money,” “afraid to say no,” “tabloid press,”), throw in some drug abuse at some point, and you end up with pretty much what you’d expect.

I read one article that suggested that it all started after that incident where his hair caught on fire during the filming of a Pepsi commercial. I think the idea was that this is when he first got addicted to painkillers.

That’s when he started really withdrawing from his family and the world, but his mother has on numerous occasions said that even as a small child, he was incredibly sensitive- much more so than any of the other Jackson kids.

So, you’ve got overly sensitive kid who is horrifically and brutally abused for his entire life both emotionally and physically (Michael said that even as an adult-- after Thriller, after Bad, etc-- if heard that Joe was at a show, he’d have to run backstage and throw up). Then, on top of that, you’ve got a kid who isn’t allowed to do even one “normal” thing during his entire childhood (he told stories about how the Jackson 5 would record in a studio next to a playground-- he’d beg and beg to be allowed to go out and play with the kids he was hearing, but Joe would beat him for even asking). At this point, you’ve got an overly sensitive, emotionally damaged person who is actively traumatized from his experience. . . and then he has a seemingly unlimited amount of money and people around him who never tell him no, for fear of being cut off.

I think anybody would be weird in that circumstance.

And you know, it’s not like Michael didn’t know how people thought of him. He was on record talking about getting too much surgery and thinking he looked like a lizard, on and on.

If you’re genuinely curious about getting a better look inside MJ’s head, I encourage a read of the transcript of a speech he gave at Oxford in 2001(warning: that website is formatted terribly-- I suggest a copy and paste into word or something). The speech is about an initiative they are starting for children, but it is peppered with stories from his own life. The speech is really insightful into how he thinks, with one particular line laying out what I think was his outlook on life, “If you enter this world knowing you are loved and you leave this world knowing the same, then everything that happens in between can he dealt with.”

Anyway, there ya go. Obviously, I am a fan, but I try to be as reasonable as possible (certainly, he was not “normal” but I also think he wasn’t as detached as people like to suggest).

Michael had strange issues about being black. He kept changing his natural nose (for a black person). He was bleaching his skin long before he got vitiligo. His kids are white and look nothing like him. He may not have been the sperm donor. The dude had major issues with his identity.

I’d heard he had lots of fun hanging out with other celebs at Studio 64 – Liza, Warhol, Capote, et al. I saw him giving an interview during the VH1 special on Studio 64 – he had his original nose, no makeup, and was very engaging and lucid – not over-dramatic and intense as he tended to be in later interviews. I’d heard, possibly in that special, that he took the closing of Studio 64 very hard, those back rooms were the last place he could hang with other celebs, and be a cool celeb without being swamped by fans. This would have been in the days of his “Off The Wall” album.

Funny enough, MJ said that the single most hurtful thing that people said about him was that he wasn’t proud of being black.

Like I said before, obviously the guy had issues, but I’ve always had tremendous trouble biting on this racial denial argument. The guy obviously had pretty severe body dysmorphia, he claims from years and years of his father calling him “big nose” and things like that. I’d like to see some sort of cite about him bleaching his skin before he had vitiligo, too-- there are photos of him with patches from the vitiligo going back to before the Off The Wall album.

There is some speculation that MJ had schizotypal personality disorder. Like anything, it can be exacerbated/attenuated by the environment. If he had had a regular dude’s life, he may have been just a little quirky.

But he didn’t have a regular dude’s life.

Here’s a Cracked article that makes a semi-believable case for him having been chemically castrated. Funny, but not over-the-top ridiculous…

Was that the nightclub that was ten blocks uptown from Studio 54?

As soon as he had some solo success with Off The Wall, every single member of his huge family (with the possible exception of Janet) put the touch on him for money. The rumor at the time was that the whole point of the Victory tour was to give his brothers one clear and final shot at making money off of him before shutting off the tap forever, so he’d be free to have his solo career without his whole family mooching off of him. Sadly, the Pepsi commercial fire incident derailed his plans for several years and he was never in peak Thriller form again after that.

That’s funny, but New York City addresses don’t correspond with the cross streets. Manhattan slightly predates the whole “930 Seventh Avenue is between 9th and 10th streets” convention. I discovered this the hard way.

Gah. I knew I was doing something wrong, but didn’t know what. Yes. The famous Studio 54.

The racial denial argument didn’t sit strongly with me either. In the days of Thriller, he certainly had a smaller nose, but he was differently keeping his skin color. I’d heard, post Thriller, he was getting more and more plastic surgery, trying to look more and more like Diana Ross. So maybe he had gender issues, but racial ones. Not at that point. Then again, we don’t know exactly how his viteligo progressed … he may have had a real splotchy face, and needed lots of makeup. Or just went on a skin bleaching kick to remove his skin color for a racial motivation. Hard to be sure.

I’m very sad he passed. Because … I … wanted … answers. When his mother and father passed, he surely would have co-authored a book. But then again, he was a master of interview manipulation. So maybe such a book would have been just as useless.

The saddest thing that came out in the trial was Jackson’s secret cubbyhole room in his bedroom filled with his porn mags and booze. The image of such a successful guy hiding in that tiny room alone, drinking, and jerking off is pretty sad. Then when the cops searched his home they found that stuff and it was evidence in the trial. He never lived at Neverland again.

The guy could have had such a rich and fulfilling life. Such a shame.

Gender issues might be some sort of an answer. He had an unhealthy relationship with children and his three kids are not, biologically, his.

An odd, sad person who would have been better off out of the limelight.

What? I don’t remember that at all, though I didn’t follow the case in-depth. Was it straight, relatively standard porno? I assume so, or I’d remember it…


iirc it was some French tabletop books. Sophisticated porn, hardbound glossy pages for Michael. The books were evidence in the trial. I don’t think they were illegal.

Sounds like Taschen books. Helped a friend empty the apartment of his best friend who had committed suicide, who had a pretty sizable collection of beautiful, hardbound, glossy…porn.

Oh, for fuck’s sake. . .
There are countless interviews where Michael talks very candidly about how he had to work very hard to deal with his changing voice as he went from cute kid Michael to adult Michael. I remember one interview where he said that as a little preteen, he’d sit up at night terrified that his career was about to end when his voice changed like everyone was saying. He claims that’s why he got his first nose job- to help him with the air flow so he could hit higher notes again. Anyway, according to Michael, he spent years and years training his voice. And certainly, later in life, he still had a lower register he could speak and sing in-- here he is during the History tour, singing parts in a lower voice and also, I remember some comedian (was it Chris Tucker?) years ago saying that calling MJ was weird, because it was like talking to “a regular brother” because his voice was so deep and normal in private conversation.

Then there’s also the fact that several adult women, including his ex wife, Lisa Marie Presley, are on record saying they had plenty of sex. I’d reckon that’d be impossible if he had been chemically castrated.

Further, with regards to the skin bleaching thing, here’s a link documenting his vitiligo in photos over the years-- some going back to Off The Wall. Most people don’t realize, for instance, that the sparkly glove was added to his costumes because they weren’t able to get the makeup that covered the vitiligo spots on his hands to stay in place as he sweated through a performance. Same thing with the arm braces he wore all over in the early 90s.

His eldest son, incidentally, also has vitiligo. I do have to wonder what the odds of his son having that disease too are, if he’s from a sperm donor? For that reason, plus the fact that they look like a lot of mixed kids I know (Paris looks quite a bit like Rashida Jones, imho), I actually have no trouble believing those are actually his kids. Plus, Blanket actuallylooks scarily like little Michael.

Alright, I look like a crazed fan here now. I swear, I just think the topic is interest :p:D.

Has it ever been proven that his kids were adopted? Not that I doubt it; anyone who paid attention in high school biology knows that this is probably true.