Saturday, May 22, 2010
I know this issue is slightly old news by now, but I have just now had a minute to write about it. Plus, sadly, I fear the matter will not just vanish as Michael Jackson’s three children, Prince, Paris, and Blanket, provide fodder for some media outlets.
Around May 12, the news of youtube footage featuring Michael’s youngest son Blanket and his daughter Paris (in a separate clip) hit the Internet. I hear and read the clips show the children being, well, children. Personally, I refuse to watch the footage as I have been rating against this invasion of privacy since I first read about it. In this case, I feel I do not actually have to watch the footage to be able to talk about the issue at hand.
Obviously, Michael had always attempted to keep his children as hidden as possible from public view and curiosity. While this very personal choice once again opened him up to ridicule and criticism (how dare he, the parent, make a decision about what he deemed best for his children?) , it also served to let the three grow into, by all accounts, very educated, poised, and polite children. Sure, their lives were probably not what many would consider mainstream, but Michael somehow managed to keep them safe from prying eyes, while allowing them to enjoy their childhood. If you think about it, the mask and veil idea was really genius: Prince, Paris, and Blanket were free to mingle with their cousins and friends as long as they were not with their famous father, since no one knew what they looked like. All this changed with the passing of Michael. Suddenly, his death propelled his children to another level of celebrity.
What was most offensive and disturbing about the whole issue of the youtube clips was the lack of a discussion about this invasion of privacy and instead a focus on pointing out how amazing and “nice” it was so see that Michael’s children behave like children. Christina Everett from NY Daily News wrote: “ It remains unknown how the leaked video clips made their way to the Internet, however it is a comforting sight to see that Jackson's children are acting like, well, children.”
ABC News likewise pointed out that Blanket played “normal games that normal kids play.”
Some outlets, like the BBC stuck to the main facts, and in later days, others also discussed the family’s outrage since it seemed that the children’s youtube accounts had been hacked. Overall, I think it is a pretty sad statement when the media tells us that a father’s protective measures were odd or strange, while overlooking the real issue of the privacy of three children who have lost the only stable person in their lives.
My question is this: Is it really all that surprising to discover these children are behaving like “normal” children? My answer: Actually, it is. However, the reason is not because the upbringing the enjoyed until June 25, 2009 was so strange or weird, but that their lives since then have been anything but normal. Their resilience is a testament to the strong foundation laid by their father, and it would be nice to see that fact addressed every now and then.