If we expect our entertainers, politicians or even church leaders to be perfect human beings, then we are bound to be disappointed. For better or for worse, to be human is to be fallible. It applies to us all, whether our lives are lived in the public eye or in relative obscurity. The popular media make a lucrative but unsavoury living from building people up one minute and then exposing their weaknesses the next. Shock, horror - the person is only human after all as they yield to this or that temptation.
Yet where do we draw the line? When does being fallible become unacceptable? For so-called celebrities, we seem to tolerate or are even amused by drunkenness, drug taking, bed hopping and riotous behaviour. How about murder? Well OJ divided us on that. How about paedophilia? Gary Glitter was left in no doubt about popular sentiment.
Am I the only person in the world who finds it bizarre, if not obscene, that the news that a 12 year old finalist from Britain’s Got Talent (it turned out not to have very much) is performing at the Michael Jackson Memorial has been hailed as wonderful by the British media. Michael Jackson may have cleared of particular charges by a court in one instance but his own words as well as the court papers reveal his paedophilic tendencies. The lure of the global exposure and the performance fee probably drown out the irony for the boy’s parents. I doubt they think that it’s OK for boys to be abused, even by a superstar.
The second BBC channel has cleared its schedule to show the Memorial. He was a talented entertainer, perhaps not the genius some claim, and the pleasure his music and performance gave to millions should be celebrated. But Michael Jackson was who he was for all his talent – a deeply troubled man who worked out his problems on others who themselves were vulnerable. We have to remember that too.