Source: Boycott Cmcampaign
Michael Jackson Fans United-Tired of Injustice: No Profit for Conrad Murray
Source: Boycott Cmcampaign
Written By MJ WAS A CUTIE PIE
I am trying to get a handle on my emotions right now. It is a terrible blow to us that the Wade allegations are going to trial next year. To make matter worse for fans, the trial will convene in June, the same month that we lost Michael. We were all hoping that the judge would throw it out because of the past due deadline to file claims against the estate. I’ve asked myself this morning about why the judge didn’t throw it out. Please keep in mind that what I am about to say is strictly my opinion. I am not a legal expert and could be very wrong, but I am trying to make some sense of this for my own emotional state of being. Based on the evidence presented to him, it seems that Judge Beckloff either couldn’t or didn’t want to make a decision and thought it best for the case to go to trial. I do not know if this will be a jury trial or a court trial without a jury. The judge has to do what is fair based on regulation. I don’t know if he considered the impact on Michael’s children, but I certainly don’t agree with the decision at all. In my mind, the judge reminds me of Pontius Pilate concerning the fate of Jesus when he was brought before him. The people wanted to crucify Jesus but needed legal authority to do it. Pilate’s wife forewarned him not to have anything to do with this innocent man because of a dream that she had. So Pilate literally washed his hands, physically and emotionally and let the people have Jesus to decide his fate. I may be wrong, but it seems to me that Judge Beckloff may be doing the same with Wade’s case. We do know that the publicity generated will never be good for Michael or his heirs. Once again, this is only my opinion. Others may know more legally and see things differently.
I am not trying to depress us further, but we have to face the facts. Having another scandalous trial is not the in the best interest of anyone. It was my hope that after the AEG trial and Murray’s release next month, that 2014 would be better. Now we know that this endless drama is not going away anytime soon. Some fans may decide that they can’t take anymore and may walk away. No one should blame or ridicule them for that because everyone has their limits and I truly hope this doesn’t happen. We have gone through enough over the years and the last four years have been the hardest. We lost Michael. We made it through the Murray trial and, we’ve endured the AEG trial, which is now in the hands of the jury. In the midst of all of this, here comes Wade. Paris tries to harm herself and is still recuperating. Murray gets out next month and now to top it all, we have another trial next year, with more ugly rumors and lies to be unfolded. Lastly, the decision made in the Robson case could also motivate others come forward with new allegations to get money. I’m being very honest here. It’s a lot to deal with all at once.
I can’t stop thinking about Michael’s children, the real victims of all this madness. I can’t imagine how they must feel knowing the wonderful man that their dad was to seeing him portrayed differently in the news. I can’t imagine how much is going through their young minds. How will this affect them, especially Paris?
Then I thought about what Michael would do if he were alive. I believe that he would try to continue to keep fighting. He would fight to continue to build a life for his family and to see his future dreams come to pass. He would fight for his reputation and dignity. He would hold his head high as he did each day for trial in 2005. I thought about how he dealt with the problems he faced. He suffered burns to his scalp during the Pepsi commercial, but yet he remained calm. Wearing his famous glove, he bravely waved at us as a sign that he was ok. He received death threats, but still went on stage. Fans have tried to charge at him while performing, but he merely moved out the way and let security handle it. His back was injured when the “Bridge of No Return,” accidently crashed to the ground while performing in Munich. He never stopped singing, although he was in much pain. I know many of you remember the fan running ran up the cherry picker to Michael as he climbed high over the audience in Korea. Michael held him tightly to keep him from falling and once again never stopped singing. At first, it’s comical to see, but the seriousness of the incident could have been fatal for both of them. What if the man was intent to harm Michael by pushing him off or using a weapon? What if the fan had had slipped and fell to his death? Ironically, both of these incidents occurred during Michael’s performance of “Earth Song.” When Michael was being pressured for the “This Is It” tour, he kept trying to make it happen and came back strong during his last few days.
In all these examples I’ve mentioned, they clearly show the brave determination of Michael Jackson. That’s how he was raised. Neglecting his personal safety was not a good thing to do, but he always felt an obligation to his audience, even when he was hurt physically and emotionally. He never wanted to disappoint his fans and we shouldn’t want to disappoint him either. He loved and cared about us so much.
Today, I posted an article entitled, “When Fans Attack.” I did it for several reasons:
1) It shows that Michael Jackson fans will not take down on defending Michael and we can change the outcome if we put our differences aside and work together.
2) To see how others view the fan community. We must be mindful that if we expect to have an impact for change, we must do some serious work on our image as fans.
3) There’s a degree of humor in it. Admit it; several people came to your mind as you read it!
4) There is truth in it. It is true that we fight hard for Michael, but the fan community is so divided and diverse in their beliefs about him. http://whimsicalviews.wordpress.com/2013/09/28/when-fans-attack/
But what must do as fans to survive these ordeals? We are very hurt and tired of the constant and unending drama. We know the kind of man that Michael Jackson was and it is not easy to see someone that we love and care about so deeply, being constantly ridiculed and lied on. But how to do we find the strength to keep going on? It’s ok to get mad and frustrated and even cry because we are human. We have to learn to channel that anger into determination to keep discouragement and weariness from setting in. We have to be there for each other with love and encouragement when times get rough. We have to keep showing all the good and positive things that Michael did for the world and being examples of that. We must stop fighting in the fan community over trivial things and see the big picture, which is the legacy of Michael Jackson. That is the only thing worth fighting for. I didn’t write this to put anybody down because I also know that there are people who are being legitimately cyber bullied online. That is certainly NOT right either and I don’t support that! I am talking about the petty arguing and fighting in the community. We are not the star! Michael Jackson is the star! We are his mouthpieces of truth, if we use it correctly. We need to start over again with a new mindset. Sadly, everyone will not do this, but we can’t let that stop us from trying. Our most important fight is to win justice for Michael Jackson!
“There’s a time when you’re right and you know you must fight.” (Taken from “Leave Me Alone”)
We shouldn’t fight not with our sisters and brothers about the small stuff. We must learn to agree to disagree and respect our differences. It is really long overdue for us to look at the Man in the Mirror and make the necessary changes for the good of the order. Things are not going to get easier for a while. It’s time to decide if we are staying in the fight for Michael or if we have had enough. It’s time to decide if it is more important to stand up for Michael legacy and his children or be right about our opinions.
I can’t quit on Michael. He means too much to me for so many personal reasons. He is my hero and I believe in him no matter what. He’s one of the best human examples of love that I know. Let pull together and focus on Michael’s endless messages and example of love. He brought us all together as a family in the first place.
My prayer is for peace and renewed hope, not only in the MJ fan community, but all over the world. Please listen to Michael’s words of wisdom on the video below. I pray that one day, his memory will really rest in peace.
“Without hope, we are lost.” ~ Michael Jackson
Submitted With love ♥
Source: King Jordan Radio
Defense attorney Tom Meserau returns once again to the King Jordan Radio show on Tuesday, August 20, 2013, 10PM eastern and 7 PM PST time. Amoug the topics for discussion will be Michael’s birthday, the AEG trial, George Zimmerman and the James H. Holmes upcoming trial. You won’t want to miss a minute of it!
Source: King Jordan Talk Show/Blog Talk Radio
The King Jordan Radio Show is very happy to announce their next guest the acclaimed Award Multi Media Journalist Mr. Charles Thomson on Saturday, July 6th at 5PM Eastern - 2:00PM PST time.
Mr. Thomson has become internationally known for challenging the unfair coverage of the embattled star. One of the youngest writer’s to be given his own Huffington Post blog. His article for the Huffington Post entitled, “One of Most Shameful Episodes in Journalistic History,” won Mr. Thomson acclaim from Mr. Thomas Meserau and Ms. Susan Yu who refer journalist’s with trial queries to Charles Huffington Post Blog. The article also won Charles Thomson the respect of the Jackson family.
You do not want to miss this very important and exciting show. Mr. Thomson will be disputing all of the vicious things being said about Michael Jackson in the media today.
We will be taking your calls.
Source: You Tube - Alan Duke
Source: Piers Morgan Tonight
“When a witness continues to say ‘I don’t recall’ it starts to give the impression of untruthfulness” ~ Gloria Allred.
Source: Charles Thomson
When you’ve been covering Michael Jackson for any significant period of time, you come to believe that nothing can shock you anymore. Since I began reporting on Michael Jackson for various media organisations, he has announced the biggest concert residency of all time and then died before he could complete it. A doctor has been jailed for his homicide and a posthumous album has caused international scandal by containing tracks allegedly sung by an imposter.
For many years, Michael Jackson’s life (and after-life) has been a quagmire of scandal, controversy and legal wrangling. Presently, entertainment company AEG – which promoted Jackson’s ‘This Is It’ concerts – is on trial over what the singer’s family feels is a modicum of responsibility for his death. Already, witnesses have testified that Jackson was banned from the stage during some rehearsals for fear he would injure himself. A producer has testified to weeping as she saw Jackson rambling at rehearsals that God was speaking to him. She told jurors she had warned senior production members she believed he was dying and needed to be transported to hospital, only for her pleas to go ignored. Less than a week later, he was dead.
To a seasoned Jackson correspondent, none of this was surprising. It seems that not a week goes by without some drama or another engulfing the deceased music legend or those closely associated with him, from copyright disputes to kidnap allegations. But last week there was a development in the Michael Jackson sphere which truly did surprise me. Wade Robson, who has staunchly defended Michael Jackson for 20 years and even testified for him in his 2005 trial, filed papers against various organisations connected to the pop legend, seeking multiple pay-outs for alleged childhood abuse.
The choreographer claims he was sexually abused for seven years, from age seven to age 14. The news has rocked the Michael Jackson community. Those who loved him have sprung to his defence while those who built careers on attacking him had reacted with undisguised glee. Jackson’s ex-wife Debbie Rowe has labeled the financial demands ‘opportunistic’ and Jermaine Jackson has branded the choreographer ‘full of shit’.
Civil rights lawyer Tom Mesereau, who defended Jackson in his 2005 trial, has suggested the claims are ‘suspicious’ as their public filing coincided so neatly with the AEG trial. Indeed, the allegations broke as make-up artist Karen Faye testified that she and others had raised repeated concerns about Jackson’s health but had received callous responses from those in charge. Robson’s televised interview days later ensured little media attention was paid to testimony from an AEG employee that financial papers proved Murray was the company’s employee, not Michael Jackson’s. Wade Robson has repeatedly worked for AEG and apparently already has future work lined up with the corporation, but his lawyer has denied any connection between the court cases.
In light of Robson’s sudden change of tune, I have dusted off my complete trial transcripts from the 2005 government prosecution of Michael Jackson. While many news reports have mentioned that Robson testified for Jackson in the case, few have made any particular effort to underscore the gravity of his testimony.
Wade Robson was such a compelling and assured witness that Michael Jackson chose him to open his defence case at trial. Under sustained and sometimes aggressive questioning by government prosecutor Ron Zonen, Robson not only denied any impropriety on Jackson’s part, but did so repeatedly, vigorously and convincingly – even mocking prosecutors and describing the mere suggestion of sexual abuse at Jackson’s hands as ‘ridiculous’.
As a side-note, the idea that in a trial about alleged child sex abuse, a genuine abuser would choose somebody they had molested for seven years as their first witness to undergo unrelenting government cross-examination may seem somewhat far-fetched to the casual onlooker.
When viewed alongside some of the comments he made on the Today Show this week, Robson’s testimony is likely to cast more than a reasonable doubt over his new claims. He answered clearly and competently to detailed questions about various examples of alleged misconduct. The testimony is so immensely damaging to his new legal demands for money that he and his lawyer have already floated two potential, but arguably equally unconvincing, explanations for the bizarre u-turn.
When the story about his demands for money went live last week, Robson’s lawyer was quoted as saying the choreographer had recovered ‘repressed memories’, a story many suggested could have been designed to explain away Robson’s strenuous denials in the 2005 trial without admitting to perjury. However, Robson’s claim was met with such incredulity – many eminent psychologists do not even believe in repressed memories and even those who do took rather a dim view of Robson’s somewhat extreme story – that he has since changed tact.
Robson claimed in his TV interview this week that the real reason he told jurors he was not molested was that he had not realised that what Jackson allegedly did to him was abusive – another claim guaranteed to raise many an eyebrow. He was a successful, professional 22-year-old man at the time of his testimony.
Under oath in 2005, Robson was asked repeatedly about particular acts and whether he knew Michael Jackson to have performed them upon any child. He responded vehemently that not only had he never witnessed any such behaviour, but he was steadfast in his opinion that Michael Jackson would never have engaged in it.
Looking back over the 2005 court documents, the latest explanation for his testimony simply does not stand up to scrutiny. For instance, he was asked specifically whether Jackson had touched his body. Regardless of whether he believed Jackson’s conduct to constitute sexual abuse, if Jackson had indeed touched his body, the clear answer would have been ‘yes’. But it wasn’t ‘yes’. It was ‘no’. Over, and over, and over again.
He even testified that after what he now claims were several years of sexual abuse at Jackson’s hands, he returned to the scene of the alleged crimes more than 20 times in later life, with friends and relatives in tow, for relaxing getaways. He also testified to remaining in touch with Jackson and still considering him a close friend. Indeed, several years after the trial, Robson continued to socialise with Jackson.
Shortly after Jackson’s death was announced in 2009, Robson wrote that Jackson was ‘one of the main reasons I believe in the pure goodness of humankind’. According to Jackson’s brother Jermaine, Robson and his mother helped him pen portions of his autobiography about the media’s unfair portrayal of his brother as a child molester. Indeed, since Jackson’s death Robson has paid public tribute to the star repeatedly, as recently as 2012. He even applied last year for a job choreographing a tribute show to his alleged molester, but did not get the gig.
Wade Robson has filed a creditor’s claim against Jackson’s Estate, seeking a cash pay-out for alleged childhood abuse. He has also filed a civil lawsuit against various Jackson-affiliated companies, seeking further financial compensation for his alleged abuse.
He insisted this week that his new claims were ‘not about money’.
The full transcript of Robson’s testimony on May 5, 2005, totals almost 14,000 words and runs across 60 pages of A4. It includes lots of repetition and discussion about where he lived, when his parents separated and various other tangential asides. Below, I have extracted what I believe to be the key testimony. It is difficult to see how, given the existence of this sworn testimony, Robson could ever convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that Jackson had ever acted inappropriately in his presence.
A cynical person might therefore interpret Robson’s high profile TV interview this week as an attempt to avoid ever getting into a courtroom and having a jury test his new claims. How many more high profile public attacks can Jackson’s Estate suffer before it is forced to begin considering a settlement? At this stage, the ability to damage the Estate’s earning potential is about all Robson has got on his side – because the evidence is firmly on Michael Jackson’s.
Here is the testimony nobody else in the media is showing you. See for yourself.
Click here to read testimony:
Source: YouTube – By AboutBodyLanguage
Source: The King Jordan Talk Show
If you missed it, here’s your chance to listen again. May God forever bless Tom for sticking by Michael.
Source: King Jordan Talk
The King Jordan Radio Show is very happy to annonce their next guest Defense Attorney Tom Meserau on Wednesday, May 15th at 10PM EST – 7PM PST to discuss the molestation charges made against Michael Jackson by Wade Robson after he testfied in the 2005 Molestation Trial of Michael Jackson that nothing happened. Mr. Meserau will explain why Wade Robson is now coming forward with these accusations.
You do not want to miss this incredible interview by one of the most respected and world renowned Defense Attorney’s in the world today.
We will be taking your calls.
Tomorrow, tomorrow begins another day
I wish we could blink and make the past go away
But tomorrow is coming if God’s says ok
Our hearts may get heavy
The road won’t be paved
But as each new day comes
We will fight for MJ
You guys rock! Love Cutie ♥
Administrator’s Note: I have changed this post because I found out from another fan that the link that I posted to what I thought was Wade’s personal journal was not real. I very shocked and angry the day that the accusations came out and I didn’t read the disclaimer. I truly apologize for posting that and will be more careful in the future. I have edited the post. Lesson learned. CP ♥
Sources: Michael Jackson Opus/Michael Jackson.com
The Michael Jackson Opus
I used to talk to Michael for three hours a day. I never really worked out how he came to find so much time because he seemed so busy, but he would ring me and we would talk and talk and talk. When he got a cell phone he would call and text all the time.It was part of an amazing friendship that lasted for 20 years.
I had first met Michael when he was kicking off his bad tour in 1987. I was five, but Michael’s company were holding a dance competition in every country and i entered the one in Brisbane. I remember being a kid and dancing to his video- the first iever say was “Thriller” when i was two. It was my mum’s tape and i just went nuts over it. I used to run into the kitchen scared every time the werewolf came on. By the time i was three i had pretty much learned its entire choreography.
I ended up winning the dance competition. We went to see Michael in Brisbane and at a meet and greet i was introduced to him. I remember wearing a custome made outfit from “Bad”- my mum’s belt was wrapped around me, like five times. Michael was impressed and asked me if I had danced. I told him that I did and he said ” Do you want to perform with me in the show tomorrow night?”
I couldn’t believe it. He was due to play Brisbane the next night. His idea was for me to come out for the last song of the show which was “Bad”. He was bringing on some orphaned children so he figured it would be cool to bring me out in the full “Bad” outfit. At the end of the song we were all onstage- Stevie Wonder was there too and Michael came on and said “Come on”. | took it as him meaning “Get into it!”.I moved downstage and threw my hat into the crowd and started going crazy. When i turned around Michael was saying goodbye to the crowd, the other kids were gone and Stevie Wonder was being escorted off. What he meant was “Come on lets go, It’s over”.
When I realized, I ran off. After my mum and I spent two hours with Michael into his hotel and we became friends. He showed us clips from the new Moonwalker he was working on and we talked and talked. We didn’t really stay in contact but i joined a dance company- literally the next day and two years later i was in America to play at Disneyland. I got in touch with Michael through his people, he remembered me. Me and my family went to Record one studio where he was mixing the dangerous album.I showed him some of my dance videos and he said to me. “Do you and your family want to come to Neverland tonight”? We all agreed and ended up staying for two weeks.
Our friendship blossomed. For two weeks he’d take me into his dance studio, put some music on and we’d dance and jam for hours.We’d sit there and watch films like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.Other time we’d just leave Neverland and drive out in a car, blasting music really loud.
He even taught me how to do the moonwalk.We were in his dance studio. He taught me foot by foot. I couldn’t sleep that whole night. The thrill of pushing off the bar and sliding backwards in a moonwalk with the guy that made it famous was so exciting.
Later, me and my mom wanted to move to America to pursue my dreams of becoming a dancer and he helped us out. He gave me a big start by putting me in some of his videos like “Black or White”. The role he took on was one of a mentor. He told when I was seven that I’d be a film director and that’s what I became, he created a thirst for knowledge in me. Once, a mini recording studio turned up on my doorstep, but what was cool was that he stopped me from becoming a spoiled brat.
He would say “This is for you, but I want to see you do something with it. Don’t take it for granted or I”ll take it back”.
The last time I saw him was in July 2008. I was in Vegas working on a show and he was living there. Me, my wife and him and his three kids had a barbecue. It was the most normal thing in the world. Me and my wife had been to Whole Foods and bought stuff to cook. But when we got there he’d provided loads of catering.
I said “Dude, Why did you bring loads of catering? We’ve got regular food here”.
I remember cooking outside while Michael sat there under an umbrella. We had great times because he was such a caring person. Most of all I’ll miss those phone conversations. I still have my mobile phone with his number on it. I just cant bear the thoughts of deleting his messages.
This is nothing but about money! I guess this will be part of the “dark secrets” that AEG plans to reveal…..perfect timing huh?
Source: King Jordan Talk Show – Aired May 6, 2013
Distinguished attorney Tom Meserau Jr. was featured on the King Jordan Talk show on May 6, 2013. Take a listen to the TRUE facts surround the 2005 trial against Michael Jackson from the man who knows best. It will make you appreciate even more the gentle, kind and loving man, known as Michael Jackson, who suffered more than most to be the GREATEST ENTERTAINER WHO EVER LIVED.
May God continue to bless Mr. Meserau and Susan Yu for faithfully standing by Michael for all these years.
Source: Michael Jackson: And Justice For Some/Michael Jackson Fan Club
Written By: MJ WAS A CUTIE PIE
On February 24, 2012, Judge Michael Pastor denied bail to Conrad Murray while his case is pending appeal. Many people were relieved with the decision, but it really got me to thinking. Frankly, I believe that his chances to win an appeal are slim to none. But the fact remains, Murray’s time in jail is just temporary. He eventually will be released next year. Then what? Like most fans, I believe that his sentence was not long enough. I also realize that Conrad Murray is not going to go away after he’s released and we need to be prepared for it. I ask you to please carefully read through all that I am about to say before you jump to any conclusions. I am not here to incite any kind of retaliatory actions against Murray. I don’t believe in that. He has had his day in court and he will have his day before God. That you can be certain of.
But think about it: Conrad Murray no longer has his primary source of income. His licenses to practice medicine are gone. Whatever reputation and clout he had before as a doctor is gone. He will forever be known as the man who killed Michael Jackson. Some may disagree with that statement, but it was Murray’s final actions that lead to Michael’s death. Murray gave him the lethal dose of propofol and left him unattended. He is angry about being in jail and losing everything. He will continue to unfairly blame Michael, who paid the ultimate price in all of this.
But Murray refuses to see or even acknowledge his part in Michael’s death and continuously blames his patient. Every night, he recklessly gave Michael a drug that he knew he was not trained or certified to give in a non-hospital setting. He boldly took a camera crew to Forest Lawn to film his visit to Michael’s crypt after his death, not concerning himself about anyone who may find his actions offensive. Murray is devoid of conscience, but cunningly knows how to manipulate those around him into thinking he is a “kind” man when actually he is controlling. His only concern is getting what he wants: hence the numerous affairs with women and multiple children that he does not support. The desire to be known as the personal physician to the world’s most successful and affluent entertainer was more important than the consequences. The promise of wealth and influence drove him to risk it all, including his freedom and Michael’s life. Murray’s lifelong trail of sociopathic** behavior has clearly shown that he has no remorse. He does not believe that he has done anything wrong, but he has repeatedly violated his vows as a doctor on so many levels it’s unbelievable.
**Suggested reading: The Sociopath Next Door – By Martha Stout Ph.d
Needless to say, no one will be beating down his door to hire him, except for maybe the news media and book publishing companies. Murray will more than likely have to continue to sell his story to stay afloat, just as he did with his despicable documentary. We will all be subjected to seeing him time and time again, reliving and rehashing old wounds about Michael, probably adding more to what he’s said before.
With all that being said, I would like to you to ask yourselves a couple of questions. As a fan, how will YOU react when he is released? How will you feel if he starts to talk to the news media about Michael? The natural response, of course is anger. But the MJ community will need to be shrewder about its reaction and be prepared for the worse at the same time. I don’t ever believe in terrorizing or getting revenge on anyone. As I said before, God is the ultimate judge.
What I propose is that we don’t feed into the hype. The more attention we give to Murray’s story, the more publicity he will get for it. Michael surely did not respond to everything said about him. As a matter of fact, I can think of only a few instances where Michael actually spoke out about rumors or injustices against him. Most of the time when he was asked about such things, he simply said, “Why give it any attention and feed into it?” We need to follow his lead.
Now I know that everyone will not take heed to this advice, but we need to be wise. Sooner or later, the interest for Murray’s story will fade. The only way Murray can keep it going is to continue with his ongoing lie. His documentary didn’t get the ratings that Murray or his legal team had hoped for. That is very telling in itself. It actually worked against Murray when Judge Pastor considered his request for bail. When the court played the slurred voice of Michael on audio tape during the trial, people were finally able to see that his love and concern for children was genuine. The heart-felt pain he expressed at his lowest point, caused some naysayers to change their opinion about him. The recording made Murray look bad instead. It made people question his motives for secretly taping Michael in a disoriented state of mind, again betraying the trust of his patient as a doctor. Despite the morbid circumstances surrounding the recording, it did provide vindication to what Michael had stated for years. No matter how much he was used and mistreated by those around him, the truth and sincerity of his character always shines through.
Of course the haters will always try to fan the flames of bad news with a different spin. Some people even view Murray as a hero, applauding his murderous act. They can say all day that he did nothing wrong, but I seriously doubt that any of them would go to Murray for medical treatment! But there are more people who love Michael than those who don’t. I am convinced of that more and more each day. He will always be remembered. At any give time, there are many events and tributes in his name all over the world, year round. His legacy of music, love and humanitarian efforts will never die. It’s those type of things that matter the most and will stand the test of time, not lies and speculation. I also believe that complete and total vindication of Michael will ultimately prevail. We have already witnessed a few victories since Michael’s death, such his name being restored on the auditorium of his former elementary school and the return of the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard award. As a whole, the fans do have power, but we must work together and focus on the positive things and not feed into negativity . Not all will do this, but I hope that many will at least take what I am saying into consideration.
My intent was not to make anyone sad or dismayed, but we can’t ignore what may be coming either. The smart thing to do is to prepare ourselves now. People have always cashed in on Michael Jackson and they always will. The best way to thwart their efforts is to keep Michael’s memory alive and work to restore what has been taken from him. That’s more powerful than any retaliation. When we fight for justice, let’s do so with wisdom. When Murray gets out of jail and begins his publicity trail, let’s attempt to not let our tempers fly. Don’t empower him by giving him the attention he craves! He took enough from us the day that Michael died. I know that it will not be easy. I am speaking to myself as well. Murray is going to do whatever he can to make money and that will be probably involve slandering Michael. Unfortunately, he can do it legally. That’s one of the harsh realities of this never-ending tragedy.
But the best way to overcome evil is though love. Real love never dies! Michael built a perpetual legacy with his love and incredible talent. It will always exist in our hearts and passed on for future generations to discover. ♥
On August 28, 2011, at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, the words Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award were once again heard at MTV’s highest rated Video Music Awards (VMA’s) show. Awarded to Britney Spears in recognition of her long and at times distressed tenure in the music industry, in her acceptance speech Spears immediately said that the award meant so much to her because it was, “the night before Michael Jackson’s birthday.” It was a short but sweet speech.
By around 17:00 (GMT) the following day, a Google search for ‘MTV announces Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award‘ did not produce any results about MTV specifically explaining their reasons for the re-dedication of the award. What a Google search did bring up though was nearly 5,000 articles (containing in various combinations) the words “Britney Spears is presented with Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award.” That’s huge, for a number of reasons.
While there have been years of tension between Jackson fans and MTV – heightened by the ‘Artist of the Millennium’ debacle in 2002 – regarding the lack of awards being given out as MJVVAs and the fact that it was allowed to fall into disuse; the decision by MTV to present Spears with the now restored award is an important and welcome one.
MTV has, of course, known for a while about the fan campaign for restoration, and it’s possible Spears’s award was a response by MTV to that campaign. However, as yet, MTV have not said anything officially about the reinstatement. It is likely music industry insiders knew this was coming and most certainly Gaga’s handlers did, but clearly MTV wanted this decision to come across as a spontaneous and generous one. There have been suggestions that MTV had already planned to restore and re-dedicate the Video Vanguard Award back to Michael Jackson in the wake of his death in 2009 and were simply waiting for the right artist to give it to. But that of course only underlines the fact that it needed restoring in the first place.
This article is a look at what some of the reasons for this reinstatement are and how and why the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award was so effectively ‘phased out’ to begin with. These questions are perhaps better understood if we accept that in relation to the music industry (and others) the whole concept of award shows, Hall of Fame’s and accolades, are used to generate media and promote an organization’s profile – which in turn attracts advertisers and sponsors. To all intents and purposes then – award shows are media. Looking at the relationship between MTV and Jackson from this perspective it’s likely that the reasons for the decline of the MJVVA and its de facto ‘removal,’ reflects aspects of the media’s treatment directed at Michael Jackson as a whole.
MTV, along with the entire music industry, could not have failed to notice the massive resurgence in sales, nostalgia and worldwide remembrance of Michael that followed news of his death in 2009. The fortunes of the Estate reported in detail whenever it releases an interim statement reflect the fact that in death – as far as the commercial world is concerned – the brand ‘Michael Jackson’ is a highly lucrative one. MTV are undoubtedly aware of this, and a conscious desire to be part of that reflected ‘shine’ is more than likely a very big part of their decision to re-hitch their name and brand to Michael Jackson’s. Even without an accompanying official explanation MTV’s decision is very much a public statement, and no multi-corporation makes a public statement without thinking very carefully about the PR effect and benefits they think it will have.
The VMA’s are the video component to parent organization MTV, the huge cable channel once dedicated to the rotation of music television – latterly home of reality shows. Three years after MTV’s first broadcast on August 1, 1981, at 12:01 am, announcing its birth with the words, “Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll,” over footage of the first Space Shuttle launch countdown – MTV proceeded to do just that. Playing virtually back to back rock and roll and over 98% White artists, until Michael Jackson came along and changed everything.
MTV launched the VMA’s in September 1984 from New York City’s Radio Music Hall. Madonna’s highly sexualized routine performing ‘Like A Virgin’ at the 1984 ceremony kicked off the reputation VMA would earn for itself as the badly behaved, younger brother to the music industrys’ touchstone and serious awards show – the Grammys.
Fast forward to 1989 when comedian Andrew Dice Clay was banned for life after reciting obscene nursery rhymes during a skit, the media fracas when Michael Jackson kissed his, then, wife Lisa Marie Presley in 1994; Lil’ Kim’s 1999 precursor to Janet Jackson’s Superbowl reveal; Eminem’s violent incident with Triumph the Insult Comic Dog in 2002; the Britney, Madonna, Aguilera lip lock in 2003; and of course Kayne West’s stage invasion in 2009; and the general consensus is that if you were to ask a typical kid which music award show they were most likely to watch – it would be the VMAs.
And it is for this reason why this return to prominence for the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award is so stunning. The positive re-framing of the name Michael Jackson in mainstream media, culture and the emerging generation, is a crucial part of the journey to America and the world finally understanding who Michael Jackson was – and what he wasn’t. The truism ‘perception is everything’ reflects the reality that what we as human beings and a collective culture are told and shown are images for success and affirmation, we will accept as such. In our image-dominated western culture, the role that validators like awards, titles, competition wins and peer accolades can, and do, play in changing perceptions – particularly negative ones – cannot be underestimated.
The effects of agenda’d media and the powerful ability it had – and has, on influencing and reinforcing opinions and conclusions about not only Michael Jackson, but also his art, finances, children, family, and fans – are self-evident. Likewise, the beneficial effects generated by congratulatory, feel-good media are just as persuasive. One only has to look at the value Jackson placed on visual art to know how vital a part of his creativity he considered it, in enabling him to connect with his existing fans and new ones.
Whether we’re talking 1984 Pepsi campaigns, Jackson’s short films, DVDs or epic concert tours; inaugurations or the New York Times coverage of the Iraq War; TV ads for political candidates and camel lights sponsorship of a new Bollywood movie; Twilight spoilers or the Kardashians reality show – the results are the same. A powerful enough visual presence in mainstream media directly translates into recognition, brand loyalty or rejection (depending on the desired effect), profile and power. Here’s an example:
From 1967 to today, there has been a marked and mostly upward climb in the costs of advert slots at the Superbowl event in the US. In 1995, during ABC’s broadcast of SuperBowl XX1V, advertisers were willing to pay more than roughly $1 million to secure three 30 second slots. This rose to $2 million in 2000, before shooting up to $3 million in 2010. While some of this is inflationary the main reason for these, frankly, astonishing prices is the draw of the audience. Corporations part with these kind of sums because they understand the power of what visual imagery – especially big, showy imagery – can do. They know the power it has to impact the minds and behaviors of consumers in such a way that benefits and enriches them.
From this point on, whatever else is happening, every August/September an audience of billions and that all important next generation will hear Jackson’s name just before someone famous walks up to a stage and beams ecstatically at them through a TV or iphone screen. That audience will subconsciously understand that to mean one associative thing: Michael Jackson = happiness.
Could it really be that simple? Does it really mean that much? Isn’t this all just a huge over-simplification? Well, yes and no. Of course for the die-hards who don’t like Michael Jackson and/or those who just don’t care about the VMA’s or MTV, the return of the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award into popular usage won’t mean much. But to the media – even if the big story was Gaga’s near-kiss with Britney and Beyonce’s bump – this ‘wind change’ for Michael will not have gone unnoticed. Because to ordinary people, the millions of us who do pay attention to contemporary culture events; Michael Jackson was also a winner at this year’s VMAs.
For days after the VMAs, media outlets have been bestowing glowing adjectives on Britney’s rejuvenated welcome back by her peers, in comparison to her awkward appearance at the 2007 VMAs when she performed a less than buoyant rendition of ‘Gimme More’ to a clearly embarrassed audience. Good news for Spears. But the turnaround doesn’t stop there: nearly every press article or TV report also had to mention Jackson in a positive, non-snarky way, simply because of the undeniable ‘success association’ the event and the award carried. Though for the purposes of Jackson’s vindication in the context of mainstream culture, the importance of the return of the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award isn’t about Britney; the fact that the name Michael Jackson is growing in momentum as an generally accepted positive and the ultimate in peer and industry recognition for an artist, is a tremendous step forward in the reclaiming of that name from undeservedly negative attachments. As a globally reported event, the reinstatement of this award is a massive symbolic acknowledgment of what MJ did for MTV – and beyond that – America and the world.
MTV owes a great deal to Michael Jackson. Upon its launch, MTV had to sell the idea of itself as a benefit to record sales to record companies, many of whom including Polygram, RCA, MCA weren’t convinced that MTV could help them promote their artists. Famously, Joan Bullard, Vice President for Press and Artist Development said, “We’re just not convinced video sells records.” Executives at the New York HQ of MTV – 75 Rockefeller Plaza, lobbied hard with record company executives and the media to present themselves as the answer to a general slump in record sales. In the early days MTV regularly placed self-promotional ads about itself in industry publications. One such ad in the September 11, 1982, issue of Billboard contained a sampling of quotes from retailers:
“These innovative groups are up 15% to 20% because of MTV”
“Our business is up for the summer by about 20% over last year”
“it seems to spur sales of obscure groups and it helps because radio won’t play new artists.”
Parent company of MTV – Warner Amex Cable Communication Operation was experiencing severe problems with its financial backers at the beginning of the 80s and subscriber figures to MTV were fickle. Record companies complained about the low rates MTV were willing to pay to air videos and resisted MTVs’ efforts to paint itself as the bright, new future for the recording industry. The first year’s revenue for MTV was $ 515,000, operating losses were at $ 10.8 million. By 1982, the company was heavily in the red. It needed to entice not only subscribers and cable operators but advertisers just to stay afloat.
Back in the ’80s music videos were not considered an art form in themselves, more an afterthought to the record. Budgets for these were largely what was left over after radio promotion ‘plugging’ and tour budgets were subtracted. Today’s $ million plus budgets and the view that videos are an imaginative, visual extension of the song, that can ‘break’ that song more effectively than radio can – were still at least a decade away. Some record companies didn’t even have video departments. Radio was king.
Early playlists included virtually no Black artists. Instead MTV focused on mainstream rock acts such as Dire Staits, U2, The Rolling Stones, Flock of Seagulls, Duran Duran, Rod Stewart, Bruce Springsteen, Pat Benatar, David Bowie, The Who, Adam Ant, ZZ Top, Men At Work, The Beatles, Culture Club, Van Halen, Journey, John Mellencamp, The Police, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Phil Collins, Paul McCartney, David Lee Roth, Eurythmics and Robert Plant – among others. The few Black artists that were included were Eddy Grant, Tina Turner and Donna Summer, Joan Arma-Trading, Musical Youth and Jon Butcher Axis and LA Black rockers, The Bus Boys. Motown’s big name acts like Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson and Rick James weren’t getting a look-in at MTV and people were starting to notice.
Bob Pittman, executive at MTV at the time, in response to growing questions as to why MTV wasn’t playing a proportionate amount of Black artists said: “It’s not a color barrier – it’s a music barrier.”
In 1983, Rick James and MTV went head to head when the network refused to play his hit “Super Freak.” Furious, James went public. Calling for MTV to start adding Black artists to its rotation lists, James declared MTV’s decision not play his record or the feature Black artists to any sizeable degree, “blatant racism.”
At the time, James said. “A lot of Black asses are going to come together and explode on MTV. There are no Blacks on MTV’s program list except for Tina Turner, and she stopped being Black about 10 years ago. MTV puts on little white punk groups who don’t even have record deals. Blacks are missing exposure and sales.”
Responding to the row, Les Garland, co-founder and originator of MTV, VH1 and The Box said: “There was a shortage of Black videos by urban artists. The success of this AOR (album oriented rock) format in radio certainly had its influence on MTV. But, there were no music videos. They weren’t being made. We had nothing to pick from.”
Garland insisted the reason “Super Freak” wasn’t played was because, “It’s contents [were] a little over the top, and our standard and practices wouldn’t go for it because of the content of the visuals. It had nothing to do with the song. It had nothing to do with him [James]. It was a little over the top for us … then he went on that tirade.”
Buzz Brindle, MTV’s then director of music programming, said of the James issue and accusations of a color barrier: “The point I always made was that MTV was originally designed to be a rock music channel. It was difficult for MTV to find African-American artists whose music fit the channel’s format that leaned towards rock at the outset.”
Many disagreed with these statements by MTV. Among them, Ed Lover, former co-host of ‘Yo! MTV Raps,’ the first nationally broadcast hip-hop show commissioned by MTV in 1988, told Jet Magazine “The name of your station music television not rock music station. If you [MTV] had come out with a station called RMTV … then you could make that claim. But if you’re saying music, music is music, show all music videos.”
David Bowie also spoke up. In 1983, when interviewed by MTV in a program about his work, Bowie asked, “Why are there practically no Black artists on the network?” Mark Goodman, the VJ interviewing Bowie was left struggling for words over dead air.
Rick James wasn’t the only Black artist who struggled with MTV. Michael Jackson was also encountering resistance. Thriller, however, was about to change that. From the very first week of its highly anticipated release on November 30, 1982, sales averaged at around 1 million copies per week. This was unprecedented. The quality of the record and the public demand for it, together with the highly vocal pressure mounted by Walter Yetnikoff – the, then, head of CBS/Epic records – and Quincy Jones, proved too mighty for MTV. The Rick James row was also a factor.
It’s likely MTV didn’t want to be drawn into another public battle with race as the issue. Forced into a position it couldn’t justify to its shareholders, subscribers or advertisers, MTV gave in. Turning down the videos of an album that was selling the way Thriller was made no sense. The walls of MTV had finally been breached by a Black artist playing music not specifically designed for one racial demographic. In the process, Michael Jackson revolutionized programming at MTV, sending a powerful defiant message to the silent segregation that operated throughout the entire industry.
The first release from Thriller was ‘The girl is mine,’ a duet co-written with Paul McCartney. The second release in January 3, 1983 was “Bille Jean.’ When CBS/Epic Records submitted “Bille Jean” for play on MTV they refused to play it. Yetnikoff, in his autobiography “Howling at the Moon” wrote, “I screamed bloody murder when MTV refused to air his videos. They argued that their format, white rock, excluded Michael’s music. I argued that they were racist jerks — and I’d trumpet it to the world if they didn’t relent … with added pressure from Quincy Jones, they caved in, and in so doing the color line came crashing down.” Yetnikoff is also said to have threatened to pull the videos of other artists at CBS if MTV refused to play “Billie Jean.”
None of this is the way MTV executives at the time remember it. Les Garland, the MTV executive who finally made the decision to air “Billie Jean” said years later, “There was never any hesitation. No fret. I called Bob [Pittman] to tell him, ‘I just saw the greatest video I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s off the dial it’s so good.’ We added it that day. How (the myth) turned into a story literally blew our minds.”
MTV started heavy rotation of “Billie Jean” in March 1983. While it was still at top of the American charts, “Beat It” – the short film Jackson paid for himself – was released as single on February 14, 1983. MTV picked up the video enjoying increased traffic almost immediately. Things got even more epic when the following year, January 23, 1984, Thriller was released as a single. Of course, by now there was no hesitation from MTV to air the 14 minute short film. Michael Jackson was now a global star with Thriller exceeding all expectations. The first short film of that length ever made, MTV announced its premiere with built anticipation and pomp then watched ratings blow its roof off. MTV would continue this style of announcing Jackson’s short films from that point on.
“For the first time in the history of MTV, we spotted big time rating spikes,” Garland said, “we were averaging back in those days like a 24 hour rating of 1.2, but every time we would play Thriller, we’d jump up to an 8 or 10. We learned a lot about programming.”
Davey D, host of San Francisco’s KPFA 94.1 Hard Knock Radio and hip hop/political columnist for the San Jose Mercury News, said at the time. “The music industry was suffering, [Michael] came along and pretty much saved it and took the level of video production to a whole other height and changed the game. So MTV owes a lot to Black artists and the type of attention that they drew to the channel.”
Jackson’s short films were not just technical videos. He conceived and considered them part of his art, part of a vision. Employing directors he admired; everything from the set design, make-up, production crew, editing, costume and choreography – was planned and executed with masterful precision and attention. Jackson turned what was previously thought of as just a business device – into an event. Bringing art to the video format, Jackson called his short films; a reflection of the time and energy he put into them.
From 1983 onwards, the goalposts shifted irrevocably at MTV. And in 1984, after Thriller’s release, a gratefully revitalized music industry wasn’t slow to express across-the-board industry validation of Jackson’s ascendancy. Having already won a multitude of awards for Off The Wall, Thriller’s dominance of the market unleashed the full force of Michaelmania in America. Across the entire range of award shows in 1984 Michael Jackson was winning big, notably at the prestigious American Music Awards, Billboard Awards and, of course, at the Grammy’s on February 28, 1984.
But it was in 1984 that Jackson received his first MTV Video Award for his short films. Receiving three MTV Video awards in September 1984 for Best Overall Performance, Best Choreography and the Viewer’s Choice award, one in 1989, and three MTV Video awards in 1995 – all for Scream. Presented in 1988 with the MTV Video Vanguard Award, at the time it was billed as the MTV Video Vanguard Award of the Decade. Jackson went on in 1989 to win the MTV Video Vanguard Award in 1989 for Thriller, MTV bespoking it to “The Greatest Video in the History of the World.”
The media attacks that had been gnawing at Jackson with increasing maliciousness gathered pace after Thriller. The PR backlash from the media, rival promoters and some ticket buyers over the Victory Tour, mobilizing in earnest from 1984 onwards. As can be seen in the 1984 interview with Ebony’s Robert Johnson, the media’s determination to portray Jackson as a crazy, vain, race-denying freak – was in full swing. The media were accelerating the process of turning their ‘boy wonder’ into an object of barely concealed derision.
The American public, however, were still captivated by Michaelmania. And to the music industry, Michael Jackson was a highly bankable star, pushing out great albums and still reflecting ‘star power’ on any award show that he attended and was connected with. By the time the ’90s rolled around, MTV, then a massively influential network continued to showed its support as it geared up to promote the 1991 Dangerous album on heavy rotation. Behind-the scenes industry buzz about Jackson’s ‘billion dollar’ new record deal with Epic – in fact worth $ 65,000,000 – and imminent album release meant the timing of the re-naming of the MTV Video Vanguard Award couldn’t be better for MTV to muscle in and claim a piece of the Michael Jackson magic for themselves.
Up until 1991, the now newly restored Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award was known as either the MTV Video Vanguard Award or its other name, Lifetime Achievement Award. The award is given to musicians at the VMA’s that MTV considers to have had a profound effect on music video in terms of influence, invention, concept-defining style and a whole range of other criteria. It was a PR move for MTV and a demonstration of the mutually beneficial relationship between them and Jackson. It was good business and it worked. The renaming generated media and Jackson’s honouring brought hype and ratings for MTV. Everybody wins.
In 1991, the renaming of the MTV vanguards to Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award – an award stands apart from the other categories – was an unequivocal reflection of the position Michael Jackson occupied in the industry. The 1993 Grammy Legend Award was still 2 years away, so in effect, MTV, by changing the name of the highest award they could give, intuitively picked up the mood of the industry faster than the more sedate Grammy’s.
In 1992 when Guns and Roses were given the Vanguard, it was presented as the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. See here also. This is where a curious and very clear discrepancy reveals itself. MTV claim the first time the MJVVA was awarded was in 2001 to U2. But it wasn’t. And a visit to the Guns and Roses page on Wikipedia and on the Wikipedia page for the MTV Video Vanguard Awards themselves, the entry for Guns and Roses is not referred to as the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award.
This rather obvious revisionism by MTV cannot simply be dismissed as a typo or oversight on Wikipedia’s part because MTV themselves claim the first time the MJVVA was given out was in 2001. While the reliability of some Wikipedia pages can certainly be questioned, those that relate to artists and topics that are visited often and updated by the companies/ corporations/educational bodies/PR agencies etc, that do that updating, are very accurate.
This discrepancy is revealing. It shows that at some point in time, even though they didn’t declare it, MTV did make a decision to intentionally phase out the usage of Michael Jackson’s name in relation to the Vanguard award and used the same techniques media has been using to rewrite history and facts about Jackson for over two decades. Simply put: They changed the event by changing the words. By erasing what actually happened in the visible records online, press articles, and by staying silent about when they made these changes – MTV effectively changed reality.
An illustration of how keenly MTV (or Wikipedia adding the information MTV send to them) monitors their MTV Vanguard Awards page at Wikipedia; is that less than 24 hours after the VMA’s aired it was updated with Spears’s win alongside a mention of the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. It no longer does that. However, a new heading at the top of the page stating that the MTV Vanguards are now known as the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award or Lifetime Achievement Award has now been added.
No vanguards were given out at the VMA’s in 1993. The year Michael Jackson was falsely accused, Pepsi very publicly withdrew their sponsorship and the full force of the media that had been escalating in viciousness towards him since the late 70′s/early 80s would now peak (pre 2003/5) in inflated sensationalism. MTV, like everyone else in America, watching to see how the scandal played out, decided to hedge their bets and see whether Jackson made it through the firestorm unscathed. To MTV, by not presenting a Vanguard award at all meant they didn’t have to publicly endorse a now ‘tainted’ star. But likewise they didn’t want to burn their bridges and publicly de-honour Jackson either. After all, business is business.
In 1994 as the dust settled on a horrific year for Jackson, his movie plans in tatters and a significant proportion of the public now readily believing the still continuing barrage of openly suspicious media coverage that followed the settlement and marriage in May 1994 to Lisa-Marie Presley. Post 1993, the context Jackson was now forced to exist in was a very different one. The album HIStory still in the production/writing stage, no major awards were won that year, although he did win the MTV Best Song in a Movie Award at the 1994 MTV Movie Awards for “Will You Be There.” MTV were more than happy, however, to exploit the ratings draw an appearance by the newly-weds and that famous kiss brought to that year’s VMAs. As can be seen here, MTV haven’t yet got around to erasing their repellent reference to that kiss in the article displayed at that link. The Vanguard that year was given to The Rolling Stones as the Lifetime Achievement Award and called that at the time. Was this a recognition that The Rolling Stones as a long standing, decades old band deserved to be presented with an award that wasn’t dedicated to another artist – or did it reflect MTV awareness of the new climate that surrounded the name Michael Jackson? Possibly – and possibly not.
When Taj Jackson, son of Tito Jackson, tweeted this message:
MTV’s tweeted reply, while being careful not to directly refer to the true question expressed in Taj’s tweets, was implicitly suggesting the whole manner of how the Vanguards were given was a somehow loose and discretionary one, with only a hint that MTV acknowledged Michael Jackson’s vanguard dedication had been silently revoked since 1993. In short, ‘media speak.’
In 1995 Jackson won 3 MTV Video Awards opening the VMA’s with a timeless performance that recently won the Most Iconic VMA Perfomance and Best VMA Pop Performance categories in MTV’s 2011 poll. At the awards, this time the shades stayed on. Still embattled and under no illusions about the new landscape he occupied, it was a very different Michael Jackson that accepted the awards he was given that night. REM were the Vanguard recipients that night but all media references to their win indicate the award was presented to them as a MTV Video Vanguard Award.
In 1996 no vanguards were given out. But in 1997, MTV’s revisionism can be seen in full effect again when US rapper, L.L. Cool J won that vanguard that year. Bearing in mind MTV maintain the first presentation of the MJVVA was in 2001, how strange then to see that award referred to in a Black media site as the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, yet at a VH1 media site which is an channel parented by MTV, it’s simply called the MTV Video Vanguard Award. Wikipedia follows suit.
In 1998, a successfully completed worldwide HIStory tour, marriage to and children with Debbie Rowe combined to dim the memory of 1993 in the public’s consciousness. Despite the media’s industry wide targeting of Jackson, especially now he had children, consumers were still responding well to HIStory sales around the world. To some, the perception was that the star was well on the way to a nearly full recovery from the turbulence of past years – but apparently MTV didn’t agree. At the 1988 VMA’s, The Beastie Boys vanguard award was presented as the MTV Video Vanguard Award, yet was confusingly referred to by some media at the time as the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, and others as the MTV Video Vanguard Award.
In 1999 no vanguards were handed out. In 2000, Jackson busy with mixing chores for Invincible, MTV presented that year’s vanguard recipients, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, with a MTV Video Vanguard Award.
In 2001, with Invincible slated for an October release, well documented tensions between Sony and Jackson concerning the problematic aspects in Jackson’s recording contract such as; structure of recoupment rates, reversion dates for the licenses of masters, attorney conflict of interest, and the fact that Sony’s ongoing negotiations to buy Michael’s music catalogue represented the potential for ‘unofficial’ sabotage of the Invincible campaign – were building behind boardroom doors. Insider rumors in the industry at the time about the amount of money being thrown at the album led to impressions that somehow this was some sort of ‘make or break’ album for Jackson. However, as far as the public and the fans were concerned, there was plenty to look forward to. Promotion by CBS for the highly anticipated two-concert Michael Jackson 30th Anniversary Celebrations at Madison Square Gardens, [abbrev] “The Solo Years,” sold out in 5 hours. Hype around Michael Jackson was high. The VMA’s were held one day before the first of those concerts (the first scheduled for September 7th, the second, on the 10th.)
MTV, keenly aware of the hype surrounding Jackson chose that year to feature a collaborative performance between him and various artists at the VMA’s that year, and awarded the recipients of the 2001 Vanguard – U2, with the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. This direct correlation between the expectant media momentum surrounding Jackson at the time and MTV’s decision speaks volumes. It also provides a revealing perspective on what the motivations of big corporations are. A reminder that their primary, if not only, consideration in decision making is always – the bottom line.
2002′s infamous facepalm was a PR nightmare for Jackson. Acutely differing interpretations of what took place can be nutshelled as this: To hear MTV tell it, it was all just a simple mistake. That year the VMA’s fell, just like 2011′s, on Jackson’s birthday (then, 44th). At some point in the event Michael walked onstage to a surely unwitting Britney, who promptly presented him with a styrofoam cake-shaped trophy and said that “in her eyes” he was the “artist of the millennium.”
MTV’s version was that there was no artist of the Millennium award and that Jackson had got confused. The other version, one perhaps rooted on planet Terra, is skeptical that Jackson travelled all the way down to Radio City Hall in New York City – with a cold – to hear a roomful of music executives and celebrities mouth ‘Happy Birthday’. MTV denied any subterfuge, But the idea that MTV thought nothing of exploiting an appearance by Jackson as an opportunity to essentially ‘punk’ him is less unlikely when one considers what was happening at the time.
Reasons for MTV’s treatment of Jackson at the 2002 VMA’s were more than likely to have been part of the generally contemptuous reception by the mainstream media (with the exception of the Black press) and talk show pundits, to his very public falling out with Sony and his comments about Tommy Mottola in July 2002. The de facto non-promotion by Sony of the 2001 Invincible album was the talk of the music industry and the media, especially considering the approximately $30,000,000+ invested in it. MTV, historically, has extremely close ties to the recording industry since it is dependent on that industry for product and artist tie-ins.
Van Toffler, President of MTV and MTV2 from 2000-2004, before becoming President of MTV Networks music/film/Logo group (MTVN), knew Mottola very well and even commissioned Mottola as executive producer on one of MTV’s reality shows at the time ‘Mr Rooney’s Barber Shop.’ Toffler was not the only MTV executive Mottola knew. Reported dining with MTV chairman Tom Freston in 2003, it’s clear that friendly and useful relationships were, and are, cultivated between high level executives in a symbiotic relationship like MTV and a record company. While fans backed Jackson in the schism with Sony, most music industry executives – in particular most White music industry executives – firmly sided with Sony when the accusations of racism were levelled at Mottola.
2003 explains itself. Hyperventilating over the false accusations being made by the Arvisos and the release of Jordan Chandler’s 1993 declaration – not a deposition as many believed – on the Smoking Gun website; media saturation of the scandal was now at Mach 9. That years’s recipients of the vanguard Duran Duran walked away with a MTV Video Vanguard Award. MTV was officially estranged from Michael Jackson.
2004 and 2005 were lost years for the Vanguards. The real life spectacle of a besieged, now indicted ‘fallen King of Pop’ was the 24/7 watercooler and media obsession of not only America but the world.
In the aftermath of the internationally scrutinized farce that was the 2005 trial, by 2006, despite the emphatic legal vindication of a 14 count acquittal, for Michael Jackson, nothing had changed. The irony that Hype Williams – the first Black Director to ever receive that year’s MTV Video Vanguard Award and part of the generations of African-Americans that had grown up watching Jackson’s short films and been inspired by them – could not now receive his award at the VMA’s with that name because its bearer was effectively exiled; not lost on those who knew what represented.
In 2007 and 2008 no vanguards were awarded. And so to 2009.
A VMA year to remember. Janet Jackson’s defiant tribute and an astonishing speech by Madonna in which she spoke of America’s “abandonment” of Jackson, silenced a normally boisterous VMA audience. A moment of truth for a nation that should have been the ‘story’ the following day, instead became a missed one when an agitated Kanye West decided he needed to be heard more than the truth did.
We arrive full circle. 2011, a point that marks exactly 20 years from when Michael Jackson was first honoured by the renaming of MTV Video Vanguard Award by the very network he helped make what it once was. MTV have done the right thing at last and deserve more than a few grace notes for that. That it took so long is a matter for record only. The Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award has returned. Maybe one day, the truth will too.