RePosted -- Donna Britt on Michael Jackson
Editor's Note: This column first appeared in The Post on Aug. 31, 1993.
Every child should be protected.
It's ironic that the first time I really thought about that, Michael Jackson was the kid in question. He was about 7 -- near the age of my younger son today.
I was about 10, and everyone in my home town of Gary, Ind., knew about the Jackson 5, winners of dozens of local talent shows, and the adorable prodigy who was the group's lead singer. "He's a little kid," friends who'd seen him sighed, "but he dances just like James Brown. And he can sing."
The talent show in a high school gym was packed. After an endless succession of Motown and Stax wannabees, Michael and his brothers exploded onto the stage, demonstrating a polish and passion that erased all memory of the previous acts. My friends and I went wild, all the time thinking how great it must be, being Michael.
Finishing the set, the Jackson boys did what cool groups always did then -- ran triumphantly through the crowd to exit. Suddenly, a much older woman -- she must have been all of 17 -- scooped Michael off his feet, covering him with kisses.
Instantly, Jackson's professional aplomb melted, transforming him into a terrified little boy trapped in a stranger's grip. Somehow, his legs -- tiny, kicking helplessly at the air -- most reminded me that the performer who'd electrified us was the same age as my own bratty brother. When he finally ran away, being Michael seemed a less-wonderful thing.
Today, I tell myself that the scene gives me the slightest handle on something I can't know -- how Michael Jackson became the man he is today.
Yes, man. Some people have a hard time with the notion of Jackson being a man. In hundreds of articles, the megastar has been described as everything from a real-life Peter Pan or E.T. to a sexual hybrid, neither male nor female.
But unless he's had serious surgeries other than cosmetic, Jackson is a 35-year-old guy, meaning it's possible that he has feelings and urges similar to those of other grown-up guys.
Which is why, that night in 1984 when I saw Jackson carry elfin TV star Emmanuel Lewis, then 12, onstage with him to accept several Grammy awards, I decided one thing:
Given the opportunity, I wouldn't let Michael Jackson spend significant time alone with my kids.