Michael Jackson 2000-2009
Michael Jackson defied many people’s expectations after a rocky public image in the 1990s. Many assumed his career would be over after a child molestation case in 1993, or due to his appearance, or perhaps a dozen other reasons. What these so-called experts didn’t realize was that Michael Jackson had supporters. It might have been his public persona of childlike innocence, or his widespread charity work, or even love for his music, but the majority of fans continued to buy his albums and support him through his hardships.
Jackson’s hatred for the media was probably justified, but no doubt was a factor in the media’s continued lambasting of his public image. As early as the 1980s, the media found out how profitable it was to circulate rumors about the pop star, such as his chimpanzee Bubbles, the special hyperbaric oxygen chamber he slept in to combat aging, and his interest in and purchase of the bones of the “Elephant Man.” Unfortunately for Michael, the 2000s were a field day for major news media when it came to Michael Jackson.
He started off the decade recognized for his charitable contributions, making it into the Guiness Book of World Records for supporting 39 different charities. At the same time, he was embroiled in a dispute with his record label, Sony. He was looking forward to having the master copies of his albums revert to his ownership, so he could promote them without giving Sony a cut of his profits. Because of some fine print and an attorney with a conflict of interest, it turned out that they weren’t due to revert back to him for many years.
Worst of all, Sony could benefit if Jackson’s career failed. They could force him to sell his catalog to them in the event of a decline in Michael’s career or personal finances. As a result, when the time came to promote his new album, Invincible, Michael claimed that Sony held back support because he had informed them he would not renew his contract.
Nevertheless, Invincible was a highly hyped and commercially successful album. He promoted it himself by marking his 30th year as a solo artist with a celebration in Madison Square Garden. In a special treat, he appeared there with his brothers for the first time since 1984. Despite going double-platinum in the United States, Invincible was still a low-selling album compared to his previous offerings.
Continuing his charity work, Michael Jackson participated in the United We Stand benefits concert after September 11th, 2001. He also had a third child, Prince Michael II, in 2002, but didn’t say who the mother was and claimed she was a surrogate mother that he impregnated with artificial insemination. Another controversy plastered tabloid magazine covers and headline news channels, when Jackson dangled his newborn over a fourth-story balcony of his hotel room in Berlin, Germany.
He continued to be a commercial success, however. In 2003, Sony released a greatest hits compilation of Michael Jackson on CD and DVD, peaking at 13 on the charts and being certified platinum. Unfortunately, a documentary called “Living With Michael Jackson” brought back memories of his 1993 child molestation case. He had admitted to sleeping in the same bed as children who visited, but that nothing sexual took place. Many people were not satisfied with this admission.
Michael Jackson, a decade after the last case, was again charged with child abuse. This time, however, there were criminal proceedings and it was a highly controversial and publicized case, not unlike the high profile OJ Simpson trial in the 1990s, with strong feelings on both sides as to whether he was innocent or guilty. In this case, he was charged with seven counts of sexual child abuse and two counts of administering an intoxicating agent to commit a felony.
Michael denied the charges, and was defended by close friend Elizabeth Taylor on Larry King Live, who claimed that the sleepovers were by no means sexual in nature. Michael Jackson was examined by a professional mental health expert, Dr. Stan Katz, who said he believed that Michael was a regressed 10 year old who did not fit the profile of a pedophile.
The People v. Jackson trial began in 2005, and during this time, Michael Jackson became dependent on morphine and Demerol. He also suffered from stress-induced illness and extreme weight loss. In May 2005, Michael Jackson was acquitted on all counts.
Financial problems started to weigh down on Michael as well. He was forced to shut down his main house at the Neverland Ranch and consolidate some debt. During this time, he also gained eight more world records in the Guiness Book of World Records, including the record for the “most successful entertainer of all time.” This came shortly before the 25th anniversary of Thriller in 2008.
The 25th anniversary of Thriller was commemorated by Michael with the release of Thriller 25. Commercially, the album did fairly well, and was the highest-selling catalog album in 2008. It reached the top 10 in most of the countries where it was released. Soon after this, Michael Jackson was preparing his comeback tour in 2009 to 2010. He sold out at 50 venues and had a plan with his promotional company to possibly go on a world tour, release new music, and even come out with a 3-D film based on the highlight of Michael Jackson’s career, Thriller.
Tragically, Michael Jackson never got to go on his comeback tour. He had been rehearsing rigorously for the past two months before his death on June 25, 2009. He went home in the evening complaining of chest pains, and in the morning, his personal physician came to check on him. Michael was unresponsive, and the physician called for emergency help, but it was too late.
Even in death, Michael Jackson sparked controversy, as members of his family were already claiming there was “foul play” involved, and people were uncomfortable knowing that Michael’s kids were temporarily under custody of Katherine and Joe Jackson.
Music sales of Michael Jackson skyrocketed following his death, and his death also marks a historic milestone for the internet, as social networking site members of Twitter and Facebook passed along the news in personal status updates in record numbers. The impact was massive and immediate, and the world mourned the loss of the King of Pop. His legacy, however uncertain it may be, will live on, and his music and influence will continue to inspire generations of artists and audiences in the future.