In periods of frenzied haste towards wealth, of feverish speculation and of crisis, of the sudden downfall of great industries and the ephemeral expansion of other branches of production, of scandalous fortunes amassed in a few years and dissipated as quickly, it becomes evident that the economic institutions which control production and exchange are far from giving to society the prosperity which they are supposed to guarantee; they produce precisely the opposite result. Instead of order they bring forth chaos; instead of prosperity, poverty and insecurity; instead of reconciled interests, war; a perpetual war of the exploiter against the worker, of exploiters and of workers among themselves. Human society is seen to be splitting more and more into two hostile camps, and at the same time to be subdividing into thousands of small groups waging merciless war against each other. Weary of these wars, weary of the miseries which they cause, society rushes to seek a new organization; it clamors loudly for a complete remodelling of the system of property ownership, of production, or exchange and all economic relations which spring from it.‘The Spirit of Revolt’ 1880
Michael Jackson’s home has been transplanted into the old Robinsons-May building in Beverly Hills, they’ve even brought the gates. The garden furniture and planters. His awards, his socks, his personal drawings. It’s one of the most extraordinary things I’ve ever seen, and one of the creepiest. And here is the splendour and the sadness.
The public information on the whole deal is pretty sketchy. Jackson was acquitted of the criminal pedophile charges of course, but owes a ton of money, I imagine for civil cases? So it seems that essentially all of his most personal things sitting in this vast space are the result of the repo man visiting his estate. Rather then just humiliating him in front of his neighbors, they have humiliated him in front of the world, stripped everything they thought they could possibly sell, and brought it on down to L.A. to sell to the highest bidder. The auction is now off, the money was raised and the stuff is going back to Michael, though it might remain in the public domain. You can read more on that here.
But essentially, you are looking at things most people were never meant to see. It is there by force. And it just adds an edge to the voyeuristic element, a frisson of violence and transgression. It only adds to the immense creepiness and unsettling nature of the things.
The creepiest thing by far, these figures that were so lifelike and who were everywhere. They were all white.
The woman in the background with the curlers is holding a copy of Women are From Venus, Men are From Mars. Butlers were everywhere, there were more than 5 of them, I didn’t think to count but now I am really curious. They were ubiquitous the way a good butler should be. Below you can get a sense of the scale of the exhibit, and the personal taste of the man himself.
There are also four or five life size wax figures of Michael Jackson himself. But somehow, that to me is a sign simply of colossal ego which I can understand, the rest of them I just cannot. An attempt to never be alone? Imagine sharing a huge mansion with them, it gives me chills. So to move smoothly from the mannequins to the paintings…
Creepy woman who looks like one of my older family members, with a Michael Jackson Triptych in the background. Michael Jackson’s poems are everywhere…written on the paintings that were commissioned, on Neverland’s kids menus, on slabs of marble out in front, on story book sculptures. This one reads:
I am the thinker, the thinking,
I am the seeker, the seeking,
I am the dewdrop, the sunshine,
I am the phenomenon, the field,
I am the descent, the ocean,
I am the Primeval Self
In you and I.
I am Michael Jackson
There are paintings of him everywhere as royalty, with crown and scepter. He has the crowns and sceptres as well, the ermined cloaks. And there are the paintings of him leading long lines of little children to the promised land and happiness
There are paintings of him surrounded by cartoon characters, the Marx Brothers, Peter Pan. And this, which essentially leaves me pretty speechless.
So there’s too much really, to convey. The kids. The kids are everywhere and are frankly terrifying. Dolls and furniture for children that…well, it’s hard to tell where the creepiness comes from, it doesn’t even lie in the pedophile charges though I’m sure that adds a dimension. It’s like Louise Bourgeois’ red rooms.
And the statues
There’s original art on the wall by Michael Jackson and Macaulay Culkin. There are drawings of children. An incredibly terrifying clown. Bikes and trikes and little cars. Collectible stautuettes in china and pewter and whatever else. And then the playroom stuff, filled with video games, pinball machines, his disney collection.
And some really cool stuff. The prop of Hans Solo after he’s been cryogenically frozen, an R2D2 and C3po, a lego Darth Vader and lots of Star Wars stuff. Arcade games you’ve been dying to play again like Super Mario and Digg Dugg and Pole Position. Edward Scissorhands’ actual hands.
He has a painting of Marlene Dietrich that she has signed and dedicated to him. His books are all there, almost all Hollywood with a smattering of Children’s classics and Black History. He has a letter from Ronald Reagen:
“I was pleased to learn that you were not seriously hurt in your recent accident…
All over America, millions of people look up to you as an example. Your deep faith in God and adherence to traditional values are an inspiration to all of us, especially young people searching for something real to believe in. I know from experience that these things can happen on the set…
You’ve gained quite a number of fans along the road since “I Want You Back,” and Nancy and I are among them.”
He has another Inter-Office memo to Tom Jones from Walt Disney…don’t ask me how. But it is HILARIOUS.
“Dear Tom –
This is just to let you know how much I appreciate your efforts in trying to keep all the English people happy … I know many of their requests were unreasonable, but your stepping in and handling these things were a help to me and the others concerned with the making of the picture.”
So perhaps in some kind of context this wouldn’t be so funny, but possibly even then. I have no idea what the context is, but the idea of Tom Jones trying to keep “all the English people” happy is pretty amusing, I wonder what film that was? It’s from 1963.
At any rate, there are also a huge number of awards, plaques, pictures, and his clothes, gloriously reflective and shiny clothes. Thriller was the first album I ever bought, my brothers and I pooled our Christmas money to get it. And I love Michael Jackson, as Celine said while we were watching youtube videos, he has the moves that Justin Timberlake and all the rest of today’s performers only dream of. And he invented them. And the clothes look a bit ridiculous on display now, but he carried them off, he was that good. So that part of the thing I could enjoy without remorse or nausea. Though the body suits were a little disturbing.
I don’t even know how to wrap up what going was like. It made me incredibly sad mostly, thinking of the little boy singing ABC with the Jackson Five, and wondering how he has grown into … what? There are no words for Michael Jackson really. Or a million of them. A lost childhood, the ability to buy himself anything, indulge himself anything. The desire to create … what? I don’t know what. You could possibly boil it all down to sex but I hate boiling everything down to that, refuse to really, life is complex. But there is a wrongness to it all that lingers in your mind. And, well, sadness.
A few more images: