Wacko Jacko Has No One To Blame But Himself

The downward spiral of Michael Jackson continued in 2006.  He fought over the custody of his kids with ex-wife Debbie Rowe, he shut down the infamous Neverland Ranch (although there are still some people who live and work there), he moved back to America to live in Las Vegas with the Sultan of Brunei, and he seemed to spend more time in courtrooms than in recording studios.
Despite hooking up with Will.i.am of The Black Eyed Peas to work on his next studio album and signing a new management deal, all these civil cases he’s been dealing with have taken up the majority of his time.  Not that I feel sorry for him in the least.  How he has escaped jail time for his crimes against children remains an enduring mystery.  And I’m still angry with him for screwing over Paul McCartney.  (Remember how he sought the former Beatle’s advice on acquiring publishing rights to music catalogues and then outbid him (and Yoko Ono) for all those Lennon/McCartney collaborations?)
The latest news about Jackson is quite shocking.  First, there’s the dismal state of his finances.  According to Roger Friedman of Fox News, he’s currently in the hole for over 300 million dollars.  Unbelievable.
He blames all his current woes on his accountants who he recently filed suit against.  (It’ll be up to the law to decide if Jackson is right on this.  Considering how much of “a ridiculous liar” he is, to use Bill Maher’s apt phrase, I’m betting it’s his own fault.) 
Secondly, Friedman is reporting that he’s ending the year estranged from his family and longtime supporters.  As the years go by, fewer and fewer people are putting up with his bullshit.
I wrote about Jackson’s crumbling fortunes in 2002 in this previously unseen commentary.  It was written in consideration for the YourPlace page in the entertainment section of The Hamilton Spectator but was never approved for publication.  After reading an interesting piece in Rolling Stone magazine that year and following the ongoing coverage of his increasingly dismal existence on Television, I decided to put something together quickly.
I’ve decided not to change what I wrote (with the exception of one small, grammatical correction) even though I know more about that period of Jackson’s professional life now than I did four years ago.
Firstly, in 2001, according to Wikipedia, Jackson told Tommy Mottola personally that he wasn’t interested in re-signing his studio album contract with Sony.  (Mottola was the guy responsible for signing Mariah Carey to the label.)  This happened just before his last studio album, the ironically titled Invincible, was issued.  (The company has been issuing greatest hits packages only ever since.)  That’s part of the reason why he fearlessly badmouthed the guy in a memorable press conference the following year.  In his eyes, he had nothing to lose, and he probably thought it was a bad-ass move on his part, a real rock and roll gesture, if you will, to stick it to the man.  (I explain this reasoning further in the piece.)  As for Mottola, he left Sony to buy out Casablanca Records which he currently runs.
It turns out no one took Jackson’s ridiculous ranting very seriously.  Mottola never filed a libel suit against him and while he won’t be making any albums of new songs for Sony, they still have the right to recycle his old material as much as they’d like.  It remains to be seen whether he’ll sever all ties to the company before embarking on his comeback.  Anybody interested in signing this has-been?
Jackson’s recent attempt to aid the victims of Hurricane Katrina with a star-studded celebrity tribute single, like his September 11 charity song, has never seen the light of day.  I’m not even sure either track was ever recorded and/or properly mixed and mastered.  Jackson is well known for wasting money on bad business deals as well as producing music that has never been released.
I really like this piece.  I’m very disappointed it was never accepted by The Spec.  Thankfully, through this website, it gets a second chance.

Wacko Jacko Has No One To Blame But Himself
By Dennis Earl

It has to be said. Michael Jackson’s latest rantings and ravings underscore one important fact: the man is going broke. Rolling Stone magazine reported that Jackson might be on the verge of bankruptcy due to an unsteady stream of revenue and the fact that he continues to spend unwisely. Jackson was once truly the King of Pop. Now, sadly, he has reduced himself to public charity case.

His recent public criticisms of his label, Sony, and its chairman, Tommy Mottola, reveal the inner workings of an increasingly desperate superstar who clings to the illusion that his current reputation and the state of his musical career are the faults of others. According to reports, Sony has Jackson tied to a contract until 2004. There’s a good chance he’ll be released but not without consequences.

Calling your boss “a racist” and “the devil” certainly won’t resolve anything. In fact, it could lead to libel charges. That is, if Mottola feels the accusations start to stain his business dealings. That’s only if the music community takes Jackson seriously which, so far, it hasn’t.

Jackson’s assertion that he is coming forward to protect black artists is a joke. Jackson, unlike the original black rock stars of the 50s, has been extremely fortunate in his career. (Because of his remarkable solo success, he gets a higher royalty rate that most performers.) After all, Bo Diddley didn’t earn enough moolah to buy the entire catalogue of Lennon and McCartney’s Beatles music. And he certainly doesn’t live in luxury like Jackson does on his Neverland Ranch. And what exactly has Jackson done for poor black artists anyway?

Let’s get real here. Jackson is an egomaniac of Mount Olympus proportions. He blames his record company for not promoting his latest album, Invincible, nearly enough to his satisfaction. It should be noted that the album cost tens of millions of dollars to produce and ads for the release flooded television sets last fall. (Sony says they spent 25 million in advertising strategies on top of the 30 million Jackson spent making the album.) In other words, Invincible has to be certified diamond status (10 million copies sold), at least, in order to come close to breaking even.

Although the album has gone double platinum, while pretty respectable for most artists, it’s not good enough for Jackson who normally sells tens of millions of albums per release. (A relentless perfectionist, it sometimes takes him 5 years to make a studio recording, making each release an event.) And in this case, 2 million albums sold is indeed a financial failure considering the obscene amount of money funnelled into the project.

Jackson is also miffed at Sony because, according to him, they didn’t allow him to release a song to benefit victims of the September 11th attacks. What would any record company stand to gain from preventing a charity single to be released?

The truth is Jackson has wasted money in various causes and business ventures and seen almost all the projects die before lift-off. He’s tried helping children in Africa and financing amusement parks, but he has nothing to show for it.

As for his music career, it’s been on the decline since the 1990s. Although Dangerous (1991) was a popular release spawning many hit singles, it was clear Jackson’s best material was behind him. By the time he was hit with child molestation charges in 1993, it was only a matter of time before his bottom line started to suffer.

Truth be told, I think people don’t care ultimately what kind of a man you are as long as you deliver the hits. Jackson has continued to do that despite producing increasingly lackluster albums. (You Are Not Alone, from 1995’s History, debuted at #1 on Billboard. It was written by another stained performer, R. Kelly.)

Even if the child molestation charges never came to fruition, Jackson would still be in the situation he’s in now. Even though he reportedly settled for 20 million with the family of the boy he supposedly molested, he has spent far more on failed business projects. And don’t forget the 55 million that was sunk on Invincible.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, December 29, 2006
3:42 p.m.
Published in: on December 29, 2006 at 3:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

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