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Dear Michael Jackson

Dear Mr. Jackson: I would like to start off by saying how sorry I am about your childhood. I saw it all on VH1’s Michael Jackson program, so I am well versed on how the Jehovah’s Witness people are to blame for your erratic behavior. I would also like to say that I don’t believe that at all. I mean, it was on VH1, so that pretty much makes it completely false. Frankly, Mr. Jackson, I don’t know what to think. I know that you had a hard time growing up. Of course you did, being in the spotlight all the time, constantly under scrutiny. It could not have been easy. However, does a not-that-great childhood justify a bizarre adulthood?

Allow me to be blunt, Mr. Jackson. I didn’t really know who you were until I was around nine years old. I had heard of you, but I thought of you as “the weird-looking person” (I had a hard time distinguishing your gender). After I had established that you were a pop star, it wasn’t until I was 13 and watching “Thriller” on Halloween that I discovered you used to be black. So, I need to thank you because up until that point, I was convinced that a person couldn’t change his or her skin color.

Upon turning 14, I took an interest in the Beatles and therefore hated you for stealing their song rights from Paul McCartney (my idol). I mellowed out a few years ago, but then a new sentiment replaced hatred: pity. I know it’s strange. There is no reason for me to feel sorry for you, but I do. You’ve been cut a raw deal. Even still, I don’t know what to make of you.

Okay, it is totally true that the American public can’t pass judgment on you because of that special on TV a few years ago. But, come on! Bubbles? Lisa Marie Presley? Neverland Ranch? Dangling a baby over a balcony? Showing up to court in pajamas? These actions make it pretty clear that your thinking is a little out there. Good luck in trial, Mr. Jackson. I have a feeling you’re going to need it.

  • — Anne Baker,
  • Carlsbad H.S.

Dear Michael Jackson: I can remember thinking you were the coolest guy in the world when I saw the “Thriller” video from the early ’80s. Now, more than two decades after the release of that song, I couldn’t be more disappointed or disturbed over the behavior of one of music’s greatest pop icons.

Because you don’t think what you’ve done is wrong, there is no point in berating, preaching, or damning you because it would fall on deaf ears. Rather, I am sorry for whatever motivated you to hang a baby over a balcony. I’m sorry for whatever caused you pain and for whatever leads you to such actions. However, there is no excuse for compromising a child. I don’t think you should rot in jail, but I do think you should never be allowed near another child again.

As for a fair trial, money is the greatest protection against punishment, and you have plenty of that. I think that the ratio of people who idealize you because of your music and the people who recognize your actions as sick will be close to even. People rally behind you because of your music, because they remember being young and crazy and dancing to your songs, learning your choreography, and buying your tapes. In my mind, I can separate talent and character, creativity and honor. Brilliance or originality is neither exemption nor an excuse for disgraceful actions.

I think you’re beyond hope, and as to what will become of you, I would never give the system the benefit of the doubt. Most likely, you will grow old in the public eye and the media will always be waiting to pounce on the next piece of disturbing information about your questionable conduct. The next generation will know you as a pseudo-creepy old man whose songs they burn onto their “vintage mix” CDs and rock out to, saying, “Wow, this is so old school!” And after your death, conservative mothers across America will breathe a sigh of relief.

  • — Gabrielle Clifford,
  • La Costa Canyon H.S.

Dear Michael Jackson: I’m tired of you. You haven’t made a decent song in years, you’re the most reliable joke for late-night comedians on a slow news day, and there are hundreds of junk e-mails with bad jokes about you filling up my in-box. I’m tired of seeing your face on television screens and in newspapers, if only because it is so disfigured.

I never was a fan of your music. To be fair, I wasn’t alive during what I’m told was the peak of your popularity. I can’t name any of your songs besides “Bad” and “Man in the Mirror.” Oh, and didn’t you do something called The Wiz? I never saw it, but I’ve heard it wasn’t very good. The DJ at my bar mitzvah played some stuff by the Jackson 5, but that’s about as far as my knowledge of your work goes.

The first time I heard about you, it was in reference to your milk-white skin tone. Kids on the playground said that some guy named Michael Jackson used to be black, but he took a shower in white-skin dye and became permanently white. Even at six, that sounded pretty strange.

A few years later, I saw a 60 Minutes special about the controversial Martin Bashir documentary that was being made about you. You talked about how you thought it was fine to sleep in bed with little boys and how perverts twisted the truth to make you seem like a bad guy. Sorry, Michael, but I don’t think a grown man should be sleeping in the same bed as little boys. You don’t need perverts to make that look bad.

I want to be tolerant of different people, of different ideas. But yours are so far from normal and presented in such a startling package that I think the best thing you can do for yourself is to disappear for a while. The only person I know who still supports you is a young woman at my school who paces across campus dramatically bobbing her head to your music blasted through her iPod and who submits fictional poetry to our literary magazine about encountering an angel in the forest named “Michael.” Like this girl, you draw attention to yourself, and I’m tired of it.

  • — Matt Franks,
  • Torrey Pines H.S.

Dear Mr. Jackson: Growing up with your music most of my life, I would have told anyone who would listen that in no way could you be responsible for the molestation of a child. Now I’m not so sure. I have kept my eyes and ears open during every aspect of your trial. I have read countless newspaper and Internet articles on your case. The things I read disgusted me. I have no idea what to think anymore.

I believe that I have been blinded by your fame and your image of a golden heart. But, deep down, under all that glamour and glitz, you are just a man...a man with many disturbances in his life. This trial will bring out the true man. On another note, the way you’ve been conducting yourself has been cowardly; the chaos you bring to the courtroom is not only childish, but it gives you a bad image: one of immaturity and carelessness.

I believe that you are a musical genius, a legend. But what goes on inside your mind? You have the power to make musical masterpieces, and yet you have the persona of a pedophile. Many people are shocked by the accusations against you, but you know what? They believe them all. It’s not a matter of gossip anymore. You are being tried as a child molester!

If you want a fair shot at winning your case, you should act like an adult. I’m not even considered one yet, and I know you should be mature when it comes to a courtroom and 12 jurors deciding your fate. It all comes down to you and your choices. I would like to see you come out of this and then get some serious help. You’ve awed people with your music. Blow them away with your mature outlook on this trial.

  • — Lee Ann Gonzales,
  • Monte Vista H.S.

Dear Mr. Michael Jackson: As a child, my first impression of you was that you were a scary man with a weird nose. That perception remains the same. I have always been told that you are a great singer, but when I first heard your music, I was not impressed. I must admit, however, that I am pleased with your childhood songs; they’re energetic tunes.

Your recent appearances are creating a hubbub. Everything from Celebrity Justice court reports to mocking rap songs has caught the public eye. Although there are hundreds of inappropriate jokes I could make regarding you and your private time, I will get to the point: if the activities that you indulge in are illegal, please, for the sake of mankind, confess and pay the price. My only advice to you is to stand up like a man in the court of law and tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

There has been much speculation as to the truth of your claims and the claims of the prosecution. Many believe you are completely innocent and many could not disagree more. There are those who aren’t sure and those who don’t care. Celebrities have their opinions and so does the media. Whether I am apathetic toward you, disgusted by you, or worshipping your existence does not determine this scandal’s outcome. You are the one who has to deal with your conscience at the end of the day.

  • — Derrick Sun,
  • Mt. Carmel H.S.

Dear Michael Jackson: I stared at the television, rapt. Your horrific appearance and manner bewildered me. I was five, watching “Thriller” with my parents, and I feared an army of zombies — not the man with albino skin and a shriveled, pinched nose that I now fear. The first music videos I ever saw were “Thriller” (which frightened me) and “Black or White” (which slightly disturbed me...but I found the morphing faces fascinating).

I would have to have been in a coma for the past 30 years to not be able to sing any songs by the King of Pop; after watching the movie 13 Going on Thirty, my little sister and her friends learned to dance to “Thriller.” Even the Jackson 5’s “ABC” will forever reside in the collections of Motown fans.

So what happened between King and Clown? How did a face girls adored transform into one a mother could hardly find love for? It doesn’t matter; your eccentricities probably came from an unhappy childhood in the spotlight and a lifestyle that never taught any semblance of normality. But, despite your creepiness, you could sing and, with a mastery of drama, you created entertaining music videos and your shows altered the modern concept of performance. I will never forget the moonwalk and never put away my Motown CDs.

I choose to separate who you are now (a disturbed individual) from the talented boy I found so entrancing. Many people doubt you will ever receive a fair trial; however, if you are guilty, I hope you go to jail. I hope you’re innocent, but to keep your music close to my heart, I have to separate you from your work. From a fan: your music has entertained me for years. From another human: I hope you can find happiness someday. Good luck.

  • — Megan Zapanta,
  • El Capitan H.S.

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