Daily Archives: September 26, 2009

This isn’t Personal, This is Business

davidseatedOne of the more intriguing articles I read over the summer about Michael Jackson’s rise to fame was in the Rolling Stone special issue, which gave a detailed account of how Michael Jackson struggled to extricate himself from his managerial father and the Jackson clan.  It wasn’t easy, as I’m sure anyone coming from a large family knows.  Michael wanted to pursue individual dreams but also felt enough family loyalty to continue engaging in commitments to the Jackson 5.  

Rolling Stone also revealed that, in the wake of Michael Jackson when he became Michael Jackson in the 1980s, every Jackson relative did what they could to capitalize on their relationship with Michael to further their own careers in the entertainment business.  No shame in that game, and  Michael – like David – no matter how ginormous his stardom grew, was too nice to tell anyone “No.”  Heck, what is Latoya Jackson doing in all his music videos in the 1980s?  I mean, you can’t blame the guy for helping out his own sisters and brothers, and aunties and uncles and in-laws.

Eventually, family, even when they know you as “just Michael,” or “just David,” have to let you go out to the world and soar high.  Even if that sometimes means, in the flying too high, you end up crash landing.  They have to acknowledge that some individuals are just too big to remain in their own sphere.  

In light of recent commentary over on TDC, concerning an article by Rascal, which I linked to in my previous post, it seems that we – David’s fans – continue to blur the boundaries between what’s “business” (and, hence, open to public criticism) and what’s “personal” (David’s family life, which is necessarily tricky considering that one of his relatives also presides as his manager).  Where do we draw the lines?  What are those boundaries that we see in what is permissible to analyze, criticize, or even openly mock?

I myself found the article amusing and funny, but I also understand why many more didn’t.  In fact, not only did they not find it amusing, they found it crass and tacky, even “bullying.”  

But here’s the thing. Agree or disagree with the tone or the form in which the criticism took.  And you move on!

What is becoming clear to me, however, is that this is not simply about “moving on.”  This has become “personal” for some, and that’s where I’ve been wondering about how those surrounding David might impact (or not) on his career.

See, I’ve been noticing (and this is not based on empirical evidence – I just go on observations and gut feelings) that, whenever we discuss David and his music, we’re all in agreement and dwell in a Nirvana state of peace and love and tranquility.  But, the moment we discuss David’s career – no, let me get to the point: the moment we discuss #manincap – all hell breaks loose.  Now, what is that about?

And that’s not even limited to the fanbase.  There is a prevailing assumption that, had a certain person not been making news during David’s run on American Idol, David might have actually won the whole shebang.  There’s a prevailing assumption that said person is in the way.  And while a number of fans opened up to said person during David’s various tours, there were still others who were bothered by said person hovering in the background (and sometimes not even, as he was also spotted on stage during some of David’s performances).  Of course, Reikigate changed everything.  

So now, we’re back to said person and his presence.  No, his noted and failure-to-stay-in-the-background presence, which rubs some fans the wrong way.  How does one address this discomfort without the mob shouting down anyone who raises objections by stating that any mention of this discomfort would be hurtful to David?

I don’t know what David thinks, but I do believe he is a smart man devoted to an enriching and fulfilling career as a music artist.  Like Michael Jackson, he too will eventually learn to politely extricate himself from certain management, if that is, indeed, what he wants.  But, if any of these “quiet rumblings” ever make it back to David’s ears, what I hope he is able to take away from all these debates is that, somehow, he will need to make an assessment of his public image as an independent artist (and not the “puppet” image that sites like Vote for the Worst and TMZ have depicted of him).  Some mean-spirited rhetoric are worth ignoring, others not so much.

But then, this is about the business side of his career.  It’s not personal, and sooner or later, we, David’s fans, will need to make those distinctions as well.