Be prepared. I am not in a humorous mood. I'm angry, in fact, feeling abused by a system that is supposed to inform as well as entertain. Hence the title.
Do not mistake my meaning. I'm not referring to boredom or an insult to intelligence. My premise that entertainment could abuse is based, rather, on content and example. It has nothing to do with quality.
The Media Machine would have us consider the latest disaster, the latest attempt to shock our senses, the latest celebrity scandal as rich fodder for entertainment. But when a legitimate cause for interest and concern is presented, those in charge of the News-slash-Entertainment Industry might very well urge us to dismiss and condemn the individual as a fraud — if said cause doesn't fall within one of the pinball categories presently deemed "Popular" and "Commercially Appealing".
I speak of the unfair treatment shown Mackenzie Phillips for gathering the nerve to accuse a music legend of abuse. Her own father.
She was a drug addict. She's crazy. She must be lying. She's only trying to sell a book.
This is the response she has received from the media. It doesn't matter that the impact of her painful and courageous revelations influenced a rising tide of voices, who do believe her, to unite and demand to be heard!
Speaking of music legends . . . while awaiting guidance from the cosmos as to the theme of my next Entertainment column, I pledged for my sake and for anyone who might happen to read it that the topic would most definitely, indisputably, and indubitably not be Michael Jackson! I had no wish to capitalize upon or contribute to the feeding frenzy that erupted since the pop star's death. I had no desire whatsoever to read another word on the subject. Nor did I wish to inflict such injury on anyone else.
I vowed to steer clear of that maelstrom and not be sucked into its fascinating spiral, because more than enough had already been said and it didn't matter how I felt. My voice was inconsequential compared to the overwhelming flood of praise for the man's impact on music, his legend and his life — even though, possessing a social conscience and a personal history of child abuse that compelled me to take the allegations against the famous singer to heart, I could not simply look the other way.
We may never know "The Whole Truth" regarding Jackson. My assumptions are based on research, as in the past I had investigated claims against two of my most exalted icons — esteemed literary figures Lewis Carroll and Edgar Allan Poe. In their cases my conclusions were lenient, though I do not condone their actions. What they did, whether photographing undressed girls or marrying a teenage cousin, could be based on different viewpoints and time periods. Just as nude artwork was idealized in earlier days and can be viewed by children today, the accepted marrying age for females was considerably lower throughout history. Today girls are still being wed in many parts of the world, a practice I disagree with. To my thinking, this signifies abuse. I believe times have changed, and modern views should dictate what behavior is tolerated.
Unfortunately, modern views contrast sharply — and are often rife with double, even triple standards. To be impartial we must weigh ill deeds against intention, time, and extenuating circumstances.
Comparing Lewis Carroll and Michael Jackson, both seemed fixated on youthful companions. In contrast, however, Carroll's work and life reflected a passion for innocence. Jackson would claim an equally innocent mind, yet failed to exhibit such tendencies in his music — implementing The Crotch-Grab as a dance move, for instance — or in his home, frequented by children, where an abundance of sordid imagery was uncovered.
I am alarmed by the widespread youthful devotion toward highly flawed — potentially criminal — role models like Jackson, who should certainly have known better. Am I deluding myself about Carroll and Poe? Perhaps. I cringe at what hero will be the next to fall.
We live in an era of disgraced presidents, parsons, athletes, and artists. How many rock stars are beyond reproach? How many filmmakers didn't get caught?
Regarding Mackenzie Phillips, whose father formed Sixties group The Mamas And The Papas; who I watched in the sitcom ONE DAY AT A TIME, I recall tabloid rumors that she was on drugs. It turns out — yes, I believe her story — that the wild erratic behavior was not her fault but her father's. John Phillips stabbed the needle into her veins, fed her as a child a diet of pills and booze, and groomed her to submit to an incestuous relationship.
Mackenzie stood up, alone, scarred and trembling, and summoned the strength from within to shed light on a very dark subject. She dared to tell a forbidden tale and as a result has been ridiculed and scorned, sliced to ribbons by the sharp knives of media pundits. Yet her tale has a happy ending, for she found support in a vast community of fellow survivors. She inspired other victims to share their stories so that they, like her, can begin to heal. She has given others, like me, a path to follow. A horizon glowing with the hope of brighter tomorrows.
To be honest, I dread a future where kids raised in this world are running things. If we think it's bad now, where will it go from here? Based on recent news reports, young people currently engage in everything from inappropriate texting to internet humiliation and heightened acts of physical brutality that include burning, clubbing, raping — horrendous bullying surrounded by spectators.
In such an environment, the ugly truths of Incest and Child Abuse will not diminish. These evils are flourishing.
Ask yourself the next time you hear nasty language in music, view explicit material or excess violence on T.V., in movies and video games . . . whose mind will it abuse? Whose life will it damage, directly or indirectly?
We do not live in The Dark Ages. Why must iniquity pervade society? Why must questionable conduct, in the name of freedom, be rampant? Tobacco commercials were banned. Why not ads for booze and disgusting or suggestive promotions? Why not resurrect stricter codes of decency and halt the steady decline of standards and morals?
Without people like Mackenzie, I might lose faith that Innocence — a trait we all were born with — can long endure. She has become an advocate against abuse and deserves our utmost respect. Not criticism and further abuse for the sake of Entertainment.