Art immitating life, or life immitating art? (or does it even matter?)

June 28, 2009 at 5:40 pm 7 comments

Peter Pan’s Statue @ Carl Schurz Park
Peter Pan

After watching part of the interview Micheal Jackson gave Martin Bashir, “Living with Micheal Jackson”, where he made that infamous statement about sharing your bed with kids being “the most loving thing to do”, I decided to google “Peter Pan”. [Whose story I came across and got hooked on in the movie “Hook”, and watched (under the pretense of renting it for my pre-teen kins) over and over until the video cassette no longer works. Maybe there is a child in all of us that never grows up. And maybe there should be a child in all of us that never grows up. How else can we credit stories of flowery heavens, brim-stoned hells and ideas like “true” and “unconditional love”].

I googled, then Binged, Peter Pan (just to see what the big deal was; found none) and learned he was a character created by Scottish novelist and playwright J.M. Barrie:

“..a mischievous boy who can fly and magically refuses to grow up … spending his never-ending childhood adventuring on the small island of Neverland, as the leader of his gang the Lost Boys, interacting with mermaids, Indians, fairies and pirates, and from time to time meeting ordinary children from the world outside.”

The fact that J.M. Barrie shared the first two alphabets of his name with the late “King of Pop” — M.J., interested me. I decided to read a bit more about him. How he came up with the idea and what people’s reaction to it was. I was in for a major surprise & a more interesting read than the story I first set out to — you know — read. In that the biography of this … Barrie dude has a striking resemblance to that of Humbert Humbert’s, the middle aged protagonist of Nabokov’s “Lolita” [who “becomes obsessed and sexually involved with a 12-year-old girl named Dolores Haze”]. Right from the caged childhood, to the befriending of a parent to get to a minor, to the loathing of the marriage bed [“Greatest horror” he once wrote “—dream I am married—wake up shrieking”], right down to the faking of wills & screwing up of a child’s future.

Maybe Micheal wouldn’t have gushed about Peter Pan, using him as an excuse for misconduct, it seems, so freely if he knew what a creepy midget the man who conceived him was. Or realized the very words used to describe the latter’s freakish dispositions [“asexual” when it comes to women, “impotent” when it comes to his unconsummated marriage, and “loving to play with other people’s kids” when it comes to his fellowship preference] would one day be used to describe …him–self. Or……. did he know, and tried to take advantage of “the naughtiness and evil passions with which [kids] go to bed with” before they “wake in the morning with [their] beautifully aired.. spread out … prettier thoughts, ready for [them] to put on.”?!

[One can only wonder!]

For those who haven’t read the original book, here is a free copy of Peter Pan: The Boy Who Would Never *Grow Up To Be A Man*.

Related Post:
* Prisoners of Love: The New Michael Jackson Tribute.

Entry filed under: Latest Posts. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

Michael, እንደ Ethiopia ዘመን አቆጣጠር Desperate times/desperate measures

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mazzi  |  June 30, 2009 at 4:49 am

    The first time I watched Disney’s rendition of Peter Pan, the story line did not strike me as anything odd at all (a story of a ‘magical’ boy who did not want to grow up and advised other kids as such). I thought the story is probably as old as any of the fairytales and folktales that Disney immortalized and profited from over the years. I was not aware that the story of Peter Pan was actually written by JM Barrie more than a hundred years ago in a play and book form under the circumstances that he did until I heard a science radio program few years back that mentioned the case history of this author’s early childhood.

    The program discussed about the effect of chronic stress on the body’s physiological functions. In a nut shell under extreme and chronic stress conditions, the body secrets stress related hormones in a ‘fight or flight’ response mode effectively shutting down or severely reducing all other physiological functions like digestion, reproduction, and even growth! Apparently, severe and chronic emotional neglect, abuse, and abandonment JM Barrie suffered for years as a young child after the accidental death of one of his older brothers, who happened to be his mother’s most favorite child, severely affected Barrie’s growth rate (not to mention screwed him up big time psychologically) and he never grew to be a normal size child and adult.

    His neglectful mother was apparently famous for having said how at least her favorite son died young while he was still a boy before he grew up and eventually leave his mother like all grown up children do. For this reason, it was believed that Barrie psychologically wanted to will himself to remain a young boy to gain his neglectful mother’s affection going as far as imitating his dead brother. Apparently, the father never paid attention to the kids in the first place. Ah, fathers…aren’t they precious?! A talented and successful writer Barrie became later on in his life, but a very strange and weird man he was apparently.

    Immediately after hearing that radio show, I remember thinking how ironic and yet not surprising it was that Michael Jackson named his ranch ‘Neverland’ likening himself to the Peter Pan character. But I wondered how much Michael Jackson actually knew about the author of that story not to mention his biography! The parallel of Peter Pan being a boy who did not want to grow up and JM Barrie (and also Michael Jackson) being ‘boys’ who couldn’t grow up, even in adulthood, was simply uncanny. But the image of all those kids who were more than eager to visit Michael Jackson’s Neverland being like ‘the lost boys’ or ‘the cast away boys’ was a little disturbing to me.

    After reading a bit more about the JM Barrie guy from the links you provided about how it was his unholy friendship to a family with five imaginative boys that inspired him to write Peter Pan, I was even more creeped out about this Barrie fellow more than I ever was! Seesh! Whether Barrie had pedophile tendencies or not, or whether he was ‘just a friend’ and nothing else to those boys and their mother (at the utter discomfort of their father!) for a big chunk of their lives while he neglected his own wife and family, his lifetime obsession with them was very unsettling to read about. He may have had some of his sick needs of remaining childlike even in adulthood met by relating to the family and the boys the way he did, but it looks like his involvement had adversely affected the boys in their lives even if he ended up being their benefactor later after losing both their parents.

    I had watched the “Living with Michael Jackson” interview Michael gave in its entirety at the time it was aired many years ago and I remember how disturbed I was about some of Michael’s seemingly ‘innocent in his world’ but far from it in the real world comments while he closely sat next to the young boy who later filed charges against him holding his hand and the boy leaning on Michael’s shoulder. That image never sat well with me, and was not surprised when I heard in the media that it was that particular boy’s family who filed charges later (not the case that was settled out of court).

    No one knows for sure how Michael lived in his Neverland and whether his intentions with his unusually young ‘friends’ who hang out with him were noble. But it did not help that Michael was a weird ‘man-child’ himself off stage, and another person entirely on stage! (Dirty Diana Video anyone?) I hated Michael’s girly and childlike (Janet’s too!) voice when he spoke especially since he sure could bellow out such a powerful and manly I might add voice when he sang! It is interesting how some emotionally arrested adults speak like frightened children as grownups, and Michael Jackson was definitely one of them :-(.

    Outside of his scandalous life, I admired Michael’s artistic ability to no ends, and could not help but feel sorry for the woes in his early years that rendered him to be a weird weird man in later years. His song “Childhood” is probably his most autobiographical, and its lyrics and melody are as touching as they are a little unsettling especially in light of his Neverland dream and the parallel of his life with that of JM Barrie, the author of Peter Pan stories.

    Below I am sharing the lyrics and the video for Michael’s not well known song “Childhood” in hopes that we understand him better.

    by Michael Jackson

    Have you seen my Childhood?
    I’m searching for the world that I come from
    ‘Cause I’ve been looking around
    In the lost and found of my heart…
    No one understands me
    They view it as such strange eccentricities…
    ‘Cause I keep kidding around
    Like a child, but pardon me…

    People say I’m not okay
    ‘Cause I love such elementary things…
    It’s been my fate to compensate,
    for the Childhood
    I’ve never known…

    Have you seen my Childhood?
    I’m searching for that wonder in my youth
    Like pirates in adventurous dreams,
    Of conquest and kings on the throne…

    Before you judge me, try hard to love me,
    Look within your heart then ask,
    Have you seen my Childhood?

    People say I’m strange that way
    ‘Cause I love such elementary things,
    It’s been my fate to compensate,
    for the Childhood I’ve never known…

    Have you seen my Childhood?
    I’m searching for that wonder in my youth
    Like fantastical stories to share
    The dreams I would dare, watch me fly…

    Before you judge me, try hard to love me.
    The painful youth I’ve had

    Have you seen my Childhood…

    Rest In Peace, Michael Jackson.
    ( )

  • 2. አበሺት  |  June 30, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    There is an actual song??!! Hmm.. the more i hear this “lost childhood” excuse, the less I like it. Especially when it comes to the pepetrator of the lurid acts himself. [I believe he was guilty as sin, by the way] Anywho, it’s the choices we make and not how we got to them that we answer for in the court of law. And I have yet to hear of the rest of the Jackson 5 jamping on the bed with a bunch of underaged kids.

    I hated Michael’s girly and childlike (Janet’s too!) voice when he spoke especially since he sure could bellow out such a powerful and manly I might add voice when he sang!

    An apt observation Mazzi. We used to say how hard Janet was trying to look like her big brother some 10 years ago. But maybe it’s the other way around. It maybe a black man, trying to become a white woman.

    Speaking of black men:
    Do you know who the cute cute cute black guy being interviewed on E! True Hollywood Story about Micheal Jackson is? The “chebrara” one?! The one who says: “Now you are making us nervous — but who are you with?!”. Ewnet ewnet elishalehu Mazzi that’s one black man I’d gladly bear children to :razz:.

  • 3. Mazzi  |  June 30, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    Oh with every bone in my body I too believe Michael Jackson was guilty as sin of what he was being accused of. I have no doubt about that, as many things and unsettling circumstances in Michael’s weird and bizzare life and life style point in that direction. That very fact is making it very hard, or at least very confusing and conflicting, to mourn for him and his own ordeals at this time.

    Who is mourning for those kids and THEIR lost childhood and innocence not to mention untold psychological torment and trauma they have yet to experience for the rest of THEIR ives? No one! … because they are not famous and remain faceless to the rest of us.

    I pray for their peace of mind now and in the future MORE THAN I pray for Michael’s peace of mind in the here-after if there is such a thing. May they find redemption, healing, and sense of balance in their own lives sooner than later.

    By the way, I think I know (not his name though) which “Chebrara” black guy commentor you are talking about on TV. Isn’t he the one who was commenting how just when people thought Michael could not get any weirder he kept on surprising everyone? If so, love what he has going in the hair department that actually compliments his looks :-).

    Do I detect a bit of a crush not to mention Abesheet’s possible imaginary children sporting cute “Chebrara” baby afro’s like their mother’s crush? Anchi lij! Wudu balebetish yihen sisema min yibel?:-) You shall sing to him…. “Demo, demo… degmo bayne, mann alegN kelkayi, yashagNin bayii” ;-).

    What would we do without silly crushes to amuse ourselves? Some time back, I had this unexplainable TV crush over some food channel program TV host who humorously combines in his shows the science of food and the art and love for cooking. A science man with a sene of humor who can also cook? Who could resist? It is all but fizzled now as I am too stressed out about the far from pleasant events in my life to even care.


  • 4. አበሺት  |  June 30, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    You got that right, they are rare specimen of the Male animal kingdom. I think I know this guy you are talking about too (you nailed my “chebrara” guy. ‘For many years, it’s ‘a…sexual’-really”). የደስደስ ያለው “ገንቦ ራስ” ነገር who runs around in the woods as if attempting to avoid the camera?! Babi and Blen were his biggest fans. Seriously, they drop whatever they are doing and run into the house when he comes up. I’m ofcourse more interested in whatever he’s cooking. Nothing like a cooking program to make a wounded spirit forget her woes :D.

    By the way, did you notice how I’m throwing Amharic about like nobody’s business nowadays?! You can do it yourself at: Type Amharic Online.

  • 5. Mazzi  |  June 30, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    For some reason, my browser is not ‘picking up’ the Amharic writings and instead just shows ‘jiberish’ in place of the Amharic letters :-(. Any idea how I can fix that?

    I look forward to reading/figuring out this ‘type Amharic Online’ thing. I have never fully figured out this wordpress thing while leaving comments either. I have yet to figure out how to italicize, underline or type words in bold. Feel free to share if you can help :-).

  • 6. Inem  |  June 30, 2009 at 11:09 pm

    ማን ያውራ ….ማን ያርዳ…ተብሎ የለ እንዴ? ምነው ጨፈጨፋጭሁት? አዬ ስታቲስቲክስ! trying if I can post in amharic.

  • 7. blublack  |  June 14, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    Just read this article One of the Most Shameful Episodes In Journalistic History. You’d be surprised at what you think you know.

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