Long before vitiligo, the scalpel and God knows what else ruined his complexion, Michael Jackson had bad skin. As a teenager, he had awful acne.
Pimples are embarrassing enough for everyday kids, so you can imagine how self-conscious Michael must have been given his worldwide fame and natural shyness.
But the acne itself wasn't the worst part. What made things really horrible for Michael was the ridicule and verbal abuse he suffered from a person who was supposed to love and nurture him: his own father, Joseph Jackson.
Michael first spoke about this during a primetime interview with Oprah Winfrey back in 1993:
Michael: I had pimples so badly it used to make me so shy. I used to not look at myself. I'd hide my face in the dark, I wouldn't want to look in the mirror and my father teased me and I just hated it and I cried everyday.
Oprah: Your father teased you about your pimples?
Michael: Yes and tell me I'm ugly... those were sad, sad years for me...there's a lot of sadness about my past and adolescence, about my father and all of those things.
We've all heard how Joseph Jackson pretty much intimidated his entire family with his volatile temper, brutal discipline and generally domineering manner.
Michael explained to Oprah that he grew up so terrified of his father that he would actually vomit when his dad showed up. That started in childhood and continued into his adult years. Michael was 34 when he revealed all of that to Oprah, and he was still so frightened of his father that he finished his statement by asking his pops not to be angry. "He's never heard me say this. I'm sorry, please don't be mad at me."
Lord, have mercy.
Now, here's the kicker. When Oprah interviewed Joseph Jackson separately and confronted him with what his son had said, the elder Jackson had the nerve to say, "If he was regurgitating he was regurgitating all the way to the bank."
No remorse. No regret. No realization. Just defensive, cruel, cold-hearted arrogance. This man was just told that his own son lives in fear of him, that he was so hurt by his father's teasing that he hid in the dark and cried every night. Upon hearing such tragic things, a good and loving parent would respond with compassion. But Joseph Jackson did not. Not in the Oprah interview and not at any other time that I am aware of. How contemptible, utterly disgraceful and completely without excuse.
I was blessed with a good and loving father and I grew up around a lot of other excellent fathers and father-figures. So, I know the difference between a firm dad who sets high expectations and a cruel S.O.B. Joseph Jackson, it seems, belongs in the latter category.
If what Michael Jackson said was true - and I see no reason to doubt him - then Joseph Jackson was a nightmare of a father. He was an abusive parent who crippled his son's self-image at a tender age and inflicted emotional and psychological wounds that surely contributed to or caused much of the bizarre, shocking and sad behavior that marked Michael Jackson's off-stage existence.
Michael Jackson was never happy. He never really knew how to live life. And a big part of that is his daddy's fault.
Thanks for listening. I'm Cameron Turner and that's my two cents.
THINK! IT AIN'T ILLEGAL...YET!