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June 16, 2005

Jackson’s trial as an American microcosm?

News of Michael Jackson acquital were everywhere in European and Latin American media, but surprsingly few comentaries were made. French and Spanish media, in particular, ran stories on U.S. public opinion for which he remains guilty. They picked up the fact that the boy whose accusations were the grounds of the trial does not understand the verdict and is now depressed. Many published stories on declarations according to which the actor would not sleep with boys any more. A way for skeptical Europeans to underline the fact that he actually did exactly that.

The Guardian (U.K.) published an interesting comment by writer John Harris under the title: Drowned in a pervasive moral murk.

“Even if you wanted to affect an interest in the case as some crystallisation of wider social currents, there wasn't much to hang on to. According to Joan Smith in the New Statesman, Jackson is now "a symbol of the way in which a nation founded on a dream is retreating into the realm of fantasy" - which is elegantly put, but not exactly enlightening. "American society has been sliced open, not just to the bone but to entrails swollen with half-digested, rotting waste," wrote Barbara Amiel in the Sunday Telegraph (considering Jackson's possible guilt, she went on: "Child molestation of any sort is to be deplored, but ... in the absence of penetration, what actual harm has he done?" - that should get Lord Black's dinner guests in an entertaining lather).

The theory of the Jackson trial as an American microcosm, however, seems like a non-starter. Whether the freakish world into which it peered says anything about Main Street USA seems doubtful. Certainly, there are no potent racial narratives à la OJ Simpson; at most, events have simply underlined the truism that dysfunction gets passed down the generations, and that money serves to inflate it.”

Posted June 16, 2005 05:42 PM

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