November 8, 2011 | 10:53 am
Posted by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
One can only imagine the sigh of relief on the part of all those who contributed to the death of Michael Jackson. With the conviction of Conrad Murray, there is an official scapegoat and the finger-pointing can now end. We found the culprit. It was Michael’s corrupt physician who would do anything to remain in the orbit of the superstar and receive his monthly retainer of $150k per month. Murray was even prepared to become Michael’s pusher. Now he has been justly punished and we can put the matter rest. Rest in peace Michael. Your killer has been identified and sent to jail.
For years a group that surrounded Michael watched as his life deteriorated but did nothing for the very same fear that if they opened their mouths they would be out. The publicists he paid, the managers who took their percentage, the handlers who got their cut, watched as he dangled a baby from a balcony, proclaimed his pride in sharing a bed with a child on international TV, and slowly went bankrupt as he squandered his fortune as garbage purchases. And they did… nothing.
Michael’s addiction to prescription medication was well known yet few cared to get him the help he needed. Worse, Michael was lethargic, uninspired, and required serious counseling to get his life in order. The response, however, was to persuade him to agree to 50 concerts in London – a staggering feat for even the most well-balanced performers – in order to take their share. Whatever the consequences, the troubled golden goose had to continue to lay some golden eggs.
So much of it came out in the trial. There was the testimony from concert director Kenny Ortega who said, ““My friend wasn’t right. There was something going on that was deeply troubling me. He was chilled. He appeared lost. Just sort of lost and a little incoherent and although we were conversing and I did ask him a question and he did answer me, I did feel though that he was not well at all.” Ortega went so far as to email AEG Chief executive Randy Phillips that Michael was seriously unwell. “My concern is, now that we brought the doctor into the fold and had played the ‘Tough Love,’ Now or Never’ card, is that the artist may be unable to rise to the occasion due to real, emotional stuff… He appeared quite weak and fatigued this evening. He had a terrible case of the chills, was trembling, rambling and obsessing. Everything in me says he should be psychologically evaluated. If we have any chance at all to get him back in the light, it’s going to take a strong therapist to help him through this as well as immediate physical nurturing.”
But if Ortega felt this way, why was he prepared to proceed with the concerts? Why did he not resign and declare that he would not contribute to Michael’s decline?
The role of AEG has similarly escaped serious evaluation. If the director you’ve hired is warning you that the artist you’ve contracted to do 50 concerts is in psychological turmoil, why were the concerts not cancelled or postponed? Was profit a factor in the decision to proceed, regardless of Michael’s psychological state?
To be sure, Michael was an adult and bears responsibility for his actions. But if he was not prepared to heal himself than it was the responsibility of all those who benefited from being in his orbit to get him the help he needed and, if the effort failed, at the very least not contribute further to his self-destruction.
Is it only the doctor who gave Michael propofol who is the culprit? What about doctors who continued to continued to give him plastic surgery to the point that his body was falling apart? And even if that’s not illegal, should they at least not be ashamed?
It was the tragedy of Michael Jackson to have been so successful that he became an industry that supported so many that they were prepared to look the other way as his life slowly sunk into the abyss. In the final analysis, Conrad Murray was the person was most responsible for Michael’s death. But a host of others played a significant role. They ought to thank their lucky stars that the sins of the many have fallen on the shoulders of one.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is the author of “The Michael Jackson Tapes: A Tragic Icon Reveals his Soul in Intimate Conversation”. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.
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