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Michael Jackson - The Stories you didn't hear

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Dallas Boyd
Dallas Boyd

On the Big Bang Theory, Sheldon and Amy Farrah Fowler tested Meme Theory to see what type of gossip is more likely to travel through a social circle. Said Amy to Penny, “Sheldon and I engaged in sexual intercourse, in other news, I'm thinking of planting a herb garden.” The news about her herb garden was never repeated once while the comment about her sex life spread within seconds. I think this is pretty much what happened to Michael Jackson. More or less. The weird, outrageous and sexual comments about him spread further and lasted longer than anything good and boring he ever did. So let’s take a second to talk about his “herb garden.”

In 1993 Oprah Winfrey went to Neverland to interview Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson was so popular that 90 million people around the world tuned in to watch that live interview, which set a world record in television history. But what of it, to the King of Pop, who could break records without breaking a sweat. The interview was monumental because Michael had not given one in 14 years. Quite different from the celebs of today, who Twitter and Facebook the mundane details of their lives constantly for attention. So, at the peak of his popularity he was also deliciously mysterious. Oprah of course dove in and asked him about all the juicy rumours that people think are important. Skin colour, plastic surgery, sexuality. Then true to form, because there was nothing else titillating to talk about, his charity work was touched on at the end of the interview. And we learned a very special thing about Neverland.

Did you know that Neverland had a theatre with special private rooms built into the large back wall, equipped with professional hospital beds, so that sick and dying children who were bedridden could watch magic shows and movie marathons, with other cancer patients, who were well enough to sit in the seats below? Of course, all necessarily accompanied by parents, doctors and nurses. This struck a chord with me as I realized, this was the side of Michael Jackson that people didn’t talk about so much. So I looked up his humanitarian side and was blown away by a 24 page document detailing his mind blowing charity contributions.

To list just a few details. Michael:

  • Equipped a 19 bed unit for leukaemia and cancer research.
  • Donated ALL the money he received from his Pepsi commercial to the Michael Jackson Burn Centre for children.
  • During his Bad World Tour, he spent time with children backstage who came in on hospital beds and were so sick they could barely hold their heads up. He knelt down for a photo with all of them.
  • Royalties from the “Man in the Mirror” single were donated to Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times, a camp for children with cancer.
  • The recording of “We are the World” resulted in over $60 million dollars being channelled directly into famine relief around the world.
  • The song “Beat It” was donated for use in anti-drink driving campaigns.
  • 1995 - he actually donated significantly to the Jane Goodall Ape Research Institute.
  • 1996 - Micheal contributed approximately 85% of earnings from the Indian leg of his HIStory World Tour to help create jobs for 270,000 Hindi young people. In the same year he also donated $100,000 to an orphanage in Bangkok he visited, as well as personally distributed toys and gifts at the orphanage and also a school for the blind.
  • Donated $1.1 million in 1997 to a charity in India that helps educate children in the slums.
  • In 2000, Michael Jackson was listed in the Guiness Book Of World Records for the "Most Charities Supported By a Pop Star".
  • Hosted 200 Air Force families at Neverland in 2002.
  • In 2004 he received a Humanitarian Award from The African Ambassadors’ Spouses Association (AASA) for his international efforts, but especially for his work in Africa, where he supported programs to build and equip hospitals, orphanages, homes and schools, in addition to financially supporting Child immunization, programs for HIV-AIDS, education and apartheid.
  • As an endorser of the Make-A-Wish Foundation as a donor and Wish granter Michael always gave ill and underprivileged children free tickets to his concerts.

In many cases, the children Michael Jackson helped were ecstatic to meet him. But in other parts of the globe, the slums, the orphanages, the children had no idea he was a world famous pop star. They just thought he was a nice person who brought hope.

I think it is rare to find someone who personally gives so much personal time and energy, in addition to financial support, to help others. The media is more interested in sharing how people selfishly, excessively, materialistically use their wealth (think Kardashians and all other stupid crap on the E! Channel) as this increases consumption, as opposed to promoting charity.

When Oprah asked Michael Jackson in 1993 what he felt was his life’s purpose, one of the things he said was “I feel I was chosen as an instrument to give music and love and harmony to the world." Maybe he was “chosen” to have such a phenomenal musical talent because his good heart could possibly help teach us something... I hope that people will remember his actual contributions instead of the drama and bullshit and know that, unlike so many other self-absorbed celebrities today, he actually did the best that he could to try and heal the world.

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