Jackson was different. His actions were outside the norm. People need a context, a framework, in which to understand him. Humans are storytellers. It is our nature to shape facts into a narrative. Jackson’s narrative, driven by the tabloids and adopted by nearly everyone, was that of a boy genius who morphed into a weirdo and a freak and possibly a criminal. That’s the only story we know, and to date no satisfactory counternarrative has emerged to replace it. The allegations against him have long been proved false, but they haven’t been replaced by a more compelling truth. And that’s the problem. Absent a new truth, people remain free to say whatever they want about him. Depending on what day of the week it is, Jackson is either a serial pedophile or a virginal man-child—or, somehow, both.
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