West Seattle writer’s musing on Michael Jackson’s death

Just last night, we mentioned that West Seattle writer Georgie Bright Kunkel is planning another presentation involving her group of local “Rosie the Riveters.” Tonight – Georgie just sent something she wrote after the news of Michael Jackson‘s death (which hasn’t been WSB main-page fodder till now, but is being discussed in the WSB Forums and on the WSB Facebook page along with millions of other places on- and offline). Read on for Georgie’s unique remembrance (which explains the photo above):

When the Dark Side Overshadowed Fame

By Georgie Bright Kunkel

When I was 71 years old, my daughter and I, like Thelma and Louise, drove together to California and back as she was to attend her business conference there. While she was trapped in the four walls of the meeting room, I was walking up the main drag past the upscale shops, including Nordstrom’s dazzling new store and ending at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Camera in hand I was introduced to art that was abstract in the extreme except for one almost life-size ceramic sculpture of Michael Jackson and Bubbles. Michael’s whitened face and gold leaf trappings were accented by bright red lip color, matching that of Bubbles whom he was holding close.

A young attendant was standing guard so I asked her to take my picture with Michael and Bubbles. It was an impulse, which was two-sided. Such a famous celebrity in this form beckoned to me but at the same time I wasn’t sure I totally approved of the subject matter. After all, the restructuring of one’s facial features and posing for a ceramic statue with a chimpanzee, seemingly Michael’s closest friend, might reflect a serious character defect on Michael’s part. Later he would be accused of molesting a youth that he had entertained at his ranch.

For those with such worldwide fame, a dark side had better not outweigh talent and brilliance. Hadn’t Michael given up his childhood for the extreme demands of the stage at the urging, and some would say demand, of his parents? With this loss of childhood and the chance to mature as other less famous youngsters do, Michael might have been trapped in the body of an adult but with a child’s psyche. When a star’s character flaws finally are revealed, the young concert goers may be quick to bring a famous person down. An adoring fan doesn’t want to see an idol as real flesh and blood, especially facing a court trial for child molestation.

As a former counselor, I had sympathy for Michael. That is why I have worked to bring awareness to the public about educating children to become all that they can be. Otherwise young people without adequate education or the brilliance and talent that Michael had, may feel they must live vicariously through their media idols whom they have put on pedestals. As every star knows, the higher the pedestal, the farther the fall when fame ends.

Now that Michael is gone we can look back on his brilliance and talent and forget the dark years of his lost stardom.

25 Replies to "West Seattle writer's musing on Michael Jackson's death"

  • Christopher Boffoli June 25, 2009 (11:15 pm)

    It sounds like Georgie is describing the 1988 sculpture of Michael Jackson and his chimp Bubbles by Jeff Koons:


  • WSB June 25, 2009 (11:38 pm)

    Indeed. She sent a photo later and I have since added it … clearly the same thing … TR

  • mike green June 26, 2009 (7:54 am)

    michael jackson also had the dark side to his life that no one wants to talk about.


  • Lost 1 Glove Nulu June 26, 2009 (9:28 am)

    Michael Jackson’s “dark years” should not be forgotten.
    King of Pop or not, history of that sort should not be avoided, edited or denied.

  • Linda June 26, 2009 (10:24 am)

    Well written, Georgie. I hope that people remember that he was acquitted of molestation charges.

  • Dave June 26, 2009 (10:40 am)

    Goergie I agree with you that he had a lost childhood. But having personally dealt with child molestation, it’s sick that we are showering this pig with such sympathy. I know I’m going to get the “He was acquitted” song and dance. But if you have that kind of money and influence you can skate off. Just like that pig software exec, who got a deffered sentence for child molesting out in Bellevue.

  • mike green June 26, 2009 (12:08 pm)

    He also paid off 3 families many millions of dollars so they would
    go away and not charge him.


  • josiewales June 26, 2009 (12:46 pm)


  • Grazer June 26, 2009 (1:04 pm)

    Let’s not forget that at least one little boy knew the tattoo he had on the part of his body that only himself and the artist or someone he was having intimate relations knew about. I am happy for all his victims that he is dead, maybe now they can get a huge amount of closure. He should have been put in jail for life.

    For all of those who think he was some sort of genius, the wizard behind the curtain was always Seattle’s own Quincy Jones.

  • Dave June 26, 2009 (1:19 pm)

    You got it MG,spot on, the guy could buy his freedom.

  • S.M. June 26, 2009 (1:40 pm)

    I know that people have these feelings about MJ…and of course, the dark side of MJ is to be considered.
    However, I will not ignore or forget the wonderful memories I have that are intertwined in the fabric of my life, regarding his music.
    There are alot, and for that, I’m grateful and cherish them.


  • Georgie Bright Kunkel June 26, 2009 (3:18 pm)

    I do not condone whatever Michael Jackson did at his ranch. I am saying that he needed help to turn his life around and he did not evidently seek that help. For that I feel very sorry because such a brilliant talent could not continue to be expressed.

    To feel that he had to change his appearance and be someone else was unfortunate I believe. But, as my son always says, people do what they do. When they become adults it is often difficult to intervene.

  • furor scribendi June 26, 2009 (4:18 pm)

    A talented singer and child molester. We should remember both or neither, for both define him.

  • PSPS June 26, 2009 (6:53 pm)

    As Linda points out, Jackson was acquitted of all charges. His mistake was paying a family $20 million so he could retain some privacy. As soon as word of that got out, Jackson became the unfortunate target for many whose sole motivation was to get into his wallet with any scurrilous charge they could think up.

    Be that as it may, there will always be those who will not be denied their schadenfreude as evidenced by comments they post here and elsewhere.

  • Cait June 26, 2009 (9:08 pm)

    Think whatever you like, but the time to throw the words “child molester” and “monster” around is not the day after his passing. Unless you were personally touched by Mr. Jackson himself, it gives you no right to judge HIM, especially not at this time no matter what your experience with child molestation in general. He spent his life in front of the media just so that people with nothing better to do could pass judgment based on whatever the media wanted you to hear. He was tortured by his father, consumed by fame and lived out what was obviously severe long-term emotional damage in front of the unrelenting, judgmental and demented American media. His life was tragic, you know nothing about it besides what you’re fed, and now you won’t even let him have peace in death? It was this type of crap that made him such a sick recluse.

    Let it lie. The time for your negative sentiment is not today. Say or think what you want but have some compassion. I don’t even want to tell you how many tasteless jokes I heard about him today… and this is no better.

    And before anyone gives me any crap about having “compassion for a child molester” let me just say that if I wanted justice for someone who hurt me in that way, I wouldn’t be taking the money and settling out of court. Think about it. He was famous, he had a ton of money, he was eccentric/infamous and he was never convicted. Those are the facts, folks. Believe them or not but it’s all that we as the American public have to go on. I know that child molesters go unconvicted all the time, but I don’t see people taking money from them as a settlement either.

    And FYI, I am not necessarily a Michael Jackson fan. I’m just a fellow human being who doesn’t believe all the crap I hear on TMZ. Weird. I know.

  • Cait June 26, 2009 (9:11 pm)

    I want to have this explained to me as well: why does West Seattle have such a high concentration of people with no compassion for him when the rest of the world seems to be mourning appropriately or being respectfully silent?

  • Grazer June 26, 2009 (9:56 pm)

    Gee Cait-I don’t know, being respectfully silent was what probably allowed him to continue raping little boys. The avarice expressed perhaps comes from the fact that he was a predator who got off only to rape again due to the fact that he was able to afford the best defense and payout that money could afford. Compassion would be more appropriate if he had sought to redeem himself by publicly admitting and publicly seeking forgiveness for his raping of little boys, then perhaps we could see an individual who understood he was a monster and wanted help for his sick and criminal perversions.

  • Cait June 26, 2009 (10:06 pm)

    Grazer – I don’t think you read half of what I said. You have no proof and you are going by what is said in the media. Which is, incidentally, mostly sensationalized trash. You don’t get to call him a child molester because no one will ever know and those who claimed to know took millions of dollars instead of true justice for their alleged attacker. And that is ALL he is – alleged. Seems that if these kids (or namely their parents) weren’t after money that one of them would have done the honorable, right and responsible thing by holding out for justice.

    And did you see the glorified circus freaks that were on his defense team? If that’s the best money could by he might not have been as well of as you think. And wasn’t.

    He did not repent because more than likely he didn’t do it. He was eccentric but there is no evidence that you could cite yourself aside from speculation than he was anything but that. You’re talking like there’s DNA evidence linking him to this crap. Save this kind of vitriol for when a real criminal, not tried in the court of public opinion but one of legal merit, dies.

  • Bob June 27, 2009 (7:36 am)

    Michael Jackson was killed by Iranian agents at the behest of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in order to divert attention from his oppression of the Iranian people. It worked. There is not a major news network in the country that is talking about Iran, they are spending their time on Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, and comparisons to Elvis. Meanwhile Iranians die, and they get no TV specials.

  • Grazer June 27, 2009 (7:10 pm)

    Cait-I unfortunately do have inside information, the lawyer for the victim who made the first accusation is very closely related. He was guilty. They had him dead on, the little boy drew a picture of what Jackson had tattooed within 1/2″ of his scrotum. The case was settled out of court. He got off because he paid millions.

  • Cait June 28, 2009 (1:36 am)

    Seems that even though you are closely related to the lawyer that you know about as much as the rest of us do by watching the news. And my point still stands – why take the money and not demand justice for a man who allegedly did such despicable things? That’s what I can’t understand. If they had him “dead on” why not put him in jail for the rest of his life? That would be a large part of that “huge amount of closure” you referred to seeing that he wouldn’t be able to touch other boys anymore. He paid the money, he alleged victims took it, the situation certainly didn’t “go away” but it seemed to be enough for the victims, or rather, their parents.

    I’m not saying he led a life above reproach, but this line of bull has run its course. Child molestation is a serious offense and one of the most evil things I can think of. Putting that on someone when a team of lawyers can’t with more information that we’re ALLOWED to know, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. Our legal system is flawed and it’s to the detriment of alleged victims AND often, alleged criminals. False accusations of molestation happen, particularly if you are a male, famous and you have more money that God. Neither false accusations OR failures to convict should happen, but they do and you can’t ignore one and always assume the other.

  • Georgie Bright Kunkel June 28, 2009 (12:39 pm)

    As I mentioned in my article, the dark side of a
    star sometimes overshadows the fame. Then
    those who once may have idolized that star
    are disillusioned that their idol could have such horrible human flaws.

    It reminds each one of us that we are not perfect and that without nurturing and intervention when intervention is sorely needed we become the demons that we cannot tolerate.

    To rise so high with talent and brilliance and then to fall so low is to disappoint those who live vicariously through the stardom of others.

    I wish Michael Jackson had not let us all down but as my son often says, “Mom, everyone does what they do.” Who can judge why some fall farther than some of the rest of us? ” Perhaps if each one of us had walked in Michael’s Jackson’s shoes and risen to Michael Jackson’s pinnacle of stardom, we could better understand.

  • Cait June 28, 2009 (1:22 pm)

    Wise words, Georgie. He ain’t above reproach, but I’m certainly not going to say I’m glad he’s dead.

  • Peggy Abby June 28, 2009 (3:12 pm)

    We are always on shaky ground when we try to judge others. We all talk about not judging, but we still are called to do it anyway. No one knows what really happens privately between people, especially if the individuals don’t tell us the whole story. Even when we get a sworn story or testament as to what occurred, we still must remember that we all have a very personal version of what we think happened.

    When we are finally given a judgment through the courts, as in the OJ trial, we must live with that conclusion legally, even if we don’t like it or believe it.

    I for one, have mixed feelings from alarm to compassion for the many accused heroes of our culture, because of what these great icons of our time, (and many smaller society characters, like politicians frequently captured in unflattering limelight like the poor Governor of South Carolina this last week), must endure and process unfamiliar pressures unlike anything any of us know how to handle. Take the tortured life of Princess Di for instance, with no one to guide them easily through the abuse of cameras and media prostitutes, so to speak. We all share a small bit of the blame for the results that end up pushing these amazingly talented or uniquely attractive humans with their mesmerizing life styles and talents, into seeking weird escapes from the life we demand they live for our enjoyment.

    We all are appalled of course when we learn of these horrible accusations of abuse or worse. We also all want to be able to protect ourselves and society from these terrible things. However there are few truly safe places in our world for any of us. We need to protect ourselves as best we can. Strangley way too many of us, associate protection with what we imagine gobs of money can do for us. So if someone accepts money for silence, it does not necessarily prove that nothing happened, as some have suggested here, but the sell out victim may have decided to settle for cash to get some feeling of justice or future protection. That is a very seductive solution.

    Ours is not an easy path through this life as humans and life is always somewhat obscure as to where be the actual truth. Yet we are stuck with trying to make some sense of things and we must do some “judging”!

    We know for sure our one and only Michael Jackson, from his amazingly talented family, has passed on now, and he we all know he had a really tremendous talent that entertained millions of us and earned him more than gobs of money. He lived his life in a transparent bubble and his life was always scrutinized, admired and criticized. He may not have developed in a healthy way skipping a “normal” childhood, but he was unique and will be missed by millions as someone we loved to keep in our awareness and millions of us really enjoyed his gifts. He was not always healthy or appropriate in many ways, but I don’t know nay perfect humans. He was still just another human after all of his many talents.

    I must add that the large sculpture pictured here with Georgie Kunkel who started all this conversation about this troubled star, is not very flattering to him, or in my assessment very attractive art. There must be better ways to remember this young fifty year old pedestal living character that most people in the world are well aware of and are for evermore affected by his life and his art, whether they liked it or not.

  • Philissa July 6, 2009 (1:17 am)

    Artist – we lost one, a big one. Not only was his art compelling, the way he came across in interviews was genuinely innocent, perhaps naive, but I believe the guy had a heart of gold. And I also believe he was just getting started and had much more to contribute.

    Sadly his naivete made him an easy mark for would-be extortionists who thought he’d pay them off rather than face a trial. But he quite bravely went ahead with that circus of a trial instead of paying them off.

    I’m very sorry for what happened to him, because, like the jury, I believe him to be innocent. False allegations seem to cling, despite the full acquittal. Meanwhile, the toll this took on Michael, he was petrified of losing his 3 children, was enormous. Put yourself in his shoes.

    We lost, the whole world lost, a great artist, a great human being, a loving father. Please show compassion in your comments. His children are old enough to access the internet and read your comments. They have lost the only parent they had, an extremely painful experience to bear so young.

    Philissa, West Seattle

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