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Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Is there anything more strange than the slow, downward spiral of Michael Jackson? At one time, he was his generation's greatest entertainer- an Elvis for the babies of Baby Boomers. Now he faces another round of allegations, a warrant for his arrest and a $3 million dollar bail. How could someone so talented fall so far and hard? Let's take a step-by-step look, shall we, at how Jackson destroyed the greatest career in the history of pop music.
1984 - Jackson success begins to buckle. Following the earth-shattering success of "Thriller," Jackson opts not to go on tour in order to record "Victory," a half-hearted collaboration with the rest of the Jackson 5. The subsequent "Victory" tour is a disaster. Fans refuse to pay $25 for tickets, at that time considered outrageous. The tour never recoups it loses. Also in 1984, Jackson's hair catches fire during the filming of a Pepsi commercial.
1985 - Michael's behavior becomes increasingly eccentric. He begins hanging out with child celebrities like Corey Feldman, who he visits on the set of "The Goonies." In March, he shows up at the Grammies with his pet chimp, Bubbles. His pallor is hard not to notice. His skin is noticeable becoming lighter.
1986 - 1987 - The King of Pop attempts a collaboration with Prince on his upcoming album, "Bad." Prince refuses. To drum up interest in the release, he concocts a story about buying the bones of "Elephant Man" Joseph Merrick. Jackson intends it as a practical joke but it quickly becomes a media storm. Not learning a lesson from this, he has his picture taken in a hyperbaric chamber and secretly releases leaks it to the press.
"Bad" sells well but the video for the title song is unintentionally hilarious. Directed by Martin Scorsese, the video features the scrawny Michael intimidating a gang of thugs while dancing in an leather outfit covered in zippers. According to rumor, it was purchased from an NYC dominatrix shop. The name "Michael Jackson" has become a punchline.
1988-1990 - Jackson opens the doors to the Neverland ranch to local children. The estate contains an amusement park with a recreation of Disneyland's Main Street and a small zoo. Children are allowed to stay overnight at "slumber parties."
1991 - Jackson returns with the release of "Dangerous." The popularity of '80s pop music has become mired in grunge. The album is over-long, critical reaction is mixed and it doesn't sell nearly as well as its predecessors. The controversial video for "Black or White," concludes with a music-less scene of Jackson inexplicably destroying a car with a crowbar. Parents and viewers complain. The segment is later cut from the rest of the video.
1993 - Jackson is criminally investigated on allegations of child abuse. The suit is settled out of court.
1994 - Lisa Marie Presley ties the knot with Jackson. The marriage is described as a PR move. They divorce two years later.
1995 - Jackson releases "HIStory" a two disc set consisting of greatest hits and new recordings. The set is mocked for its arrogant tone and critics describe the new material as paranoid and troubling. The set still hits number 1 on the Billboard charts but sells poorly in comparison to his earlier recordings.
2001 - Jackson attempts a comeback with the release of "Invincible." The recording costs $20 million and sells a mere 2 million copies in the US. It's considered a disaster both critically and financially.
2001 - Jackson, with a slew of celebrities, records the benefit track "What More Can I Give?" He has trouble finding a distributor, it receives no radio airplay and is later released on the web as a benefit for children.
2002 - Jackson dangles one his children off a balcony in Germany. Reporters on the street below are shocked.
2003 - The year is rife with high-profile lawsuits and controversy. Vanity Fair reports that in 2000 Jackson attended a voodoo ritual in Switzerland where a witch doctor promised that Spielberg, David Geffen and 23 other people on the entertainer's list of enemies would die. Jackson is allegedly angry at Spielberg for not casting him in the role of Peter Pan in the 1991 film "Hook."
A few months later, a British filmmaker releases the damaging "Living With Michael Jackson" on the BBC and ABC. The film is filled with bizarre details of Jackson's everyday life and his borderline abusive relationship with his children.
Yesterday, a second round of allegations emerge charging Jackson with sexual abuse. According to the California Penal Code, if the King of Pop is convicted of the crime he will face three to eight years in prison.
2099 - After years of controversial "age defying" treatments and an astonishing 102,567 lawsuits, Jackson, who's skin can now blind other humans, dies at the age of 141 while clutching a snowglobe. His last words are "Don't stop 'till you get enough."