Bintel Blog

Finding Michael Jackson in Genesis

By Daniel Treiman

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Even as we adjust to a world without Michael Jackson, we’re still left grappling with the question of how to understand the gifted and bizarre “King of Pop.” A few years back in the pages of the Forward, Ami Eden offered up some insights, drawing upon what might seem like an unlikely source: the Book of Genesis.

Eden wrote:

In many ways, both significant and superficial, Jackson resembles the biblical character of Joseph, interpreter of dreams, viceroy of Egypt and favorite son of the Israelite patriarch Jacob.

Like Jackson, who first achieved fame as the youngest and most talented member of The Jackson 5, Joseph was imbued with natural gifts that allowed him to tower over his older brothers. In both cases the golden child’s superiority was marked by the acquisition of a jacket. Jackson took to wearing his trademark red coat after the release of “Thriller,” the record-smashing 1982 solo album that propelled the performer into a stratosphere of superstardom beyond the reach of his siblings. Joseph’s father gave him a multi-colored tunic, underscoring his elevated status as Jacob’s favorite son and chosen successor.

And both fought famine in Africa. Jackson used his superstar power to line up dozens of celebrities to record the hit song “We Are the World,” a successful effort to raise millions of dollars to fight hunger. Joseph used his dream-reading power to warn Pharaoh of an impending famine, successfully fending off starvation in Egypt.

Despite their respective good works, both Jackson and Joseph were plagued by a rising insecurity over their personal appearance. For both men, physical change became a vehicle for assimilating into the wider culture.

The full article is well worth reading.

Rujth Book Sat. Jun 27, 2009

One needs to read LaToya's memoir and other biographical material on Michael Jackson to understand his childhood--not the celebrity but the serious abuse--more than overwork (although the demanding overwork was not good, either)--by his father.

Lynn Somerstein, PhD, RYT Thu. Jul 2, 2009

Michael Jackson resembles the Biblical Isaac, too. In fact, I think Michael suffered from what is known by Jungian analysts and others as "the Isaac Complex,"

There are of course many interpretations of the meanings of the Akeda; among these- the Binding of Isaac is a paradigm of a pernicious father/son relationship. Abraham set out to kill Isaac, and Isaac never resisted or tried to save himself--he was saved by an angel. Isaac was submissive to Abraham to please him and prove his love.

Michael, like Isaac, lived to please his father and failed to learn how to please himself, or even find out who that self was. The stories of paternal abuse inflicted on Michael Jackson are legion. No one, human or divine, had the courage or the honesty to intervene.

Michael Jackson associated adult masculinity with aggression, and was hindered in his ability to love. The relationship between an authoritarian, narcissistic father and his needy, eager to please son disrupts the son's development to adulthood and promotes addictive behaviors of all sorts.

No wonder Jackson called his fantasy home "NeverLand." His idealized dreams of a peaceful world were never to be.

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