The widely anticipated criminal molestation trial of Michael Jackson began last week in Santa Maria, Calif., where the pop superstar stands accused of sexually abusing a teenage cancer patient at Neverland Valley Ranch by showing him pornography and later masturbating him. The allegations — many of which were recently detailed in court filings and legal proceedings on the Web site www.thesmokinggun.com — follow a 1993 case in which Jackson paid $15 million to settle child molestation charges, and come on the heels of an early 2003 broadcast of a British television documentary made by journalist Martin Bashir, in which Jackson defended his practice of sharing his bed with boys. Prosecutors allege it was then that Jackson concocted a conspiracy to abduct the boy and keep his family at Neverland, where he began molesting him while his brother looked on.
Despite the charges, thousands of Jackson's fans have flooded California to voice their support for the aggrieved singer, arguing that the King of Pop is a victim of media manipulation. Are you, too, an apologist for Michael Jackson? Take our quiz and find out!
1) Although the Jackson defense team claims the accuser's family is simply out for financial gain, prosecutors, law enforcement officers, and judges have moved forward with the case because of the two brothers' striking ability to corroborate each other's stories. The boys have named specific brands of liquor they were served and, in a notable example, told police where to find a hidden briefcase containing Jackson's stash of pornographic videos and magazines, which they allege he shared with them. What do these revelations suggest to you?
A) Porn at Michael's place? You're kidding.
B) That reminds me … where's my hidden copy of Pimp Up, Ho's Down?
C) Oh, c'mon. We all need a little Jim Beam and tequila and Bacardi rum (mixed) to get a good night's sleep at Neverland.
2) In the midst of Jackson's trial, several Web sites have sprung up to help his fans “come together as one” and support their idol. Perhaps the most comprehensive of these is www.supportmichael.com, which solicits donations for Jackson's cause and provides information to fans visiting the courthouse in Santa Maria. Which of the following statements from the Web site's “Ultimate Guide on How to Find Out If You Are Being Brainwashed by the Media” do you find the most helpful?
A) “It is a common occurrence in newspaper and television headlines, that whenever you see Michael Jackson's name, you will almost ALWAYS see a negative slogan which is attached to his name such as 'Wacko Jacko' or 'freak,' to make you believe that he is not 'normal.'”
B) “When you saw Michael Jackson holding hands with the boy in the Bashir documentary, were any of you sharp enough to pick up on the way the camera lens zoomed right in — onto their hands? — as if almost to indicate that something untoward was taking place?”
C) “When you watch a documentary, the first thing you should look at is the TITLE of what you are watching, as this already gives you an indication of whether the program is going to be a positive or negative Michael Jackson-related show.”
3) In your mind, what is the most bizarre detail among the sordid allegations directed at the King of Pop?
A) That Jackson made kids drink wine out of soda cans and called it “Jesus Juice.”
B) That after the British broadcast of Bashir's documentary, a paranoid Jackson flew the accuser's family to Miami on “comedian” Chris Tucker's private jet. (Bonus point for noting that, yes, Tucker was on board for the ride.)
C) That anyone would want to harm Michael.
4) According to court documents posted on the Smoking Gun, detectives who searched the office of a private eye hired by Jackson uncovered several surveillance videos of the boy and his family after they “escaped” Neverland Ranch in the spring of 2003, bolstering their claims of intimidation, stalking, and harassment. What's your reaction?
A) Gosh, and I thought the porno videos were creepy.
B) I dunno, I guess I could see why one of Michael Jackson's henchmen might want footage of me leaving my apartment at 4:45 a.m. (Bonus point for adding: “And I'm only saying this because he does have that footage.”)
C) Well, who wouldn't want to be in one of Michael's videos?
5) The singer's lead attorney, Thomas Mesereau Jr., has told the media to expect a long list of stars to testify on Jackson's behalf, including Kobe Bryant, Larry King, and Bee Gee Barry Gibb. To what extent do you think the defense team will use Jackson's fame to influence the court proceedings?
A) All I know is, if Kobe Bryant is called as a character witness, I'm throwing up.
B) OK, I'll admit it: I'd like to see a courtroom moonwalk.
C) You forgot to mention Maury Povich.
6) Which of the following “celebrity support quotes,” culled from press clippings on the Michael Jackson World Network Web site, do you find the most believable?
A) Superstar recording artist Phil Collins: “I really feel for the guy right now.”
B) Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger: “I know that Michael is innocent, and therefore I pronounce my full trust in him.”
C) Dame Elizabeth Taylor: “I thought the law was innocent until proven guilty. I know he is innocent and I hope they all eat crow.”
7) Even before the child molestation allegations against Michael Jackson were made public, would you have allowed your son or daughter to spend the night at Neverland Ranch?
A) If my son or daughter was a member of the SWAT team, yes.
B) We're a normal family, so thankfully we've never had to deal with that question.
C) It depends … is Macaulay staying over, too?
How to score:
Score zero points for every “A” answer, one point for every “B,” and two points for every “C.”
0-6 points: Take heart: At least Michael didn't bare his breasts during the Super Bowl halftime show.
7-10 points: Congratulations! Since you're still undecided, you win an honest-to-God headline on the Michael Jackson Fan Club Web site: “Gary Coleman Offers Support.”
11-14 points: Hey, when it gets rough for the true apologist, remember this line of the official fan club prayer: “He taught us how to Heal the World/ He already taught us We Are the World/ We saw a lot of bad in our generation/ And Love is the answer to that equation.” Amen.