In the film-making industry, there’s a technique called ‘in the camera’. I first learnt of it when an old boyfriend screened the old English movie I Know Where I’m Going for me on date night. In one scene, the romantic lead played by Roger Livesey is supposed to be striding through the hills of Scotland in a kilt (be still my beating heart!). He pauses at a stile, turns his face to the camera and calls up to Dame Wendy Hiller in her hotel room.
Here’s the secret: Roger Livesey was not in that shot! He wasn’t even in Scotland. Due to prior commitments in a London stage production, Livesey was unable to travel to Scotland so the directors used a stand-in in a kilt in that shot. And they did it ‘in the camera’.
The stand-in’s face was shot, full frontal, but the audience never noticed he wasn’t Roger Livesey. Why? Normalcy bias. We expected to see Roger. The camera told us it was Roger. So we actually saw Roger.
Michael Jackson did the same thing. If Leaving Neverland is true, and the ’embarrassment of riches’ of witnesses and proof says that it is, Michael Jackson paraded his paedophilia ‘in the camera’ under the nose of watching millions. Even his staunchest supporter, his sister LaToya said this in 1993: ‘Michael is my brother, I love him a great deal but I cannot, and will not, be a silent collaborator of his crimes against small, innocent children’.
Many noticed it. Most chose their normalcy bias over concern for his victims. Very few had the nerve to suggest the unthinkable: that America’s King of Pop was raping kids.
The clues were all there! He positioned himself to have easy access to crowds of children. His home, Neverland, was the stuff that grooming is made on. There was no need to tempt children into a lorry with candy! Jackson lived in every child’s dream: their own private amusement park complete with a steam locomotive, Ferris wheel and petting zoo. It was a paedophile’s dream come true. The ultimate in victim grooming.
Groom he did. There were raised eyebrows but again, the affection and normalcy bias of Jackson’s public prevented them from thinking the unthinkable when Jackson brought a series of little boys as his dates to movie premiers.
I think back to when my brothers and step-sons were little. On the go they were, every waking moment. Mam had a tough time getting my brothers to stand still long enough for a quick hug. They just wanted to run and play and would have died of mortification if anyone had attempted to hold held their hand in public.
The effect of Jackson’s grooming was blatant. His little boyfriends clung to him. Docile, subdued. Clinging to his hand. He, in turn, held them as a man holds a woman.
He did it all in the camera in the face of the entire world. Yet, even now, his loyal fans cling to their normalcy bias. It hurts too much to let it go. They may have supported the #metoo movement and called for Harvey Weinstein to be brought to justice, so why aren’t child victims, now grown, granted the same courtesy?
Michael Jackson gave his whole life to his fans. From the age of six, his talent was exploited to bring pleasure to millions of fans worldwide. It’s hard to accept that such a talented, soft spoken artist who gave us so much pleasure to us was, for a few little boys, their worst nightmare. Thanks to our normalcy bias, he was able to continue his paedophilia ‘in the camera’ with no one quite able to accept the evidence of their own eyes.