On the fifth anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death, a quote from Nas appeared in a Rolling Stone piece by the writer Touré: “When I got the news, the weather around me immediately changed drastically,” the rapper said. “It suddenly rained so hard. Wind blew like crazy. Clouds did something different. It was as if you felt him leaving the world.” Nas spoke about Jackson as if he were a god. (The article is headlined “Michael Jackson: Black Superhero.”) Quoting an array of African American luminaries on Jackson’s legacy, Touré explained just how much he meant to black people, and how rapidly his “Wacko Jacko” label was fading away after his death. Free of the mockery he experienced in his lifetime, Jackson was finally taking his rightful place in the canon of American icons.
Nowhere in Touré’s article is there mention of the multiple accusations of child abuse that were levied against Jackson—accusations that have gained new life with the release of HBO’s documentary Leaving Neverland, which chronicles, in excruciating and credible detail, Jackson’s abuse of two boys, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who have now come forward as adults. Touré’s omission is especially notable when you consider that he is a principal talking head in the other recent documentary about a serial abuser who was hiding in plain sight: Surviving R. Kelly, which chronicles, in excruciating and credible detail, the R&B star’s alleged abuse of numerous women and underage girls. That Touré, who unlike so many others wasn’t fooled by R. Kelly, got caught up in Jackson hagiography suggests that there is something fundamentally different about his case—that he is too important to too many people to give up easily; that