King of Pop's humiliation is somewhat surprising

December 29, 1993|By MIKE ROYKO

With surprising frankness, Michael Jackson went on worldwide TV and talked about being forced to allow investigators to photograph and peer at his private body parts.

The cops had a court order allowing them to do this because they are looking into those child molestation allegations.

If you follow the world's major news events, you probably know that a young boy who claims to have been a sex victim said Jackson has some sort of skin spots or blotches on those body parts.

That makes clues of any such skin spots or blotches, which is why the cops had to take a look.

Sounding almost faint and near tears, Jackson described the experience as "dehumanizing."

"It was the most humiliating ordeal of my life -- one that no person should ever have to suffer . . . a horrifying nightmare."

I can understand his feelings. He seems to be a very shy and sensitive guy for a show biz superstar, many of whom seem to delight in being filmed without so much as a fig leaf on.

But his reaction also confirms my belief that this country should have never done away with the military draft.

As anyone who has been in the service knows, what Michael Jackson endured is not an unusual experience.

In the service -- at least when I was there -- it was almost routine. From time to time, you got in line and shuffled along so some bored medic or physician could peer at your private body parts.

They were looking for signs that you had ignored the advice of the chaplain and had consorted with a lewd and diseased woman.

If you had any sense of dignity or privacy, it quickly vanished after one or two trips through that line.

But I never heard anyone describe it as dehumanizing or the most humiliating ordeal of their life. You felt a little foolish, but I don't recall anyone getting hysterical or weepy about it.

If anything, most of us were grateful that we had not been chosen to become medics. As one weary medic told me about that phase of his job: "You seen one, you seen 10,000."

As I said, I can sympathize with Michael Jackson. Although I am not as sensitive, I wouldn't want cops coming to my home and photographing and peering at my most intimate body parts. And I doubt that any cop would want such an assignment. After being paid to fight evildoers, it would be embarrassing for a cop to go home and tell his wife: "How was my day? You know what I had to do? Don't ask."

On the other hand, Michael Jackson seems to be overreacting, considering his own fond attitude toward that part of his body.

I don't think I am exaggerating if I say that no other person in the entire history of the world has been seen by as many people

while in the act of grabbing his own crotch.

Crotch-grabbing is a trademark part of Jackson's entertainment package. When he struts, gyrates and prances, he pauses frequently to grab his crotch and wiggle.

Because he is one of the world's most popular entertainers, he has probably been seen by hundreds of millions, maybe billions, grabbing his crotch.

During halftime of the last Super Bowl, he performed and seized that part of his body several times.

When I wrote that the Super Bowl crotch-grabbing seemed like a weird form of choreography -- if you or I did the same thing on Main Street, we'd be arrested -- many of Michael Jackson's fans called or wrote to tell me I was an old fuzzball and didn't appreciate great art.

Which I can't deny. My favorite all-time musical performers are Beethoven, Mozart, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Glenn Miller, Doc Watson, Frank Sinatra, Rob Royko, Buddy Charles, Fred Astaire and Lucky Pavarotti. But none was or is a public crotch-grabber. Maybe an appreciation of such behavior is an acquired taste, which I am not yet sophisticated enough to have acquired.

So considering that Jackson has grabbed his crotch before millions or billions of spectators, I don't understand why he considers having a few cops look at his nude lower body the most humiliating ordeal of his life, a horrifying nightmare.

Given a choice, wouldn't you rather have a sheepish cop take a snapshot of your private parts than let millions of TV viewers see you bound across a stage while joyously grabbing your crotch? I'm sure that pudgy Roseanne woman would disagree, as would the Madonna creature. But my guess is that the average person would prefer the relative privacy of a cop's snapshot.

In his TV appearance, Jackson expressed horror at the media coverage he had received. Don't all celebrities?

But he has his media defenders. An indignant show business commentator on CNN named Mitchell Fink said that Jackson's body had been examined by a group of "grubby little" law enforcement people.

As soon as he said that, I had phone calls from several cops who saw the same show. As one of them put it: "Who the hell is this CNN guy to say that those cops were little and grubby? Do you think they wanted to be looking at that creep's body? It's their job."

I'll conclude by saying that Michael Jackson should be presumed innocent until proved guilty.

But I'll bet he doesn't grab his crotch again.

At least not in public.

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