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Subject:

[CSL]: Article 122 - Posterchild for the Future

From:

J Armitage <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Interdisciplinary academic study of Cyber Society <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 27 Feb 2003 08:37:15 -0000

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text/plain

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text/plain (647 lines)

From: CTheory Editors [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: 26 February 2003 18:20
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Article 122 - Posterchild for the Future


  _____________________________________________________________________
  CTHEORY          THEORY, TECHNOLOGY AND CULTURE       VOL 26, NOS 1-2
         *** Visit CTHEORY Online: http://www.ctheory.net ***

  Article 122      03/02/26      Editors: Arthur and Marilouise Kroker
  _____________________________________________________________________


  Posterchild for the Future:
  Living with Michael Jackson
  ==========================================================


  ~Are Flagan~


  Throughout February 2003, the tabloids dug even deeper into their
  font suitcases to extra extra bold the recurring headline "Wacko
  Jacko." After a global screening of the doubly famous and infamous
  documentary _Living with Michael Jackson_, which was put together by
  the Brit Martin Bashir, the unanimous media verdict could not
  possibly be snappier than the larger-than-life Jacko being cut down
  to size with the rhyming echo of Wacko. Upright commentators and
  moral agents of all denominations joined the wailing chorus to secure
  the King of Pop's self-inflicted fall from grace, while devoted fans
  and sympathetic supporters lashed out at the prejudices and lies
  allegedly edited in and out by the royal dramatist Bashir, who once
  had a sniveling tete-a-tete with Princess Diana. Some voices even
  went as far as classifying the 90-minute kitsch fest, done with the
  full and knowing collaboration of Jackson, an elaborate suicide note
  from an unaware victim. Perhaps it was only appropriate, then, that
  legions of experts, in the form of psychologists and voice analysts,
  were unleashed upon the footage to extract an opinion on the truth.
  Quite predictably the mental trade labeled him a casebook case for
  arrested development, and an Australian outfit, using a method akin
  to a lie detector, revealed the recorded speech patterns to show
  stress levels indicative of deception in his voice; the meaning of
  pivotal words was "scientifically" turned around to nail high-pitched
  frequencies already subject to suspicion. [1] While cable and network
  programming was humming with that unmistakable freak show buzz,
  pressure was put on the proper authorities in Santa Barbara County,
  where Jackson lives, to take penal action against him for televised
  breaches of propriety. Doubting the criminality of his admissions,
  however, officials declined the public demand to make a case out of
  an example, due to a lack of evidence. Meanwhile in Britain, the
  frothing frenzy made it into the House of Commons, where Labor MP
  Helen Clark and Tory David Amess made a strong bipartisan stand on
  what they saw as unsuitable for broadcasting. Airing such views and
  practices as those of Mr. Jackson was, in their allotted stance of
  the most honorable proclamation, a dangerous endorsement that
  certainly merited condemnation from the highest body of public
  policy. [2] The King of Pop was by now a moral pauper, his rule a
  disgraced ruin of dubious glory. That Wacko Jacko decided to strike
  back and turn the postmodern tables with his own documentary on
  Bashir, flogged to the networks by a gay porn pundit to maintain the
  tabloid-friendly tenor of terror, will not concern us here. Nor will
  we dwell on the astounding figures that initially glued 15 million
  Brits (more than half the entire TV audience) and 27 million
  Americans to the screens for the first airing, saw millions of
  dollars change hands in return for rights, and subsequently demanded
  more than 20 hours of primetime over a period of two weeks following
  February 6. [3] This postscript must rather address what exactly
  prompted this outrage and suspension of belief that preoccupied the
  global attention and exponentially multiplied search strings in
  Google almost instantly. Something fundamentally disturbing and
  collectively stirring was no doubt filtered through the airwaves to
  reverberate in the public domain.

  Those not privy to the broadcasts may benefit from a brief TV guide
  to some of the most scandalous highlights: First of all, there was
  the wide-eyed admission that Jackson "slept" with children that were
  not biologically his own. Following the 1993 charge of sexual
  misconduct by J. Chandler, a case Jackson settled out of court for an
  undisclosed sum, the criminal investigation into the matter has
  remained open and, as the permanent-probation saying conjured by the
  media suggests, subject to new evidence. Hand in hand with one of his
  child proteges, 12-year-old Gavin, Jackson innocently confessed to
  sharing his bedroom with guests and tucking sleepovers in with hot
  milk and cookies. The slumber parties were described as very sweet
  and not sexual, with the millionaire idol, at age 44, dutifully
  taking up residence in a sleeping bag on the floor -- after reading
  bedtime stories. Bashir was quite incredulous in his insinuating
  innuendos.

  The interview segments concerning Jackson's rather striking
  appearance superficially corroborated such skeptical charges coming
  from the edited voiceover. When confronted with questions about
  plastic surgery, he admitted some minor work on the nose (references
  to reconstructive surgery from an accident were edited out), while
  changes to the overall bone structure were explained as time taking
  its toll; the racial shift from black to white, the result of a
  medical affliction. Again, the words slipping through those finely
  sculpted lips seemed to insist on a different creation story, which
  did not quite match the tale put forward. Bashir sought the full
  disclosure of a middle-aged black man in the face that resembled, if
  anything, a white, slightly effeminate adolescent.

  But instead of getting revelations and bravely halting,
  single-handedly, the invasion of the body snatchers, Bashir simply
  sunk further and further into a, for him, alarming fantasy that
  required a suspension of conviction and a confrontation of prejudice
  to make much sense. Next up was an explosion of the nuclear family,
  which at first had little coherence and disintegrated further into
  that genealogical tumbleweed of contractual marriages and surrogate
  mothers. After the two-year marriage to Lisa-Marie Presley was
  dissolved in 1996, Jackson married his nurse Deborah Rowe and had two
  children with her, both of which he helped deliver and the second of
  which he apparently rushed from the hospital upon exit from the womb
  -- placenta dripping in his trail. (A beautiful image of nativity to
  rival any Christmas display.) The marriage ended in 1999, when
  Jackson assumed sole custody of Prince and Paris, a boy and a girl.
  Both appear, although masked in public, to be distinctly white in
  terms of features and pigmentation. During the filming of the
  documentary another infant, nicknamed "Blanket," entered the
  dysfunctional family picture and this offspring was born by a
  surrogate mother, ostensibly black although the baby appears once
  more to be white, through artificial insemination of Jackson's sperm.
  Bashir now incredulously wonders if his world of black and white has
  been turned completely upside down into some sort of colorblind
  meta-matter.

  With the navigational bearings thus staked in a very circumspective
  fashion, the pairing of reason versus imagination set off to enjoy
  Las Vegas. Although one would think that this change of backdrop
  befits the Jackson narrative, the repartee takes another surreal turn
  on a multi-million dollar shopping spree in the Treasure Chamber, a
  prime piece of super-indulgent consumerism in the Egyptian-themed
  Luxor Hotel. Specializing in antiquities proper, genuinely not faux,
  the iconoclastic sales display of the ancient proved an irresistible
  trove for Jackson, who is seen pacing around and pointing to the
  shopping list without ever stopping to ponder the zeros ticking over
  on the tab. Finally at rest before a particularly fetching
  sarcophagus, filmed in a second segment the day after, he seems
  utterly perplexed and somewhat embarrassed by the inquiry into his
  own preferred burial rites, as the King of Pop. Anything like this
  golden coffin already proven fit for royalty? Further prodding breaks
  the pregnant pause of time and Jackson proclaims in a pre-pubescent
  voice that he wants to live forever, presumably in the vessel he is
  already molding. Bashir responds with the only subversion that may
  somehow coach Jackson back into the mortal coil -- really?

  Thus the prolonged interview is persistently like two vectors of time
  and space passing in the twilight. Bashir never recognizes the
  self-proclaimed Peter Pan, and Jackson never faces the middle aged
  black man he mirrors by birth. It is a dialectical battle between the
  virtual and the real where both quite successfully hold their own
  ground. Back home on the 2800-acre Neverland Ranch, where an entire
  amusement park is built in the backyard, the childhood fantasy
  literally comes alive to invigorate and reincarnate the aging child.
  These fun-filled acres are, of course and in effect, an enclave
  molded to the troubled psyche that happily rejoices in
  merry-go-rounds to orbit its own world and pays very handsomely for
  development and maintenance costs. There can be no psychological
  crime of arrested development here, only comparative spending to keep
  pace with a progress toward eternal immaturity. Neverland is like
  Jackson himself regressing toward this naive forever, a secret
  chamber of retreat spread across the fenced grounds. Visitors are
  therefore mischievously asked to individually sign a contract where
  they pledge to never ever tell a living soul what they are about to
  see and hear there. But this silencing, signed for on the dotted
  line, is of course mute in the exited eyes and ears of those
  embarking on this thrill ride, ready to scream. Even the most austere
  legal jargon of the outside world becomes the whispering of
  adolescent pacts inside the gates of Neverland; I'll let you see if
  you promise not to tell. No wonder Jackson went into a tantrum of
  betrayal when Bashir knocked down the door to his juvenile paradise
  and let everyone in, with real-world preconceptions: he simply broke
  the naive trust children live by. This bittersweet antagonism
  effectively built, and inexplicably balanced itself, over eight
  months of one childish star exposing an innocent world of beauty and
  one seasoned journalist revealing an undercover world of scandal. The
  outcry that followed those initial 90 minutes of _Living with Michael
  Jackson_ essentially drove the virtual and real apart into an open
  conflict. But what was it, really, as Bashir always muttered with a
  question mark attached through intonation, that we saw and heard from
  the deepest secrets of Neverland (buried beyond the realm of show and
  tell) that prompted such an emotional turmoil of everything from
  sympathetic pity to righteous shock around the globe?

  Let us examine the offending creature before us. He is a man that
  claims to be a child and subsequently adores children, as playmate
  equals and not subjects of authority. He is a gendered being that
  denies the sex of his organs and, seemingly, prefers an androgynous
  innocence to sexual difference -- suggestively grabbing his groin
  only after doing some moon walking to fluently make it part of the
  same surreal act. He is racially ambiguous after switching from black
  to white, although there is apparently an uneven skin tone underneath
  the makeup covering the condition. He effectively denies having
  altered his appearance and argumentatively returns crude surgical
  biotech to the time-honored changes of evolution, resisting the
  visible entropy of both processes. He strongly aspires to be a
  father, but denies romanticized reproduction its innate role in the
  formation of the nuclear family and disciplining of the body,
  preferring instead the copulation of the test tube and the marriage
  of the legally binding contract. He confuses the idol with the icon
  and religiously grants himself eternal life, augmenting the argument
  with a mutant look (a soul searching for a body) and a voice
  straining terribly with the low vocal chords. He even releases a
  sycophantic album called _HIStory_, which breaks apart grand
  narratives in favor of personal idiosyncrasies, but does not, if
  truth be told, sell and badly flops into the bargain bin. Such a
  mantra of characteristics for the King of Pop could easily read like
  a Top 100. The extended point of its charting is to recognize the
  pattern developing: the quest for eternal immaturity; the absolutions
  found in technology; the science of biology as profoundly logical and
  desirable; the plasticity of identity; the eradication of sexual and
  racial difference; the flirtation with and seduction of the Other;
  and the apotheosis of one in many and many in one. This refrain is
  like a formulaic hit song for the future, with that catchy chorus of
  cyberspace. We have repeatedly heard it before yet long to hit repeat
  it again. But when faced with an actual documentary instead of an
  overproduced and slick music video, usually ahead of its time
  (Jackson's trademark), we balk at the sights and sounds and go into
  global convulsions of outrage and disbelief, as if the world is
  suddenly poisoned by the grotesquely otherworldly without proper
  warning. What lie behind the gates of Neverland, however, is our
  contemporary dreams of the future; Jackson being nothing more or
  less, on that wobbly vector of infinity, than a cartoon version of
  cyberpunk, science his pixie dust.

  In his book _The Information Bomb_, Paul Virilio describes modernity
  as the enamoring of immaturity. The process does ultimately not
  strive toward human progress. Instead it convincingly animates
  narratives like _Alice in Wonderland_, with her telescopic looking
  glass, and _Peter Pan_, a child vehemently trying to escape his
  future in the refuge of Neverland, as lifelike and vibrant, at an
  intimate remove, in cybernetic networks and technologies. Arrested
  development, Jackson's alleged affliction, can thus not really be
  considered an irrational trespass, but rather the logical law of
  modern advancement. Drawing on the temporal compressions of speed,
  Virilio argues that the split-second relay flattens experience to the
  extent that technology awards instantly what time can only grant
  gradually, thereby refusing to wake up to the unfolding of life.
  Modernity is thus purposefully stuck in a refusal to grow up,
  preferring the illusions of the virtual to the reality of adulthood
  and death. According to Virilio's parallel analysis of _The World of
  Yesterday_ by Walter Zweig, the generational gap results in a
  conflict that fears the process of becoming inhabited by children,
  bringing discipline and security to the table in order to control and
  curtail it. While children are, as we have heard so often as a moral
  prelude, the future, they are also part and parcel of the potential
  dangers it harbors. They must consequently be properly educated and
  forced into a state of dependency throughout their adult years.
  Through the constant rehashing of knowledge in learning institutions,
  we also have another intersecting layer of potential conflict in the
  substitution of old values as new values, effectively facilitating a
  reversal of the historical process. This brings Virilio to proclaim
  that: "Nietzsche was not a philosopher, nor Hitler a statesman. Both
  were, rather, the paranoid interpreters of the apocalyptic ultimatum
  of youth battling with the ~irreversibility of time~..." [4] Nihilism,
  with its violent tendencies, is thus the infantile voice of youth
  casting off the ominous shadow of perpetual old age, already
  prehistoric at birth. To subdue and overturn this forceful urge, it
  is channeled into the hybridization and leveling of the ages, where
  every TV dinner, suitable for those unable to feed themselves, has
  the sugary and fatty flavor of a Happy Meal, and the techno hub of a
  SONY Playstation posits all players as equal partners. Through such
  cycles, reproduction inevitably also turns toward pedophilia in
  erasure of the same limits (with a constantly lowered age of sexual
  consent and stories of 9-year-old girls getting pregnant), and a
  multi-billion-dollar pleasure industry arises to assure us that sex
  is the greatest game of all, our body just another toy. It is in this
  juvenile ecstasy of the modern that we must locate the progeny of the
  future and initially ponder why a man, who just wants to be a boy, is
  apparently powerless to profess his innocence and relinquish his
  sexuality, despite assurances everywhere that he can and must.

  Jackson, in what has become an overstated fact, never had a
  childhood. He was the shooting star of an entertainment industry that
  sparkled with every growth burst -- and faded into the startling King
  of Pop to make every parental wish initially poured upon this
  starstruck trajectory come true. Except, as every celebrity
  psychologist has insipidly argued, his instinctive desire for
  infancy, which turned into the adulterated nightmare now playing.
  Following those beaten clinical paths toward maturity, the standard
  diagnosis sees Jackson filling in the gaps of development that he
  has, through the coercion of his homegrown talent, been denied with
  abhorrently abnormal results: childhood can never seem natural for
  those that have physically outgrown it. But this astute assessment,
  with its pathological insights, rather seeks to once more deny the
  full-grown child its will to inhabit the future, shape its own
  destiny and break away from the zombie surrogates of the virtual and
  real that are playfully staging the permanently immature by mirroring
  the old rules in a new game. Maybe Jackson is simply the prototype of
  a new juvenile delinquent -- unabashedly and irresponsibly laughing
  in the face of a patent violence -- for the prenatal posthuman age?
  At close documentary quarters of Neverland, the modern craving for
  immaturity in the virtual womb is conceivably translated into a
  clandestine look at things to come, an ultrasonic peek-a-boo at the
  highly mutable self and its unsettled relations with Others.

  Since Stelarc got hooked on the biomech that developed into biotech
  and morphed into another bio-logic, now with a genetic suffix, we
  have heard and rather crudely seen, with futuristically glazed eyes,
  that the body is inadequate and obsolete. It is merely a defunct
  prosthetic of a superior mind. But the metal arm that wrote EVOLUTION
  after dictation from its organic counterpart (a defining Stelarc
  moment) never really made much of an appearance beyond the many
  theoretical amalgams with a bright alloy shine. Sure, there were
  goggles and gloves to equip the budding cybernetic organism, but all
  that waving inside the pixel parade did not quite display the super
  powers strutted in sexy mixes like those of the comic heroes X-Men.
  Strapping the game console to the senses never quite made the first
  cut as far as metal and flesh goes. But then, adversely of course,
  there were those that immediately broke the test tube and called us
  cyborgs from the outset, due to our overt reliance on tools and aides
  made of matter other than tissue. Bad eyesight plus glasses equals a
  cyborg they argued. This split personality of the cyborg has
  continued to pivot around the same mortal coils and data stacks.

  N. Katherine Hayles, for example, makes a compelling case in _How We
  became Posthuman_ for how traditional Western notions of human
  identity have gone from incorporating views of disembodied
  information, the uploaded brain syndrome, toward reconciling this
  vision with material embodiments in what then qualifies as human and
  information symbionts. [5] Recognizing that all information must
  indeed have a presence to exist, which on second thought (not
  confused with the heady spinning of a hyperspace hard drive) seems
  quite logical, she foresees a growing symbiosis between the forms of
  information and the shape of the body. The futuristic point, in her
  view, is to argue for the best size and fit.

  Someone like Ollivier Dyens, on the other hand (if we are indeed
  still left with two), appears more inclined to give information the
  upper hand in a scenario where culture and technology dominate
  biology with an iron fist to perform a transformation of the body. It
  leads him to exclaim rather apocalyptically, with inverse positive
  terms if one so prefers, that: "The cyborg is nothing but a fusion
  between biology and culture, and, as such, it marks the end of living
  beings as defined by our current conceptions. The cyborg is a
  semantic transformation of the body; it is a living being whose
  identity, history, and presence are formulated by technology and
  defined by culture. It is a body free of dualities, guilt, sexual
  repression, and frustration... The cyborg is a sexless living being,
  man, woman, and machine all at once. The cyborg is the obliteration
  of the biological." [6] This legendary being, which is optimistically
  given the adjective living, breeds an implosion of opposites into a
  powerful -- textual and tactile -- nucleus of culture and technology,
  which bears more than a passing resemblance, in the evolutionary
  sense of a strictly logical time, to the constantly decomposing yet
  perennially youthful Jackson countenance. Out of synch with time and
  dualistic nature, it is a composite that revels in reversals and
  suppresses the trace of any transformation to erase its haunting
  twin.

  Without embarking on the entire anthropological journey of body
  modifications, it should be clear that the cyborg is not exactly a
  new ticket to how cultures and beliefs interact with the bodily
  subject closest at hand and to heart. The plasticity of surgery has
  been around for decades, and Tinseltown, from which Jackson hails,
  has been obsessed with keeping up timeless photogenic appearances to
  booster a sanctified image well into the shrunken golden years. It is
  equally clear that the practice appeals to the identity politics of
  an image culture that applauds the flawless and airbrushes away
  specks and blemishes. One is defined by this projected image of
  oneself, and through an identification with the body, which
  perpetually revolves around the divisive symbiosis of the index (the
  Cartesian split resolved through revolution), the plastic aspects of
  its appearance become subject to surgery; the incestuous drive to
  modify and repair takes hold. The goal is to reconcile the
  informational model and mould with the body and thereby erect the
  proverbial temple adhered to by those aspiring to be the most healthy
  and fit, whatever the procedure and cost. [7]

  The latest trend here is the less intrusive Botox (a trade name for
  Botulinum Toxin Type A) treatment. By locally injecting a neurotoxin
  directly into muscle fibers with a syringe, the nerves are
  temporarily weakened for a period of up to six months. The result is
  a mask of deadened tissue that is unable to move, and therefore
  wrinkle; suspended death has effectively become the chic of a society
  rejuvenated by toxins. But this evolution of the facial expressions,
  which would have prompted Charles Darwin to ponder his 1872 treatise
  _Expressions of the Emotions in Man and Animals_ with a less happy
  and sad postscript, is already rather trivially transformed from
  plastic surgery to cosmetic surgery, poison being just another
  accessory in the make-up kit. The blurring plasticity of the body is
  thus furthered and simultaneously halted in an induced state of
  controlled rigor mortis, installing a ~matter~ of ~fact~. This
  accurately recalls, once more, the semantic transformation of the
  body in the hands on technology and culture. However, the
  instrumental desire of plastic surgery has already sought to escape
  its synthetic, and by inference false, roots in the works of
  Professor Gunter von Hagens. Most famed for his _Body Worlds_ exhibit
  touring the scientific sideshow circuit for the last few years, he
  uses a process aptly named ~plastination~ to drain the body of fluids
  and fill its porous cavities with polymer resin. [8] Through this
  robust overkill by compounds, the body literally hardens to plastic
  and smothers both wrinkles and death in one bloated appearance filled
  with the tantalizingly lifelike forever.

  We are starting to fully see the contours of Jackson's persona here
  in light of constructive surgery and his expressed modernistic will
  to beat the inertia wheel with immature carousels. But he appears to
  have crossed that fateful border beyond upgrading and fallen into
  horrifying decline instead. Hence the shock and horror does not
  address his process but the product, installing a fear that the body
  will in the end betray the many incisions of the cultural. As is the
  case with Jackson's delicate nose, it will cut off the blood supply
  and cause permanent mortifying damage to the crafted tissue. What we
  identify in this face is a vanishing threshold of technological
  progress, where the quest for improvement has turned around and
  started to falter. Not that his expression, per se, is other than
  benign, or that it truly resembles a fictional monster of extremes --
  all his doctors are probably found in the Yellow Pages, not in some
  Transylvanian castle. His transformative pursuit is rather so close
  to upper class Botox parties and grimy high street body sculpting
  cum tattoo parlors that only a price tag sets them apart. Unlike the
  wealthy New York socialite Jocelyn Wildenstein, for example, who has
  undergone extensive work (which she, incidentally, denies) to put
  some feline into the female, Jackson has stayed within the sheltering
  shadow of the human. Wildenstein has tried to jump columns in the
  Linnean taxonomy by surgically emulating a cat, both with apparent
  success and not without a hint of mockery for the upgrade curve of
  the cyborg. Only inspiration from an ape might possibly have been
  less flattering for the evolution applied to this look. Someone much
  closer to Jackson spiritually, and hence in flesh, would be the
  French artist Orlan. During the 1990s she underwent several plastic
  surgeries, billed and choreographed as performances that aimed to
  profile her face into ideal shapes lifted from cultural norms on
  beauty. Today she has the forehead of Leonardo da Vinci's ~Mona Lisa~
  and the chin of Botticelli's ~Venus~, or rather the flesh painting of
  these pictorial icons. To finance this costly endeavor, everything
  from her surplus body parts to less controversial merchandise was
  made available for sale, turning Orlan into a commodity whose name
  will, once the process is complete, be substituted with another brand
  by an advertising agency. Citing and in the same instance offending
  conservative religious and psychoanalytical views that the body be
  left alone and the spirit elevated, she does a fine cut and paste job
  that fuses ideals with technology and embarks on a journey that she
  herself intends to be nothing but shocking, the goal ultimately
  unattainable. Two paths obviously collide here with the same iconic
  objective: Orlan picking features to assemble the ultimate mosaic of
  beauty, Jackson rearranging his assets to complete the psychic puzzle
  of identity. Both are equally the celebrated products of the popular
  imagination and they are both peaking at the demographic pinnacle of
  the average, as uniquely different in their top-of-the-class,
  head-of-the-curve pursuits. The horror, the horror that is mirrored,
  however, reflects the avowed path of progress getting off track and
  out of control, perhaps speeding too fast, too soon.

  The convulsions of this momentum are rekindled in the many other
  dichotomies taking a fall, in that very biblical sense, with Jackson.
  Links and boundaries between race and age and sexuality are mingled
  and mangled beyond puritan recognition, devoid of all common decency
  according to the righteous gasp of the public. Once we thought
  eugenics had vanished on the progressive horizon, James Watson, Nobel
  Laureate and co-discoverer of the double helix structure of DNA,
  publicly made speculative conjunctures between melanin and sexuality.
  Melanin is responsible for skin pigmentation, and it was in one study
  conducted for cancer prevention research found to cause sexual
  arousal in male patients injected with increased levels. [9] Ergo,
  Watson argued in his contentious lecture, we have Latin lovers and
  English patients. As the Human Genome Project progresses amidst fears
  that cultural and behavioral concerns will be factored into
  information biology, and just as a surprisingly uniform gene bank is
  erasing race as a valued category, the assertion grounded in proof
  that does not meet scientific standards simply served to invoke
  prejudicial conceptions of the black libido. Recalling the savage
  attraction and titillation of the nineteenth-century Hottentot Venus,
  dimly associative bonds were drawn between chemical and genetic make
  ups and sexually motivated behavior, black then being the predatory
  color of uncontrollable urges. Imagine, then, the once-upon-a-time of
  a wolf in sheep's clothing and the Neverland fairytale. This is the
  black man camouflaged in a white boy's body to deviously lure the
  innocent with simulation. But thanks to the biological thumbprint of
  data and the graphic traces of a morphing timeline, the anomalous
  creature is ceremoniously unveiled and identified as a hybrid animal
  instinctively ready to pounce. All the work done on the transposition
  of identity, echoed in the hyperbolic talk of aliases in cyberspace,
  appears to have vanished in the face of a deeper and better informed
  determinism that accepts nothing at face value, unless it is backed
  up by data. No matter what his intentions, regardless of his guilt,
  there is a profile attached to Jackson that looks at the pedophilic
  assimilation of the Other, by itself a deeply sexual act driven by
  the immature desire of modernity, couples it with a genetic
  silhouette steeped in racial prejudice, and passes a sentence of
  misleading deception on all counts, a betrayal based on appearances
  we now know to be otherwise. We would be well advised, however, not
  to confuse this stripped identity with an about-face turning the
  future on its head, puncturing the virtual with the real and finally
  exposing an inappropriate thought to its deformed body, metaphysics
  standing naked before us. It is on the contrary an indication that
  Jackson has slowly come of age and entered the imperceptible
  slipstream of time that moves at a pace humans can tolerate without
  panicking. His face, awfully scarred by modernity, is now the
  postmodern Cro-Magnon of the networked information society, merely a
  plastic bronze preceding the interminable data flows.

  As the festooned gates to Neverland close behind us, we are also
  leaving the shock of the future behind as we once found it to be.
  Modernity has reached another chapter in the evolving fairytale and
  has, ecstatically incomplete, expanded the horizon of happily ever
  after. Once upon a time once more belongs to those vast vanishing
  reaches, as an image and an imagination slowly slide over the
  curvature of the Earth. What is most striking about this passing
  appearance is how the blueprint of modernity, from which Jackson is
  so haphazardly yet candidly constructed, remains attractive and
  instructive despite its rather obvious entropy. The evident patchwork
  of destructive effects that caused this public uproar was quickly
  reduced to an isolated anomaly and normality was restored at the apex
  of popular culture -- chart positions are now slipping, record sales
  are dwindling, we are told. Subtracting black and adding white,
  romancing the pedophilic self, and harnessing the power of the Other
  apparently only mixes the copyrighted soundtrack of let there be
  light for another, grossly distorted world. Our horror over Jackson
  stems, and let this be his premature epitaph to keep with the theme
  of staying ahead of time, from the impractical recognition that he
  may be the ultimate conformist to our way of life and the foremost
  balancing act of the heavens today. The moral anger, spewing over
  from his supposed corruption of values and children, emanates partly
  from our visit to the furtive Neverland, which turned the modern
  dream of the future into the twinkling halo of a Disney theme park.
  Forever may thus have turned out to be the molester's candy after
  all.



  Notes:
  ------


  [1] Jacki Quist, "Experts React to Jacko,"
  <todaytonight.com.au/stories/487123.html>

  [2] BBC News, "MPs Attack Jackson Documentary,"
  <news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/2748259.stm>

  [3] Bill Carter, "Networks Scramble for Anything Jackson," New York
  Times, February 14, 2003,
  <www.nytimes.com/2003/02/14/business/media/14JACK.html?ex=
  1045890000&en=269f7f05bd628722&ei=5062&partner=GOOGLE>

  [4] Paul Virilio, _The Information Bomb_ London: Verso, 2000,
  p. 98.

  [5] N. Katherine Hayles, _How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in
  Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics_ (Chicago, IL: University of
  Chicago Press 1999).

  [6] Ollivier Dyens, _Metal and Flesh: The Evolution of Man:
  Technology Takes Over_ (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001), pp. 82-83.

  [7] See also the following essay: Jean Baudrillard, "Plastic Surgery
  for the Other," _Ctheory_,
  <www.ctheory.net/text_file.asp?pick=75>

  [8] Andy Miah, "Dead Bodies for the Masses: The British Public
  Autopsy & The Aftermath," _Ctheory_,
  <www.ctheory.net/text_file.asp?pick=363>

  [9] Michelle Locke, "Sex and Sunshine: Nobel Laureate Links Skin
  Color and Sex Drive,"
  <abcnews.go.com/sections/science/DailyNews/sunshine001124.html>


  --------------------

  Are Flagan engages in a multitude of fields and practices that
  usually end up passing through a computer. He received an MFA from
  the University of New Mexico and has contributed to several
  publications internationally. On April 26, 2003, his curatorial,
  research and design project entitled Transcodex will open online and
  onsite at Boston University in conjunction with the biannual Boston
  Cyberarts Festival.


  _____________________________________________________________________

  * CTHEORY is an international journal of theory, technology and
  *   culture. Articles, interviews, and key book reviews in
  *   contemporary discourse are published weekly as well as
  *   theorisations of major "event-scenes" in the mediascape.
  *
  * Editors: Arthur and Marilouise Kroker
  *
  * Editorial Board: Jean Baudrillard (Paris), Paul Virilio (Paris),
  *   Bruce Sterling (Austin), R.U. Sirius (San Francisco), Siegfried
  *   Zielinski (Koeln), Stelarc (Melbourne), Richard Kadrey (San
  *   Francisco), DJ Spooky [Paul D. Miller] (NYC), Timothy Murray
  *   (Ithaca/Cornell), Lynn Hershman Leeson (San Francisco), Stephen
  *   Pfohl (Boston), Andrew Ross (NYC), David Cook (Toronto), Ralph
  *   Melcher (Sante Fe), Shannon Bell (Toronto), Gad Horowitz
  *   (Toronto), Deena Weinstein (Chicago), Michael Weinstein
  *   (Chicago), Andrew Wernick (Peterborough).
  *
  * In Memory: Kathy Acker
  *
  * Editorial Correspondents: Ken Hollings (UK),
  *   Maurice Charland (Canada) Steve Gibson (Canada/Sweden).
  *
  * Editorial Associate: Ted Hiebert
  * WWW Design & Technical Advisor: Spencer Saunders (CTHEORY.NET)
  * WWW Engineer Emeritus: Carl Steadman

  _____________________________________________________________________

                 To view CTHEORY online please visit:
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             To view CTHEORY MULTIMEDIA online please visit:
                  http://ctheorymultimedia.cornell.edu/

  _____________________________________________________________________

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  *
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  *
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  *
  * 4. Interviews with significant theorists, artists, and writers.
  *
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  *
  *
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  *   Maisonneuve, O., Montreal, Canada, H3G 1M8.
  *
  * Full text and microform versions are available from UMI, Ann Arbor,
  *   Michigan; and Canadian Periodical Index/Gale Canada, Toronto.
  *
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  *   Inc.; Advance Bibliography of Contents: Political Science and
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  _____________________________________________________________________

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