This week Paris Jackson, Michael Jackson’s daughter, will be appearing on Ellen to discuss recent changes in her life, and to reflect on her childhood life growing up with her icon father. Snippets of the interview have been released and can be seen here.
One of the most interesting aspects of Paris’s childhood is how her father made her wear masks to conceal her identity, which she addresses in the interview. According to Paris, when she was younger she used to resent the masks; she thought they were weird. And, indeed they were. Imagine having to attend school wearing something as elaborate and flashy as the mask Paris sported to the right. However, Paris says as she got older, she realized her father was only doing this to protect her, to make sure that she would always be able to live a normal life. Paris uses the example that when she went to school after the death of her father, maskless, she was able to blend right in, to live a “normal” life because no one knew who she really was. So, although the masks originally caused Paris pain, in the end, she justifies her father’s decision to make her wear them.
I am not sure how I feel about forcing a child to wear a mask to conceal their identity. On the one hand, I understand the decision. Michael Jackson was an icon, probably one of the most well known pop stars in the industry. Because of this, it can be assumed that people would definitely take advantage of his children, using them for information, or to get closer to their father. Using a mask concealed the children’s identities, so when they did go out maskless, they were free of paparazzi and others. No one truly knew who they were, but in this lies the dilemma. At such a young age, is it the right move to teach someone that it is better not to be yourself? I feel that no matter our histories we need to embrace who we are, especially at an age where we are just growing into ourselves.
I think the only way to view this issue, is to view it as a Dirty Hands Problem. Yes, I understand Michael Jackson is not a political leader, but he was a music leader and a legend, so for this example that will just have to do. While it is not a seamless comparison, think about what the Dirty Hands Problem represents: should political leaders (music leaders) violate the deepest constraints of morality in order to achieve greater goods? There is a distinction between the ends and the means. In this case, Michael Jackson violated letting his daughter be herself, in order to keep her protected from society. The means: by wearing a mask, the ends: she was able to live a normal childhood and she is now mature enough to handle the spotlight.
Do you agree that this could be looked at as a Dirty Hands Problem? And if so, do the ends justify the means?