Paris Jackson’s Masks and Michael Jackson’s Dirty Hands

December 14, 2011

Political Theory


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

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Paris in one of her elaborate masks.

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.

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Paris Jackson confidently giving a tribute performance to her late father

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?

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2 Comments on “Paris Jackson’s Masks and Michael Jackson’s Dirty Hands”

  1. joethahn Says:

    The idea of whether Michael Jackson forcing his daughter, Paris, to wear masks in public is definitely an example of dirty hands, or of even tough love. Knowing that his children would be a target of the media, Jackson made his children wear masks even though they hated the idea of it. Michael Jackson forced a negative thing on his kids, but in the end it was for the well being of their future, which they now understand. One thing from your post that I do not agree with is when you ask the question, “At such a young age, is it the right move to teach someone that it is better not to be yourself?” I think that the use of masks was the thing that allowed his children to be themselves. If our society knew who Michael Jackson’s kids were, we would expect certain things from them within the media. Paris and the rest of the Jackson children would not be so free to pursue what they love, but would probably be used as you stated earlier. It is also a general trend that people change once they gain fame. If the Jackson kids gained celebrity status they would allow the fame to form who they are rather than their self. Although it was a negative thing to force the masks upon his children, Michael Jackson did the right thing in order to keep his kids safe from the media so that they would be able to become individuals who were shaped by themselves, their family, and friends, rather than becoming something that the media created.

  2. Rainyo Says:

    In some ways I can see the logic behind Michael Jackson’s choice to mask his children in public. He is arguably one of the greatest musicians in history and everyone knows who the man is, so I can see why he wouldn’t want his kids to have unwanted attention while attending school, going to the mall, etc. It would have been distracting, especially in a school environment, to be bombarded with questions about their pop star father; “Did your dad really dye his skin?”, “Why the hell was your dad dangling your brother out a window?”, “I hear your dad likes little boys”. But I also think Michael Jackson could have taken a different approach to protecting his kids instead of conditioning them to wear masks every time you go out in public. I’m curious whether the children developed some form of social anxiety from cloaking their appearance every time they went out in public. One of my friends has a famous father and he also felt that he had to protect his children due to his fame. Now her dad definitely isn’t on the same level of star status as Michael Jackson, but he did write and illustrate “Jumanji” and “The Polar Express”. Her dad didn’t like the idea of his daughters in the spotlight, especially with the advent of the cinematic versions of his books being created, so he simply had photos of his daughters at film events removed from the Internet. So, I think it is good that famed parents keep their children’s well being in mind, but to what extent they go to protect their children is definitely up for debate. What confuses me about the Jackson children’s protection of their identity is that even when these kids went to school, with their masks off, with such unique names as Prince, Paris, and Blanket, I’m sure people put two and two together when a teacher would do roll call-“Jackson, Blanket?” Plus, if they were adamant about protecting their identities, they wouldn’t be going around doing public appearances on ‘Ellen’.

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