June 28, 2009, - 12:10 pm

Mid-Weekend Reads: Michael Jackson’s First Teen “Friend” & “Animal House” Turns 30

By Debbie Schlussel
Couple of interesting reads on events in the news and nostalgia, this weekend, regarding Michael Jackson and the 30th anniversary of one of my fave comedy movies, “Animal House.”
* Michael Jackson
While I’ve said and I still believe that Michael Jackson has never been proven to actually have molested kids, I’ve also said that he definitely engaged in extremely inappropriate and weird conduct.

belushicollege.jpgmichaeljacksonterrygeorge.jpg
This article, about Jackson’s first young friend, Terry George, is interesting (and disturbing). George met Jackson when he was a poor, ambitious 13-year-old and Jackson was 21. Now a multi-millionaire businessman and internet magnate, the 42-year-old George recounts his experiences, how he forgave Jackson, etc.

Although I knew what he did was wrong I believed him to be a very confused person rather than a paedophile [DS: I guess that's the Brit spelling of the word].

Like I said, it’s an interesting read, and I think George has it right on Jackson. Still, it’s kind of queasiness-inducing.
* Feel Old?: “Animal House” Turns 30
Wow, when stuff turns 30 or idols from your childhood (Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, etc.) die, it makes you feel old–like aging hit you with a truck and you weren’t quite prepared. Like time flew at the speed of light, or close.
“Animal House” just turned 30. It’s one of the great classic guy movies. (On the other hand, it does glorify defying authority a little much.) While contemporary teens and 20-somethings flock to trash like “The Hangover” (read my review), it’s shlock in comparison to real guy buddy movies, like “Animal House.” It wasn’t just John Belushi that made it a great film. It was Tim Matheson and so many others. And it had a great soundtrack, with live performances by classic artists like Otis Day and the Knights.
The Wall Street Journal’s E. E. Knight has an interesting take on the pathetic ways far too many college students try to find their “inner Bluto” (the nickname of Belushi’s “John Blutarsky”).
An excerpt:

When Animal House first came out just over 30 years ago, it dominated the cultural landscape. College students were nostalgic for the “raunchy, pre-1960s undergraduate ideal,” says Peter Rollins, who has been studying pop-culture academically for over 30 years. Mr. Rollins, who attended Dartmouth in the 1960s, says that students back then tried to live “the fantasy” on their own campuses. Some still do, taking Bluto’s counsel to heart: “My advice to you is to start drinking heavily.”

Yup, that was “raunch” yesterday, but today, it would be PG-13. Or maybe even just PG. And no, if I had kids, they would not be allowed to view it, until they were at least 16 or 17.
E. E. Knight has it right. Laugh at Bluto. Not with him.
Nowadays, he’d probably end up like Michael Jackson . . . minus the cash flow and Beatles song rights. And that’s essentially how Bluto’s real-life alter ego did end up.

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8 Responses

The pink elephant is no more. These reports will trickle out and people(victims) will heal. MJ had a list of known and unknown victims.
As for “Feel Old?: “Animal House” Turns 30. I think a lot of us had the same cultural influences and we look back with nostalgia or try and black it out of our minds on what influenced us. When I hear stories of hazing, I chuckle. I think it is a rite of passage in college.
Debbie, you wrote “it makes you feel old–like aging hit you with a truck and you weren’t quite prepared. Like time flew at the speed of light, or close.”. For me personally my high school years were like another life. Almost everything I can remember in detail just like yesterday. Every movie, TV show, song, fad, sports events that occurred during my high school years. It went on forever, the whole anticipation of being a senior and ready to take on the world. After graduation, friends scattered and life went on like a blur. We don’t have jobs for 30 or 40 years in a factory or mill. I do contract job assignments for different clients. For me that makes time go by faster. Also if you don’t have kids or you aren’t married there are no benchmarks in your life regarding children and marriage. That is my perspective.

californiascreaming on June 28, 2009 at 1:49 pm

Bluto was a great character, but D-Day was my favorite!
Screeching his motorcycle up the stairs, laughing hysterically like a banshee. Priceless.

mplumb on June 28, 2009 at 8:46 pm

Pedophiles NEVER think they’re doing anything wrong. They justify it to themselves just as Jackson did. Read “Lamb” by Bernard MacLaverty. It’s a novel that gets into the psyche of a pedophile. Very sad.

lexi on June 28, 2009 at 9:16 pm

Regarding MJ, I recall reading stories by you on the blog about him, particularly one including (perhaps it was about) MJ naming his daughter “Blanket.”
Debbie, it seems to me you, the very black and white, get real, DS, are conflicted about some people, and MJ is a sure case in point.
If he was indeed a pedophile, MJ was a sick person. I had to agree with Mike Church when he said to you on Friday, “yes he was never convicted, but neither was OJ, CRIMINALLY…” .
Now, on the other hand, I share some emotions that I will miss MJ! I listen to some of his incredible music, and it all seems like another version of the too oft lived story of Elvis, or maybe even Mozart, Freddie Mercury, etc. Each one of these had the delight and the burden of super-prodigy talent. And sadly, eash had demons that tormented them in tales of ever increasing isolation to their very graves.
How often have many of us said, “if only I had that kind of talent I would __________, only I wouldn’t have all that weird stuff.” Well, who really knows?–talent that enables one to seemingly own the world, for a fleeting moment–always leads to finally realizing that it is slipping away like sand in an hour glass–to face the Almighty like every other shlub who has lived–only without the Judge (who gave the talent) being impressed. It is the human tragedy on full display.
Hopefully we will be able to each draw our lessons from MJ et. al. and live more wisely–measuring each today in the light of eternity.
[BB: NOT CONFLICTED AT ALL. I, MYSELF, NOTED THE NEGATIVE THINGS I'VE WRITTEN ABOUT HIM, ON THURSDAY, IN MY PIECE REMEMBERING HIM. AND, AS I'VE NOW SAID ON THE SITE AT LEAST THREE TIMES, HE WAS NEVER CONVICTED, AND THE PARENTS OF THE KIDS WERE SHAKEDOWN ARTISTS. YES, HE BEHAVED VERY INAPPROPRIATELY, BUT THERE WAS NEVER EVER ANY EVIDENCE HE MOLESTED KIDS. AND YES, OJ WAS CONVICTED IN A CRIMINAL COURT. AS YOU WELL KNOW, I CORRECTED MIKE ON JACKSON AND POINTED OUT HE WAS NEVER CONVICTED AND THAT OJ WAS, INDEED, FOUND GUILTY IN A CIVIL TRIAL AND IN A LATER, RECENT CRIMINAL TRIAL. THE TWO CASES DON'T EVEN COMPARE. WITH O.J., THERE WERE GLOVES AND EVIDENCE THAT HAD BEEN DELIBERATELY REMOVED OR DESTROYED BY O.J. AND ROBERT KARDASHIAN, AND HE TRIED TO ESCAPE THE COUNTRY IN A WHITE BRONCO. WITH JACKSON, THERE WAS NO SUCH EVIDENCE. NOT EVEN CLOSE. NOT SAYING MICHAEL JACKSON WASN'T A PEDOPHILE. WE JUST DON'T KNOW THAT HE WAS ONE, EITHER. DS]

BB on June 28, 2009 at 10:38 pm

Debbie, you’re right. We are getting older and I am really ticked off about that. At least I have my anonymous comments.

Anonymous1 on June 28, 2009 at 10:59 pm

Debbie,
My point (in saying “conflicted”) was/is that MJ brings this out–he was sick–worthy of contempt and disgust, AND still, I too find myself caring about him more than I (think I) should–appreciating his work. I was not taking a shot at you, just making an observation.
I do think he was a pedophile–just reading the linked article of this story YOU posted and the other posts/links of some of your readers on MJ makes that clear to me. Still, there is more to the story in MJ than a sick pervert.

BB on June 29, 2009 at 1:26 am

Debbie, a minor correction – Otis Day and The Knights were invented for “Animal House”. The actor who played Otis is named DeWayne Jessie, and plays out with a band as Otis Day to this day. The original “band” does feature one well-known musician, the great Robert Cray (on bass). Lots of great songs in that film from those days, but kind of sad they didn’t go for more Isely Brothers and Hank Ballard.
I love that movie – I went with all my college fraternity brothers to see it, and our own equivalents of D-Day and Bluto were busily engaged the next day modifying a ’64 Thunderbird – into a “Deathmobile” :-)
[M: HA! DID NOT KNOW THAT. THANKS FOR THE INFO. I STAND CORRECTED. ALWAYS THOUGHT IT WAS A REAL GROUP. DS]

mysteron on June 29, 2009 at 11:15 am

Bluto went on to be a U.S. Senator, according to the final credits.

Middleman on June 29, 2009 at 2:22 pm

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