The other day while perusing TMZ.com (slogan: “First with all the Michael Jackson crap you can stand!“), I couldn’t stop myself from flipping through what they say are the never-before-published police photos taken during a surprise raid on Neverland Ranch in 2003, which led to Michael’s infamous child-molestation trial a few years after that.
Imagine my surprise at one of the photos (at left) that clearly shows, on the back wall in the upper right, a cutout/poster of our old friend ALFRED E. NEUMAN (!!!). Right there in the corner of one of many toy-filled rooms that prosecutors called part of Michael’s “child bait” — but defenders of his would call “just a completely innocent toy-filled room, Michael being a kid at heart himself.”
Anyway, after the initial chuckle of recognition upon seeing Alfred there, something occured to me (that may also be occuring to many of you): Whoa, waitaminute: was Michael Jackson himself really a MAD fan? After all the gags & slams & put-downs the magazine published about him over the preceding two decades???** Really?! Is anyone that much of a masochist? But, you may ask, “What if he was just a good sport about all the jokes?” C’mon! Besides — isn’t “good sport” only a facade you put on for other people, not for deciding what mementos to buy/collect/save in the privacy of your own home? (Or what he thought was the “privacy of his own home,” until some cops with a different opinion and a search warrant showed up! Yuk yuk.))
(Someone pointed out to me that the ALFRED-head may be attached to the cartoon poster behind it with vaguely MAD-like panels. Could be — you can’t tell for sure; the photo’s resolution isn’t that good. Was this constructed and sent in by a fan of Michael’s? If so, I still think it’s curious that it’s up on a wall where it is…rather than in a basement closet to be forgotten along with all the other junk people gave him.)
I’m sorry, but I find it beyond belief that Michael would’ve overlooked the hundreds and hundreds of MAD jokes at his expense. To me, there’s a far more likely & obvious reason for the ALFRED E. NEUMAN picture up on his wall: it’s just one more piece of “bait” for luring in “the boys” — like the candy, the Spiderman pajamas, the Transformers, the comic books, the Star Wars forcebeams — hell, all of Neverland Amusement Park Ranch!
As ALFRED himself might say about this if you asked him right now, “Eccchhhh!”
**(Not that I, or any comedy professional, feels the least bit of remorse: if he was going to keep serving up “softballs, right over the plate” like he did, we’d have been fools not to keep hitting them over the fence!)