Given that countless networks have been compulsively replaying Paris Jackson's speech at her father's memorial service, it's not surprising that some believe the young woman's mourning is being exploited. I think it's likely the 11-year-old knows what's best for her.
Following Paris's brief, heartbreaking eulogy (which was reportedly an unplanned portion of the broadcast), every news magazine program, cable news show, local news broadcasts, and countless morning shows replayed (and continue to reply) the footage several times over. Granted, it was the first time that any of Jackson's children — who rarely left the house without their faces covered — spoke publicly, and Paris' words humanized a man, who, for many, remained both a caricature and an enigma. (Even Magic Johnson was so star struck by Jackson, that he recalled being shocked to learn that the late singer ate Kentucky Fried Chicken.)
So it's not surprising that there's growing sense, with each re-airing, that networks are trying to somehow sensationalize her grief. (It also didn't help that, while on stage, many hands of various Jacksons — a family notorious for forcing children into the spotlight — grabbed the mic in front of her face to adjust it for her.) But doesn't a girl her age deserve to have some agency ascribed to her?
Because she was so fiercely shielded from the press for her whole life, we never really got to see much of Paris, or what she was like. But we do know that, throughout most of his life, Michael Jackson was drawn to outspoken women with strong personalities: Elizabeth Taylor, Liza Minnelli, Cher,and Brooke Shields, among others. Even the two women Jackson married, Debbie Rowe and Lisa Marie Presley, were not exactly the type to be pushed around. Is it possible that the strength and spunk shared by Jackson's female companions are the same ones that informed how he raised his daughter?
This isn't much to go by, but judging from the private home video footage released to the media in the past two weeks, Jackson's relationship with his children seemed not only natural, but extremely sweet and loving. In this clip, toddler Paris seems to be displaying a comically cranky attitude toward her father's camcorder:
Seeing that footage immediately reminded me of when Debbie Rowe (who I think must be Paris' biological mother, considering the striking resemblance) snapped at cameramen over the weekend.
Anyway, on both last night's 20/20 and this morning's View, Barbara Walters — who sat with the Jackson family at the memorial service — made special mention of how alert, engaged and self-aware Paris seemed yesterday. (She was one of the first to jump to her feet for a standing ovation when Al Sharpton addressed her and her brothers.) Perhaps Paris was finally sick of the claustrophobic, filtering spokespeople, relatives and masks that have surrounded her and decided to put an end to at least one of the many mysteries surrounding Michael Jackson: His parenting. I think he might be proud.
Related: Paris Jackson's Speech Was Not Planned [People]
Paris Jackson's Tearful Goodbye [Salon]