Macaulay Culkin TELLS IT ALL
This is a continuation of the previous post and will be about Macaulay Culkin (and Michael Jackson) again.
The previous part was sad because of the outrageous things done to Macaulay by the media and anonymous gangsters constantly playing games with his life, but this post I hope, will give you a feeling that notwithstanding the enormous pressure Macaulay has to live with he is capable to deal with these people – and they are even a bit wary and apprehensive of what he might be up to.
This is the impression I get after reading the reviews of his book “Junior” (the reviews, not the book) which made me marvel at Macaulay’s humor, courage and talent, and also gave me more proof that he was absolutely honest when he spoke of Michael’s innocence and said to each and everyone that “nothing happened” and there wasn’t even a subject for a discussion there.
The book doesn’t say a single word about Michael Jackson but nevertheless tells us a lot about the innocent nature of their friendship.
It also indirectly – through a comparison with Macaulay’s childhood – conveys the idea what it was like for Michael to have a childhood like the one he had (or didn’t have, to be more precise).
Macaulay Culkin had so much of everything a child shouldn’t have had that now he needs a lot of growing “down” or aging in reverse to correct the imbalance. This phenomenon happens to everyone who missed out on their childhood and were forced to act as adults when all the rest had the luxury of growing up as children. Michael Jackson also went through the same aging-in-reverse process and had even more reasons for a desire to regain his childhood.
The New York Magazine says about Macaulay:
- In a sense, Culkin has aged in reverse. “I have a lot of growing up to do,” he tells me at one point, before correcting himself, “or a lot of growing down. I think that’s probably more appropriate.”
When giving an interview to the “New York Magazine” Macaulay mentioned MJ and asked no one to expect any sensationalism from the book – there are no Michael Jackson references there and “people should get that out of their head right now”.
- This is not a sensational book. There’s no Michael Jackson references at all, so get that out of your head right now.
But if there isn’t a single mention of Michael Jackson in his book how can it tell us so much about Macaulay’s attitude to Michael then? To answer this question we need to have a closer look at the book.
MACAULAY TELLS IT ALL
“Junior” took Macaulay four years to write and was published in 2006 when Macaulay was 26 (he was born in August 1980).
An excerpt from the book was printed by ABCnews and this is where we find a more or less official presentation of it:
Culkin is now the author of a new book called “Junior, or Oscar De La Mancha, The Wembling Warrior, and the People I Like the Least. Not A Novel. A written project from the normal, well adjusted and ‘No I don’t have issues with my father!’ mind of … junior (meaning me).”
The book is a collection of vignettes, stream-of-consciousness snippets, and cartoons about a child star who abandoned show business at the height of his career, much like the author.
Culkin made a concerted effort to disassociate himself from the book, in anticipation of the literary community “not exactly embracing me,” he said. “I’m just some punk kid who’s writing a book.”
The book, written in no particular order with no particular structure, grapples with fame and Culkin’s relationship with his father.
“This is so surreal for me, this whole thing, it’s the most intimidating thing I have ever done to kind of just throw it all out there,” said Culkin, who said he had not spoken to his father in 11 years. “This book is really just a series of moments in my life.”
The Amazon introduces the book as follows:
Junior would like to get a few things off his chest. He does not know how to write a book. (Except [maybe] for this one.)
He does not like books with introductions. (So this book has six of them.)
His therapist says he has issues with closure. (Granted, this book has seven endings.)
This is not a novel. (Everything in it is entirely true — except for the large portions that are completely fictional.)
And finally, Junior has no issues with his father. (Nope, really, not a single one.)
In a dizzying kaleidoscope of words and images, actor and writer Macauley Culkin takes readers on a twisted tour to the darkest corners of his fertile imagination. Part memoir, part rant, part comedic tour de force, Junior is full of the hard-won wisdom of Culkin’s quest to come to terms with the awesome pressures of childhood mega-stardom and family dysfunction.
He understands that “having fun and being happy are two totally different things,” yet at the same time he warns, “the end of the world is coming — and I’m going to have unfinished business.” Searingly honest and brain-teasingly inventive,Junior is breathtaking proof that Culkin has found his own utterly original voice.
Having fun and being happy are indeed two totally different things, and this is a very insightful observation one hardly expects from a 20-year old. Reflecting on this idea one also realizes that when Michael and Macaulay had much fun when hanging out together, it was just a substitute for the hollow place left by their unhappy childhood and it couldn’t replace the deep feeling of unhappiness haunting both of them since their early years.
After an intriguing introduction like that one simply can’t help reading some experts from Culkin’s book published by the ABCnews:
I want to make one thing clear before we begin: I am not a writer. I couldn’t possibly be a writer. I have written and rewritten the words “Introduction” or “The Introduction” so many times in the past couple of years that I’m convinced I was not born to do this. Writing could not be my calling after the mess I’ve made of all this. This has taken way too long. The whole process of writing this book was so agonizing and ate away at so much of my time that there’s no way I can’t finish now. But at this rate I never will. It took me ten minutes to write this very sentence. I’m no writer. This is not my calling.
Why is it so difficult now? This used to be a comforting thing. Writing this book was fun. It made me feel better. I’m not comfortable right now. I’ve never felt comfortable explaining the way that I am. This (the newest in a long line of introductions) is already a failure and I’ve barely begun. Here I am, only on the second paragraph, and I already feel like I’m blowing it.
<>If I wanted to be all David Copperfield about it, I could say I began this project more than two decades ago on a hot summer day in a New York City hospital, but the truth is I only became aware of it actually becoming a book in early January of 2001. It is now crawling to the end of 2005 with the completion of this endeavor nowhere in sight. So much of it was written so long ago that I may have lost sight of what it meant, not only to the reader, but to me as well. Perhaps that is why I have found it so difficult to introduce this part of myself to the rest of the world, because I don’t know what it means to me anymore.
So much has changed since I first sat down and began to write this book. I’ve changed. I got arrested recently and to be quite honest with you it wasn’t as much fun as I thought it would be. I got a new dog and I named her Audrey. I found a girl (a real girl) that I’m in love with, and if you can believe it, she loves me back.
I’m looking at her right now, in fact. She bought me a new computer and on the desktop there’s this picture of her on the beach. She and I and a bunch of our friends went to Hawaii recently. I had never been there before and I enjoyed myself very much. We had a house right on the beach. A couple of days into it, while sitting in the shade nursing my new sunburn, she decided to try surfing for the first time. And needless to say it was quite a funny sight. If you’ve never seen someone take their first surfing lesson before, then drop this book and everything else you’re doing immediately and arrange it. It’s well worth it. On one of her many tumbles into the ocean a friend of ours must have snapped a picture of her. Her butt is on the board as she’s washing ashore and she has this smile on her face. It looks like you’ve just surprised a five-year-old with a truck full of candy. I’m talking ear to ear. Every time I turn on my computer and I see this picture it makes me happy. I know how lucky I am to have someone that makes me feel that way, believe me. I’m lucky to have her.
My point is I didn’t have her or that picture when I started making this book. (I may have had other pictures, but that’s a different book altogether.) I didn’t have a lot of things I do today. I was just some twenty-year-old punk kid who thought he could just whip out some book when I started writing this. Now I’m a twenty-four-year-old accused felon with a dog that shits all over my house and a girlfriend that can’t surf. I can’t account for that person or what he wrote four years ago. I can’t remember his intentions.
So I’ve decided (just now in fact) that I’m going to disassociate myself from this book completely. I think it’s the right thing to do. Too many of the people around me are scared of it, and rightfully so. I’ve put my words in a position to be easily misinterpreted and used against me. So from now on this is not my book. Understood?
Maybe some visual aids will help us both. This is me. And this is my book. Get it?
<> See how I got myself off the hook? A real writer wouldn’t have done that. I am not a writer. I am a fraud, and you can quote me on that. I can read the headlines now. “Young man uses connections to get book published.” The reviews nearly write themselves. In fact, I wouldn’t be very surprised if these last couple of sentences are the most quoted of any other. I’m a sham, a fraud, and a failure all at the same time. And this introduction proves it.
The start is impressive. The rest of the book more or less tells Macaulay’s life story which, according to the New York Magazine “continually circles back to a single subject: Junior’s relationship with his father, a figure who has much in common with Kit Culkin”:
Just glossing over Culkin’s coming-of-age is psychologically exhausting: Raised with six siblings in a one-bedroom on Second Avenue and 94th Street, he started scoring choice roles at age 8 and was a millionaire by 10, but his rapid ascent seemed less adorable and precocious the more people learned about his home life. His father, Kit, notoriously ruled the family—“his kingdom,” says Culkin—by humiliation and physical abuse, eventually leaving the household in 1995. That’s when his mother, Patricia, filed a custody suit, igniting a bitter public battle with Kit, and Culkin had his parents legally blocked from controlling his $17 million fortune, a move that forever estranged him from his father, who today Culkin “thinks” lives in Arizona. “I learned how to read court papers at 14,” he says, inadvertently quoting his alter ego, Junior.
For all its tangents, the book continually circles back to a single subject: Junior’s relationship with his father, a figure who has much in common with Kit Culkin.
Yes, Macaulay’s tribulations are indeed psychologically exhausting to even enumerate, but why don’t the same people realize that Michael Jackson had much, much more of it and if Macaulay’s childhood was exhausting, then Michael’s childhood should be considered a nearly lethal experience?
How can child stars who had to provide for their families since age 5 compare with ordinary people whose biggest job at that tender age was to make sand castles in a sand box? They absolutely can’t, so everyone who constantly wonders, for example, about MJ’s behavior (why this, why that) should be first reminded of this fundamental difference, and it is only from this premise that any discussion can start at all.
And the pains of Macaulay Culkin’s childhood and coming-of-age are a perfect example of what it’s like to enjoy a mega-stardom, be the family’s breadwinner as a child and have a hideous father at that.
When the book was published in 2006 the editorial reviews were spitting with rage and indignation while grudgingly admitting its unusual attraction:
Publishers Weekly: This self-indulgently infantile book is a novel in only the loosest sense: it looks and reads more like a book-length zine. Amid quizzes, comics, poetry, journal entries, lists and bits of narrative, child star Culkin, through the persona of Junior, tackles the emotional fallout from his years struggling under the parenting-and, inseparably, the career management-of an abusive father. Early on, Junior notes that he’s “not a writer,” and few readers will argue. But as a calculated piece of celebrity implosion, the book is weirdly compelling. Passages dealing directly with the father are uniformly powerful: smart and tragic. Unfortunately, this rich central conflict gets buried beneath interminable bellyaching over the writing process, half-baked philosophical musing and go-nowhere overtures to a woman who no longer loves him.
Kirkus Reviews: With this audaciously empty mishmash of poems, letters, comics, etc., former child star Culkin (of Home Alone fame) has managed to lower the already low bar set for celebrity fiction. Culkin’s debut kicks off with a five-question pop quiz meant to weed out any readers not quite up to snuff. Those who fail the quiz, Culkin writes, will not be allowed to go on. Reader, if you know what’s good for you, you will fail the quiz. The story, insofar as one exists, concerns a child star named Monkey-Monkey Boy and a guy, Junior, with no end of father issues. (People magazine readers will recognize autobiographical elements.) All the usual typographical tricks-font-size changes, phrases crossed out, blank pages helpfully labeled “blank”- are brought out in a rather unsuccessful attempt to disguise the basic pointlessness of the exercise.
School Library Journal: This book consists of disjointed paragraphs, childish drawings, serious father issues, and a wide variety of page layouts. Calling this title fiction may be a bit of a stretch. Now 25, the author may or may not have written this as part of a therapeutic process. (He drops hints that he has.) His emotions are certainly laid bare. Culkin touches on such issues as how you become who you are, how every little thing that happens to you matters, and how you make the transition to adulthood.
Salon: The book itself reads more like the kind of free-associating writing exercise a therapist would prescribe to a patient than an actual story, and in fact, our narrator Culkin/Junior reveals that a therapist once suggested list-making to deal with “abandonment issues”. A good portion of the book is devoted to lists — things he hates, things he loves, things that are important to him, things he regrets and things he wants to do before he dies. Almost every list begins with the entry “Dad,” and had Culkin gone with this impulse — exploring the damaging impact his father had on his life — he may have produced a juicy portrait of family life under the weight of celebrity. Unfortunately, Culkin barely skims the surface of his family drama and leaves us instead with kindergarten sketches about eating poop. <>The passages he dedicates to the senior Culkin (“DAD” — Parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5) are moving — alarmingly so — if for no other reason than that the brutal humiliation young Culkin suffered under his father seems to be as painfully vivid for Culkin today as it must have been then.
The above can be summarized as follows:
At age 20 when Macaulay started writing the book he “had no end of father issues” and it was “a rich central conflict” for him. And he wrote about it in a powerful way, making the narration smart and tragic. And he laid his emotions bare and hinted that writing it was part of a therapeutic process for him. He also described his painful process of becoming an adult and how every little thing that happened to him mattered in this transition.
Now wait a minute, so Macaulay dwelt on all his painful issues up to “every little thing that mattered to him”…. and we still didn’t hear a word of any alleged abuse by MJ, except for the abuse and brutal humiliation done by his father of course?
No, there wasn’t a single word about it, and the reason for it is because the alleged “abuse” simply never happened.
In other words what really mattered to Macaulay he did write about, but what didn’t matter or didn’t happen to him, he never even mentioned or dropped a hint at.
And it is this telling omission of Michael Jackson which is the only important factor here – and not even what Macaulay said or didn’t say about MJ.
The readers’ reviews were even more helpful to understand this idea.
The reviews were many as no reader seemed to be left indifferent by what he read, and they divided into those who were shocked by Macaulay’s style and loved it, and those who were shocked by his style and hated it (the former number is much smaller).
Here are the typical comments:
- Humorous, touching and surprisingly entertaining. When I first saw the book, I thought “Macaulay Culkin can write? You must have been kidding me”. Back after opening the book I find myself unable to take my eyes off of it ( I finished the first 50 pages at Barnes and Nobles and decided that I have to buy it!) Culkin takes us into places where its half fictional and half truth, the book is full of humor yet somehow behind everyone of those jokes is a painful story behind it….I felt as if he was talking to me the entire time throughout the novel, and by the time it ends I felt as if I know who this person is. Despite what critic said, Junior is probaby the best book I have ever read.
- An ocean wave of a feeling, joy, combined with a brilliant sense of humor, “Junior” represents a “sketch of hidden human emotions”. Macaulay Culkin has a skill of writing what he wants to show the reader in 3 sentences. The easy-going style of writing with new energy and a shining light of care between paragraphs “Junior” is a light journey on footsteps of love and understanding of what it’s like growing up, and facing what one needs to face with to grow higher.
- Those who already know of Culkin’s difficult relationship with his father will have a field day with this book. He definitely touches on that subject, as well as how to NOT be his father, to be a different person.
- By the end of the book I feel Junior’s story is done. Culkin’s dark past has been removed from him. He has freed himself from any anger and sadness using a very unique voice. I’ve never read a book quite like this.
- Unabashingly witty. Surprising piece of work as Macaulay proves to be a TALENTED writer. Despite the humor in the book there is an underlying honesty that makes the reader believe and relate to the vulnerability of the character/s.
- Horrible. He has a lot of unresolved daddy issues. He needs to go to therapy, not bash on his father to the whole world. It would be different if it was a memoir or autobiography, but it’s not.
- One of the best books I’ve ever read… I have always been a Culkin fan. He is very intelligent. This comes out in the book. It jumps back and forth and keeps you wondering what funny yet insightful things he has to say. It’s a quick read, but by the end you really wish it wasn’t over. You can really relate to his struggles … especially because he tells them in such a comical way!
- Worth Every Minute. I think it teaches all of us that celebrities, “Child Star’s” are just like everyone else. They fall in love, get arrested, pick up bad habits, and watch too much T.V. I found this book so refreshing and honest. I feel like a stronger person for having read this book.
- Different. Unique. Inspiring. Those are the three words I use to describe Junior. In writing Junior, Culkin truly opened himself up to readers and into his life of chaos, loneliness, and tribulation, but I believe it made him a stronger and better person. I admire him much more now than I ever could have before, because in him many of us have gone through the same issues of being lost, being abused, and somewhat left out of living normal lives.
- My problem with this book wasn’t its lack of purpose (though I’m sure it was cathartic–and cheaper than therapy–for Culkin to get this stuff of his chest). My problem is that I think this book is Macauley Culkin’s way of laughing at those who thought to purchase this drivel in the belief that it might actually have something useful to say.
- It’s a glimpse into Culkin’s heart, mind, and soul: his true self. To me, that’s appealing.
- Original and captivating. Four stars for originality and honesty. OK, this is not literature, but I didn’t expect it to be. This is like a performance piece, only you’re reading it and not sitting in an art gallery or alternative theater.
- Culkin is a thoughtful writer who opens his art with a quiz to help the reader decide if he or she should continue reading past page vii. For anyone who passes the opening questionnaire, or who fails and wants to satiate their curiosity about the latest celebrity entry in the fiction/memoir/rant/tell-all genre, Junior is a whirlwind of a ride. Culkin treats the reader to unfinished stories from his past, to rants about his Dad, to attempts to address his Dad, to cartoons, to lists of facts who never knew you needed to know, to his self-image, to lists of likes and dislikes, to telegrams, and to an enlightening expose of the myths we were all told when we were younger.
- Unpredictably great. It accurately reflects the way lives can be misleading, difficult, addictive, yet oh so wonderful at the same time. It’s that contradiction that makes the book so great. Culkin depicts a miserable, unhappy character throughout the book, yet somehow it gives you this amazing feeling of hope for the possibility of something better and something happy. All and all, I would say this is one of my new favorite books.
- It is utterly meaningless & totally ridiculous. & I love it. Every page is stranger than the last one. It’s hilarious & heartbreaking.
- The book is very sad, illuminating the misguided decisions and priorities that are endemic to Hollywood and the lives of child actors and their families. It does read a bit like a school paper, and like a personal victory in achieving deadlines, but I’m thankful for the generosity with his insight. There is definitely some great off-kilter humor throughout.
- Honest, amusing, insightful look into a unique talent. This book is a look into the mind of Macaulay Culkin and his uniqueness shines. It is a mixture of poems, short stories, letters, and thoughts. Through his writings, you can clearly see that he has a good character. He is a good person with a deep soul, and it appears his character is shaped by his difficult trials. The accounts of his father are honest and painful, and the wisdom gained from them is evident.
- Touching, creative and brave. I thought Macauley Culkin described with humor and creativity, the internal world of boy/man dealing with the strangeness of his fame, his painful relationship with his father and his struggle to differentiate himself. It was playful, sad, and honest. I commend him.
Wow, that was very helpful indeed. The wave of emotions from readers mirrored the intensity of emotion Macaulay himself put into the book and the degree of honesty with which he opened himself up to his readers.
Everyone notes that he “definitely touches” on the subject of his father and the story seems to be a heartbreaking one indeed. The book is surely a catharsis for Macaulay and in the end he seems to free himself from most of his anger and sadness. His struggles also make readers stronger if they follow him to the end of this breaking-free process.
What the editorial reviews didn’t tell us is that Macaulay described all his troubles in a hilarious way and that he has a brilliant sense of humor. And also a talent for writing and a unique voice. Some say that his uniqueness shines throughout the book as he is not simply describing his life of chaos, loneliness and tribulation but is doing it in an utterly comical way.
He also comes out as a good person with a deep soul and as a man who gained much wisdom as a result of his struggles.
And all readers notice that the feature underlying the whole story is Macaulay’s honesty, which is the most important point for us again.
It once again proves that when Macaulay has something painful to get off his chest he will work it out with a degree of honesty totally amazing for his readers. And when he doesn’t mention someone (Michael Jackson for example), it means that this person didn’t constitute a single problem for him – though mentioning him would have surely attracted millions of more readers to his book.
This approach makes Macaulay the exact opposite of all those BS writers about Michael Jackson who strive for sensationalism and invent things about MJ for better sales. Macaulay deals only with what really happened, and was really an issue for him. And Michael wasn’t an issue, so hence not a word about him in his book.
Macaulay’s honesty also means that if there had been any truth in those allegations, Macaulay would have made no bones about it and at the very least would have dropped a thousand hints that would have told the whole story without actually telling it.
Macaulay has a talent and could have done it in a unique way and style typical of his character Kevin McCallister – that inimitable little boy from ‘Home Alone’ movies who managed to cope with some rogues, defend his home and win in a hard fight against evil.
And if this character had had some “sex abuse” memories he would have done away with his offender like no other, turning him into an abject loser and ripping him into shreds.
IT TAKES ONE WORD TO DO AWAY WITH THE OFFENDER
So if Macaulay had had any issues with Michael Jackson, he wouldn’t have kept his mouth shut and would have expressed his feelings with the candor few people are capable of – and if you are still in doubt here is an example for you from his book.
It shows that Macaulay is capable to deal with his offender by means of one word only.
The episode is mentioned by Sarah Goldstein who wrote her review for the Salon. She says that the book contains a letter written by Macaulay to his father. The letter starts with “Dear Dad” and then goes on with one word covering the whole page (other reviews say that the letter is actually two pages long):
“After years of tabloid drama about the Culkins, the story offers an unsympathetic, bare-bones view into the hell it must have been living as a child in that family. Less successful are the moments where Culkin writes about how hard it is to articulate his feelings toward his father, as in the following:
Dear Dad, Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck [ad nauseam, fills whole page] http://www.salon.com/2006/03/23/culkin/
Sorry for the word but this is a quotation to which any post is entitled to.
See what I am talking about? As one reader put it Macaulay has a skill of writing that can exhaust the subject in three sentences. However now we know that in some cases even one word would be enough for Macaulay to do away with the problem or at least convey to his readers the enormity and hideousness of it, and why it is impossible to handle it in more conventional ways.
SEEKING FOR NORMALCY
Hopefully now you understand that though Macaulay didn’t say a single word about Michael in his book, this telling omission is declaring to the whole world that Macaulay had no issues with MJ whatsoever. And if he had had them, Macaulay would have never hesitated to “work it out” in full view of the public and crash on the one who hurt him in a humorous but unrelenting way.
The truth of the matter is that Michael was innocent, as Macaulay always said it, and his relations with Michael were normal and trouble-free, and there was nothing in their friendship that demanded to be taken off his chest.
Michael was a zone of comfort for young Macaulay, same as for other children – for example, Corey Feldman who had been sexually abused by Hollywood monsters and to everyone’s surprise said that the only safe place he knew was with Michael Jackson:
‘Slowly, over a period of many years I would begin to realize that many of the people I had surrounded myself with were monsters,’ he writes.
Interestingly, the only safe place he knew was with Michael Jackson.
‘I was shattered, disgusted, devastated. I needed some normalcy in my life. So, I called Michael Jackson,‘ he recalls. The pair had been introduced by Spielberg.
‘Michael Jackson’s world, crazy as it sounds, had become my happy place. Being with Michael brought me back to my innocence. When I was with Michael, it was like being 10 years old again.‘
He insists in the book that Jackson never abused him or tried to touch him sexually.
These troubled children sought Michael for normalcy and it was their association with him that allowed them to more or less bring their childhood back to them.
However Macaulay wouldn’t be a top honest guy if he didn’t admit that all of it wasn’t plain sailing with Michael during the many years of their friendship – Michael’s troubles added to his own pack of problems, and he was clearly upset and worried about MJ and even thought Michael to blame for ever bringing into his life people who didn’t deserve it in the least (look at Bashir and Arvizos, for example).
He also openly said that he wasn’t happy to be involved in the trial but at the same time emphatically testified about Michael’s innocence. He always wanted to say to MJ that “he should have known better, to even have those kind of people in his life”, but evidently never said it sparing his feelings and knowing the “big, fat mess” those people landed him in.
In short he behaved like a friend and the one that really wishes him well.
It is surprising but in his reflections about Michael Macaulay sounds like the older of the two. He advised Michael how to cope with his problems and was critical of some of his ways. But on the other hand Macaulay is critical of himself too, and strange enough, this criticism shows the genuineness of his care for Michael much more than any formal and feigned admiration would.
Macaulay said of his book and Michael Jackson:
[of the book]: “Yeah, it’s the worst possible thing I could have done for myself,” he says flippantly. “Now I have to stand by it. I can’t just throw it out there and act like I’m ashamed of it.” He mulls this over. “I’m willing to face whatever comes with this, from critics, people trying to make it more sensational than it is. This is not a sensational book. There’s no Michael Jackson references at all, so get that out of your head right now.”
That’s easier said than done, given that it was less than a year ago that Culkin testified for the defense during the pop star’s molestation trial. “You know, I didn’t want to get involved with the whole thing,” he says. “It was a big, fat mess. I almost wanted to say to him, ‘You should have known better, just to even have those kind of people in your life.’ ”
He thinks for a moment and continues. “I don’t know how it happened, but somehow I’ve become the resident Michael Jackson expert. We’re close, he’s a good friend of mine, we definitely have a connection that most people don’t have, but he’s a friend that I talk to once a year.”
When they talk, Culkin always encourages Jackson to get back to music. “You know, call up the Roots, call up the Beastie Boys, call up Björk.” The last time they spoke was a few months after the trial: “He sounded better . . .” He trails off, distracted.
“One of the things that I always thought is that I could have turned out that way. I’m a fairly sheltered person, but I could have just put up a fortress around myself, bought a big chunk of land somewhere, and said, ‘Fuck all y’all!’
But I made a decision when I was 14 that I was going to live life, where I think he made the opposite decision. It’s a cool little world that he has, but at the same time, it’s become a little more distant from reality.”
At age 25 Macaulay Culkin was already as mature and insightful as a wise old man, and when you read him you can immediately recognize that what he says about Michael is real stuff (and not fictional one like those liars’ hollow stories).
It provides us with a rich material for reflection on the characters of both Macaulay and Michael, their different ways of coping with similar problems and a long and winding road a true friendship often takes.
You know, if there were anyone I would like to write a book about Michael Jackson it would be Macaulay Culkin.
As to Michael Jackson’s haters they can forget their hopes to get hold of Macaulay. They will never get him, and if they do they will also be the first to regret it.
S U P P L E M E N T
EXCERPTS FROM MACAULAY’S TESTIMONY AT THE 2005 TRIAL
Now that we realize Macaulay’s exceptional gift for a sincere and truthful narration it is probably time to revisit the 2005 trial again and recall what he said about Michael.
Below you will find only some excerpts from Macaulay’s testimony, though the whole text is actually worth quoting as all of it is absolutely great in terms of honesty and ease. The truth is indeed easy to tell.
On “molestation” issues Macaulay said:
Q. You heard about some of the allegations about whether or not Mr. Jackson improperly ever touched you, right?
Q. Did Mr. Jackson ever molest you?
Q. Did Mr. Jackson ever improperly touch you?
A. Absolutely not.
Q. Has Mr. Jackson ever touched you in any sexual type of way?
Q. Has he ever touched you in any offensive way?
Q. What do you think of these allegations?
A. I think they’re absolutely ridiculous.
Q. Did you ever see Mr. Jackson do anything improper with him? [Brett Barnes]
A. No, I’ve never seen him do anything improper with anybody.
On how he learned that he was allegedly “improperly touched”:
Q. When did you first learn that these prosecutors were claiming that you were improperly touched?
A. When did I first learn that?
A. I — somebody called me up and said, “You should probably check out CNN, because they’re saying something about you”.
Q. And did you check it out?
A. Yes, I did.
Q. And what did you learn?
A. I learned that it was a former cook had done something to me, and there was something about a maid or something like that. It was just one of those things where I just couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe that, first of all, these people were saying these things or — let alone that it was out there and people were thinking that kind of thing about me. And at the same time it was amazing to me that they — that nobody approached me and even asked me whether or not the allegations were true. They kind of just were — threw it out there just like — they didn’t even — they didn’t even double-check it basically. I mean, even if they assumed that they knew the answer, what got me was that they didn’t even ask.
Q. Now, are you saying these prosecutors never tried to reach you to ask you your position on this?
A. No, they didn’t.
Q. Do you know if any police officer from Santa Barbara has ever tried to call you to see what the truth is?
On his younger brother who was always with him and on “sharing a bed”:
Q. And have you and your family stayed in that room?
Q. How many times, do you think?
A. Handful of times.
Q. How about your brother?
A. Whenever I was there, my little brother was kind of always tagging along with me, so he was usually anywhere I was.
Q. Prior to staying in Bermuda, had you ever spent the night alone with Mr. Jackson?
A. How do you mean “spend the night”?
Q. Did you ever share a bed with Mr. Jackson prior to going to Bermuda?
A. Yeah, I mean, I’d fallen asleep in the same bed as him.
Q. Did you ever do that, fall asleep in the same bed as Mr. Jackson prior to going to Bermuda where none of your brothers or sisters were present?
A. It’s possible. But like I said, usually my brother was tagging along with me. But I fell asleep basically everywhere in that ranch, or anywhere else when I was hanging out with him. I would just flop down on the floor half the time.
On his family always staying with him at Neverland except one occasion when the family came one or two days later:
Q. You never once went to Neverland by yourself?
A. Like I said, I think I showed up — I showed up there once, and it was like a day or two and then my family met me there.
Q. But there were occasions when you went to Neverland without your siblings and without your
parents; is that right?
A. I think I took one trip there where I arrived there before my family did, for like a day or two, and then they showed up.
Q. Up until the age of, say, 14, are you telling us every time you went to Neverland you were with your parents and your siblings?
A. In some kind of combination of siblings and parents, yes.
Q. You never once went to Neverland by yourself?
A. Like I said, I think I showed up — I showed up there once, and it was like a day or two and then my family met me there.
On the “bed issues”:
Q. All those occasions did you sleep in his room?
A. It would be — I slept in his room about as often as I fell asleep anywhere. Like, I fell asleep — I would flop down – we’d fall asleep in the movie theater. He has beds in the movie theater. I’d flop down and fall asleep there. I’ve fallen asleep in the video game machines before. I mean, I’ve — I would go and play there basically until I’d just run myself out, and I would just flop down wherever I needed to.
Q. And you’d be pretty exhausted and go fast asleep; is that right?
A. Yeah, I mean, that would happen. I’d wear myself out and fall asleep, just like any kid would.
Q. Did you ever have a conversation with your mother about whether or not it’s appropriate for a 10-year-old boy to be sharing a bed with a 35-year-old man on a regular basis?
A. No. We didn’t share a bed on a regular basis.
On hanging out in MJ’s Hideout:
Q. And what have you done with Michael Jackson in Los Angeles?
A. Same kind of thing. We used to hang out. He had an apartment there that was actually in the city, so we’d go visit there. Just kind of – it was a little more convenient, and it was smaller. It wasn’t as, you know, far away. It wasn’t the daunting three-hour drive, you know. When you’re ten years old, that’s an awfully long drive to get out there. So sometimes when he was in the city, we would just hang out at his apartment.
On why he wasn’t at Neverland between age 14-17 and then came again (the 14-17 period was when he was deeply involved in legal issues with his father).
Q. How old were you when you stopped sleeping in bed with Michael Jackson?
A. Well, like I said, I stopped going there just because I had really — I had never really found myself going to Los Angeles or anything like that. So I didn’t really come back again until I was about 17.
Q. The question was, when did you stop sleeping —
A. I know. I’m getting there. And so when I got — when I started coming back again, I found myself just not sleeping in bed. And I’ve always kind of fell asleep in the guest units ever since then.
Q. Why didn’t you stay with Mr. Jackson in his room?
A. Because I enjoyed my privacy a little bit more.
Q. All right. So is it safe to say that up until and through your 13th year, you stayed with Mr. Jackson in his room?
A. On occasion — On occasion I’d fall asleep there or wherever. It wasn’t really like a thing to, like, ”Let’s go to sleep in a particular place.” On occasion I’d end up falling asleep there. I’d fall asleep anywhere.
On his longest stay at Neverland taking place when he was 20:
Q. What’s the longest you ever stayed at Neverland?
A. When I was — I think I was 20, I stayed there for about, I don’t know, 10 days, 14 days. And that was the longest trip I’d ever taken there.
Q. At age 20?
Q. All right. Well, can I assume that at age 20 you were not sleeping with Michael Jackson?
A. I don’t think he was there on that trip. I kind of just said, “I need to relax. Is it okay if I use your house?” And he said, “Sure.” I was just staying there by myself, and I’d just stay in the guest units, and it was just — it was just that. He wasn’t even there.
Q. But even at age 20, you would not have been sleeping with him in any event; is that correct?
A. Probably not. Like I said, you know, as you get older, you start enjoying your privacy and you start getting on more of a schedule. And I was falling asleep on — I had more of a schedule going. I was basically going out there to write and things like that, and to relax.
On the fantastic version that he was molested while he was asleep:
Q. Your answer more accurately is he never molested you, to your knowledge, while you were
awake; is that true?
A. As far as I know, he’s never molested me.
Q. While you were asleep as a nine-year-old kid who had run himself ragged, you wouldn’t know what happened while you were asleep, right?
A. I find that unlikely.
Q. Well, but you just told us that sometimes you’d be so exhausted after a day of playing you’d fall asleep on a machine.
A. Yeah, but I think I’d realize if something like that was happening to me.
Q. Now, the prosecutor asked you questions about maybe being molested when you were asleep and not knowing about it. And you said words to the effect, you would have known about it. What did you mean?
A. I think I would have realized if something like that was happening to me, whether I was asleep or not.
On other kids at Neverland and sleeping arrangements there:
Q. Did you ever spend a night in Mr. Jackson’s bedroom with another boy, not your brothers?
A. Sometimes. Sometimes, like I said, there would be kids there. They’d be introduced as cousins or something like that. And they would hang with us, just as much as anyone else would.
Q. Can you describe any of them?
A. They were kids. They were — you know, some of them had dark hair. Darker skin, that kind of thing. Whenever I was around, sometimes there would be other kids around.And, you know, it wasn’t like we all, like, “Oh, it’s time to go to bed. Let’s huddle in.” Its like, you know, you’re chatting in bed, and the next thing you know you’re asleep.
A. On occasion, the other kids there that — like I said, some of them were introduced — like, I was introduced to as, like, cousins or family friends and stuff like that. And they’d bring their kids there, and then — same as me. They would — they would play with me, and we’d fall asleep anywhere, sometimes his bedroom, sometimes in the theater, sometimes anywhere.
On the special fun of the place:
Q. Did Mr. Jackson ever talk to you about other boys who shared his bed with you?
A. Not really, no. Like I said, it was a casual thing, so it wasn’t necessarily something that was, like, talked about. I’d fall asleep there, I’d fall asleep anywhere. People just kind of fell asleep wherever they wanted to. That was kind of the fun of the place, was that there was no rigid rules about when or where you should fall asleep.
On the open-door policy at Neverland:
Q. Did you ever get the feeling that your family was being excluded from anything you did at Neverland?
A. Absolutely not….It was a real open-door policy just with the entire ranch.
Q. That applied to your family as well as you?
A. Yes, everyone.
Q. And you talked about an open-door policy in his room.
Q. Could you please explain what you mean?
A. Well, no doors were ever really locked in his place. It wasn’t like — you know, you could always — you could always come — he always told me, “You can just come to the ranch whenever you want.” And every door was open, and you can go anywhere you wanted, and that included the bedroom.
Q. And did you feel that adults were free to come in and out as well as children?
A. Absolutely. He had a lot of memorabilia and things like that in his closets, and so people liked to look at that. It was one of those stops on the tour when we first showed up. It’s like, “Come to the bedroom. Come see what’s in the closet,” those kind of things. Like I said, it’s almost a part of the tour.
Q. Did you see Mr. Jackson allow other children and families into his room?
A. Yeah. It was, you know, whenever – it was — like I said, it was an open-door policy, not only for me but for whatever other families were there.
Q. Did you ever think Mr. Jackson was somehow trying to exclude your family from his room?
A. Absolutely not. It was a real open-door policy just with the entire ranch.
Q. Did you see Mr. Jackson allow other children and families into his room?
A. Yeah. It was, you know, whenever – it was — like I said, it was an open-door policy, not only for me but for whatever other families were there.
On Michael allowing people to rake through his personal things in the closet:
Q. You’re telling us that Mr. Jackson had no problem with people going through the closets in his bedroom?
A. Yeah, it was one of those things. I mean, I don’t necessarily think it was a good thing to rifle through everything, but it was —
Q. But people did?
A. He had a large closet. Like I said, he had a lot of his old rhinestone jackets and things like that in there.
Q. People did that?
A. People would go in there, yes.
Q. Sometimes people he didn’t even know?
A. Well, I can’t really speak of whether or not they knew him or not. I assumed if they were there, they knew him.
Q. Certainly people who were in his room with his permission had his permission as well to go through the closets and look at the memorabilia in
his closets; is that right?
A. Sure. Like I said, it was another stop on the tour. It was another kind of thing.
Q. It would be nothing unusual at all about somebody who was in his room with his permission to go through his closets and his drawers?
A. Well, I wouldn’t necessarily say the drawers. But it was kind of more — one of the closets was a lot — definitely a lot more for display than it was for, you know, actual clothing.
On Michael’s generosity:
Q. Did he give gifts to your parents?
A. I think so. But I honestly don’t remember. This is a while ago. But he was — he was very generous. He always gave gifts to everybody.
Q. Now, in response to the prosecutor’s questions you talked about Michael Jackson being generous. What do you mean?
A. He was just very open and giving with not only his money and what he — you know, but like even just what he had. I remember a friend of mine had, like, you know — no, it was my brother. He liked a box, a certain box. It was this wooden box. “Is it all right if I have it?” And he didn’t give it a second thought. It’s that kind of thing. He just kind of – he’ll let me go there, go to Neverland anytime I want. And he will let you use whatever you need to, and go wherever you need to go. And he’s just a very good friend.
Q. The prosecutor talked about Mr. Jackson buying you a watch. Do you remember anything unusual about his buying you a gift?
A. Not at all. No, it was one of those things where, like, yeah, we’d go shopping or something like that. I thought it was a very nice gift. But at the same time, it was very sweet. And he actually had it engraved for me, it was like, you know, “From Michael Jackson,” you know, “1991,” or “1992,” or something like that. I haven’t seen it in a bunch of years, but I know I have it somewhere in a box.
On shopping for toys and the reason they shopped at night:
Q. Did Mr. Jackson ever take you on shopping sprees?
A. Yeah, we’d go shopping.
A. We used to do this thing where in the middle of the night — not necessarily the middle of the night, but around, like, after the stores had closed, he would arrange for us to go to Toys-R-Us. And sometimes he wouldn’t even arrange it. We would go there, and he’d literally knock on the door, and the janitor would drop his mop, and go, “What the heck?” and let us in. And then they’d — you know, we’d go shopping basically at Toys-R-Us when the store was totally empty, because it’s the only time that he could really go shopping like that.
Q. How many times did he do that with you?
A. Oh, gosh. Like two times, three times –
Q. Okay. Did you feel as if there was some ulterior motive or purpose behind Mr. Jackson taking you to toy stores to shop?
A. No, it was just to buy toys. Usually to load up on, you know, water guns or something like that. It was just one of those things where – it was just one of the fun things that you could do while you were hanging out with Michael.
On shopping with Michael when he was 17-18 years old:
Q. What — what other shopping sprees did he take you on, if you remember?
A. I think one time when I was — I mean, besides the Toys-R-Us kind of things, that we just kind of show up in the middle of the night and scare the janitor, I think when I was about 17 or 18, he was in town with Prince, and we went to — he closed down FAO Schwartz, like, late at night, and we kind of showed up there and shopped a little there. And anywhere he shops, they kind of have to close it down for him, or we have to go late at night, just because — it just kind of comes with the territory. So I think we also went CD or DVD shopping when we were in London. He was just like, “We’re going to go shopping. Do you want to tag along?” And I went, “Sure.”
On their visits to the movie theatres:
Q. Have you seen Michael Jackson outside of Neverland?
Q. Where have you seen him?
A. Whenever. I’d be staying at a hotel and he’d come and pick me and my brothers up, and we’d sneak into a movie theater like in the middle of the night — in the middle of, like, you know, a movie, because that was the only way you could really see an actual movie in an actual movie theater with him. Just a number of occasions.
On Michael being like them, children, even when he became a father:
Q. Did you ever see Mr. Jackson as very childlike himself?
A. He was very childlike, yes.
Q. What do you mean?
A. He liked doing the things that we liked to do. He liked playing the arcade games. Though he wasn’t as good as us, usually, but, you know, he still enjoyed doing it, because, you know, it was one of those things. And he enjoyed the same kind of movies. He liked running around. We used to play tag. I mean, it’s that kind of thing. He played with us, you know, the same kind of way I played with any of my friends my age.
A. And he was a nice guy. I remember he laughed because I referred to all the Ninja Turtles by their first names, and things like that.
Q. You said he was childlike. Are you referring to his behavior back when you were 10 and 11 years old?
A. Yeah. I mean, even now, he’s more of a father now. It’s kind of fun for me to see that. But at the same time, yeah, I mean, he still has childlike qualities.
On Michael understanding Macaulay:
Q. You said that Michael Jackson understood you. What did you mean?
A. Well, because of circumstances, like with my career, I mean, one day I was essentially a normal kid who happened to be an actor, and the next thing I know, I’m just this thing where people are hiding in the bushes and trying to take your picture. And just — people are kind of out to profit from you, or next thing you know you have a million acquaintances and no more friends anymore. It was like that. And he understood that. That was one of the first things we talked about, was don’t – “I get it. I understand what you’re going through. I understand the same thing.” You know, “If you want to talk about anything or if you ever want to” — you know, I could learn from his knowledge, basically, of where he came from. And you couldn’t really find a whole lot of people, especially when you’re nine years old, put in these circumstances that nobody else — you can’t really talk to anybody about this kind of stuff. And he understood it, and it was — it was a comforting thing.
A. … it was definitely something where we understood each other early on.
Q. Even when you were nine years old?
A. Because of circumstances, yes.
Q. Do you still talk to Mr. Jackson about the unique way child actors develop and live?
A. On occasion. It’s not like it’s, you know, a child performer self-help group or something like that. But at the same time, it was — we still talk about it, because we’re a part of a unique group of people. And so we have a unique understanding of one another. And when it goes to any person who is a child performer, I kind of keep an eye out for them, and I — because I get it. And it goes the same for anyone who, you know, was or, you know, is a child performer. I think you kind of keep an eye out. You have an understanding of them.
On long telephone conversations with MJ (imagine yourself being confined to your hotel room for months):
Q. After you first met Mr. Jackson, did he telephone you a lot?
A. We talked on the phone a good amount.
Q. And sometimes those telephone calls would go two or three hours, wouldn’t they?
A. Sometimes. I guess. Yeah.
Q. Sometimes those telephone calls were in the middle of the night, weren’t they?
A. Not really. I was in school. But sometimes it would be in the later side.
Q. How many times do you think you’ve spoken to him on the phone?
A. I couldn’t really count. Couldn’t say. Over 100 times probably.
On Michael never pressuring Macaulay:
Q. And the prosecutor asked you questions about whether you felt Mr. Jackson was somehow pressuring you somehow to do something improper. Did you ever feel as if Mr. Jackson was pressuring you to do anything?
A. He never pressured me to do anything at all. Just — he was just my friend. He never really pressured me to do anything. Not even go to sleep at the right time or eat my vegetables, you know.
On why they were like family:
Q. Okay. Now, the prosecutor asked you questions about Mr. Jackson referring to you and your family as family. And you said you thought he had done that on occasion, right?
Q. And what do you recall about that?
A. Well, we were very close. I know my mother had had contact with my father, had talked to him when I wasn’t talking to him. It was just one of those things where he was a close family friend, like family.
On a call Michael made to Macaulay a couple of weeks or a month before the Jordan Chandler scandal (if it had been “hush money” would he have waited a month for the news to hit the press and would he have informed his friends of this stink bomb? Wasn’t it easier to quietly settle?)
Q. Are you aware of the allegations in 1993?
A. Yes, I was.
Q. In 1993, were you aware of the allegations while they were going on?
A. Michael had called me about a month or so, or maybe a couple of weeks before the allegations hit the press. And he let me know that some people were going to be saying something, and they were absolutely untrue, and, “Don’t worry about it. I just need you to be my friend right now.” And I said, “Absolutely.”
Q. At the time that Mr. Jackson placed that phone call, did you know who Jordan Chandler was?
A. I don’t know. I’m not sure exactly who Jordan Chandler is, so I can’t — I can’t say.
On Michael never discussing the “molestation” issues:
Q. In response to the prosecutor’s questions, you said that in 1993 Mr. Jackson called you and said these allegations were false, right?
Q. And had you discussed with Mr. Jackson from time to time those false allegations?
A. Not really. It’s not something we necessarily talk about. It’s — its — you know, I think it’s just a painful subject. It was a hard thing for everyone to go through, I mean especially him. It just – it’s a hard subject.
On the door to MJ’s bedroom being NEVER locked:
Q. Can we assume from that your parents never came into the room while you were in bed with
A. That’s not true, no. Sometimes my father would wake us up, because he liked going horseback riding or something like that and, you know, things that I didn’t necessarily enjoy as much as he did, but he would wake me up early in the morning to go horseback riding.
Q. And you would be in bed alone with Michael Jackson?
A. Not always alone, no. And sometimes I wouldn’t be always there. I would be wherever. But I knew they knew that I was in that room, and they knew I fell asleep there.
Q. All right. Is there — was there at the time an alarm on his door going into his bedroom?
A. There was like a walkway kind of thing where if somebody was approaching the door, it would kind of like “ding-dong, ding-dong.”
Q. All right. Do you remember hearing any “ding-dongs, ding-dongs” as your father came into the room?
A. When anyone would approach the room, yeah, you’d hear this kind of — soft kind of alarm, like “ding-dong” kind of thing.
Q. On the occasion that your father came into the room while you were in bed alone with Michael
Jackson, did he say anything to you about that?
Q. Did he say anything to Michael Jackson in your presence about your sleeping with him?
A. No. He didn’t really seem to have a problem with it, from what I remember.
Q. And I asked you if he said anything. Did he say anything to Michael Jackson in your presence?
A. Well, what do you mean by “anything”?
Q. Did he say anything to Michael Jackson about him sharing a bed with his ten-year-old son? Did he say anything to Michael Jackson about that in your presence at that time?
A. No, it was a very casual thing. So, no, he never really said anything.
Q. The answer is “No”?
A. No, he never said anything.
Q. Did your mother ever come into the room when you were alone with Michael Jackson in bed?
A. It’s a possibility, yeah.
Q. Do you know if it happened more than once?
A. Yeah. He had a very open-door policy. His bedroom door at that time was never locked. Anyone could walk in.
So much for all those tall stories about an elaborate “security system” and something horrible taking place behind “closed doors”. So what if there was a ding-dong sound in the corridor? The bedroom door was never locked – at least when Macaulay and others were in Michael’s house in the early 90s. Anyone could walk in and at any time too. His father would walk into the room early in the morning when everyone in MJ’s room was still asleep and the door was always open.
And if Macaulay Culkin says it, we can be sure that it was really that way. Knowing Macaulay’s honesty and candor it simply can’t be anything different.