The judgment of Michael Jackson

BBC News: Michael Jackson’s latest greatest hits album has sold just 8,000 copies in the US in its first week of release, reaching number 128 in the chart. The Essential Michael Jackson is the star’s first release since he was cleared of child abuse a month ago. […] Jackson faces a struggle to repair his image and repay debts that prosecutors in his trial claimed amounted to $300m (£170m).

Can he repair his image? That is the big question. Look at the picture here of the new CD cover. It bears little resemblance to Jackson today. It’s closer to what he looked like in the ’80s following the release of Thriller, his best album of all time (IMHO). And that was over 20 years ago.

Perhaps this is one key to Jackson’s image (and reputation) problem. His recent trial was constant TV fare especially in the US. I would guess that almost anyone anywhere knows what he looks like today, and it’s not the picture on the CD cover. Do people see this as trying to pull the wool over their eyes? And there’s another dilemma – putting his current picture on the CD cover probably wouldn’t help sales either.

Could it just be the very idea of his record company issuing a CD so soon after an abhorrent event in which he was a central character, an event that is still fresh in people’s minds? Perhaps publicist Max Clifford, quoted in the BBC report, has it right:

[…] It would be the hardest job in PR after Saddam Hussein and I would be astounded if he could turn things around. People were extremely offended by even some of the things he admitted in court. The final judgement is with the record-buying public and they have made their verdict clear.

BBC News | Entertainment | US fans shun Michael Jackson CD

See also – detailed Wikipedia entry for Michael Jackson.