It is like a car crash, you just can’t look away!

Tonight’s Michael Jackson Special Both Shocks And Saddens
Watching a lot of TV these days, you don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Or whether you should even be watching.
Certainly, with disaster in the headlines and war clouds on the horizon, spending two prime-time hours Living With Michael Jackson seems like less than the best use of our time. But interest goes where it goes, and there’s no denying that Jackson has always managed to command the nation’s interest, which is why ABC paid good money to bring this British news special over to America.
In TV terms, at least, it looks like a smart purchase. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine a more thorough, fascinating or disquieting celebrity documentary than Living, which ABC will repackage as a 20/20 special. (Only the British version was available for preview, but ABC says any changes will be minor.) Following Jackson over eight months √≥ from the mind-boggling Neverland Ranch to Las Vegas to that infamous balcony in Berlin √≥ reporter Martin Bashir has constructed not so much an interview as a mini-biography in which the biographer is an active participant and commentator.
Making good use of his unprecedented access, Bashir continually presses the notoriously shy and not particularly introspective Jackson to dig deeper. Bashir’s style can be unduly intrusive, but in the end he serves as our surrogate, as uneasy and perplexed around Jackson as viewers are likely to be.
The major sound bites march by in mad procession. Jackson acknowledges having plastic surgery twice, but only on his nose. He says he used a black surrogate mother for his baby, but he doesn’t identify her. He defends holding the baby over that balcony, and he sees nothing wrong with cutting his other children off from their mom or in making them wear masks whenever they’re in public.
Nor does he see any problem with continuing to share his bedroom √≥ though not, he says, his bed √≥ with children. Bashir asks, “Can you understand why people would worry about that?” And Jackson replies, “Because they’re ignorant.”
What emerges is a picture of a man who is so odd that he doesn’t appear to know how odd he is. Surely, if most of us decided to share a story about running out of the hospital with a newborn baby still covered in the placenta, we would at least acknowledge that the behavior was a bit strange.
You get no such sense of self-awareness from Jackson. The tragedy is not that Jackson has demons, but that he seems unable to confront them; it’s why he hasn’t grown as an artist, despite his talent.
There are moments in Living that call out for gasping mockery. But ultimately, the isolation and freakishness on display here is heartbreaking. This is a 44-year-old man who yearns to be Peter Pan and who apparently has no one in his life who can tell him that’s both impossible and unhealthy.