Skip to main content

Jackson family drama an unwanted reality show

By Lisa Respers France, CNN
July 26, 2012 -- Updated 1310 GMT (2110 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The Jacksons are in the limelight right now because of their family drama
  • Magazine editor sees irony in how outspoken Michael Jackson's kids have become
  • A former friend of Michael Jackson's says his legacy is being damaged

(CNN) -- The 2010 television series "The Jacksons: A Family Dynasty" may not have lasted long, but fans might not be convinced that the clan has vanished from reality TV.

That's because the family's latest woes are playing out in the public arena -- very much like one might expect from such a series. There is tension, drama, a reported scuffle and plenty of people tuning in (though in this case to Twitter) for the latest action.

In the past few days there has been a dispute regarding the whereabouts of the family's 82-year-old matriarch, Katherine Jackson. Her nephew reported her missing and her granddaughter Paris has taken to her Twitter account to lament the lack of contact with her grandmother. Katherine Jackson has been the legal guardian for Paris and her two brothers since the children's father, Michael Jackson, died three years ago.

Judge suspends Katherine Jackson as guardian of Michael Jackson's children

Jackson family 'scuffle' caught on camera
Katherine's absence stirs Jackson feud

Other relatives, including Jermaine Jackson, denied that Katherine Jackson was missing and insisted she was resting on doctor's orders. Los Angeles County sheriff's detectives closed the missing persons case opened for the elder Jackson after she was discovered to be with her eldest daughter Rebbie in Arizona. She has reportedly since called home.

But the closing of the case has apparently not ended family tensions. On Tuesday, CNN obtained surveillance video which appeared to show Paris' superstar aunt, Janet Jackson, attempting to take the 14-year-old's cell phone from her. Authorities reportedly broke up a scuffle at the Jackson family home following that event.

T.J. Jackson, brothers inspired by famous uncle

Now there is much speculation over whether the root of the issue is tied to the massive estate left in the wake of Michael Jackson's death, a 20% share of which belongs to his mother.

"Money always brings out the worst in people," said Bradley Jacobs, a senior editor for Us Weekly magazine. "Michael Jackson was a hot mess in life, and things are still really messy in death."

Jacobs noted the great lengths to which the late pop star went to shield his children from just the type of publicity and notoriety that they are now immersed in.

Jackson would often employ disguises for his children when they were younger, and very few details of their lives were shared. Paris, Prince Michael and "Blanket" (as the youngest is known) are now much more visible, and Jacobs pointed out that Paris' reported aspirations to be an actress mean she plans to stay that way.

"It's ironic given how Michael protected those children and kept them from the spotlight and now Paris is wanting that spotlight," he said. "Paris is tweeting and people are learning from Paris."

Jackson family feud caught on tape

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach befriended Michael Jackson in the 1990s and is the author of the book "The Michael Jackson Tapes." Boteach said the Jackson family has long struggled with fame, and hence Michael Jackson went out of his way to try and help his children avoid such pitfalls.

"There's no question that fame took Michael's life," Boteach said. "What Michael wanted in shielding his children was protecting them from all that had happened to him. He was denied a childhood, and he wanted them to have the most special childhood."

Boteach -- who said he has not been in contact with the Jackson family for years -- said he had high hopes for the children when Katherine Jackson first took custody of them because she is a deeply devout Jehovah's Witness.

"Religion means you focus on things that are larger than yourself and you subordinate your ego to something larger than yourself," he said. "That's one of the remedies to the corruption of celebrity -- that there is something bigger than you."

Cooper Lawrence, the author of "The Cult of Celebrity: What Our Fascination with the Stars Reveal About Us" and the co-host of the "Loose Talk" podcast, said fans are fascinated by how the Jackson family dynamic is playing out because so many people have grown up with them.

Katherine Jackson returns home after losing guardianship

As the next generation of Jacksons, Paris and her brothers are continuing to keep the public enthralled, Lawrence said. Paris, especially, has been very vocal on Twitter about the fact that she believes her grandmother was being kept from them and she refuses to stand for it.

"I follow Paris on Twitter which is so strange because she is only 14," Lawrence said. "But I find her incredibly interesting, lucid and mature. I like that she doesn't just lay down and take it. She recognizes at such a young age that most of the adults around her are children and behave like children, and she's taken that role that she's the adult and she's calling them out on their immaturities."

Regardless of how the drama plays out, Boteach said he believes Michael Jackson's desire to leave a legacy in which children -- including his -- are celebrated and protected is being overlooked.

"If you look at his legacy now it's his music, which is beautiful, it's his concerts and it's this money that people are arguing over," Boteach said. "I believe that some of this dysfunction would be alleviated if there was an agreement on what is Michael's legacy, and that was pursued."

The Jackson strife: Family bickers

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT