Michael Jackson’s children, had the singer been alive and able to attend his own memorial service, would have been covered in veils or masks and daughter Paris would never have been allowed near the mic to share her heart-wrenching grief with 31 million viewers (in the U.S. alone).
If the rest of Jackson’s life — his finances, health, career — were a bit scattered, he was meticulous in one thing — guarding the privacy of his three children. Until his death on June 25, the peeks we had of Prince Michael (12), Paris (11) and Blanket (7) were rare and, as mentioned above, their faces were often obscured by masks or veils.
All of that changed when Jackson unexpectedly died last month. The kids — now in the care of grandmother Katherine Jackson — have been a regular presence in coverage of the pop star’s tangled legacy. And at last Tuesday’s excessive (and excessively covered) tribute to the fallen star, the children were not only front row, centre and easily accessible to photogs, but 11-year-old Paris was allowed to address the crowd, telling the world that “Daddy was the best father you can ever imagine.”
But do Jackson’s kids now, more than ever, need their privacy? Or is a rapid transition to a more structured, normal life (or as normal as possible given the circumstances) the better option? These children led an extraordinarily sheltered existence and, aside from the trauma of coping with the death of their father and the possibility of a coming custody battle, adjusting to a post-Jackson world could involve a level of culture shock. And should we, the media, keep our distance from the kids until they’re old enough to realize the implications of sharing their innermost feelings with the world?