Michael Jackson’s acquittal on child molestation charges drew jubilation from his fans from around the globe on Tuesday, outrage from some parents and observations that the ordeal has tarnished the pop star’s aura forever.
Morning television shows in Australia broke into live coverage of the verdict in Santa Maria, Calif., while in the Middle East, news channels al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya interrupted coverage as Jackson arrived at the courthouse.
“The minutes before the verdict were the most nervous moments of my life. Now, these are the happiest moments of my life,” said Kent Vilhemsson, 21, watching from Skovde, Sweden.
In Australia, Jason Jackson, 31, a Michael Jackson impersonator since age 11, greeted the verdict with relief.
“I supported Michael from the start and I will continue supporting Michael,” he said.
Fellow Australian fan Dorin Birkental, 22, traveled to California in April to observe part of the trial.
“It made me very angry because I saw Michael Jackson sitting in the courtroom and he was just so frail and thin. It took so much out of him,” she said. “All he’s ever done is just do good and make amazing music.”
‘The magic is forgotten’Some young Asian fans said Jackson would find it hard to put the trial behind him, despite the acquittal.
“He might not find success again, because there will be a shadow over him for the rest of his life,” said waitress Cindy Chu, 19, while she headed to work in Taiwan on Tuesday.
Jackson’s career is tarnished regardless of the verdict, said Mohamad Zulkifli Abdul Jalil, editor of the Malaysian edition of FHM magazine.
“I hate to say it, but he’s doomed,” Mohamad Zulkifli said in Kuala Lumpur.
“The magic is forgotten,” agreed Valdeci Pereira, an evangelist preacher in the Dona Marta shantytown in Rio de Janeiro, where Jackson filmed the video “They Don’t Care About Us” in 1996. “People will never listen to his music the same way again.”
In China, deejay Felix Hu of China Radio International said Jackson’s image will only be temporarily tarnished.
“For a while, we were advised not to play Michael Jackson songs when he was first charged. But now it’s ok,” said the Beijing-based Hu.
“The accusations were a blow to his image. But if he continues to produce good music, people will soon forget,” Hu said. “Look at Eminem and George Michael. People have forgotten the bad things that happened in their private lives.”
Some parents stunnedIn the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, several women with children said they were stunned that Jackson was found innocent. Brenda del Valle, 35, who has a young daughter, called the verdict “outrageous.”
“As a mother, I think it is not fair to subject that entire family and the boy to that judicial process only to have nothing happen,” del Valle said.
Other observers in Latin American also opposed the verdict.
“It’s a mistake. It’s incredible,” said Carlo Gonzales, 31 a part-time bartender and guitarist in a rock band in Lima, Peru, who said he was a Jackson fan until he was 15. “I realized that he used his image to lure children.”
In Mexico City, however, at least one person expressed satisfaction.
“Strange is strange, but it’s not illegal,” said library worker Rogelio Mendez, 35. “I think he’s pretty weird, but not a criminal.”
In Romania, where Jackson is widely popular after staging two huge concerts in 1992 and 1996 and donating a playground to an orphanage in Bucharest, fans were elated.
“It couldn’t have been a better verdict, although it was the only verdict they could have come up with,” said Alexandru Ciocodeica. He and other fans said they were crying with joy.
Yann Kervarec of Lille, France, a 29-year-old Web designer who runs a French fan site, was online with other fans in a chat room when the verdict was announced.
“I was listening, and every time they said, ’Not guilty,’ I had a bigger smile,” he said. “We kept writing in capitals on the screen, “NOT GUILTY!!!! It was a virtual cry of joy.”