In the film-making industry, there’s a technique called ‘in the camera.’ I first learnt of it when an old boyfriend screened the old English movie I Know Where I’m Going for me on date night. In one scene, the romantic lead played by Roger Livesey is supposed to be striding through the hills of Scotland in a kilt (be still my beating heart!). He pauses at a stile, turns his face to the camera and calls up to Dame Wendy Hiller in her hotel room.
Here’s the secret: Roger Livesey was not in that shot! He wasn’t even in Scotland. Due to prior commitments in a London stage production, Livesey was unable to travel to Scotland so the directors used a stand-in in a kilt in that shot. And they did it ‘in the camera.’
The stand-in’s face was shot, full frontal, but the audience never noticed he wasn’t Roger Livesey. Why?
We expected to see Roger. The camera told us it was Roger. So we actually saw Roger.
Normalcy Bias aka The Ostrich Effect aka Analysis Paralysis
Normalcy bias is also known the incredulity response.
In situations of extreme danger, people can enter a mental state known as
“normalcy bias.” In this state, people deny what is happening to them is really taking place.
The normalcy bias can affect people under threat of persecution, such as minority groups in times of war, as well as in times of economic turmoil.
The normalcy bias has severe consequences. When people do not face the facts of an imminent crisis, such as financial crisis or natural disaster, or do not act to protect their loved ones or their assets from danger developing around them, the negative effect the disaster has on these people is much greater than need be.
People who face a situation early, and so take measures to alleviate the impact the disaster has on their loved ones and their assets, are much more likely to survive the disaster and even, in some ironic opportunistic cases, actually benefit from it.
Michael Jackson did the same thing. If Leaving Neverland is true, and the ’embarrassment of riches’ of witnesses and proof says it is, Michael Jackson paraded his pedophilia ‘in the camera’ under the nose of watching millions.
Even his staunchest supporter, his sister LaToya, said in 1993: ‘Michael is my brother, I love him a great deal but I cannot, and will not, be a silent collaborator of his crimes against small, innocent children.’
Many noticed it. Most chose their normalcy bias over concern for his victims. Very few had the nerve to suggest the unthinkable: America’s “King of Pop” is raping kids.
The clues were all there, of course. Jackson positioned himself to have easy access to crowds of children. His home, Neverland, was the stuff fantasy grooming is made of. There was no need to tempt children into a van with candy. Jackson lived in every child’s dream: their own private amusement park complete with a steam locomotive, Ferris wheel, and petting zoo. It was a pedophile’s dream come true. The ultimate location in victim grooming.
And groom he did. There were raised eyebrows but again, the affection and normalcy bias of Jackson’s public prevented most from thinking the unthinkable when Jackson brought a series of little boys as his “dates” to movie premiers.
I think back to when my brothers and step-sons were little. On the go they were, every waking moment. Mom had a tough time getting my brothers to stand still long enough for a quick hug. My brothers just wanted to run and play, and would have died mortified if anyone attempted to hold held their hand in public.
The effect of Jackson’s grooming was blatant. His little boyfriends clung to him. Docile, subdued. Clinging to his hand. He, in turn, held them as a man holds a woman.
He did it all on camera and in the faces of the entire world. Yet, even now, many of his loyal fans cling to their normalcy bias. It hurts too much to let it go. These people may support the “Me Too” movement and call for Harvey Weinstein to be brought to justice, so why aren’t child victims, now grown, granted the same courtesy by these same people?
Michael Jackson gave his whole life to his fans. From the age of six years, his talent exploited to bring pleasure to millions of fans worldwide and loads of money to his parents. It’s hard to accept such a talented, soft spoken artist, who gave so much pleasure to our ears was, for little boys, their worst nightmare.
Thanks to normalcy bias, Jackson was able to continue his pedophilia ‘in the camera,’ with most of us quite able to believe in never-Neverland over the evidence right there in front of own eyes.
(header image: Michael Jackson throws up a gang sign “C” for “Crips,” with the Crips on the set of his The Way You Make Me Feel music video in Los Angeles)