Jacko Conspiracy Theories Begin

A few papers have cast doubts on whether Michael Jackson is mentally and physically fit to get through a 50-show run at London’s O2 Arena, but The Guardian appears to be the first to suggest that the Jacko who did the press launch from the venue at the beginning of the month wasn’t the real one.

Although music writer Jane Graham says “no one wants to be the party-pooper” casting shadows over the king of pop’s return, she can’t help feeling that the man on stage was only “faintly reminiscent” of Michael Jackson.

She acknowledges that “never looking like the same guy twice” is part of Jackson’s mysterious unpredictable genius but said the O2 press conference version was particularly unconvincing.

She said an expensive L’Oréal, llama-hair wig might explain Jackson’s newly luscious locks, but asks if there’s a surgery that actually stretches the mouth from “peephole to letterbox.”

“And what about those huge, spindly, gnarled hands?” she wrote. “Surely we’d have noticed them before, when the king of pop was pioneering ‘the robot’ dance.”

She said it wasn’t just the face and hands that raised brows, but the O2 Jackson didn’t sound anything like the real one.

“Not only was his voice about an octave lower, he had an air of defiance and chutzpah that the usually shy, awkward Jackson has never displayed when speaking in public. Instead of the nervous, effete baby deer we’re used to, this Jacko was a fist-pumping macho man,” she wrote.

“When I say this is it, I mean this is it,” Jacko said, insisting that his 10-date residency would mark the end of his live career in the U.K.

Graham says the remark made him seem “a bit out of the loop” when a further 40 dates were announced in the following few days.

She said the tally seems rather ambitious for a 50-year-old man who hasn’t toured for more than a decade, and who was rumoured a mere three months ago to be so seriously ill he could barely speak and almost blind in his left eye.

In other stories, Jackson is said to be furious after Radio 4’s “Now Show” made a joke comparing him to the IRA (Irish Republican Army).

He’s reportedly seeking an apology from comic Steve Punt, who told BBC Radio 4’s Now Show listeners that the week’s news was like an ’80s flashback.

“I can’t decide which ’80s celebrities I want back less. Michael Jackson – or the IRA,” he said, a remark that the Daily Mirror said Jackson took as “a disgusting slur.”

The Mirror also said AEG Live, which is promoting the London dates, is deciding whether to lodge an official complaint with the BBC.