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Forever young - Michael Jackson's weird obsession with Peter Pan

Michael Jackson at Pebble Beach, California, January 1991
The central facts about Peter Pan are as follows: he is a charming, charismatic child who wants “always to be a little boy and have fun” and gets his wish. He can fly and teach other children how to fly, and he lives on an island called Neverland that combines the landscapes of contemporary British children’s fantasies and games. There he is the captain of a group of Lost Boys whom he leads on thrilling adventures with pirates, Indians, mermaids, fairies, and wild beasts. But he longs for a mother, and manages to entice a little girl called Wendy to leave her home in London and follow him, with her two brothers, to Neverland.

The strangest reincarnation of Peter Pan in our time was surely that of the pop star Michael Jackson (1958–2009). For years he identified with Barrie’s hero, declaring to reporters, “I am Peter Pan,” though it was an identification that as time passed, especially after Jackson reached his fiftieth birthday, became harder and harder to sustain, just as it had for Barrie. Jackson also dreamed of playing Peter on stage, and when on tour in England in his late twenties he spoke to the director Trevor Nunn about this possibility. According to Nunn:
I described our production, in which all the children’s parts had been played by adult actors. He bounded across the room, his eyes full of tears, he knelt down in front of me, his hands on my knees, and he said: “Could I play Peter, is it too late?”

Source Alison Lurie

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