AS Janet Jackson fans gear up for her Taipei concert tonight, US media have been airing “exclusive” interviews with the pop diva to promote True You: A Journey to Finding and Loving Yourself, a memoir-cum-self-help guide-cum-diet manual that documents her struggles with self-confidence.
“There was a lot of pain in my life,” she said in an interview on NBC’s Dateline and Today shows that aired this week.
In an interview with CNN broadcast on Tuesday, the day of the book’s release, the 44-year-old Jackson said she “felt so unattractive … I used to bang my head against the wall.”
Jackson will perform Janet Number Ones: Up Close and Personal at the Taipei World Trade Center Nangang Exhibition Hall (台北世界貿易中心南港展覽館) beginning tonight at 8pm, and according to Very Aspect Culture Group (有象文化), 95 percent of tickets had been sold by press time.
As with other stops on her 35-city world tour, Jackson will dedicate one of her No. 1 hits to Taipei.
“Because of Love is the No. 1 I’m dedicating to Taipei,” she was quoted as saying on her official Web site. “I dedicated this song to each of you and want you all to know I’m coming to Taipei because of love.”
While here, she’ll stay in the same Zhongshan District hotel room that her brother Michael did when he visited in 1993 and 1996. On the topic of Michael, Jackson told Today: “There’s still not a day that goes by that I don’t think about him. Not one day.”
But her thoughts aren’t always positive. According to the New York Post, Janet said the King of Pop contributed to her self-esteem problems.
“A lot of his pet names had to do with my backside,” she was quoted as writing.
“There were a lot of names,” she confessed on the Today show. “‘Horse, pig, cow, slut or hog.’ I guess some people could say, ‘Oh that’s, you know, brothers and sisters joking, it’s all affection, it’s all, you know, it’s in a loving way.’ But not everybody can brush it off, and I was one of those.”
And though Janet says she has rebounded from these childhood taunts and found love, some feel she isn’t spreading enough of it. Her recent Manila concert attracted the attention of animal rights activists, who rallied outside the venue to protest against her endorsement of fur coats.
Others have said her Up Close and Personal Tour, is, well, less than up close and personal, a problem the 10,000-seat Taipei venue could exacerbate.
Commenting on her Feb. 7 Singapore performance, a report in AsiaOne said that aside from the song lyrics, she barely mouthed a “meaningful word” while on stage, “aside from the obligatory, ‘I love Singapore.’”
A reporter with the Jakarta Globe made similar comments after watching her Feb. 9 concert.
“Jackson’s show was hardly a living room performance and the distance from the performer — physically and emotionally — was palpable. Communication with the audience mainly consisted of Jackson shouting, ‘Jakarta!’ and ‘I love you, Jakarta!’”
Mind you, had she said more it might have been something like, “I’m just Janet. I have strengths, weaknesses, fears, happiness, sadness. I experience joy and I experience pain,” or “I’m highly emotional. I’m very vulnerable. And, as anyone who knows me well will testify, I’m extremely sensitive,” according to excerpts from her book, which seems intended to show that, like everyone else, Jackson is human.
The star, who has sold more than 100 million albums over her 35-year career, evidently wants readers to understand that growing up, like fame and much else in life, is fraught with confusion and pain.
“Had there been a book that addressed issues like body image, I would have read it immediately. Had there been a book that told me I wasn’t alone — that millions of men, women, and children are confused about self-image — I would have been grateful. That kind of book could have made a difference in my life,” she wrote.
In the end, people will read her book for the same reason they will go to her concert: it’s entertainment, a spectacle. And to enter Jackson’s world, like that of most entertainers of her caliber, the price of admission is worth paying.