Michael Jackson’s Bodyguards
By Harlan (Hucky) Austin
Three of Michael Jackson’s Bodyguards hiding behind a shroud of decency, claiming that their intentions are noble, Michael Jackson’s bodyguards are the latest to tell-all on their celebrity principals. In an interview with Good Morning America three of Michael Jackson’s bodyguards spoke openly about his children, family routines, his parenting, and they even spoke about his sexuality in a veiled attempt to bring honor to the pop star’s tarnished reputation.
Showing little regard for the Jackson family’s reasonable expectation of privacy, Michael Jackson’s bodyguards eagerly offered an inside glimpse into the private life of one of the world’s most public figures and the children he trusted them to protect.
The public veneer of any celebrity is an image they struggle to maintain while the camera rolls, but when they step into the closed quarters of their vehicles or their private residences it is, or at least should be, their opportunity to be themselves, whoever that “self” might be.
Bodyguards are part of a public figure’s inner circle. Bodyguards are by the nature of their profession brought into this inner circle by either contractual or an implicit understanding that what goes on behind the scenes is a sacred trust that is not to be broken.
Breaking this sacred trust complicates the job for all bodyguards because it compromises the very security they are expected to provide and causes clients everywhere to question how secure their secret lives really are from the prying eyes of the public. It causes them to question how safe it is to be themselves in the presence of the ones they pay to protect not only their lives but their public image.
Regardless of how noble the intentions may be, this is a line that ought never be crossed.
Recently Frank Gallagher, one of the true professionals in our industry wrote an article entitled, “Have we lost perspective.” Frank’s thought-provoking article is sure to create lively discussion within the EP industry and make people think long and hard about the ancillary duties they perform on a regular basis for clients.
The funny thing about climbing to the top of any industry, be it entertainment, business, or public service, is that it creates an inevitable isolation from the normalcy that most people live in. In fact, being a bodyguard to these individuals is far from normal.
This disconnect from the rest of the world can often create a sense of loneliness and isolation which can cause the protectee to draw closer to the bodyguard and create a familiarity that begins to expand boundaries in some unpredictable ways. In addition to the protectee becoming comfortable being themselves in the presence of the bodyguard they will often count on the bodyguard to do things that are at best, odd.
The premise behind Gallagher’s article is that bodyguards must erect a wall or draw a line in the sand which clearly defines what is and what is not the bodyguard’s responsibility. Gallagher further argues that those who continue to take on menial tasks like cooking breakfast and running errands expand the job description of the bodyguard and create unreasonable expectations for clients everywhere.
While it is difficult to argue with Gallagher’s logic and his vast experience in the field there are a few things to consider before staging a coup-de-gras with your client and defending your masculine honor.
First, Gallagher’s point should be well taken; your primary responsibility is to the safety of your protectee. Anything that compromises that main priority should be considered outside the scope of your duties. In other words, if you find yourself scrambling eggs for the kids while the chef accompanies your protectee outside the family compound, something is probably wrong and needs to be adjusted.
The fact is that your ancillary duties should never usurp your primary duties. However, remember that this is a tough job market and no matter where you look and no matter what industry you consider, everyone is being asked to do more with less.
Look at it like this, a police officer’s primary responsibility is law enforcement, but does that negate their need to occasionally perform duties that are more akin to a social worker or a civil engineer? An average security officer’s job often entails vestiges of customer service that were unheard of 10 years ago.
Even health care professionals are being asked to go beyond the traditional roles of practicing medicine and to understand holistic wellness which involves lifestyle, fitness, and prevention. The point is that whereas you cannot abandon your responsibility to protect your client, there is always a young, forward thinking individual who will do the things you might find beneath your dignity eagerly, professionally, and still protect the client’s well being.