"The industry is allowing him to indulge his fantasies." The forgotten protest against Michael Jackson in 1996.

The following contains discussion of sexual assault which may be distressing. For 24-hour support, please call 1800 RESPECT.

On February 19 1996, Michael Jackson was performing at the Brit Awards where he was also being awarded “Artist of a Generation”. His performance of “Earth Song” centred on him being a God-like saviour of children.

In the latter half, the King of Pop changed into an all-white outfit as bright lights emphasised the messianic imagery. Jackson raised his hands as kids one by one put their arms around him and he kissed a few on the forehead.

However his performance was disrupted by another singer at the award show, who invaded the stage in protest.

Jarvis Cocker, frontman of band Pulp, was sitting in the audience when he decided to interfere. When on stage, he turned around with his back to the audience, bent down, and made a wafting gesture with his hands, before attempting to flash his bum.

jarvis cocker michael jackson
Jarvis Cocker protesting during Michael Jackson's 1996 performance at the Brit Awards. Image via YouTube.

Cocker was swiftly taken off stage by security guards and arrested by police. He was kept at the station until 3am, according to him, for charges on the basis of “assaulting some kids".

The singer later explained on TFI Friday his motive, saying, "I was just sat there and watching it and feeling a bit ill, 'cause he's there doing his Jesus act.

"And I could kind of see - It seemed to me there was a lot of other people who kind of found it distasteful as well, and I just thought: 'The stage is there, I'm here and you can actually just do something about it and say this is a load of rubbish if you wanted.'"

In a press conference after the incident Cocker confirmed that he was protesting.

"My actions were a form of protest at the way Michael Jackson sees himself as some kind of Christ-like figure with the power of healing. The music industry allows him to indulge his fantasies because of his wealth and power."


"People go along with it even though they know it’s a bit sick. I just couldn’t go along with it anymore. It was a spur-of-the-moment decision brought on by boredom and frustration."

The Quicky, Mamamia’s daily news podcast, discusses Leaving Neverland. Post continues after audio.

Cocker was not invited back to the BRIT Awards until 2007.

The late Michael Jackson is the subject of a new documentary called 'Leaving Neverland', which is now available via Ten Play for Australian audiences.

The four-hour, two-part film gives voice to two men who claim that, as children, they were subjected to sexual abuse by Michael Jackson in the mid-to-late 1980s.

In light of the new documentary, Cocker is being praised on Twitter for bringing attention to Michael Jackson's bizarre relationship with children before the rest of the world paid attention to the claims.


You can watch Michael Jackson's performance of 'Earth Song' here.

If you have experienced sexual assault and are in need of support, please call 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732. Help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also contact Bravehearts for counselling and support for survivors of sexual abuse on 1800 272 831, Lifeline for 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention, or, if you’re the partner of a person who has experienced sexual assault, you can contact PartnerSPEAK on (03) 9018 7872 for peer support for non-offending partners. 

Read more on this topic:

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The signs Michael Jackson was grooming the children he was close to that so many missed.

"It wasn't going to mean anything": Why Michael Jackson married Lisa Marie Presley.

'Blanket' Jackson was just seven when his father died. This week he stopped talking.

The two boys who followed Wade Robson into Michael Jackson's bed insist they weren't abused.

Debbie Rowe says she gifted Michael Jackson two children because he was a 'wonderful man'.