Do me a favor. Go on YouTube and find the footage of Michael Jackson singing " Who's Lovin' You " on "The Ed Sullivan Show." He is eleven years old. It is one of his first times on national television. In the intro, he looks and sounds like . . . well, like an eleven-year-old with a decent ability to ham it up. He does a jokey spoken preamble about how kids can understand the blues, too, because he once fell in love with a girl in the sandbox, toasted their love during "milk break," and broke up during finger painting.
Halfway through, he forgets his lines and freezes, looking back at his older brothers for help. It's an alarmingly vulnerable moment, one only possible in the era of live television. You feel bad for him. It suddenly doesn't seem right that a kid should be made to perform live in front of an entire country. Yet he somehow finds his way back and stumbles through.