The Null Device
This just in: Michael Jackson is not a child molester; just a misunderstood individual with a messianic complex who lives in an amusement park and shares his bed with children. Jackson's fans are acclaiming the verdict as a historic moment (while Jackson's own web site has compared the acquittal to the fall of the Berlin Wall, the birth of Martin Luther King and the release of Nelson Mandela), and it looks like the kingdom of pop is saved from collapsing into anarchy as its king returns.
What will happen to Jackson's career is another question, now that his image has been somewhat tarnished. (For one, the sordidly mundane public revelations of his tastes in pornographic magazines probably won't sit well with the larger-than-life personae he had cultivated, and some of the magic will be gone forever.) Some say that his brand is effectively finished, and his debts will take care of the rest; others are saying that what he needs to do is immediately depart on a world tour playing all the old songs people still hold in reverence.
If the new, post-abuse-trial Michael Jackson is a timid, emasculated creature fearing controversy, then any new music he may make, however much studio gloss and big-name production is applied, won't capture the imagination. In the old days, Jackson flirted with an image of being vaguely dangerous (witness Thriller, Bad and Dangerous and his 1930s-gangster image). Perhaps, by that token, what he should do now to reignite that dangerous frisson would be to take on the role of the Childcatcher in the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang musical?