Randall Sullivan’s new book, “Untouchable: The Strange Life and Tragic Death of Michael Jackson” has become the target of a coordinated effort to solicit negative reviews by a group of Michael Jackson fans on Facebook and Twitter. The group, called Michael Jackson’s Rapid Response Team to Media Attacks garnered dozens of one-star reviews, which were then cited by other group members as helpful. They also worked to get positive reviews removed. The group even claimed credit for getting the book removed from sale following claims of ‘faulty product’ were made to Amazon.
Sullivan’s book is a somewhat sympathetic take on the last few years of Jackson’s life. Sullivan does report that Jackson’s overuse of plastic surgery caused his nose to be just a pair of nostrils and that Jackson died a virgin despite two marriages. It is those claims, along with an analysis of Jackson's spending that appear to be at the heart of the opposition to the book.
In places other than Amazon, Sullivan’s book got mixed reviews. The L.A. Times review concludes, “with its 53-page afterward and 189 pages of sourcing, "Untouchable" ultimately functions more like a document of record than literature.” The New York Times review called it “thoroughly dispensable.”
In late November, Amazon stopped selling physical copies of the book after buyers claimed they were defective. Amazon was the only sales outlet to receive complaints of this nature. On November 26, a post on the group's Facebook page said, "Book stopped selling. MJ fans we have done it again!!! Who's BAD!!!"
The Amazon reviews currently hover at 2.3 stars. At the moment, there are quite a few reviews that are three stars and above. Mixed in are one star reviews like this one from Sherrey, “Trash, November 28, 2012." “Funny even after the mans death people can't leave him alone. This book is nothing more than tabloid trash and smut. Michael would have never harmed a child. Even the accuser came out after Michaels death and said his parents told him lie. It was all for money. The ones giving this great reviews are the same ones standing at checkout lines in the grocery store reading the tabloid junk and believing every word of it. Sickening”
The ironic part is Sullivan tries to change the popular notion that the singer had troubling relationships with young boys. Sullivan writes, "It was understood that Michael Jackson sought the company of prepubescent males because he yearned to be one himself, [He] wasn't trying to be heterosexual or homosexual or even asexual, but rather presexual…"
"Untouchable" had been selected as an Amazon best read for November and was on their list of 100 best e-books of 2012. The book was excerpted in Vanity Fair and promoted by the author on “Nightline” and “Good Morning America.”